Avatar Crossword

Time to sit down with a nice cup of tea, and perhaps pull a rug across your knee to keep you warm like an old person, while you have a go at the Pouring Beans Crossword Puzzle. There’s no prizes, it’s just for fun, and possibly not even that.

Answers in a few weeks. Good luck.


1: Morrissey’s typical remark on seeing some birds (8)
5: Fair description of former regular commenter Pete Doherty (4)
8: The Beans Massive wrote a book about a Magic one (4)
11: A Lego car of the right size (8)


1: A Montessori school activity requires children to pour these (5)
2: Chris’s favourite brand of pesto. Making crosswords is difficult and sometimes you just have to go with whatever fits (5)
3: The location of Dr Rombobulous Combobulation’s hat in relation to his head (4)
4: What we store on the Magical Computers (4)
6: A Jewish priest. It has nothing to do with the Beans but, again, it fits, and beggars can’t be choosers (5)
7: The number we need and are (5)
9: A Smidge Manly impersonator stole this from the real Smidge (4)
10: Noise made by lions and also former regular commenter Brian Blessed (4)

Avatar Take a trip with me

Pack your bag, grab a coat and head off with me to a mystical place, a place where only the brave may date to enter and only the fiercest survive. If you have the courage then perhaps you will make it to the very peak of n’cle.

In all honesty, I’ve never been to n’cle. It’s clearly listed on a lot of signs around here but whenever I head in the general direction it disappears. It is as though n’cle is more of a concept than anything else, it’s a state of mind. You don’t go to n’cle because you’re either there or you’re not. You can’t get there if you’re already there. Yeah, something deep and meaningful like that.

I have dreamt of hiring a helicopter and flying closely over the terrain in the hope of finding a physical, tangible thing. Perhaps n’cle is so small that only the locals know where it is. Perhaps it’s a stump in the middle of a dell, or a well, or a part of Hadrian’s Wall with a bad smell.

These are all theories though and none of which get me closer to n’cle. I will forever be chasing it, desperate to taste it, smell its goods and embed myself within its warm embrace. Embed? Definitely embed.

Avatar Here is a thing

The other day Ian sent me a text asking something about the new Beans editor, and I didn’t know the answer without having the editor in front of me to fiddle with. What I needed was a new post with some words in it. So I opened the Beans, made a new post, and started typing some nonsense to fill up the screen.

I just closed it when I’d seen what I needed to see, but next time I came here, my nonsense was still there, faithfully saved for me by the kindly Beans. At first I thought that was just because of some kind of auto-save function, but then I read it and realised: no. This was no automatic save. The Beans had seen what I had typed and recognised it for what it was. Sheer poetry. It calls to mind the most uplifting words in the English language. So, rather than keep it to myself, I have chosen to publish the words I wrote below, so that you can enjoy them too.

I have chosen to title this, simply, “Untitled”.

Rum te tum

Boo be doo

Lal la laaa

Hoo be hoo

Rum pum pum


Lumpy pumps

Trumpy flumps

Grumpy sumps

Avatar A narrow escape

I’ve been worrying about this for literally years.

Some time ago – I don’t know, let’s say in 2011 or 2012 – I was in my flat and I was multitasking. I thought myself pretty cool at the time. Task 1 was sharpening some kitchen knives by swiping the blades through my little knife sharpener thing. Task 2 was watching something on TV – chances are it was QI XL on Dave. I could literally do both those things at once. I was amazing.

To achieve this state of advanced productivity, I positioned myself in the kitchen of my flat, facing the TV, using the backrest of the sofa as my workbench.

Some time later – weeks, or months maybe – someone came over to my flat and asked me “what are these?” I followed their gesturing hand and found that the “these” in question were a number of incisions – knife wounds, no less – in several places on the top of the cushions at the back of my sofa.

Trouble is, it’s not my sofa, is it? No. It’s my landlord’s sofa.

I have been silently wondering how the seemingly inevitable conversation would go, and whether leaving it until I moved out, years later, would make things better or worse. Do I plead ignorance? Or do I admit everything and hope that honesty is the best policy?

Last week, fortune smiled upon me. The people moving into my flat after me will bring all their own furniture. They don’t want a sofa. Our new flat is unfurnished and we need a sofa. My landlord has a sofa that they no longer want.

And so I now find myself in legal possession of the cosmetically-damaged sofa, without having to explain its slightly damaged cushions to anyone, and having got away with my careless crime scot-free.

A narrow escape.

Avatar Turning back the clock

This week I’ve left behind the glamorous world I have occupied for the last year and returned to my old job. Those of you with long memories will recall that it principally involves pushing buttons when foreign people point at me.

There have been several effects as a result of this change.

I find myself catapulted back into a life I last inhabited in January 2015. We all remember that month and everything that happened in it. For me, Uptown Funk is still at the top of the charts and Lithuania has only just adopted the Euro. I won’t actually buy the blue and green striped jumper I’m currently wearing for another ten months. I am living in the past.

I am left with a sense of malaise, which comes from the feeling that my career is moving backwards and not forward, and from the changes that have happened to my old job in my absence. I am also getting re-acquainted with many of my old colleagues which involves talking to people. I don’t like talking to people.

Others have been affected too. My beloved Crab Mug, once the darling of a major broadcaster’s master control room, has returned to my flat, where it feels deflated and redundant, but conversely my white coffee cup (ceramic with silicone lid and grip, in a design that makes it look like a disposable cup from a coffee shop) has been liberated from my locker, which had been shut for the last 14 months, and is enjoying something of a renaissance.

This has been a difficult transition for me, one whose effects will be felt through my life, like aftershocks from some sort of career-based earthquake, for months to come. Some of the results are positive and others are negative.

But one thing is for sure. Everyone I know will have to put up with me complaining about it for the forseeable future, and in that sense, they may be the real losers here.

Avatar Grand Moments in Grand Designs, episode 43

Hello and welcome to another edition of Grand Moments in Grand Designs.

Today we look back on the never-to-be-forgotten moment when Kevin off of Grand Designs was going to stand on an arch that had been made out of tiles and plaster by some bloke who was building a house on Grand Designs.

Grand Designs

Here we see them linking arms in preparation for stepping onto the arch, but this still image has a poignancy and emotion all its own, evoking as it does the tension and the energy of Greco-Roman wrestlers engaged in noble combat.

Go on Kevin, deck him!

Wait, no, this is a celebration of unorthodox and innovative architectural practices. That’s not appropriate.

Next time, we look at the incredible time when Kevin off of Grand Designs wore a particularly vibrant jumper and scarf combination on the day the double glazing was late.

Avatar A small but gratifying observation

It has been said, somewhat unkindly, that the EP recently released by The Rapples does not represent the pinnacle of rap music and that, in fact, The Rapples may have tossed it off without much attention paid to either lyrical content (cf. Quick Go), ability to rap (cf. Crash and Burn) or, indeed, bothering to rap at all (cf. Toot Toot Beep Beep).

But these criticisms surely all come to nothing when you realise that one of the songs considered vital to the establishment of rap as a musical form is Rapture by Blondie. The nonsensical, barely rhythmic chatter in that song, masquerading as rap, about an alien that eats cars, is apparently not just legitimate rap but is a classic of the genre.

The Rapples can surely rest easy knowing that, at the absolute minimum, everything on “Space for an Ace” is vastly superior to that.

Avatar Wiping away history

Today I did a kind of cleaning I’ve never done before: I cleaned the keys of my computer keyboard. Not where crumbs have landed in between them – the keys themselves. Some of them were dirty, you see, with a sort of browny-grey film on them. The keys I use all the time were white, the ones I use occasionally had a white middle and dirty edges, and the ones I never use were just dirty all over.

It’s annoyed me for a while but today I hit on the solution. I took a rubber to the keyboard and rubbed out all the dirt. Now it’s sparkling clean and all the keys are white. But while I was erasing the filth, it occurred to me that in its dirty state I effectively had a keyboard-sized infographic showing which keys I use and which I don’t. For some reason, the square brackets were completely filthy, even though I’m sure I use them sometimes, while the weird § key had a clean spot, even though I can’t remember ever having used it before typing this sentence. Comma was dirtier than full stop. Q was cleaner than Z.

Even weirder, the numbers got gradually dirtier from left to right, so 1 was clean while 9 was pretty mucky.

It’s nice to have a clean keyboard again but I feel like I’ve lost a historical record of the letters I type and the keys I don’t need. A little bit of history wiped away.