Maplehurst Ramblings


Its been a fun-packed Spring so far. I gather one of our esteemed ex-residents has beenBean on a Chain starring in an emotionally charged courtroom drama. Sadly for him the verdict was guilty as charged (apparently actually owning the road is no excuse for driving like Toad of Toad Hall) and I gather there is more to come in the near future. 

Anyway, onwards and upwards with items of note over the past month.

(1) Well done to David Christian. 
Residents of Park Lane will have noticed a svelte figure clad in lime green pounding the byways of RH13 recently. This was David Christian (for those who do not know him) and he competed in then London Marathon last weekend. He finished it in the astounding time of about four and a quarter hours. That is amazing - he even beat Charlie Dymock and Gordon Ramsay! So once again, well done David. Buy him a beer when you see him! (PS if anyone else did it, I haven't mentioned you but well done to you too, I couldn't even cycle that far!)

(2) Radio 2 and an interview with Dr. Colin Barron in March
Every evening on the train home I listen to Radio 2 on my personal stereo. Its a nice way to pass an uneventful forty minutes (or ninety minutes if Connex are up to their usual ticks!). Radio 2 has come a long way since the days of the Mike Samms Singers and The White Heather Club. These days its all AOR (That's Adult Oriented Rock i.e. proper music*) and spicy chat.

The DJ on in the early evening is Johnny Walker. One day he had an interview with a chap called Colin Barron who is a doctor specialising in Voice Technology - Thought Field Therapy and who analyses your voice with some form of holographic spectrometer in order to determine what foodstuffs are most likely to "poison" your system. He claims to be able to solve 97.5% of all eating disorders / phobias /compulsions by the use of this new technique. Hello I thought, this sounds seriously Californian and began to pay attention more closely than usual. The man gave two demonstrations of his technique which involved volunteers from the studio tapping various parts of their anatomy and humming popular tunes while moving their eyes around in their sockets. At this point I wondered if I had tuned into a Care in The Community show or something because I found it pretty damn hard to take seriously what I was listening to.

By the time the interview finished I was hugely impressed with what I had heard and e-mailed the good doctor asking for more information. He sent me back a most charming letter with further details of the sort of thing he does - if you are interested in investigating his methods further, all you need to do is go to the following website and have a look around.:- Enjoy it!

(3) SEEBOARD Food for thought. 
I have had not one but TWO meter reading courtesy of SEEBOARD in the last few weeks. We did our due diligence on the meter readers and checked their credentials but I thought it was a bit odd to say the least. Make sure you check out whoever comes to your door to read meters.

Interestingly also, SEEBOARD have told me that they must replace my meter with a new one and that they were allowed to come into my house and do so under some Electricity Supply Act of 19 something-or-other. I told them that they might like to consider re-phrasing their letter and actually ask for my permission to enter my home. I also told them that until they did so they could jolly well bugger off. I haven't heard back yet but perhaps they are busy preparing court action against me.

Furthermore, SEEBOARD have been busy initiating a programme of tree lopping near electricity supply lines. If they come to your door and ask permission to cut back branches, make sure you are clear on how much they are going to lop off BEFORE you sign a consent form allowing them to tear your verges up. Make sure, also, that they clean up after themselves - there have been a few unsightly piles of trimmings left around recently.


(4) Soil de-compaction.

Apologies to those of you who hear loud noises coming from my garden two weeks ago. I finally contracted a soil decompacter to come and aerate my lawn. The gentleman who did it is called David Dowding and he runs a business called Goroots. You can visit the company website at the following address

Jean Griffin very kindly came along to observe the process (thank you Jean!) and took some photographs of sample areas. It will be very interesting to see how effective the decompaction process is. I will keep you informed.

We now have a well de-compacted lawn that needs nourishment - I will be trialling two fertilisers, both are organic chicken manure based soil conditioners, one is in a peaty loam form and another is in pellet form. The price difference is astounding (400 versus 100) so it will be quite telling which one is the most effective.

(5) Hunting ban.

Now lets get very controversial - hunting with hounds. Totalitarians may wish to close their browsers now. 

A short while ago Alun Michael became an instrument of Tony Blair's policy of appeasing his own back benchers as a thank-you for standing by Stephen Byers. He did this by announcing a vote in Parliament on banning hunting with hounds. Predictably the Labour majority (with its attendant seething class hatred and inner city bigotry) kicked in and a large vote to ban hunting was recorded. The House of Lords (despite its emasculation and population of Blair placemen) recorded a completely opposite vote.

The battle lines are now drawn and Alun Michael has announced a six month "consultation period" before any action is taken. He has also threatened to invoke the Parliament Act, which is interesting because it is an illegitimate piece of legislation in its own right!

No-one should be in any doubt what is happening here, Blair is making policy up as he goes along and is digging himself into an ever-deeper hole with the countryside.

The Countryside Alliance has decided that enough is quite enough and is coming out fighting.

We will be having a Summer of Discontent which will be targeted at the Government. It will consist of a series of high-profile actions culminating in what will be the biggest Civil Rights march in Post War Britain (possibly ever) - but more of that in a minute. Many unaffiliated organisations will be carrying out their own actions over the Summer and it remains to be seen what is in store.

Now for the march itself:-

The Countryside Alliance was cruelly cheated of the right to march last year. Foot and Mouth spread so fast  in the UK that it was felt that to have the march would be an act of supreme folly indeed. A pity really because "Tony" was quaking in his boots over the prospect of not being very popular with over 500,000 people marching on the streets of London.

We will be marching on Sunday the 22nd of  September through London and in excess of half a million people are expected to turn up.

The march will attract all the usual suspects, foxhunters, shooting folk (both game and sporting types), fishing people (but not Michael Foster!), falconers, coursers and just about anyone involved in fieldsports. Additionally there will be many rural trades allied to hunting and the other sports represented at the march. Most importantly, there will be many people on the march who are not involved in any fieldsports who feel that the Government is perpetrating a grave injustice on rural folk.

If you think the government should think again on hunting and listen to the voice of decent ordinary people, or even if you don't have any particularly strong opinions on the matter but want to stand up to a nasty piece of post-modernist tyrannical legislation then please come along to the march. You will be more than welcome, and you will be taking part in an historic event.

NB:-The Government has pledged to be fair, open and objective in considering the hunting issue, this will be a first for them.

If you haven't already done so yet, then please read the Burns Inquiry Report which makes no case whatsoever for any form of ban on hunting


July the 12th, 13th and 14th this year sees the return of The Goodwood Festival of Speed. If you don't want to be plagued by a weekend of continuous helicopter noise then start preparing to write into South Lodge. I will have full contact details ready for next month. 

(7) Did you know this?

A friend sent me the following snippets of historical "information". Apparently this is what the Americans believe is the etymology (remember that from the Pub Quiz last year???) of words in common usage today....

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in  May and were still smelling pretty good by June.  However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body Odour.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children.  Last of all the babies.

By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it, hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for other small animals:
mice, rats & bugs - lived in the roof.  When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof, hence the saying,  "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the  house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed.  Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That is how canopy beds came into existence. 

The floor was dirt.  Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying  "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet.  So they spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door  it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entryway, hence a - "threshold."
They cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.  Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They mostly ate vegetables and did not get much meat.  They would eat the stew for dinner leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been in there for a quite a while, hence the rhyme, "peas pudding hot, peas pudding cold, peas pudding in the pot nine days old."
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.  It was a sign of wealth and that a man "could bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

Those with money had plates made of pewter.  Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so tomatoes were considered poisonous. Most people did not have pewter plates, but had trenchers, a piece of wood, with the middle scooped out like a bowl.  Trenchers were never washed and a lot of times worms got into the wood.  After eating off wormy trenchers, one would get "trenchmouth." Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust."

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey.  The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days.  Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake
up, hence the custom of holding a "wake."

England is old and small and they started running out of places to bury people.  So, they would dig up coffins and would take their bones to a house and reuse the grave.  When reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive.  So they thought they would tie a string
on their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.  Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell, thus, someone could be "saved by the bell," or was considered a "dead ringer".

Slightly more convincingly, I also read this, also from America:-

Does the statement, "We've always done it that way" ring any bells...?

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

But why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads?

Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads...?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. And bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.

Now the twist to the story...............
When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the
factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most
advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand  years ago by the width of a horse's bum.

(8) Fancy doing something a little bit different this year?

Take a look at the following website:-

Does anyone fancy coming a long to do this. Apparently the "sport" consists of rolling a gigantic inflatable ball down the side of a mountain with one or two people in it. Speeds of 50-60 kmh have been recorded which sounds like a bit of fun. I will suggest it to the Nuthurst Society.

(9) Real Music (hence the * in article 2 above).

Duncan EnglandLast night, the 20th April most of Nuthurst, Maplehurst and Copsale turned out to support Dave Toye and the Flying Toads who were performing a benefit gig in aid of The Copsale Village Hall. Click on picture.

The evening started well and just got better. A delicious Irish Stew was served at the interval (is there no end to Jean Griffin's talents???) and as the evening wore on the music got faster (and louder), the beers were downed quicker and the tempo of the evening increased. Poppy Reece won the children's dancing competition, so well done to her.Irish Night 20th April

The evening finished with a few contemporary renditions of Classic Irish songs (The Irish Rover and The Wild Rover). That nearly bought the house down (well it shook some dust from the rafters!).

(10) Berlin.

I spent two days this week in Berlin on business. What an amazing city and so cheap for a major capital city of Europe - i.e. taxis and beer cost less there than in Horsham! Check it out for a cheap weekend getaway, its only 2 hours away by air.



Simon  McClean 21st April 2002     last months MR's


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