Avatar Danger cycle

I recently got hold of a bike, in an attempt to do something energetic at least occasionally, rather than just spending literally my entire life either sitting down or being asleep.

What I didn’t count on was how dangerous it is round here. Get off the main roads and you suddenly find yourself in a terrifying danger zone of army firing ranges and other macho activities that are entirely incompatible with my naturally timid demeanour. A simple bicycle ride in the country suddenly becomes a horrifying scramble through live gunfire and explosions, like a scene from Rambo but with me in a bike helmet passing through the background.

Please find below a selection of pictures to document my emotions during a ride through this difficult environment.

Avatar Woodworking: working with wood

My birthday present this year was a two-day workshop using traditional woodworking tools to turn some freshly cut logs into a beautifully finished stool, complete with a hand-carved saddle seat. Yesterday I had the first day of the workshop, which was enormously enjoyable and satisfying. I’m going back next week to finish my masterpiece.

I sustained a number of blisters while using an axe, making these the most manly injuries of my life.

Anyway, I thought you would enjoy learning about some of the traditional woodworking tools that I used to work the wood.

Froe

This is a long blunt metal blade on the bottom of a big stick. You place it on a log and then smash it with a huge wooden club. Several such macho whackings will force it through the log and split it in two. This is highly enjoyable. If hammering your froe isn’t sufficiently noisy you can cast it aside and use an axe and a metal lumphammer instead, which will cause everyone’s ears to ring.

Axe

This is a sharp thing on a stick and you’ve seen one before. By putting a bit of wood on a block, and holding on to it with one hand, you can swing the axe at alarming speed towards the wood, and your fingers, causing bits to splinter off in all directions. If you are the sort of sturdy gung-ho chap who runs a woodworking course, you will do this with unbelievable force and precision, turning a log into a chair leg in a matter of seconds. If you are me you will spend ten minutes ineffectually chipping away at it while giving yourself blisters.

Shaving horse

For obvious reasons the mention of this device terrified me, but once I had been coaxed back into the room I discovered that it is a wooden apparatus, sometimes called a woodland vice, that you sit on. By bracing your feet against a footplate, you pivot a bar down onto your piece of wood, holding it in place while leaving both hands free to tinker with it. The wood can be released, moved and held down again with great speed by using your legs. I much preferred this device to both normal vices and normal horses.

Drawblade

This item has a name in two parts. “Draw” refers to the action of pulling it towards you. It has two handles, so you can grip it in both hands, and you pull it forcefully towards your stomach. “Blade” refers to the fact that, mounted between the handles, is a foot-long very sharp blade which, as mentioned, you are pulling forcefully towards your stomach. You can use this to shave slices off a piece of wood, turning an ineffectually chipped-at log into something resembling a chair leg.

Spokeshave

Once you’ve drawn your drawblade enough, you will have a roughly shaped piece of wood. To finesse its shape you can use a spokeshave, which is a little bit of wood, big enough to grip in both hands, with a razorblade mounted in the bottom. You use it in the same way, but get a much finer slice, enabling precision smoothing. It can also be used across the end grain to produce a surface as smooth as if you’d spent all day sanding it. I achieved a state of zen mindfulness while using this tool.

Adze

These tools vary between terrifying and precise. The axe was, for me, at the terrifying end of the spectrum until I met the adze. It’s like an axe, but with a longer handle, and its blade is curved and at right angles to the handle. You use it to carve curved shapes out of a piece of wood, and you do this by standing on the wood with your legs apart and then swinging the adze, with as much speed and force as you can muster, between your legs. Ideally you will hack lumps out of the wood without damaging your shoes or removing your own toenails.


Also this week, I used a hand drill to put a one-inch drill bit through a solid piece of ash. Next week I will have my first encounter with a travisher, which I expect will be used for extensive amounts of travishing, and I will then form a mortise and tenon joint using means I cannot yet explain.

I will, assuming I am successful, allow you to sit on the stool, and I will repeat to you the story about getting blisters.

Avatar Four faces

The human face is capable of showing a huge variety of emotions. Some of them are obvious, so plain that even children and dogs can recognise them: smiling means happiness, for example, while a furrowed brow often means consternation or constipation. You may know of others.

Today we are going to look at four of the lesser-known emotions and the facial expressions that go with them. I hope you find this guide instructive.

Pudding shop

The pudding shop face should show a mixture of delight and surprise. Some people choose to include a measure of snootiness but this is optional.

Crescent in disrepair

When faced with a grand Regency Crescent in disrepair, perhaps while visiting a spa town that has fallen on hard times, most people extend the tongue slightly, making a face that is close to some expressions of unbridled silliness, but which is actually a sign of great concern for the preservation of listed buildings. A minority of people make a face that is virtually indistinguishable from the pudding shop face, Ian.

Very exciting

Excitement usually produces wide eyes and an open mouth, but in extreme cases – where the excitement being felt is beyond the highest reaches of the Alton Towers Excitement Scale – a common human reaction is to close the mouth, move the hand protectively to the chin or sideface, and look sideways on at the exciting phenomena.

Terrible man

A terrible man will arouse strong feelings in anyone of adult age. Many people find themselves involuntarily contracting their neck and tightening their lips. Some also experience gastric bloating and wind.

Avatar InterSportball Euroleague 2020

At long last, football fever is here again! Come and join us on the Beans for the lowdown on this year’s best new last year’s footsporting tournament, the InterSportball Euroleague 2020!

How does it work?

All the countries in Europe, excluding some obviously European countries like Ireland and Luxembourg but inexplicably including several countries that are mostly in Asia like Russia and Turkey, are sending teams of footballists to a range of places in Europe and also some places outside Europe to go play footballs at each other.

Every single team of footballsters has about eleven men, and no women at all. The men are all good at kicking, running along doing little kicks to move the ball around without anyone else getting it, running at other men and doing kicks at just the right time to get the ball off them, and sliding along the grass on their knees. The point of the InterSportball Euroleague 2020 is to find out which team of footbollogists are the best ones.

What kind of footballs are being played?

All 24 teams are playing sportball according to the Queensbury Rules, which are:

  • It’s a game of two halves
  • No wrestling or hugging
  • A man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered offside
  • The gloves to be fair sized boxing gloves of the best quality
  • No shoes or boots with springs allowed

At the start of the game both teams bring their favourite football to the sports arena and the referee chooses the one they like most to be used for the match. Most teams are bringing circular footballs with a black and white design on them, but England have chosen an orange one that reminds them of 1966, Wales are bringing an oval rugby egg and Germany have opted for a nice stripey beach ball.

Who is playing who?

Every team is playing every other team, making a total of 276 matches in the initial stage of the tournament. Three matches are played every day so this will go on until mid-September.

At the end, there will be the Grand Final, where all 24 teams play each other all at once, with 24 footballs on the pitch, at a specially built ground in Belgium that has 24 sides, 24 goals and a pitch that covers eight floors with escalators between them. The match will continue until one of the teams has scored a hundred goals.

The winners of the Grand Final will be declared the Best at Football and will pick up the Ian Botham Trophy for Best International Kicking.

Time to get out there and enjoy all the football! You can watch the football in every pub in the UK, all the time, or at home on the TV, and if you’re watching a game that’s being shown live from a hot country, don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

Avatar Fundraising

Man has been raising money since the dawn of time.

It all started with Jesus being bet that he couldn’t be killed, buried AND come back to life. He took that bet and started going round the local villages asking for sponsor money, rattling down dem neighbours with his charm and natural-born charisma. Three days later, with a pocket full of sponsorship money, he walked away and donated it all to the burly orphans of the holy mother and disappeared. What a guy (I believe that’s how it went down, I don’t really remember much from R.E. at school).

Since then everyone has wanted a piece of the action. There are so many many MANY good causes out there. If you can think of something or someone having a hard time then there will be a charity in its name, winking in your general direction and hoping you will slip something in their back pocket. With this in mind, how could you ever choose which to help, which to slide the burden onto your manly shoulders? My personal advice would be to spin a wheel or flip a coin.

For the whole month of April I am walking for women.

*comedy voice* why can’t women walk for themselves?

Well, comedy voice, the fact is they can but I am also walking for them, with them. I’m stepping into their shoes and loaning my legs to do a good thing. It’s not all altruistic though because I get fresh air and exercise in return for my walking. It’s all for selfish reasons. All I was hoping for was a bunch of people staring at me whilst I walked and it is paying off big time. I wouldn’t do it unless I got something out of it. Call me a sociopath all you like but that’s how I roll and you’ll all have to deal with it. Oh, how I am such a good at the walking too. You’ve not seen walking until you’ve witnessed my awe-inspiring thighs crossing your path.

So stop your grinning and drop your linen, give me / they / them money now by using the link and being a good guy. I feel almost as inspirational as the time we did that exercise and I ate biscuits in ‘Nish 3’.

https://www.facebook.com/donate/845080713017722/

Avatar Danger Run

Warning: this post contains gratuitous scenes of exercise. Viewer discretion is advised.

This boy has been running now, jogging now, a bit of a mix of the two since the start of the year. Rogging arounds wrong so let’s stick with junning. I’ve been junning since January. I have dabbled in it in the past however nothing substantial. I suppose with a lot of things collapsing in on itself it’s only fair that one tiny thing in my life prevails in a positive and optimistic fashion.

Cut to Thursday night though when shit got real.

I prefer junning at night because there are less people around to point fun at the tiny shorts I wear. The temperature is at a steady balance, much better than slogging through ice and snow anyway. I start my jun and headed off in the direction of my route. This route has been planned to perfection i.e. it features very little uphill bits and mostly flat or downhill bits.

There is a housing estate close to where I live that I do a couple of laps of to warm up. As I approach the edge of it I’m feeling the juice, I’m feeling the jun through my veins so I decide to speed up a bit. Down the first street, right at the end there is a footpath which curves round a corner down to the next street. Bounding like a chopper I go, I approach the curve and this is where it all goes wrong.

There was no slow motion here, no events slowing in my brain or anything like that. It was a short, sharp pinch in the eyes as far as my recollection of events goes. One moment I was junning away, the next I’m lying on the ground with scrape marks on my legs and blood staining the palms of my hands.

Some little dear had left their scooter in the middle of the path, something which you couldn’t see because it was round a blind corner. Unless I had leapt 2 or 3 feet in the air I was going to hit it every time. Not a full size scooter, no no, something someone just out of toddler-dom would use. I have no concern for myself, my god, I must check that my electronic life partner is still okay! The phone is nestled snugly in my jacket pocket, safe and sound. I stagger to my feet to assess the damage under a dimly-li lamppost.

Now this is exactly the kind of thing that I would do to myself; I am no stranger to injuring myself in unusual circumstances. What really sealed it as an ‘Ian’ moment though was just as I turned the corner and collided with the scooter a teenage boy was walking up the path from the opposite direction. He daren’t touch me, for obvious reasons (following Bovona guidelines to a tee) but asked if I was okay which was nice. As I stood up to brush myself down and turn to start running again he called for my attention. To my confusion and astonishment the boy brought over the tiny scooter. “You forgot this.” Luckily the violently sarcastic part of my brain was sleeping at the time.

Unreasonable reaction: WHAT THE F*CK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, LAD? DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT F*CKING SCOOTER IS MINE? F*CK ME, I COULD BARELY GET ONE OF MY TOENAILS ON THERE LET ALONE A FULL F*CKING FOOT. I’M WEARING SHORTS, I’M OUT JOGGING. WHY THE F*CK DO YOU THINK A F*CKING 37 YEAR OLD MAN IS SCOOTERING AROUND AT 9PM ON A THURSDAY F*CKING NIGHT? DOES THAT SOUND SH*TTING PLAUSIBLE TO YOU?

Panting through the stinging in my hands, I merely said that it wasn’t mine and thanked him for his concern. There I was, stumbling in front of a member of the public only for him to believe that the situation was that much worse because I had embarrassed myself by failing to use a scooter properly. Remarkably my legs were fine, a gash on one knee and nothing more, so I carried on with my jun.

This is getting too long. I did consider that perhaps this was some kind of cosmic karma for something else. A balance had to be made by me making a tit of myself. The day after I was in agony. Some bruising to my right side meant breathing, coughing, you know, any kind of movement caused a little jolt of pain to explode under my ribs. I am on the mend after a few days of rest and hope to be back junning later on this week.

Avatar Pubcast 2: Genuphobia

In this lightly alcohol fuelled ramble, we discuss:

  • Hidden body parts
  • Kev’s struggles
  • Knee boobs
  • Ian’s best bits
  • Teeth
A Breath of Fresh Beans
A Breath of Fresh Beans
Pubcast 2: Genuphobia
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Avatar One for the Doggos

I’m so lazy. Look at me and be uninspired. Just look at me, one big ol’ slobbery mess. I haven’t looked this bad since that stage in my teens when I was gelling up my fringe; a tidal wave of greasy hair fixed in place. God, what was I thinking? It was aggressively bad. Now is worse though. Since the lockdown all I have done is indulge in everything I can get my chubby paws on. I find myself daydreaming about desserts. You know in cartoons when hungry characters start hallucinating? Last week I looked over and where Reuben should have been was a roast ham. It is time for a change.

As Kevin has confessed that he has a soft spot for the doggos, I have done a thing and signed up for a sponsored walk. In May I will be raising money for guide dogs by walking up and down my flat. Yes, it sounds insane and I reckon that by the end of it I may have finally crossed the line, gone through the looking glass. Is it worth it for the doggos? Of course it is. I plan to walk 100,000 steps to get some much needed cashola / dough ray me / fresh bread for Guide Dogs. In order to keep it realistic, I have set a target of £100.00 which would be enough to buy a kit for one guide dog trainer.

It takes 52 steps to walk from the front door to the window in the living room and back again. Based on my poor grasp of maths, I will have to do this 1,924 times in order to accumulate the aforementioned total of 100,000 steps. I have a full week in order to pin down this sucker, which means if I can manage about 275 times each day that should be enough.

If I had Kevin’s legs, which we all know are thrice the length of a normal person’s legs, I would be able to get from front door to window in a handful of leaps. I believe that would make the process a lot more tiresome so I am grateful for my small leg span and smaller step count.

Nobody is rich at the moment. The world is in chaos. I say this sat wearing an Adventure Time hat to keep the hair out of my eyes (my fringe has seriously lost the plot, it needs a chop). Am I still in my pyjamas? What day is it again? The point is that if you can, please sponsor Chesty at the link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/walkyoursocksoffindivduals1005

Remember: the doggos have noggos and without the training they cannot help the peopoggos.