Monthly Archives: July 2006

Caused Conversation

While in Verona recently I needed to open a fridge to get at some bottled water and to do that I needed to get some people to move out of the way so I said, “Mi Scusi” and a guy turned to his wife who was in the way and in a very broad Texas accent said, “I’m not sure what that guy said, but I think he wants you to move out of the way”.

Moon Miners

Last time we left him Grandpa Simon was contemplating just how far he had come in the article Moon Heaters.

So how could he convince people to go back to something that they hadn’t liked very much? That was the problem. In the old days when people hadn’t had enough to eat then it was a very personal problem, and now although everyone knew that eating the cheese was causing the whole moon to fall away it was somebody else’s problem. Simon knew that everybody else thought that somebody else was going to solve it, and there was no motivation to bother. Because why bother to come up with a solution when eating the cheese right now isn’t going to harm anyone. That was the problem, each slice of cheese wasn’t hurting anyone by itself, it was just when everyone took a slice three or four times a day that they had started to run into trouble.

Everyone was hoping somebody else was going to solve the problem, but now Simon realised that if anything was going to happen then it would have to be him who would solve the problem.

He thought about taxes, that might be an idea. A way of rationing the cheese, by saying that people could only have a slice after they had done a day of work doing something else. But how would you enforce it? The whole planet was made of cheese, they could just bend down while working and eat a piece? Or more likely just eat at home and not work.

If only there was some way of trying to cover the whole planet some way of stopping them from getting at the cheese. But how would you do that? Maybe, Simon thought suddenly he didn’t need to stop them from getting at the cheese, what if he just made it so that they couldn’t eat the cheese any more. What if he could poison the cheese?

There was, in the armoury from the old days of war huge vats of mouse poison. If he could get it into the source of the cheese then he would be able to stop everyone from eating the cheese. The cheese did grow a little bit each year. It grew out from the centre of the moon. The aristocracy had always kept it in check by eating enough never more, never less. They had maintained the balance.

But how to get to the core of the moon? That was going to be tricky itself? But Simon had an idea, he would appeal to the greed of the mice. He would tell them that the core of the planet had the greatest tasting cheese of all time in it, and that if they could dig down to it then it would mean great cheese for those that had done it. He would have to get together a band of these Moon Miners but he knew with the promise of tasty cheese and a lie saying that that they would have rights to own the land down there would be enough to tempt them down.

He knew what he was doing would destroy the aristocracy as everyone would have to work, and he didn’t mind that too much. Although he had now a new found respect for them as they had realised something far more important than he had about the way to keep the moon in balance. But he knew more than the aristocracy he would be destroying himself. There is no way he would survive. He’d be killed for sure.

Will Simon succeed? Tune in next Friday for the final instalment.

I woke up this morning and there was a man stealing my gate…

…I didn’t say anything to him in case he took a fence.

Setting things on fire

Sometimes you do just have to get rid of stuff. Some people face this challenge with a kind of joyous abandon. Whereas I am one of those accumulators like a squirrel. I tend to never want to give up something that I’ve got. My friend Adrian is a thrower away of things. He just tends to want to have everything he needs not just all the stuff he used to need or just got given once. And in fact he’d probably argue quite successfully that he is not defined by the things that he owns but by the people that he loves and the opinions in his head.*

I would like to live like this in many ways. I do believe that people are more important that things but I also remember the day my model aeroplane that had one too few struts was sat on and destroyed and not only that I have the proof that it isn’t me my personality now imposing that preference on my boyhood self. I still have my diary entry from the day that it happened. It was so important to e that it was the only diary entry I made that year. So it was clearly very important even then. When I have to get rid of something I have to be of the opinion that I would be willing to set it on fire and that I would be fine with that. Otherwise I can’t deal with it. I really need to be sure that there is no chance that I’ll ever want to see it again. Because if I might and if it’s not on fire somewhere then I might have to seek it out and try and track it down. That’s the kind of thing I might do. I know, I know, but I’m a bit like that.

So maybe I should just set everything I have on fire? Maybe it would be a fresh start? The problem is that I can’t quite imagine still being me without having everything that I own. I mean I’m sure I would be, but I just can’t quite imagine it.

* I’d better check this at some point.

Why was the bee’s hair sticky?

Because he used a honey comb.

One half of a conversation

A common thing these days, when somebody is on the phone in a public place sometimes all you can hear is one half of the conversation:

“No I haven’t got one”

“But Dad does”

“What size? They don’t come in different sizes?”

“Oh a black beret? Like a hat? I thought you meant a blackberry like those mobile phones”

“No, Dad doesn’t have a black beret”

“But I think I’ve got a red one”

So gamboling has moved…

…back to its original home. When I started this original blog back in 2003, I didn’t really think of it as a blog and in many ways I still don’t. Most blogs seem to be about something or someone. So you either have a blog about Formula 1 racing or you have a blog which is a diary of all of the stuff that happens to you. But what I was doing didn’t ever really seem to fit in. It was a collection of articles on stuff that I found interesting and there was a whole load of fiction thrown in and whereas there are blogs which collect articles like this together and maybe add some comment they don’t tend to write articles of their own. They tend to act more like the editorial section of a newspaper.

So what is gamboling if it isn’t a blog? Well I was never really sure. But after a while I knew that hand cranking the pages was quite time consuming and that as far as the technology was concerned I may as well be publishing a blog. So I moved over to blogger and slowly started trying to write again. There was a gap between the
last article of old gamboling
and the first one of new gamboling of six months! And after a while it seems to have settled down. Now I’m producing an article every week day and there is a pattern that has emerged:

Monday and Wednesday: Article type articles
Tuesday and Thursday: Joke type jokes
Friday: Fictional type stories.

So when I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep it up or that it would really work, I kept the thing separate, but now that I’m sure that I’m sticking with the new format I’ve moved everything back to the main site.

And after all of that talk of stability, here we are with a post on the weekend, but then this is a housekeeping post not a real post. I used to do posts on the weekend, in fact I was encouraged by one reader at one point to do longer posts on the weekend so it would be like the colour supplement, and maybe something like that will happen one day. But the weekend is when I write the articles now (mainly) and this way means that I have some time to reconsider a post something that I never ever seemed to have enough of in the old days.

So now that we’re all connected up to the old articles I would like to encourage everyone to go back and read the old articles they are housed in the Older Archive link on the left there.

The only main difference between the old gamboling and the new one (other than the layout of the pages) is in the titles, I used to get Word to auto summarise the content of the articles which gave some rather interesting but intractable titles, which was good but as I’m not using word to write the articles now I don’t have the auto summary feature and it really wouldn’t work for the jokes. So instead of that we have Ads by google on the new site, I don’t expect to make any money at all from the Ads, but I have it simply because I find it kind of amusing the way it tries to find adverts that work for the home page. The other day it was trying to sell people goldfish food now it’s trying to get us to sign up for blogs (and that’s even before this post has been published) it always seems to go for blogs when it’s thoroughly confused (usually after one of the fiction pieces has come out).

And finally I really have to give great thanks to my good friend Adrian who has been putting my posts up for me for the last two weeks. I have been taking a holiday in Italy which I’m sure you will be hearing about (not in a we went here then we did this way obviously) over the next few weeks until you’re probably thoroughly sick of it. But it was the realisation that I was committed enough to the blog that I was updating it even when I wasn’t in the country that finally made me realise that I was committed to it again.

Anyway, sorry for the interruption to the regular programming, hope you’re enjoying the show.


Moon Heaters

The last time we left Simon he was contemplating his future. If you don’t know about Simon and what he was contemplating then you might want to check out the first half of the story which was called:

Moon Eaters

The common mouse was ruining the moon. That’s what was happening in one way. But on the other hand what was happening to the aristocratic mouse? Before they had lived off of the moon and had loved every fat second of it. But now they were going crazy. They still felt the need to show that they were better than the common mouse, and although Simon had tried to introduce other foodstuffs into the court as a way of stopping the slippages the rest of them were simply consuming more and more. Some of them had started melting down the cheese and bathing in it. This was simply the most preposterous idea Simon had ever heard in his life! They were bathing in cheese, which was dangerous in the first part because the temperature was so high, and then those mice that survived had to take a regular shower in one of the rain towers anyway.

But what could Simon do? The whole idea of a Mouse utopia where every mouse could concentrate on higher things because they had food enough to eat had backfired. Instead of what he had planned where mice had everything they needed, and they then looked towards the more scholarly world to enrich their lives, instead of that they had all become lazy. It was terrible.

Simon picked up a piece of stilton and looked at it. He thought back to the world of his youth. Who could remember what life was like back then. After ten years of everyone eating cheese, after thirteen years of him eating cheese it was difficult to remember what it was like the very first time he had seen another mouse do it. But he could.

It was later in the day after he had helped the prince win in the fight. They hadn’t really spoken about anything other than fighting and women. The prince was a dignified man in the correct social circles, but after that fight he was ready to talk as men do. Mainly he spoke about other fights and women, but he also mentioned drink and food. This last point interested Simon more than any other. Because Simon had a very distinguished white spot in the middle of his back which had made him rather a success with the ladies, and so he wasn’t much interested in conversations about how to get girls and what to do with them once he got them. Because for Simon that was something that had always come naturally. But food was a different matter. Simon had never been truly able to apply himself. And he had always had to rely on the help of strangers. So food was always at the front of Simon’s mind especially on that day in particular when he hadn’t eaten for at least three days.

So as Simon looked at this Stilton. This cheese that he had just picked up out of the ground, and was considering putting into his mouth he remembered just how far he had come.

Tune in next Friday for more from the Moon.

It’s not a parting shot…

You can imagine the scene, a boy and a girl standing in the corridor by the toilets in the club. They are both a bit too young to really be there, but the doorman knows he needs as many young girls as he can get in these days. The boy got in because the bouncer couldn’t convince her to leave him at the door.

They are standing in the middle of all that noise and sweat and he asks her if she’ll come back to his. He’s planning to get lucky, and she just doesn’t want to know. She steps back and slightly further away. He knows he only has one more chance so he says, “but… I love you”.

It’s a parting shot, a last ditch attempt to save things, and while I keep you in suspense* about the outcome I’ll explain why it isn’t really a parting shot, in fact it’s a Parthian shot.

Back at the height of Roman times, the Roman Army felt pretty darn good about themselves. They thought they could really do anything. At the particular time of this story they had just conquered Gaul which was all of the land that they cared about to the west of them, but if they really wanted to rule all of the Mediterranean then they would have to conquer the lands to the left. These lands were held by the Parthians. And these guys were a little bit different than the Gauls.

The Parthians, came from the area which is modern day Iran. And their civilisation was so far ahead of the Romans that the Romans didn’t even understand how much trouble they were in. When they invaded they were suddenly faced with a cavalry something that wasn’t seen in Europe for more than 1,000 years.

The Romans ran is as they always did but were in big trouble, pretty quickly. The Parthian horsemen fired on the Romans from horseback with bows and arrow. And the Romans just didn’t know what to do. They were in big trouble. Then after a short time of this the Parthians played another trick. They fell back. The Romans felt they had suddenly started to win. The Parthians fell back and the horses started running away. The Romans started running after them to start the killing. But when you’re running you aren’t holding up your shield. The Parthians kept riding away but the men turned around and fired back into the approaching Romans. It was a concept that was completely alien to the Romans, up until then anyone retreating was.. Well… in retreat not attacking at the same time. This was the Parthian shot.

And over the years it has been turned into the parting shot that we know today. So really it is a Parthian shot.

So how are our couple doing? Well of course she came back towards him. With all the noise in the club it was difficult to hear exactly. He might have been saying he loathed her. But when she came back towards him and leaned in for him to repeat what he had said he used the opportunity to kiss her on the ear, and one thing led to another and they got to hook up. So happy ending?

Well unfortunately they were young and reckless and didn’t use protection. So she fell pregnant at the tender age of sixteen. So sad ending?

Well she dropped out of school to have the baby, but despite what her parents said the boy would do he too dropped out of school and got a job to pay for her and the baby and they got married. So happy ending?

Well after a few years of scrapping through, the boy had gone to buy his lottery ticket (like he always did every week) when he suddenly realised that he didn’t have any cash on him. So he didn’t buy a ticket. And that week his numbers came up. He was so distraught that he killed himself. So sad ending?

Well actually although the girl had appreciated the boy taking care of her for the first three years of their babies life it hadn’t been a happy time. He had become a drug user and was an angry drunk. So while she was devastated, in many ways it was a relief for her and the child. So a mixed ending? Yes.

* How do you keep an idiot in suspense? I’ll tell you later.