Etching the ephemeral: vegetable scrimshaw and the inner life

radish scrimshaw

“Turmeric on Radish”

I recently posed this question to the Twitterverse:

“Vegetable scrimshaw: deceptively sedate gateway whittling activity, valid art form, or both? Discuss, but be civil.”

Things got pretty profound pretty quickly. So profound that people hesitated to share their true feelings on the subject. They are still hesitating and I have received no responses, but I suspect this is what they’ll say when they get around to it:

“Sometimes, just for a moment, the scrape of blade on carrot drowns out the frozen thrum of infinity.”Anonymous / no longer sure of own name

“The first time a turnip yielded to my art, the cataracts of despair, to which I had grown so wearily accustomed, lifted from my subtle vision. From that day, I have been a devotee of the ‘greengrocer’s marble.’ “George, Maidenhead

“I am in debt and I steal from allotments.”Julie, Wolverhampton



Can Fat Teens Hunt?

21st Century TV idea #3:

Never mind, this was actually a show.


Carl Chinn’s Roundabout Rambles

21st Century TV idea #2:

Carl Chinn's face on a roundabout

Send Carl Chinn through Birmingham, but only allow him to move linearly from roundabout to roundabout. He will have to rely on his homegrown Brummie wit and charm to negotiate his way onto – and through – private property. When that isn’t an option, he will have to use stealth. Expect shenanigans and police involvement.



21st Century TV kicks off with Urban Ferreting

It has taken 15 years, but finally, finally, Alan Partridge’s Cooking in Prison concept is coming to the small screen in the form of Channel Four’s Gordon Behind Bars. In celebration, I will be sharing inspired television programming ideas with you for the next…little while, shall we say? (Until I get bored.) This exciting new blog series will be known as 21st Century TV. Someone alert BBC3, because I think they’ll want first crack at…

Urban Ferreting


Ferrets n beer

Relaxing after the hunt

Hunting for small animals using other small animals as mercenaries isn’t just for [a Grundy? David Archer? CHECK WHICH ONE HAS THE FERRETS]. It is also for city folk – like you, the television-viewing public! Ferreting is especially suitable for unemployed young people in deprived urban areas, as it can help them build confidence, stay physically fit and gain skills for employment.

Gritty but affecting, Urban Ferreting would feature a group of inner-city 18-24 year olds supplied with kill-ready ferrets, following their ups and downs, trials and tribulations, highs and lows. As they bond with their ferrets, they will (probably, seems likely) also form a deeper bond with their community. Key themes here: learning, laughter, love, learning to laugh and love! There will be difficult journeys of self-discovery, but at the end of it all there will be food on the table.

Come to think of it, this concept could also work as a social enterprise. It’s got fantastic stakeholder / social return on investment / outcomes / outputs potential. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED RAINBOW MEOW.

Photo credit and 0.25% of Series 1 profits to schlongfield on Flickr


A bus named Dave Gerrard

Apparently we are now naming buses here in the West Midlands. There may be many men named Dave Gerrard, but there is probably only one bus named Dave Gerrard, and it is this one:

Dave Gerrard bus

Look at him go


Gather ’round, it’s the 2012 campaign leaflet from Chris Brown (C[omedy]-Abbey)!

Here in Abbey Ward / Bearwood, Sandwell Council, we hear from Conservative council candidate Chris Brown about once per election cycle (Chris, if it’s more often than that, my apologies – must’ve been distracted by curry advertising). It’s always a special moment, seeing that crisp blue and white leaflet come through the letterbox. To what exciting mix of fonts, factoidz and creative punctuation will we be treated this year?

At about 6pm last night (election eve), there it was, full of reasons why the ward should try something new – namely, voting for a Tory councillor. I have made some helpful notes to accompany the document:

Chris Brown leaflet front

1. Remember: Conservatives TEACH their young, Labour CONSUME their young like the feral animals they are.

2. Refer to Item 6.

3. Who bulldozed what homes where?? I really have no idea what this line is referring to.

4. Michael Gove might know something about that.

5. Um…OK, maybe? Sounds kind of all right?

6. Refer to Item 2.


Chris Brown leaflet back

7. See you where, Chris? Behind a tree? Out for a stroll? On a park bench drinking before noon? Whatever you can be seen doing, I am sure it is important and that you are doing it locally and with civic pride.

8. …but especially antisocial behaviour perpetrated by dogs.

9. So, when is market day, where is the market and are you sure it exists? I have asked some other local residents and they too were unaware that Bearwood had a market day. Perhaps Mr. Brown is thinking of Bearwood, Leominster?

10. Because this page here is just a cruel joke on the part of Sandwell’s Labour-led council. The gent who advised me on setting up my own business stayed in character for our ENTIRE PHONE CALL.

11. As is so often the case, change happens. But not to the present. It happens, and indeed is currently happening, to the future.

12. “The Labour,” they hate high streets, hence the attacking. Launch a counter-attack with Chris Brown, and maybe he’ll throw in some free parking (TBC)!


NB: I’m mostly just having some fun on the internet. If Chris actually lives in this area and not in Aston as per the Statement of Persons Nominated, I will buy him a half-pint, bottled soft drink or small coffee (his choice!) at the Bear for posting in the LOL category at his expense.


This pretty much sums up the internet

OK, not really. But almost. Or at least the part of it that’s not made of cats.

Lord Bearclaw

Yahoo Answers Top Contributor Lord Bearclaw. You know, of Gryphon Woods?

Source: Bigfoot Evidence


Bizarre patchwork squirrel sighted in Greene County, IN

Whoa. What is this? That is the question asked by the Greene County Daily World on their website. A ‘story’ on the matter is titled “A squirrel?”.

Yes, it does appear to be a squirrel, but he’s a little more special than your usual southern Indiana specimen. Check him out:

Patchwork squirrel

Look at this weird squirrel

What do we know so far about the animal? The GC Daily World text is as follows:

“Pauline Dudley of Newberry took this picture of a different-looking squirrel that she saw in her backyard.”

OK, so that’s a start. Newberry. Pauline Dudley. Backyard. But I think we need to know more. For example:

– Is this picture ‘shopped?

– If not, is this a previously-documented squirrel pattern?

– If this variation has a precedent, what makes a squirrel turn out that way?

I’ll get on this and update if I figure anything out.

UPDATE: The Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife says:

“This squirrel, most likely a fox squirrel, is not albinistic from what I can tell.  Albinism is defined as an inability to produce melanin.  So something cannot be ‘part albino’.   This squirrel is what we refer to as partially leucitic [sic – leucistic], sometimes called piebald.  This is cause by a defect in the pigment cell in development.  It is a cool pic.”

Let us cast our minds back to the advent of this blog post. Me: “Could that squirrel be called piebald?” Male companion: “No.”

Needless to say, it is clear which of us had the last laugh.

(Note: I never said the squirrel was part albino and I hope you know me better than that, but a commenter on the Greene County Daily World story did.)

Photo from the Greene County Daily World


Dimblebot commands you to play Melanie Phillips’ Fact Attack

Maybe the rest of the internet already knows about it, but I’ve just found this charming game.

melanie philips fact attack


Photo from Dimblebot itself


Memories: the time I asked Jan Brewer’s office for a lung

I leave America alone for five years and this happens:

Governors Gone Wild thread on Something Awful

I had forgotten about Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. I once called her office to ask if she’d give a lung to a cystic fibrosis patient who was pretty much sentenced to death after she cut funding for organ transplants. I explained to one of her staff members that just one lung was being requested – we’d find another from someone else and pair ’em up. It’s the “pass the hat” approach to life-saving surgery. Because things always sort themselves out in the free market, right?

After I went through all of this with the person on the other end of the phone, she said, maintaining textbook American politeness, that Jan Brewer was in a meeting but that she would love to hear my comments. The next morning would be a better time to call if I wanted to speak to the governor.

Did she get that I was snarking or did she think it was perfectly possible to go around combining lung bits for transplantation?

Maybe I should finally make that follow-up call and find out.