Saturday, 29 December 2012

BBC (Childrens) Employee Raises Money for Marie Stopes International

Hi Kids! This is how Nelafur wants your sister to end up.
Glad to see BBC employee Nelufar Hedayat (Newsround presenter) follows the "proud tradition" of the BBC by being a typical Guardianista.

How so? Well when appearing on Celebrity Mastermind this very day, her chosen "charity" was Marie Stopes International -- the body that makes profits from abortions and campaigns to spread abortion (so campaigning to make money from death). How fitting for a BBC employee that works with children that she wants more children to be killed.

BBC luvee supports abortion provider? Surely not? Gasp! Horror!

I would suggest readers wait for a BBC employee to donate money to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, LIFE or the Good Counsel Network - but we all know that that is pretty unlikely at best and would lead to a slow and agonising dismissal, if not career death.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

'It's a Top of the League Christmas' Says Pope on Twitter?

It's official - the Pope is a Cardiff City fan.

It can only be a matter of hours now before His Holiness confirms as much on his new Twitter account (yes I am a follower of his, naturally).

How else might we explain that Cardiff are sitting atop the Championship on Christmas Day? Oh yes, it's going to be a blue red Christmas after all.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

BBC's George Entwhistle Sacrificed - Victims of Paedophiles Forgotten

The BBC has made some terrible mistakes, it's true.

However, we would do well to remember that children were abused (too soft a word methinks) and that many of the guilty for that heinous crime are still out there.

The McAlpinegate row erupted in the shadow of Savilegate. The BBC was in the shadow of a huge row over "failing to act" which no doubt made it act with gusto in order to be seen to act and then some.

To pressurise George Entwhistle to resign was pointless. Barely there 50 days, when the likes of Rupert Murdoch and son stood their ground over phone hacking, is a bit silly. It would have been better to find out who made the mistakes at Newsnight and seek redress there.

Now 'they' are on about ending Newsnight, a programme I look forward to and watch most evenings. Whilst I certainly do not agree with all its content (the media didn't convulse with guilt when Paxo and Richard Dawkins had an atheist love-in/hugathon which included Paxo mocking Christians - hardly dispassionate and balanced), to get rid of Newsnight in a fit of pique seems a tad extreme, despite the preponderance of Guardianista rich urbane lefties like Kirstie Wark and Allegra Stratton that infest it.

In all of this the victims of mostly homosexual paedophiles in positions of power (Lucy Owen on BBC Wales News the other night reported that a Masonic link in North Wales was being looked into -- because of police, judge, big businessmen and political links of the paedo-ring there) are being rapidly forgotten.

George Entwhistle isn't the guilty one here. The evil paedos are. We should never forget that!

Private D.R. Hurley Remembered

Private D.R. Hurley
Just the other day I got in touch with an old school friend called Ashley via Facebook and we began reminiscing about the good old days, catching up etc.

It turns out he had gone on to join the Paras and did 119 jumps with them. It was then he spotted a post I'd done on Facebook, on All Souls Day in honour of my uncle who had served and died with the Paras in WW2.

He then told me that he was going to London for the Remembrance Day activities this weekend, and that he would be planting a Cross for my uncle at Westminster Abbey. I hadn't asked him to, it was clearly something he felt he had to do for a fellow Para.

I have to say I was deeply moved. All too often in our daily lives we bump into people who sap our belief in humanity. Then something like this happens and it reminds me that there are good people out there, who do good works because they should be done.

So thanks Ashley! You've done something fantastic for all our extended family, and reminded me that good deeds can have a much greater impact than we may think when we do them.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Atheists murdered 50 Million in USSR

I love history and take a keen interest in politics. Thus I often debate both with my captive audience. By debate I mean rant and wag my finger, and by captive audience I mean family.

Just this week one of my children told me their history teacher made some salient points which had previously escaped my very own lips. He said you can never remove religion (as GK Chesterton said when people stop believing in God they will believe in anything). He told the class that when Stalin tried to do this, he murdered 50 million Christians. Yet despite this the Russians (Ukrainians, Balts etc) clung to their faith).

The teacher said that we often hear about the holocaust, yet this paled in comparison to the huge numbers murdered by Stalin.

I have argued this with atheists on Twitter. They respond that the Soviet Union murdered for politics - conveniently forgetting that the USSR was an officially atheist state, and those murdered or shipped to gulags were Christian.

Imagine an officially Christian state, as a matter of policy, murdered, tortured and imprisoned millions of atheists in just a few decades. The atheists would be screeching it from the rooftops. Hollywood would churn out blockbuster after blockbuster. Richard Dawkins would have written a book on it.

Yet here we had an atheist state murdering Christians and we barely ever hear about it. Why?

And while we're at it, why did we declare war on Germany after they invaded Poland in September 1939, but did not declare war on the USSR after they invaded Poland (and Finland - another British ally). What's more, we went to war in 1939 because Poland was invaded, yet in 1945 with Europe in ruins, Poland was occupied by one of the very powers that had invaded it in 1939!!! As were many other countries!

You couldn't make it up.

But how comforting to know at least one history teacher is telling his class that the atheist USSR murdered circa 50 million Christians. The truth is out there...

Never again?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Government, GCSEs and Betraying Generations

What bugs me with the GCSEs - as someone who did the last O levels, is that my double A in English has been downgraded by 20 odd years of downgrading, dumbing down of marking, cheating/marking-up of course work by some schools etc. 

The politicos have made a right mess of education. Every year for 2 decades they told us pass rates were betters and yet we kinda know that literacy, historical knowledge etc. had been plummeting. Generally speaking of course. 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Spain and El Cid: a Hero for Heroic Times

El Cid (OK, strictly Charlton Heston, but you know what I mean!)

What a hero for Spain, for Europe.

Just imagine if El Cid had not sacrificed so much no recapture Spain:

  • The Hispanisation of the Americas would never have happened (leaving those peoples to human sacrifice and evil paganism).
  • The Hapsburgs (via Don Juan of Austria) would not have led the Papal, and especially the feuding Genoese and Venetian forces at the Battle of Lepanto to save Europe from Turkish piracy and (literal) slavery.
  • The Spaniards would not have led the Counter Reformation at the Council of Trent (which codified the Tridentine/Latin Mass of All Time) and through their example and zeal for the Truth, winning back whole nations such as Poland and Hungary.
Some people seem to think of the Spanish as a lazy people, with their siestas and warm climes. Yet without them Europe would be by far the poorer, and Catholicism especially would have very many fewer souls under its care and protection.

So Hurrah for El Cid!

And OK... hurrah for Charlton Heston too.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

An Ode on the Golden Anniversary of William and Mary Hurley

50 years ago today young William brushed his hair,
007 was in the cinemas, he tried to match Bond's flair
With a sparkle in his eye, a skip and spring in his stride
He was headed off to a beautiful church to meet his beautiful bride.

Mary Loughlin was her maiden name and a fair maiden was she
She paced, and fretted and tried on her gown (and went for her 50th wee),
But fret not Mary for your Bill awaits, his flowing locks all kempt
No rich man's gilded riches to forestall her fate could tempt.

"Oh William is the man for me" she told all those who would listen,
"And even if many years from now his shiny head doth glisten:
I will love him all the more you see for the family God will give,
I dream of a cottage with roses nearby - in Fairwater we will live."

Some mop haired youth were on the wireless, singing Love Me Do.
But Mary paid no heed to them, Billy was her love so true.
Her face aglow, her heart a flutter she stood aside the Church gate.
The music inside was audible - she would always be fashionably late.

"Oh my Billy, oh William, oh Bill my true love" she cried aloud to the skies
"I will always love you, handsome young man, you are my greatest prize."
Onlookers smiled at such a sight, the young bride made it clear,
That in 30, no 40, no 50 years, she would stand by her Billy dear.

Oh good times would come and bad times too, to test their quality,
Tough times we can't imagine, but seen through cheerily,
By two such wonderful people, who took all that life could give,
And gave it back a hundredfold, yes they have truly lived.  

In Fairwater's leafy glades they settled: in Gorse Place, near to friends.
If anyone asked "whereabouts?" - we'd say "up the posh end."
And for wedded bliss, there's little doubt, they are the golden rule,
To scorn the ways of Bill and Mary you would have to be a fool.

Yes fifty years ago they made their oaths that would they stay
Together - and they kept their word, and did so till this day.
"And for many more" we all do cry and with a glass raised cheer:
"Billy and Mary Hurley"      --   (this poem's sponsored by Brains Beer).

Friday, 21 September 2012

Happy Hobbit Day!

On this day in 1937 The Hobbit was published, just in time for Frodo's and Bilbo's birthday which is, of course, tomorrow the 22nd of September.

So let me be the first to wish you, for tomorrow a Happy Hobbit Day!

Friday, 7 September 2012

A Living Saint Passes Away

I was sad to hear that Fr Hugh Thwaites passed away recently. I met him at my Best Man's wedding (see here) quite some years ago (he's not getting any younger you see).

He was a Jesuit priest who bucked the 'trendy' trend which has beset the Jesuits of late. He was a traditionalist priest who celebrated the Tridentine (Latin) Mass.

As I told my best man (best man available), it was a wonderful occasion when I met Fr Thwaites having heard so much about him... and the wedding was OK too.

Please remember Fr Thwaites in your prayers.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

And Bilbo's Off Across the Seas to Pastures New...

Sad news this week really.

I finally dug out my old LOTR poster of Bilbo's last Song (you know... at the end of the book when he, Gandalf, Frodo and the elves all go to the Grey Havens and set off for the West?).

I bought it in the early 80s as a young, handsome and devilishly rakish whippersnapper with the world at my feet (OK, let me dream...) and for many years it bedecked the wall of my bachelor pad (er... teenage bedroom).

Well this week I finally got it down from the loft and sold it. It went to a gent (of great taste and distinction) in Sweden.

I like to think that I have spread the 'good news' of Tolkien rather than sold an heirloom, but it was creased, a little ripped and what with re-roofing etc. etc. was in danger of getting further damaged.

So goodbye Bilbo! Like dear old Sam returning home to his Rose afterwards I am not ashamed to say I shed a manly tear for my old friend as it set off on new adventures without me...

Now I shall go and listen to the song on my ipod in the last episode of LOTR and shed another manly tear (dear Lord! - it's getting a bit too "Elton John" round here!).

Goodbye dear Bilbo!

Now where did I leave my Lembas Bread?...

P.S. Can't wait for the film to come out!!!! Take that Smaug the Oppressor.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Baby Fish and Exam Results: Celebrations All Round

Some great news from the garden. Our goldfish have had more babies. Not sure how many, but at last count there are at least seven wee black bairns in there (each about 1cm long). There may be more under the lily pads.

The 'older babies' (if that makes sense) are now about 3 - 4cm long, still black but eating the floating pond sticks that we feed the "grown ups" with.

It's great that we're now getting our own fish. And not a penny given to the big chain pet shops! Yippee.

I've also seen at least 3 grown-up frogs in the pond, so I suppose they'll be having their own babies soon enough... be great not to have to catch tadpoles from old quarries and have to "bring them home" next year.

We had a good crop of peas this year, though towards the end the slugs and snails went a bit bonkers on them. After a slow start the potatoes shot up too, so I think I'll be digging them up any day as they're just starting to wilt. The weather really hasn't helped this year.

So I suppose that's the garden up to date.

This last week or so we had happy news, with the AS and GCSE results in. Our eldest got an A in AS History which is what he plans to do in uni, and our second born got an A in GCSE Geography which is what he's going to college to do at A Level, so both did well and seem to know what they want to do...

What with O Levels becoming GCSEs and now the media saying the children get lower grades for the same percentages... I just wish the government(s) would stop fiddling with the exams so we could just know what the children get, they earn -- and can be compared like for like, year on year. But hey, what do I know?

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Time to Respect the Elderly

Years ago I used to walk to work with an old man called Tom Dance. He would always tell me his stories of his service in the Navy in WW2 and of his time in the steelworks in Cardiff.

Remembering all the stories we shared and the laughs we had, I thought I should write something:

When you see an old man, what do you see?

Someone to be robbed of his money? Shame on you mugger or utilities executive!

Someone who gets in the way? Shame on you rushing commuter or NHS manager!

Someone who "goes on" about 'the good old days' and despairs of the modern age? Shame on you disinterested cold caller or politician feining interest!

Someone who's home should be taken from them to pay bills or home others? Shame on you government, local council or healthcare supremo!

Someone who's wrinkles make him unattractive? Shame on you fashion mag editor or botox laden wannabe model!

Someone who doesn't spend enough on useless trinkets and so doesn't exist? Shame on you trendy shop owner or advertising executive!

Someone who is past his best, an inconvenience who should be 'allowed' to choose death? Shame on you money-grubbing relative or euthanasia-rights activist!

Or do you see a man who has worked, paid his dues, deserves the best, has cherished memories in his home and should be entitled to have enough to heat and eat, to potter as he sees fit and get the very best in public services?

How we treat the elderly says much about us as a society.

If we mistreat the aged, we shouldn't be surprised when others get mistreated.

We should cherish life, from conception to natural death. No money, fashion, profits, taxes, lifestyles or politics is worth the suffering, poverty, pain or lonliness of the elderly.

It's time we, as a society, really decided what is important.

Most if us will be old one day. It is short-sighted and foolish (not to mention morally wrong) to treat the aged with disdain.

In memory of all the wonderful elderly men and women, relatives and friends, I have loved over the years, especially my grandparents. RIP.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Big Business Call Centres

If my call is so VERY important to you - how about answering it?

If you experience a high volume of calls so regularly (like 99% of the times I call) why not employ a few more people?

If you must make me go through 1001 options and permutations before -- eventually -- answering, why am I them so regularly redirected to another office who then tell me that I've come through to the wrong place?

And if you make me key in or (even worse) pronounce my details to a machine that only seems to recognise American accents, why when I reach a human being (after 2 months waiting) usually called Keith or Susan, yet with a suspiciously Asian accent, is the first thing they ask me for the very thing I just spent 48 hours tapping in or shouting at the phone?


'I am not a number. I am a free man.'

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

18 Years and One Day

I survived yesterday. "Why so?" you ask!

Because it was Monday? No.

Because two lots of software were playing up in work? No.

Because it was the start of Week 2 of the kids' school holidays? No.

All these added to the occasion of course.

No I survived yesterday because it was our WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!

18 years ago in St Peter's Church (yes that one! -- in Cardiff) myself and herself ("Mrs H") tied the knot, and we signed the marriage documents as Ave Maria was sung.

Now here we are 18 years later and our eldest has just turned 17 and is taking his driving lessons, with another child just leaving high school and another just leaving junior school.

We've lived in a few different properties in three different countries (England, Scotland and Wales) and there's been lots of ups and downs, excitement and anguish along the way.

So here we are, 18 years on. God willing there'll be another 18 years and more.

So thanks Mrs H for putting up with me.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

London 2012: Pay the Soldiers the G4S Millions

The G4S "omnishambles" for the London 2012 Olympics shows that reliance on Big Business is not good enough for a government.

They always have their 'eyes on the prize' and cut corners to make extra money.

We now have semi-literate 'security staff' and people not even turning up for work.

The government paid G4S hundreds of millions of pounds! They could have given half that money DIRECT to soldiers and let them earn overtime and see the games.

Now they wont get the bonuses so beloved of big businessmen - they'll just lose their holidays.

If it's good enough to pay millions to G4S then it should be good enough to pay the servicemen millions too-- especially as many face an uncertain future.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Banks, Free Markets and Hilaire Belloc's Ideas

Just listening to The Spectator podcast and they are defending the free market viz the banking crisis.

I thought Daniel Hamman MEP made a good point on (Radio 4's) Any Questions when he said the bank bail-out was against the Free Market. As a Free Marketeer he believed banks should be allowed to go bust, shareholders (not taxpayers) should take the hit, was his take on it.

Then we had Ed Miliband this week saying banks should not be about profits at the expense of people, rather they should be promoting the Common Good.

I have some sympathy with that viewpoint.

I know banks have to make a profit (though some might argue they could be not for profit enterprises) but why does it have to be billions and billions more via screwing customers.

Take credit cards and mortgages as an example. Most people have them. Yet at a time when the base rate is 0.5% the banks make over 100% profit on mortgages and charge circa 29% on most credit cards.

Like Hilaire Belloc, the great Catholic writer and radical MP, I do not believe in the Free Market(FM). FM basically means the profiteers make the rules and the customer tends to suffer.

Today, for example, if the politicians weren't bankrolled by banks and The City (the last secretary to the Cabinet left to work in a bank, the current one is an ex-banker - and think of all the Blair ministers who went on to get bank stipends), we might expect them to protect 'the people' struggling at this time via limiting percentages on cards mortgages etc; e.g. 10% above the base rate-- still a very healthy guaranteed profit! Not to mention the scandalous rates of loan companies.

But a business sector that employs so many ex MPs, PMs and Chancellors clearly has too much power over the political class (much more than Leveson is glimpsing viz the Murdoch Empire, and of greater impact on the average man's income etc.)

To deconstruct the FM idea just imagine a small town's market. Let it run its own affairs. A rich man (let's call him Mr Tesco) will sell items cheaply, undercutting all others. He can afford to lose money for a few years (hiding his losses in mega profits in his other businesses).

Then after two years most competition has folded, shut down, gone bust etc. he can then buy up their stalls, put up his prices, cut the quality of his stock and so control the market to a large extent, and then start to bully the suppliers who really have to go through him if they wish to sell serious volumes of their product.

That is what FM delivers. It favours the rich, the bullies, the cheats, the shysters...

If you believe in the Common Good, fair trade, choice in goods and suppliers, then a market must have rules.

Of course Socialists argue that the market should be owned by the State and all profits go to the State and you end up with grey monotony, the Party cherry picking the best, and a rampant black market (and queues for bread).

Like Belloc, Catholics and all men of goodwill should IMHO say no to the FM and State control. The Catholic answer is the traditional 'English' answer - a nation of shopkeepers!

No FM, controls in place for the Common Good, limits on bank charges, help for small businesses and localism. This also fits the current 'green' agenda.

There could also be huge drops in business rates to encourage start-up small businesses and many other inventive initiatives to get the country back on its feet.

I also think the govt should limit profits (by percentage) on utilities, leaving them with healthy profits, but freeing peoples' wages to spend in local shops and not just to a handful of big businesses - but then Belloc also argued that large national companies (e.g. railways) should be made into co-ops. This in turn would make more money available to local high streets, markets etc.

Better wages for the working man (promoted by various popes) also means more money spent in local shops.

There are answers to the mess we are in, whether the banks, the media, the economy, the high street, home ownership, etc. -- and if Catholics read more of what Belloc, and those around him, espoused as Common Sense practical answers for the Common Good, then we might use our influence, contacts, and networks to start arguing this case, showing that there is hope and stopping the bankers and their chums stitching us all up for another 100 years.

Just a thought.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

What a week! Birthday, Driving, Proms (oh and a Dead Chicken)

Going grey - me and George! (there the similarity ends)
This week we've had or will have:

  • one child's (16th) birthday.
  • one child started his driving lessons (second one today).
  • one child's prom for leaving junior school.
  • one child's prom for leaving high school (as Head Boy).
  • one child's participation in a school music concert.
  • and (just into next week) a Grade Three violin exam.

On top of all the other usual chaos of family life (and preparing a first VAT return! yikes!)

And we lost one chicken at the end of last week to a fox (tunnelled into the run, broke off the 'egg basket' lid - now nailed down). It was one of the speckledys...

It's been quite a busy time! if I have a few more grey hairs than before, well, no surprise.

And the baby goldfish in the pond are getting bigger - about an inch and a quarter long and now more grey than black.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Chernobyl Diaries: OK but Disappointing

Went to see CD last night with Mrs H. To get the important matters settled, we took in our goodies. I refuse to pay £20 for a fizzy pop and a bucket o' popcorn.

I even won a cup of coffee (for Mrs H) in a £1 for charity lucky dip (coffee cost £2.49rrp) in the Coffee Emporium across the street. We were off to a good start!

Anyhow onto the film. Quite good. Not really scary (though Mrs H hid in her jumper a few times in a 70s Dr Who stylee saying "tell me what happens") and too short. It ended just when you hope it would get going, spin off into an X Files style govt cover-up plot or final big fight scene etc.

It wasn't boring like Transformers or Avengers Assemble, but was definitely missing something. Too formulaic in parts (stay in the van and turn the flipping lights off!) but moreover just not enough plot/back story etc.

Mrs H gave it 9/10 but she is easily pleased (she married me!) - I'm sticking to 6.5/10.

I wonder if a docu-film about the background to Chernobyl, Fukushima, Bhopal etc., cover ups and mistreatment of locals, and the UK government plans to bury tons and tons of nuclear waste in the Lake District, the tax-payers' bank-rolling of nuclear big business, and associated cover-ups and 'green-washing' of nuclear power for dubious ends might be more worrying/scary.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A Warning to the Modern World

“Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”

G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, 17 June 2012

I Wonder if Hilaire Belloc Liked Viennese Whirls?

Just had a Viennese Whirl and a cup of tea in my Hilaire Belloc mug.

Does life get any better?

The blog is in danger of becoming a food fest.

Mrs H has retired to read a book. I think she has a deep loathing of football. And she's not even a rugby fan!

Happy Fathers Day to Old Pa Hurley (and Reflections on Sweets)

Coconut Rolls
You know it's Father's Day when you open your Liquorice Allsorts (other brands are available) and there is a preponderance of Coconut Rolls!

Mmmmm. My favourites.

Luckily Mrs H loves the sprogs (jelly-ish ones) which I do not really like, and the youngest Hurley loves the plain liquorice ones which are pretty hit and miss for me.

So there we are. Like Jack Spratt and his wife, the 'plate' (as it were) shall be licked clean.

Happy Father's Day to all Dads. Especially my dad, Old Pa Hurley who is officially the best dad in the world. I would probably swap a skip load of Coconut Rolls for him. Now that's filial love!

Greater love hath no man than to give up his Coconut Rolls for his dad.

Luckily for me Old Pa Hurley seemed perfectly sated with a big box of Bassett's Wine Gums (other brands are available).

I did try and find a pic of a skip filled with sweets... but no joy. Just how much use is the internet?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Reflections on Birthdays and Death

There's a famous text that goes "in the midst of life we are in death" or somesuch. Well it's certainly true.

This time of year is "birthday season" in our house when the little Hurleys have their special days clustered ('tis a conspiracy to skint me out). There's also a lot of revising and exam-sitting going on.

Mix in birthdays, exams, parties, school etc. and life is at its fullest. To a backdrop of the Jubilee, Euro 2012, Leveson, Olympics -- the whole world seems "busy."

With this in mind I found out an old friend had passed away unexpectedly tonight.

Just today I was rushing about town doing various banking, bill paying, etc. stopped off to get my hair cut and even picked up some supplies for Mrs H from the food emporium.

It's weird because you get so wrapped up in daily life, rushing about to get chores done, then when you hear a friend has passed away it does make you stop in your tracks and remember the fleeting nature of life.

Someone you can be speaking to one day can be dead just a few days later.

Very sad, but c'est la vie, in every sense.

Today I've gone from the excitement, balloons, streamers, cake and candles of a birthday tea to the memento mori of some very sad news.

Life is a roller coaster, I guess that's something Harry Redknapp is reflecting on tonight.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Hurleys: Common as Muck

A lovely family moment yesterday, one to cherish for generations. Mrs H and the littlest H were in London to see Shrek the Musical on stage in the West End. Oh yes: we Hurleys are posh and can mix it with the top knobs of the West End. Next step is surely an invite to a garden party at Buckingham Palace?

"For Services to the Blogging Community: Gareth Hurley, accompanied by Mrs H."

Oh yes. I can see it now. Top hat and tails. That's Mrs H sorted. I could go for a floral print. A bit of retro 50s Laura Ashley.

Or maybe not. Maybe yesterday's family moment has scuppered my dreams of cucumber sandwiches on the lawn (though I hasten to add my preference is for pork pies, victoria sponge and a builder's mug of tea).

So what was this event that's sent shock waves through the upper echelons of the British establishment - to shake BuckPal (to use the modern parlance) to its very foundations?

Well, left with instructions for the day by Mrs H (as usual when she's away) we found ourselves in one of the smaller supermarkets. I won't name them for fear of upsetting my sponsors (Ranjit's Corner Emporium) but suffice to say we Co-Operated to get there.

One of the items on my list was 'toilet rolls' and never one to shirk my responsibilities I decamped to the isle containing these daily necessariums. The remnant of the Hurley children followed.

On reaching the large range of 'paper essentials' I announced to the children that we needed to calculate the prices and quantities to work out the optimum product. Cue much moaning and rolling of eyes from those who are used to spending my money! How naughty.

So I scanned the shelves for the special offers and there was a sumptuous quality branded product - let's just say it was 'velvety' - at 9 rolls for £3. OK, I lodged that in the spending receptacle in my cranium.

I then turned to look at the cheaper options including the own-brand and the (pardon the intentional pun) bottom of the range items.

At which point, one of the Hurley boys spoke out, against my perceived "tightertudiness" or "skinflinterfication" (which is purely fictional of course) by announcing, for half the patrons of said establishment to hear:

"You don't want to buy that cheap rubbish, your finger will go through it."

Talk about 'painting a picture!' Bless him. From the mouth of babes (and teens) etc.

At that point I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and that the velvety brand was indeed the best bargain, grabbed the 9-pack and got to the till asap, in record time no less!

So there we go. Just as I envision grandeur and being part of the aristocracy, a Hurley child brings me crashing back to earth.

Oh well. Humility is good for the soul.

Perhaps I should seek an audience with the makers of the velvety option paper and sell them a new slogan, a distinctive style of marketing: "Try Our Velvet Tissue: It's Posh and Your Finger Won't Go Through It."

Could be a USP (Unique Selling Point) they haven't thought of!

We Hurleys are nothing if not forward thinking. Besides which, if a success and the velvety tissue goes viral, we might get a BuckPal invite 'For Services to Industry and Exports' as The Queen (as we all know) doesn't use the loo, she may not see the murky side of the advert campaign, just its multi-billion pound results.

Mission accomplished.

I await a call from the velvety brand makers.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Does God Believe in Atheists? Ed Miliband's Atheism

So Ed Miliband says he is an atheist. Hardly a revolutionary act in today's Britain where the governments "don't do God" (ref A. Campbell).

On a Radio 4 piece today he also said he turned to God (he's Jewish) before his dad died.

Seems he wants to have his cake and eat it. Whilst nothing is beyond God, even Catholics know that the Good Lord "giveth and taketh away" according to His own plan.

Besides which, as many priests have told me, God always insists we do all we humanly can. When doing His miracles Christ always insisted his helpers filled vessels, cast out nets, distribute food etc. He didn't have to have their help - but the lesson is there.

So if Comrade Ed wants to jettison the errors of his parents (they were Marxists too) and get to Confession he may have a better chance...

But we all of us, atheists or wise, should not try to second guess the Good Lord. But remember one thing: one day we shall answer for our actions and inactions. Even Richard Dawkins, no matter his protestations!

He may not recognise God; dread the day when God doesn't recognise him! Gnashing of teeth, etc.

Still he's got time left and everyone can get to Confession, even Prof H.

Anyway, it's raining again, the chickens are looking most bedraggled and it's time for tea! Yippee!

As Old Pa Hurley used to say (and still may for all I know): "I could eat a baby's dirty nappy with mustard on!"

Not that I'm a fan of mustard, but you get the idea.

Politics, religion and food: it really is an exciting day! I just need to mention Cardiff's change of strip (again) to shoehorn sports into the agenda - and hey presto! (reference for the atheists methinks) it's a perfect storm!



Tea was a homemade turkey, brie, bread and cranberry burger in a bun! With orange juice. It was remarkably tasty and satisfying. Yum.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Cardiff City to Change Strip to Red???

So Cardiff City go red - to get out of the red?

My hunch is that the fans will wear old strip or the new blue away kit.

The money men always seem to spoil football.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

How to Stop Nuisance Callers: Beware the Men in Black

I was walking Patch the Dog (PTD) this morning, as Mrs H who normally does the morning walking duties is away in Caernarfon accompanying our youngest at yet another Urdd National Eisteddfod! It's become almost an annual event that one of our offspring makes it through to the National Eisteddfod (and gets on TV!). And to think I couldn't even get a first prize in my school Eisteddfod!

Anyhoo, there I was walking back to Hurley Towers with PTD, gaily swinging my bag of dog pooh, when I spotted them! In their long dark coats, clutching their files and cases!

You are wondering who they are no doubt. Could it be a Bourne film - are they CIA or MI5 operatives looking to "take down" PTD and I?


Who were the MiB?
Might they be the fabled Men in Black? Would they ask me weird questions (about UFOs and the strange man across the road who seems unkempt, shuffles in his baggy-arsed jeans and is too large for his small car) before wiping my memory?


Might they be debt or rent-collectors, the Rackmans of the 21st Century out to  take my hard-earned money for some outstanding bill overlooked in the chaos of everyday life?


Might they be spies for some enemy agency? Perhaps scouts for Rugby League teams out to bribe me to start supporting strange Northern teams and betray my beloved Wales? Or agents from London Pride or some Burton-on-Trent based brewery out to offer me free beer in return for turning my back on Brains glorious brews?


Perhaps they were secret RSPCA agents out to confiscate my frogs from the pond or the chickens from our run?


Perhaps they were Anglicans out to canvas my support for women priests, pooftahs in the clergy, and to shake my belief in Transubstantiation and the Real Presence?


It was worse.

These were indeed enemy agents in our midst. They would send shivers of fear up the most hardened and resolute spines. As I passed them I saw the literature sticking out of pockets, fists and cases: these were Jehovah's Witnesses! On our Holy soil!

I was rehearsing my speech to them as I continued home and got PTD in. As Mrs H was away I could really let fly without fear of (another) clip around the ear for being just so outspoken.

I gave PTD his treat for (semi) behaving on our walk, and put the kettle on. I am nothing if not cultured. Oh, just in case I should say that I put the bag of dog pooh out the back in our special bin, then washed my hands. I don't want you thinking I act nonchalantly or in a lackadaisical manner when it comes to handling dog faeces! Perish the thought.

I made my tea. I even popped some bread in the toaster. I am nothing if not extravagant with my celebration of life: no dour Presbyterianism in Hurley Towers. No siree.

I waited. sipped tea. And waited. Munched toast. And waited. Gave PTD a crust. And waited... But knock there came none.

The lesson here is clear, for all men of goodwill and anyone who doesn't like CIA-Men in Black-Rackman lookalikes knocking on their door at all hours of the day. And I, in my status at Captain Charitable and Mr. Caring-Sharing 2012 am willing to divulge my secret to you all (fees are discretionary, if you wish to send me a fiver - no problem).


When you open the door to Jehovah's Witnesses do not:

  • Fling it shut
  • Say "sorry I'm busy"
  • Mumble something and close the door.
  • Say "no thank you" politely.

These are fatal errors. They will see you as a "challenge" and mark their little notebooks as such, and try and get you again when they next swing their infernal machinery of proselytising into town. Any of these replies/responses or similar will guarantee you another visit from those promoting error and annoyance.

This is what you have to do. I know because I did it and they have never knocked since:

You ask: When was your church started? They answer (19th Century or some such).
You ask: Do you believe in Jesus Christ? They answer (yes).

You then say: We are Roman Catholics. Our Church was founded by Jesus Christ who made St Peter the first Pope. You are promoting heresy and a false church founded by a conman. Plead forgiveness from God, convert and get to Confession. You are in danger of losing your souls by promoting heresy.

You do all this with a firm, almost stern look on your face so they know you are deadly serious and far from joking.

They will mark you in their book as a 'lost cause' perhaps, or maybe they will view you as dangerous and a possible means to lose some of those they send on their missions to subvert the goodly people of these lands. Either way, it seems they will not send another heretic to your door.

And who knows - when castigating them, your charity may reap some reward by planting the seed of Truth in their minds. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but one day.

And: you need never fear getting that knock on the door the next time you're in the bath, up a set of ladders, changing a baby's nappy, putting the finishing touches to a great work of art - or otherwise indisposed.

Here endeth the lesson.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Special Diamond Jubilee Event

Rumour has it that Old Pa Hurley is threatening to open his Diamond Jubilee wallet this weekend.

It's not red, white and blue nor adorned with crowns - it just hasn't been opened for 60 years!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Freddy and Freda? Our Two New Slippery Chums

You may struggle to see it, behind our "heron proof" metal grid, it being well camouflaged and only a couple of inches long, but this is one of two frogs I saw today in our little garden pond!

Yes all life is here! It seems that at least two of our little tadpoles have made it to maturity and returned to the pond. We haven't seen any frog spawn or tadpoles appear, but we live in hope...

And all on the day that Brendan Rodgers announced he is leaving Swansea for Liverpool! How exciting.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Damn Those Disney Films - They Hastened Our Demise

Oh how the mighty have fallen.
It's called "pop music" m'lud

Last year 'The Hurley Family' won the quiz shield at our local school. Our name was the first one engraved on the shield. Perhaps the fame and adulation of our peers went to our collective heads... because this year we came second!

Oh the shame. The ignominy. The humiliation.

In our defence I must say that last year's questions were academic and some of the questions quite cryptic. This year there were a lot of multi-choice and a whole section on 'Disney Films', one of the children suggested it epitomised the dumbing-down of the education system.

C'est la guerre. Next year we'll have to swot up on 'popular culture' -- like High Court judges finding out what Top of the Pops is. New struggles, new vistas, new opportunities.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Olympic Torch in Wales, Corporate Sponsors and Freebies

Went to see the Olympic Torch this morn, despite my misgivings over the whole Corporate nature of the games.

Are Coke, McDonalds and Cadburys (all USA companies) really the food of Olympians? If I follow that diet can I break the four minute mile? Or the four minute shuffle to find the remote?

Well this morning I gave up all my principles (again!) to leap forward when the Coke lorry went past to seek the freebies. Panic broke out when they were too slow and I didnt get a bottle. Two of the children did, but luckily as the Coke people (?) fumbled to get more off the lorry they dropped one and I got to it. Bingo!

Of course I handed it over to our youngest, but getting a freebie still left me with a warm glow. I could sense that somewhere down in West Wales (on his hols) Old Pa Hurley had a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that somewhere in his family freebies were obtained.

Sadly when the Lloyds Bank bus went past there were no freebies. I had hoped they would fling bank notes in the air from sacks full of them. It was not meant to be... Shame on them!

As for Samsung, no, again sadly no freebies. No printers, tvs, dvd players or other accoutrements. Very sad. And they wonder why the London rioters ransacked shops? They should set a better example via dishing out freebies.

The Samsung bloke with the microphone even got the name of the town wrong. And the less said about the "gent" with the pea whistle and the gyrating hips the better. In my experiance a whistle and wiggling hips quickly moves to asumptions being made about a person's "sexuality" - as the terminology goes these days. All best avoided.

So I have partaken in the Olympic experience and received gifts from the largesse of the Corporate sponsors. I feel somewhat sullied... But not that much.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

West Ham Win: Catholicism Is the X Factor (Lessons for Cardiff City)

Change it to a Bluebird and we have CCFC's New Logo!
What a thrilling game today - and West Ham were the deserving winners. Right from the start of the play-offs they had the right fight and spirit and wanted to win.

In reality, despite good starts in both matches, they wiped the floor with Cardiff who looked tired and played as if they knew they were going to lose.

So what was the key ingredient for West Ham? Well Vaz Te who scored against Cardiff and scored the winner against Blackpool is a Catholic.

I said before Cardiff's last match against West Ham that only if all the players said a public prayer, reciting the Nicene Creed on the pitch, chances are they would not overcome the London side. After scoring Vaz Te made the Sign of the Cross.

Even the (ex?) Protestant team Man City have a Catholic manager in Roberto Mancini, Chelsea have a Catholic goal-scorer in Didier Drogba, and Swansea's success in getting to and staying in the Premier League is down to their Catholic manager Brendan Rodgers.

So come on Cardiff! In honour of your famous (to me!) Catholic Churches: St Joseph's, St Alban's, St Brigid's, St Patrick's, St Teilo's, St Mary of the Angels and the jewel in the crown: St Peter's (of Holy Roath, the site of the Martyrdom of Sts Phillip Evans and John Lloyd).

We need a Catholic flavour to our football team. Never mind a change to a red team strip, let's trim down the blue just a little (stripe on the shirt, plus blue shorts and socks) and get the yellow and white colours of the Vatican prominent on the shirt!

Name the stands after famous Saints or prayers: St Ninian Stand, Pater Noster dugout. A quick prayer before each match. Fr McKnight from St Peter's could sprinkle the team with Holy Water, perhaps the fans might intone the odd Ave Maria.

It's what Cardiff need to hit the big time!

So come on Cardiff! If you need an adviser to help you get the right ideas, names, logos, prayers etc... I shall be waiting for that email! My rates are very reasonable (in footballing terms).

Our Speckledys: And Calling on the Charity of a Celeb

Yes! Speckledys. According to the eggsperts (groan!) the Speckledy "is a modern hybrid and comes from a Rhode Island Red crossed with a Maran."

Our three Speckledys (Speckledies?) are variously coloured - one has a darkish mostly black head, one is half black and half grey, and one is mostly grey (like the various ages of Old Pa Hurley). I must get some pics of them for you.

So now you know all the new hens we have: Belgian Black Bantams, Silkies and Speckeldeys. They all seem to live together, sleep together and play hopscotch together very well. OK, I made that last bit up, but you know what I mean.

They're not all laying yet, but we are getting eggs most days from the Silkies and Belgians. As with our last ex-battery Warrens, these new chickens are ideal for clearing most scraps from the table (they love spaghetti, old chips, bits of bread, pie crusts, rice, peas, cake and virtually anything else left over).

Our peas are steadily growing up the natural wood wigwam I made for them and this year's spuds are just coming through in the space I dug over for them next to the compost heap.

As we do more in the garden I think it would have been marvellous if we had a smallholding. We would love to have pigs, goats, ducks and more besides, but in an ex-council house with limited space there's only so much we can do... oh well, c'est la vie. I suppose until we win the lottery we'll just have to keep dreaming ;-)

Watching West Ham v Blackpool in the play-off final, it's much the same. Keep on dreaming.... that one day... maybe... 

Mrs H always says, whenever some celeb is in the news for taking drugs, why on earth they don't just use their money to get a little farm and stop being silly. I guess some do - they just don't make the headlines.

So hey if you are a celeb (we all know the celebs, utility bosses and dotcom rich look in here from time to time), bored, wondering what to do to break that boredom, how about buying us a farm? You could pop in whenever you like for tea and biccies, and we could certainly bung eggs, milk, cheese and bacon your way gratis. All for less then some people pay out on cars that depreciate when driven off the forecourt.

So come on! Chad Hurley? Sir Phillip Green? Sir Tom Jones? Simon Cowell? Or maybe Prince Charles? We really don't mind! Anyone who would like to help us have an organic small family farm... I shall be waiting for the email!

Friday, 18 May 2012

40 Little Friends

It's been another rough day.

I was just starting to think that my/our recent run of bad luck was coming to an end.

The roof was finally fixed after years of problems and recent leaks, holes and storms (rearrange that order if you like).

We are in that pleasant period when the roof is snug and dry but the builders' bill has yet to land.

Anyways, after an 'orrible toothache the antibiotics the dentist prescribed actually worked and even work this week has been (relatively) problem free: a rarity in and of itself!

I should have known I was being dragged into a false sense of security!

My usual outlook is one of, expect the worst and anything else is a bonus. I think I've become pessimistic after being deflated so many times when in a good mood. Sad but true.

Today was a perfect example. Just perking up and then: BHAM! (I mean as in wham or kappow - not shorthand for Birmingham, like Brum).

"We" lost £40. I wont go into details, but the money was misplaced and lost...

Now bear in mind I get upset if I lose £1 or even if I have to break into a tenner. So the loss of £40 was felt very hard.

That'll teach me to have a sunny disposition of an afternoon! A lesson learnt methinks.

I'll be wearing my black armband again tomorrow it seems. Perhaps with the numerals 4 and 0 chalked on it.

I just hope Old Pa Hurley doesn't find out! The shock of such a large loss in the family could see off even the hardiest of octogenarians - even a Battle of Britain veteran like him!

Monday, 14 May 2012

70% Say Keep Marriage As It Is: Sign the Petition

Thanks to Stuart, the average man at Ecumenical Diablog who knicked borrowed this off Fr Finigan, and I've now knicked borrowed this off both of them.

I wonder if any of those pictured here had a best man who forgot the rings... hmmm?

The Avengers Assemble? Spend Your Money on a Bottle of Highland Park!

After a week in which everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong, Mrs H suggested that we (her and I, the grown ups if you like) should take some time out and go to the cinema.

So we did. The only film that seemed suitable, half decent and not a cartoon or similar was Avengers Assemble.

I'm a mug for a nostalgic film
So we bought our tickets then went for a bite to eat and a drink. I had a beer with my vittles. The drink cost £2.70. If Old Pa Hurley is reading this he might well have fallen off his seat. No, not from imbibing too much Brains Dark, but from such a cost. To the rest of us it seems quite a normal price.

The idea - as passed into law in Scotland - that there should be a minimum price on beer would hit people like me, who enjoy the occasional beer or a wee tipple at home a couple of times a week. Even moreso those who do likewise who are struggling on limited incomes, a small pension etc.

I know binge drinking and problem drinking is a problem, but as with speed bumps placed through towns, this all seems to hit the many and the law-abiding just because a tiny minority can't behave themselves.

Anyway, we went off to watch the film. Hmmm. Don't even get me started on why oh why we have to sit through almost 30 mins of adverts (including some films I now know virtually the entire plotlines of, and a series of local authority adverts - tax money well spent???)

A couple sitting in the same row left after 60 mins. We left after90 mins. It was painful. Like Power Rangers pretending to be for grown ups. X hits Y who then fights Z who starts to argue with A, who doesn't want B to lose his temper, who then fights C, who's taken out by X.... and so on  ad infinitum.

All the special effects etc. just made it a mind-numbingly annoying boredom.

Why is it when I want a break from the woes of daily life, the trials and tribulations of the week, I never get to see a thoughtful, inspiring film?

The last film I saw that made me think, was nostalgic, had real characters and was equally happy and sad, was the Iron Lady. She certainly beats the Avengers into a cocked hat! I'll drink to that.

Monday, 7 May 2012

'Ere - Don't You Support Cardiff City Geezer?

What? Me? Support Cardiff City?

No... I'm a Swansea fan me!

(and the cock crowed for the third time).

Will the Barrow Boys roll Over?

Today's the day.

Cardiff City only have to get 3 goals past West Ham. Easy peasy!

It's raining this morning on our little plot in God's own country. I hope this isn't a metaphor for this afternoon's footie.

If Cardiff fail this afternoon I am going to have to organise a Rosary Crusade for next year's campaign! I did get a tweet sent onto me from one good soul saying how he had turned to (Our Lord's kinsman) St Jude, the Patron Saint of lost causes in an effort to gain heaven's help for the Bluebirds.

I fear that short of every single Cardiff player running onto the pitch, dropping to his knees and saying the Nicene Creed in a public display of Faith, Cardiff may well be out on their... erm... ear!

But if you are a Catholic and a Cardiff fan (and why wouldn't you be?) you know that Hope is one of the greatest virtues.

Nil Desperandum dear friends. Just don't look for solace in the form of the Cardiff Blues (for overseas readers: our currently losing-form rugby team).

There's still a few hours, so raise your voices. As you work, travel or potter this morning sing the Hail Mary (in Latin of course- what are you, a liberal?). Who knows...

Dare we dream the impossible? I know there must be a lot of Catholics in East London, but for today let's pretend they're all heretics, heathens and homo's... I know, I know. Just call me Gareth 'Clutching at Straws' Hurley.

Otherwise, if the unthinkable happens and anyone asks me this evening I may be so stressed out I might have to say I'm a Swansea fan (before the cock crows thrice).

Now where's my blue and white jester's hat (the one with the bells on)?

Sunday, 6 May 2012

And Our Second New Breed of Chicken is...

Ooooh the suspense!

We have a hen and cockerel: a pair of black Belgian Bantams!

And the good news is the hen has started to lay already.

They are two little critters and so the cockerel isn't too boisterous or aggressive, but does like to "sound off" from time to time.

Along with the pair of Silkie hens they have added a distinct sense of fun and the exotic to our run.

More news to follow on our last new breed of hens...

And some sad news too. Our last of the ex-battery Warren Hens looks like it will be dead within 24 hours. It's a little over 4 years since we got our four ex-batteries and they did us proud, giving us an egg a day each for circa three years, then they gradually stopped and died off over the last year or so.

Funnily enough when we put the new hens in last weekend the ex-battery Old Hen was feisty enough to put on a bit of a fight, to exert her seniority. And now she's almost lifeless and at life's end. C'est la vie. Literally.

Oh - and by the way, for those interested, we have three baby goldfish in the pond. One seems to gradually be getting a little lighter, the others are still black.

I was down there the other day and I thought I could hear a frog croaking. Could one of our tadpoles from last year be returning? It's an exciting time in the garden at Hurley Towers...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

What game?

Let's not mention the Cardiff v West Ham match OK?

It's not my week...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

And Our First New Breed is... the Silkie!

It all went a bit 1940s yesterday. We woke to more water coming in (dripping on Mr. Polite's school uniform!), and minus a (working) washing machine!

I am wearing a black armband now in memory of the money I had to part with. Whoever said 'parting is such sweet sorrow' is an idiot. It's not sweet at all. I didn't even have time to get to know many of those twenty pound notes!

But here we are, roof patched up by yours truly (until it is replaced - next week we hope) and with a new washing machine (six loads yesterday alone says Mrs H!).

So onto more pleasant things...


Here's a pic of one of the new breeds of chicken we got last Saturday. We got a pair of Silkies. And they are laying (their small) eggs already.

They are cute as anything, have a gorgeous and weird little sound (like a coo rather than a cluck), can't fly and so are more than welcome in our little run (after the headache of chasing our ex-batteries around the neighbours' gardens when we first got them!

All the new chooks have settled in well now, the Old Hen (last of our ex-batteries) has stopped bullying the newbies, and they are all going in the coop at night and cuddling up together.

More news on our other breeds soon...

Tense and exciting isn't it?

Better than the X Factor and others of the genre. Mind you, stubbing your big toe or eating cold custard is better than watching the preening, wailing wannabe-celebs.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Chickens, Cardiff City, Storm, Holes in Roof and Olympics SAM Defence Systems - Just Another Weekend

Well it's been quite a weekend.
  • We finally got some new chickens on Saturday. Unable to get ex-battery hens as last time, we got a selection of breeds at a livestock market, which was a weird mix of salt of the earth farmers, inbreds, middle class welly-wearers, scary men in hunting gear - and us. More news on that (and photo's) soon.
  • Cardiff won against Crystal Palace on Saturday so now they're through to the play-offs and with lessened expectations than in the previous two years of play-offs experience, it's not so much a case of "we will win" as it is one of "every stage is a bonus." So it's West Ham as the first team to beat... Bluebirds versus the Hammers. 
  • On Sunday the storms hit and on returning from Mass we discovered two small(ish) holes in our roof (and two of our neighbours were similarly afflicted). With more heavy rain forecast for tonight/tomorrow it looks like we'll all need snorkels.
  • Poor Dad Hurley (yep, me!) was up in the loft in the cavity betwixt the plasterboard and the brick wall, pushing temporary materials into the holes just to stop the bulk of the water coming in. Lots of dirt, cobwebs and dripping water later... job done. For now.
  • Our poor chooks were very bedraggled on only their second day at Hurley Towers. They must have been wondering what they let themselves in for. That plus our last existing ex-battery hen -- the Big Momma of the run -- is bullying a bit, especially when it comes to settling down for the night, getting to the food scraps etc.
  • Today we had eggs from the smallest of our new breeds (more info soon!) which is good going. Due to the stress of moving, even the ex-batteries took almost a week to start laying when we first got them (three years ago I think), so just a couple of days with a big bullying mother hen, mixed in with three other chicken breeds (yes, four in total), our newbies are doing pretty well.
  • Today we didn't hear from the MoD or the govt about the surface to air missile (SAM) battery to defend the Olympic sites and its placement on our roof. I'm sure this is an oversight, and just so they know for the price of a new roof we'd be happy to oblige. If unsuitable for the SAM battery, perhaps a couple of soldiers could sit up their with binoculars looking out for Al Qaeda baddies? We're easy either way.
Comin' atcha!

And if one of the missiles accidentally goes off and lands on the West Ham training ground, giving the scattering players sprained ankles and a valuable life-lesson in the depredations of football players in Afghanistan and other war-torn regions, well... no real harm done.

Anyhow, life goes on... Patch is snoozing on the settee and breaking wind. Yes, he's quite the social commentator.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Come on Cardiff! Beat Crystal Palace for me and my Keyring

Come on Cardiff!
Nick Robinson interviewed Nick Clegg on the news tonight at the Cardiff City football ground.

Is this an omen for Cardiff's plans to get into the play-offs via a win against Crystal Palace? And if so is it a good or bad one?

Just this morning Old Ma Hurley sent me a present that I shall cherish for many years: an official Cardiff City Match Programme Sponsor keyring.

It made me smile all day (and that's a rare thing all too often these days). Such a memento - and my wallet remained intact and unopened. If anyone sees it and thinks I dish out hefty sums... boy oh boy, they will have made a mammoth misjudgement.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

It Has All Gone a Bit 1970s

Better than an Alarm Clock!
Poor old SAS Eddie felt a bit of a drip this (Weds.) morning. Literally.

The downpour overnight had weedled its way, like a weedly thing, through our dilapidated roof and was dripping at a worrying rate through his ceiling.

Leaking ceilings, recession, frozen wages, inflation in food, fuel etc.

It's all so very 1970s.

So now we'll have to get our roof fixed - either that or buy Ed a snorkel and change his name to SBS Eddie.

Still, after the boys recent camping with pillows and delivered kebabs this could be divine intervention...

So now the big black rain cloud has dissipated, the only black cloud is the one over my head. As you may know, even the thought of spending money can bring me out in hives ... so the idea of getting the roof re-tiled? Ooh la la!

I think either SBS Eddie will have to get used to his snorkel and flippers, or I shall be wearing a black armband for the next few years.

I wonder if they'd do a minutes silence for me and my wallet before Cardiff's match at Selhurst Park this Saturday?

I may adopt an online silence for a while... The tears welling up in my eyes at the mere thought of breaking the rusted padlock off my wallet is starting to blur my vision even as I tap now.

Those snorkel-cum-flipper sets aren't cheap you know! I may even have to break into a tenner. [sobs uncontrollably].

I wonder if I could train him to hold an umbrella in his sleep?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Media Really is Nothing to Shout About

More shouting - But is it news?
The other day I went on an email website, the kind that has news stories on its home page.

On this day the news in question was that 'Bianca' on Eastenders loses her temper and shouts at someone else on Eastenders.

Quite aside from the apparent dearth of crime, economics, politics, sport or other news stories of varying degrees of importance, I am left wondering:
  • Is what happens on Eastenders really news?
  • Even if it is - is someone shouting on Eastenders really newsworthy?
  • And if it is - what does that tell us about the media?

Tolkien Documentary Shows What Media Could be
On a recent superb documentary about JRR Tolkien's Catholicism (yes I watched it - thanks Stuart!) we were warned that the palantir which presented twisted and evil facts to Denethor leading him to be demoralised, surrendering to evil and ultimately taking his own life, was akin to (and translated directly into English as) television.

When I think of the impact documentaries such as that on Tolkien have, it makes me realise the good that the media could do; but when I think of Eastenders and the reporting of it in the media I am reminded that all too often it falls far short of any form of decency, and pushes rubbish.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Dilemma of the Modern World

I woke up this morning and had quite the dilemma (though the Wittertainment chaps say it can also be a dilemna).

I was dog-gone tired, though the dog known as Patch (PTD) had NOT gone and was acting is a bolster, stretched from the pillow region to the knee area, between my good self and Mrs H.

And yet my tummy was making weird little noises, and an aching hunger came upon me, so I knew I needed some sustenance (toast, cereal - some sort of traditional breakfast, I don't like to be revolutionary, especially early in the morning).

So what was I to do? Having not got to sleep until circa 2am I was pooped.

Should I decamp, leaving Mrs H and PTD in their cosy slumber, in the welcoming, all-embracing, cosy folds of the duvet? Could I really thrust a limb out from the warm depths of the bed into the cold air of the room - only to be followed by the rest of my hitherto blissfully toastie-warm body?

Or would I be a coward and decide that a rumbling tumski was a price worth paying for more time snoozing?

In our opulent world, figuratively speaking, this is what comes close to a moral dilemma.

Do I have to get up?
That's what I thought anyway as I turned over gave PTD a scratch on the chin (Mrs H doesn't like her chin being scratched until mid afternoon, a norm in civilised society), and grabbed another 15 minutes drowsy, if hungry, slumber.

I am, if nothing else a coward who fears the cold air of the morning.

Here endeth the lesson.

Except... it did cross my mind that if I were a decadent liberal, a homosexualist trying to rip apart societal norms or just a lazy student, I would probably have some cold half-eaten (even day old) foodstuff to hand and some flat old beer nearby to wash it down with.

So whilst I initially thought that I was being decadent and lazy in turning back into the welcoming warmth of the Hurley bed, I now realise that in not behaving like someone intent on changing the millennial meaning of marriage, and embracing my hunger, I was in fact supporting the struggle of Catholic tradition, general goodness and the centrality of marriage as one man - one woman in society.

And I hadn't even done too much yet! The day could only get better from here on in!

Capping Donations

In light of the debate raging betwixt the Labour and Tory parties, can I just say here and now that I am perfectly happy for anyone wishing to donate funds to this blog (aka Get the Bills Paid and Anything Left Over to the Hurley Holiday-Every-5-Years Fund) to be capped at £5,000.

If only so that I feel I am setting an example.

£5K would certainly be enough to earn a place at the Hurley kitchen table (fish on Fridays).

You can even stroke Patch the Dog (50p per stroke) - pictured.

Never let it be said I'm not willing to help our politicians reset their "moral compasses" ( for a minimal fee).

I'm not so much a 'taxi for hire' as a rusty old bike lent up against the railings that you might get a few hundred yards out of before the chain comes off.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cardiff Beat Derby with Papal Approval

...And God smiled on Cardiff, and Cardiff City beat derby 2-0. The Pope did a day-after-my-birthday jig. And Mark Hudson Cardiff's captain scored a goal from within his own half.

Even Theresa May thought it was a great day, apparently. I don't know about Abu Qatada - I don't think he likes football.

But here in Wales...

Life is good.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Pope Benedict, St Magnus, Folk Music and Real Ale

You knew today was special didn't you?

Yes - it's the Pope's birthday.

I don't know if we can get paper triple crowns (if not why not?) but anyway, a very Alles Gute zum Geburtstag to the Holy Father, our very own German Shepherd.

It's also St Magnus Day - the Patron Saint of the Orkney Islands and as most of the people in our house have an Orcadian ancestry it seemed fitting for a decent celebration.

So off we went to a folk evening in a local(ish) tavern. There was a great mix of music, English, Welsh and Irish (no Scots that I recognised, but you can't have everything), with all sorts of influences and real ale on tap. Mmmm.

Happy Birthday Holy Father! We sang along in your honour.

And Wigan beat Arsenal 2-1 (hoorah for the underdog) and so all in all it was a great evening. Now if Cardiff can win tomorrow and keep their place in the play-offs... oh we hope so!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Kebabs and Pillows: Must be Camping

Who says modern kids are spoilt or the "X Box generation" don't get out climbing trees, jumping streams and picking flowers off roundabouts for their mums (sorry mum, it's the thought that counts).

Son 1 and Son 2 went camping with their chums this week (it being school hols). It turns out that the Spirit of Bear Grylls hasn't quite reached our neck of the woods yet.

  1. Dad's Taxi was on hand to ferry them and their kit to within yards of the chosen site.
  2. When I asked what was in one large bag I was told "pillows" - which takes roughing it to a whole new level.
  3. They had kebabs delivered to the site later that night to top-up their nosh, which included Super Noodles in Tupperware boxes.

Life on the edge eh?

This must be the new trend of "glamping," apart from the fact they were in a woods behind an industrial estate and looked like death-warmed-up (with a strong whiff of campfire) when Dad's Taxi rolled up to collect the intrepid survivalists next morning, to deliver them home for showers and a day in bed!

There's only so much pushing things to the limit that teenagers can take!

I'm so glad I can be a middle-aged curmudgeon and leave camping to the younger generation, which even with added pillows and kebabs, holds no sway over me.

You can't beat a comfy bed, a fridge, lights, a good film, slippers, a spare fridge and a non-smelly heat source for a good night!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Old Pa Hurley and William Wallace

William Wallace in Cardiff City colours
We all know that William Wallace was Welsh (Wallace means "Welsh") but it was not until the other day that Old Pa Hurley told me (over Easter Sunday lunch no less!) that his chum when growing up and getting up to no good in the big smoke (Cardiff) was one William Wallace.

I knew Old Pa Hurley was old... but that old? Sheesh.

I was at least 5 years out.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

An Ode to William Hague

William Hague rarely looks vague,
In fact he looks intense.
Sepp Blatter is rarely the latter,
I wish that it made sense.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Good Friday and Our Chicken(s)

It's Good Friday.

I suppose it's sad to look around and see that today is regarded by most of our countrymen as 'just another day.'

If it weren't for the likes of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell, we too might have huge processions involving whole towns leading to the Church, carrying the Cross, statues and banners, full of colour, beauty and emotion, like our cousins on the Continent.

Oh well.

For those who have followed the news of our chickens (rumour has it is closely followed in the Kremlin), the third one has now died. We now have just one old bird (no jokes about a female member of the family) left in our run and she's no longer laying eggs... We really will have to get some new chooks very soon.

Somehow the death of one of our old chums and planning new chicks seems to fit in with Easter... death and resurrection.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Happy Birthday to Old Ma Hurley

'Twas on the 3rd of April that Old Ma Hurley said:
"Where's that naughty Gareth - is he still asleep in bed?
"He must be a-snoozin' late, for the phone it hasn't rung.
"If he doesn't phone me sharpish I'll smack his little bum."

But still the phone stayed silent - just what was going on?
Old Ma stayed on phone-watch. "It surely won't be long
Until my Gaggsy phones right here, to sing 'Oh lovely Mum
A very Happy Birthday' (and if he don't I'll smack his bum)."

Others phoned -- and even called -- especially to say
'Happy Birthday' to Old Ma, on her very special day.
But where was her favourite child? (yes Gareth, doubting Tom!)
Still their was silence from her cherished, favourite one.

Oh woe is me for I am him, yes Gareth is my name
And yes today I forgot again (my memory's to blame)
Last year I thought it was the 5th and despite times being hard
This year I thought it was the 4th (but at least I sent a card!)

So now I know it is the 3rd, I don't think I'll forget (!)
This time next year I'll phone first thing (and even better yet)
I'll make sure it's a super day I'll be up nice and early
To wish my mum felicitations: "Happy Birthday Old Ma Hurley"

Instant Happiness Guaranteed

Eat Pork Pies!

Drink Brains Beer!

Get to Confession and Mass for Easter!

© Hurley Happiness Campaign.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Government Plan My Canal: Now the Hurley 10 Point Plan

Redistribution of Water to Deprived Areas
Can I just say that my idea of opening canals from Wales to South East England surfaced as a possible government policy in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph!

It's obvious that someone high up (hi Dave) is reading my blog, as my ideas are seeping into the higher echelons of government.

Never let it be said I fail to take advantage of my new power for the betterment of society.

Here's my Hurley 10 Point Plan that I now expect the government to enact and which will bring about instant happiness, a revived economy and an all-pervading grooviness that will spread the feel-good factor of the Welsh Grand Slam right across the UK:

Er sir... You'll have to put your shirt back on!
  1. End VAT on hot take aways (as pre-1984) so we can all celebrate with fish and chips (and drop VAT back to 15% or even 10%).
  2. Promote meat-free Fridays (you can say it's for the environment to placate all the liberals).
  3. Ban men with moobs going topless when the sun shines for the sanity of us all. And men over 25 can be arrested for dressing like teenagers (3/4 trousers, silly wordy t-shirts etc.)
  4. Ban "boom boom" bass-heavy music in boy racer cars (whatever the weather).
  5. Next 'quantatatatative easing' - give us the money so we can pay it into the banks - great for us and the economy, banks end up with the money - so same end result.
  6. Bring Doctor Martens back to Northants and give 50% vouchers to all. Decent shoes for school, work and walking the dog.
  7. Drop the TV license and replace it with a single 1 minute advert between each programme (I detest adverts - but I resent paying for the BBC even more).
  8. Cap utility bills at a small percentage above the wholesale price (so no huge profits).
  9. Make the national Saints' Days public holidays with processions, celebrations, concerts etc.
  10. And drop the whole gay marriage thing which is just... erm... so... erm... gay!
There. That's the starting point for wellbeing and social cohesion.Just send a car for me and I'll get to Westminster to discuss their implementation forthwith.

And there's so much more good work to do! I am planning my campaign to promote pork pies and Brains beer right now!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Another Hurley Hero

Can I just say this has nothing to do with me:

Mass Cancelled as Fr Hurley is Away

But Hoorah and Huzzah that another Hurley is on the side of the saints and general goodness.

Go go Fr Hurley! Sock it to the heretics.

And after your time away to recharge your batteries get back to the pulpit and let's have some sermons that resonate with fire and brimstone! Old Pa Hurley expects nothing less.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Royal Mail: More Expensive for a Worse Service

This poster is quite famous to connoisseurs of wartime and propaganda posters. It encourages people to post their letters in the morning.

It seems today we need a new poster: encouraging the Post Office to deliver our mail in the morning.

In the last few years mail to Hurley Towers has gone from being delivered circa 8am to being delivered at any time between 1pm and 2pm.

With this worsening service the PO is now putting up its rates by an inflation busting 14p to 50p (2nd class). What they don't tell us is that the heavier items and overseas items will go up by a comparatively more expensive amount.

It seems we are expected to pay more for a worse service!

This seems a fitting lesson on the modern world. Everything seems to get more expensive and the item/service seems to get worse. And perhaps worse of all, when working people are feeling the pinch, the government just seems to sit by and do nothing!

The increase in post will effect small businesses, OAPs (some of whom don't do emails etc.) and those who can least afford it. It will bring about additional costs which will impact on firms' wage bills or on the price of items, impacting ether on inflation or the wage packet of those fighting to pay the bills (all of which seem to go up).

All the while, we (the poor plebs) are left twiddling our thumbs, unable to have a say, just having to fork out more money, for a poor service. Just so the Royal Mail can be "pimped up" prior to privatisation. And what after that? Will buying a stamp be like buying a train ticket? I shudder to think...

Sadly I don't have 250K so can't get a sit-down meal with David and Samantha Cameron to air my woes. C'est la vie.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Tip of the Week: Water for Drought-Hit England

In those areas of England hit by drought (NB: certainly not Wales, Scotland or Ireland!) they have to conserve their water resources. What a great way for the Celtic nations to make money from the rich South East! Sell them water. Not least as it's only 100 odd miles from the Welsh border to the South East.

One big canal scheme would get lots of people in to work and would provide an income for Wales from the rich South East of England.

So come on Mr. Cameron! Put down your cutlery and get off your horse. We have three problems to solve: unemployment, the wobbling economy and a drought.

Meanwhile for those in the South East of England worried about water usage, here's a poem to help when doing your daily ablutions:

If It's Yellow: Let it Mellow.
If it's Brown: Flush it Down.
If it's Black: See the Quack.
If it's Pink: See a Shrink.

Thank you.

My services as an adviser to government on the environment are available. Ministers and Whitehall hirelings need only drop me a line for my very reasonable rates. Pip pip.