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Diary of an Ockhamite

Published on: 29 Jul, 2022
Updated on: 31 Jul, 2022

Tony Edwards who entertained us with his regular Life in Solitary column during the pandemic is back with this new Diary of an Ockhamite, a light-hearted collection of observations from his Ockham viewpoint. Welcome back Tony!

This is a bumper edition, obviously the literary flood gates have opened following his time away from The Dragon…

A leader with a ruler?

Until I was about seven I thought my name was Shut Up. Miss Roberts, my matronly school teacher, insisted I had far too much to say for myself and that I should hold my tongue, speak only when I was spoken to and generally button it.

But her first commandment was “Thou shalt not interrupt” and this was viciously enforced by a sharp thwack on the palm of the hand with a twelve-inch wooden ruler. I can still feel the sting whenever I’m tempted to interrupt anyone while they are in full flow.

Would-be prime ministers like Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak appear to have no such inhibitions if the way they constantly interrupted each other when answering questions on Monday’s BBC TV leadership debate is anything to go by. Interestingly Liz Truss held out her right hand, palm up, to signal some of her impending interruptions – a gesture which would have proved tempting for Miss Roberts and her twelve-inch ruler.

But I’m a bit concerned that, on current form, we’re going to end up with a Prime Minister who’s a bit too fond of the sound of their own voice and who seems likely to stifle initiative and creativity on the front bench.

I’ll miss Bojo – probably

Despite insisting that he and his fellow Conservatives were dedicated to protecting the countryside, Boris Johnson has been to green belt preservation what Kier Starmer is to April in Paris!

As an Ockhamite, I won’t forgive the fork-tongued Tories for hi-jacking a massive chunk of our precious green belt.

But I think I’ll probably miss Bojo and his political clowning. He’s kept us entertained with some of his more amusing asides which turned out to be pretty close to the truth. There was; “My policy on cake is pro having it, and pro eating it.” And then there was: “My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities and, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.”

He went on to fully demonstrate this quip during the final months of his premiership.

Surprisingly, Boris always denied that he wanted to be Prime Minister, saying: “My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars or being reincarnated as an olive.” And he avoided comparisons with Winston Churchill, declaring: “I have more in common with a three-toed sloth or a one-eyed pterodactyl.”

When his speaking style was criticised by no less a literary authority than Arnold Schwarzenegger, Boris joked: “It was a low moment, my friends, to have my rhetorical skills denounced by a monosyllabic Austrian cyborg.”

“BoJo” in full flow

But having successfully labelled Kier Starmer “Captain Hindsight”, he went one better during one of his last PMQs and awarded him the title “Captain Crasheroony Snoozefest”. He brought the proverbial House down with that one, although I suspect it was dreamed-up on the spot – as, unfortunately, were so many of the things he said in the Commons.

Hot Nights

One of the most radical ideas for staying cool during the recent record-breaking hot spell must surely be a suggestion I overheard while waiting to pay for petrol in Ripley. Two women behind me were bemoaning the fact that sharing a bed with their husbands in tropical temperatures made sleeping difficult, if not impossible.

One of them suggested the solution was to start a flaming row just before bedtime, providing an excuse to storm off in a huff and sleep in separate bedrooms – alone. “You really don’t want to be too close to hot, sweaty bodies in weather like this, do you?” she said in a hushed voice.

And they say romance is dead…

Weird Hobbies

Clint Eastwood

Did you know that Clint Eastwood is an anagram of Old West Action? Me neither, but an old friend who lives in California and who’s been spending quite a lot of time anagramming famous celebrities, mentioned it to me on Monday during one of our occasional video chats.

He’d also worked out that Jennifer Aniston is an anagram of Fine Torn Jeans, Justin Timberlake is I’m A Jerk But Listen, and Morgan Freeman morphs into Gnome Farmer.

Keira Knightly anagrams as Gay Kinky Hitler while Meg Ryan rearranged is Germany.

Yeah, I know – anagramming is a slightly weird hobby but my West Coast friend is also something of an expert on the even weirder hobbies of the stars. He assures me that Nicole Kidman lists sky diving as a hobby and Paris Hilton collects frogs and repairs old radios.

Tom Hanks collects vintage typewriters, Mike Tyson races pigeons, Brad Pitt loves making pottery while his ex, Angelina Jolie, collects daggers. (I think I probably knew that one.)

It may be hard to believe but Claudia Schiffer collects insects – particularly spiders. But then who knew that Johnny Depp has a collection of Barbie Dolls?

I’ll tell you what I mean, what I really, really mean…

I’ve spotted a worrying trend among TV news reporters. No matter what answer they get from politicians to their often hard-hitting questions, they now follow up all too often with their own version of the answer. It goes a bit like this:

Q. Do you have ambitions to be prime minister?

A. No. I have no such ambitions. None whatsoever.

Q. So what you really mean is that you’re undecided for the moment?

Obviously, that isn’t what is meant at all but the, “So what you really mean is…?” follow-up question casts immediate doubt over the original answer.

So I was delighted to see Education Secretary James Cleverly set the record straight recently in an interview with Charlie Stayt on BBC Breakfast.

When asked the probing, “So what you really mean is…?” question, Cleverly answered: “No. What I really mean is what I just said.” That seemed to bring the interview to an unexpectedly abrupt close.

Degrees of Worse

While on the subject of questions from the media, I especially noted one from a TV news presenter. She wanted to know if her guest thought the situation was likely to get “more worse”.

She’d probably got her ever-so- popular degree in media studies – but clearly failed in English Language.

Taking the Oak out of Ockham

My solicitor insists I live in Oakham. I’ve tried to convince him otherwise – explaining that O C K H A M is pronounced Ockham and not Oakham – but he won’t have it. And he’s not alone.

Even otherwise well-balanced individuals sometimes opt for Oakham rather than Ockham. I discovered this week that there’s a genuine Oakham. It’s the county town of Rutland in the East Midlands and, like Surrey’s Ockham, it has an All Saints Church. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Unseen bits?

I was interested to see there’s a ‘Love Island’ TV spin-off called: Love Island – The Unseen Bits. Call me old-fashioned but judging by the publicity pictures I’d be surprised if there were any “unseen bits” left to be seen.

A question of affordability

Let’s get one thing straight – I’m not anti-housebuilding or anti-housebuilders. In fact, I’ve actively promoted a few of our top housebuilders during a long and relatively successful PR career, including CALA, Berkeley, Beazer, and Miller. I’ve even acted for the NSBC (National House Building Council), so I’ve got form, so to speak. But it was always one of my fundamental PR rules to try to respond to questions from the press and public as quickly and accurately as possible.

So I was disappointed that, despite assurances of 40 per cent affordable housing at Taylor-Wimpey’s proposed development at ‘Three Farms Meadows’ (the former Wisley airfield), Community & Green Infrastructure Project Manager, Antonis Pazourou is still unable, or unwilling, to confirm even a ballpark price for his “affordable” homes.

All he will tell me is: “We will be working with Vivid, a registered affordable housing provider, to deliver the affordable homes and we won’t be providing further comment.”

I appreciate that “affordable” means different things to different people, and it’s clear that this proposed project is still a very long way from a done deal. But I’d guess that most house builders have a pretty good idea of the potential selling price of their “product” prior to investing in the land on which they hope to build.

Sceptics will draw their own conclusions.

Taxing Times

Having begrudgingly handed HMRC a substantial payment for the tax year 2021/22 last week, I was delighted to receive an e-mail from my accountant this week informing me that I was due to receive an even more substantial tax rebate – and that it would be credited to my account shortly.

My euphoria was short-lived as, within minutes, I received a second email, withdrawing the first as it had been sent in error. Turns out I’m not due a tax rebate after all. But as a friend has reminded me, you should always choose an accountant with a tax loophole named after them for best results.

Things to do

My “To Do” list gets longer by the day – mainly because I fail to do enough of the “To Dos” on the “To Do” list. There were 14 “To Do” items listed last weekend but, by Tuesday, it had grown to 20.

High on the list was finish Diary of an Ockhamite column and file with The Guildford Dragon. So, if you are reading this, my “To Do” list could be back down to 19 by now – maybe even lower.

But I’m not alone in my list-making. I’m told we’re a nation of compulsive list makers so I was surprised to see that “Shout for help” wasn’t on the list of “100 Things To Do Before You Die”.

Road Closed

Ockham Lane is closed; has been since June 20 and will remain so until late September if the road signs are to be believed. That’ll be three months of road closure. So I’m grateful to Royal Mail for alerting me to the fact that some people may not be receiving their usual deliveries and confirming who to contact, and where, if I happen to be one of them.

Unfortunately, those who are not receiving post probably won’t know about the warning as it was sent by first class post.

Ockham Outlaws

OK, it’s a fair cop. I put my hands up. I broke the law a couple of times last Saturday afternoon. But m’lud, in my defence, may I submit that I’d no idea it was illegal to vacuum carpets after 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays, the legal hours apparently being between 8am and 1pm.

And may I ask the court to also consider the fact that, on the very same day, I illegally shook my door mat outside my front door, contrary to Section 60 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839.

I also respectfully ask for the court to be lenient with all the kids flying kites in public places across the county. I doubt they are aware that they’re breaking the law. And I don’t suppose their parents realised they were driving a coach and horses through music copyright laws when they last sang Happy Birthday to You with their children.

But I was delighted to see that our law-abiding MPs remembered to observe the law about removing their armour on entering the Commons, before the parliamentary recess. I think a few managed to smuggle in the odd dagger or two, however, prior to the confidence vote.

I was also relieved that the men working on the revamp of the garden and seating at the war memorial off Ockham Road North, didn’t get nicked for carrying planks of wood in the street. That too is a little-known law which remains on the statute books.

Finally, may I remind everyone who can still afford postage stamps that sticking them upside down on envelopes is considered, in law, to be defacing the monarch and a blatant act of treason. That said, the Tower of London’s quite pleasant at this time of year.

How the wisteria should have looked.

A natural disaster

Actress Audrey Hepburn once said: “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” But she obviously hadn’t factored in the British climate, global warming, and an ever-expanding range of plant pests and diseases. Late frosts in early spring this year killed off my wisteria blossoms, buxus blight did for the box hedging shortly after, while a lack of summer rain turned the jasmine brown.

Then something called botrytis had a go at the roses and a mysterious assassin killed-off what had been a perfectly healthy apricot tree. The lawn turned a dismal shade of brown and shrivelled leaves from the ash and sycamore have been falling all summer. And now I seem to be losing a mature cypress tree.

But, somehow, the weeds have managed to positively thrive during this botanical disaster. Perhaps Audrey should have said; “To plant a garden is to create a shed load of hard work for yourself tomorrow – and beyond.”

The numbers game

I’m not sure why the DVLA sent me an invitation to their online auction of personalised number plates this week. I sold off my 66TE, 63TE and 14 BEA plates years ago and have no plans to nail another nonsense number to my car anytime soon. But, for anyone who may be tempted, they continue to be a pretty sound investment.

Strip club king Paul Raymond’s FU2 plate, famously affixed to the yellow E-Type of model girlfriend Fiona Richmond, sold for £180,000 while F1 is up for grabs at nearly £15 million.

One of the very first celebrity plates was T8, bought by veteran comedian Harry Tate back in the 1930s while fellow funnyman Jimmy Tarbuck still owns COM1C. Boxer Chris Eubank boasts 1 BOX and his son, Chris Eubank Junior, has followed in his dad’s footsteps with 1 KO.

Registration number 007 was sold recently for a reported £240,000 to a man who insists he wants to remain incognito and totally anonymous. He’d have probably been better off buying NO 1. The DVLA auction runs until August 2.

Thought for the Day

I think we should start referring to age as “levels’ – so when you’re at “level 80” it’ll sound more badass and down-with-the-kids than just being old.

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test 3 Responses to Diary of an Ockhamite

  1. Carol Maidlow Reply

    July 30, 2022 at 7:39 pm

    Loved this page. But remember we in the USA had to deal with Humpty-Trumpy, and his ‘there is no global warming’ B-S.

  2. Anthony Mallard Reply

    July 31, 2022 at 11:17 am

    Thank goodness for Tony Edwards for lifting my mood on a somewhat dull Sunday morning with his amusing reflections.

    However, the delay caused by my reading his column has resulted in my wife adding two more things to my to-do list!

  3. Harry Eve Reply

    July 31, 2022 at 11:29 am

    Glad to see the return of Tony Edwards Diary but my “to do” list has been going nowhere since this I read this challenging episode. Dreads Towny is the best that I can come up with.

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