Pests and pestilence, praise and blame

After all the flies, wasps and hornets of the summer, we now have autumn pests.


These are just common or garden crane flies or daddy longlegs but in such large numbers that they’re extremely bloody annoying.


They’re around all the time, but they’re particularly attracted to house lights at night, so that letting one of the cats in or out after dark has to be a very speedy process. Just opening the door for 5 seconds can let a dozen of the pests in and then it’s twatting time…Fly spray works, but there’s a limit to how much we want to inhale, so it looks like being careful opening doors and swatters are the order of the day until they die off naturally.

Not content with plagues of insects, France has visited upon us colds which have been very heavy. Neither of us have had colds for a while and usually recover very quickly, but these were persistent buggers and have left us feeling very drained. A seven day regime of tissues, Beecham’s powders and Calvados didn’t seem to help but the worst seems to be over now, thank fuck.

We’ve had my brother and sister-in-law to stay and sent them back to the UK today with colds after a week of almost constant rain and tipule infestation. We had a great time though and with three of our four birthdays to celebrate – the 2nd, 4th and 5th of October – it was easy to forget the insects and pestilence here.

Having heard a track from Tom Jones’ new album ‘Praise and Blame’ on TV and liked it a couple of weeks ago, I asked my in-laws to grab a copy of it as they were coming over.

Not being a Tom Jones fan I have to say that I’m pretty impressed by it. Apparently, so the story goes, when Jones delivered the album to the boss of the new label he’d just signed to, his agent was told that if it wasn’t some sort of sick joke, the signing fee should be refunded. How I wish that was the case with many other rock dinosaurs who keep on pumping out the same old crap…

Whatever preconceptions his label boss had about the album, it certainly doesn’t sound like the Tom Jones people normally think of…

With a band stripped down to basic instrumentation – keys, guitars, bass and drums – Jones tackles blues and gospel and does a pretty good fucking job. Producer and key player Ethan Johns manages to get a gorgeous guitar tone that I’ve never heard before – clean and hi-fi but with immense body. I assume he’s using a Tele, but what else I can’t say.

His tone…I want it!

I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest album I’ve heard lately, but it’s well worth a listen and if you can blag it for 7 or 8 quid from your local supermarket, the Shark says go for it!


5 Responses

  1. Les tipules! Wonderful term!

    I should loathe craneflies as they are the equivalent of the long-legged house spiders that make my blood run cold. Yet I don’t. Maybe it’s because they fly? Whatever it is, I’ve no problems handling them to get them out of the clutches of the cats.

  2. Re. Tom Jones, there was a documentary – a sort of contemporary profile – on TV a few weeks back, that was interspersed with footage of him rehearsing and recording that album.
    At the insistence of his son (a.k.a. manager), he’s been undergoing an image transformation, dropping the hair dye, the knicker-target image and the more adolescent material in favour of a more mature approach.
    Was very candid, and he came across extremely well.

  3. @JuliaM They don’t bother us per se – it’s just the sheer numbers! I wiped out over a hundred with one spray when I snuck up on them outside a lighted window.

    I have a favourite gross-out trick…
    1) Carefully catch daddy longlegs
    2) Put in mouth – close mouth
    3) Go up to unsuspecting person and open mouth at them

    I haven’t done it very often, but when I do it’s very effective. Damned if I remember who I got it from though.

  4. @PeterM
    I have to say, the album gets better with every listen. I prefer the more electric side of it, but even the acoustic stuff is growing on me.
    But that guitar tone…what the hell is EJ using? When I saw him on TV he was using a Tele semi, but it just had this almost DI tone but with balls. Of course, I’m assuming it was EJ on the TV, but it was definitely the same tone and it certainly wasn’t mimed as far as I could tell.

  5. hi Steve, glad to read your blog and see that you and Mrs S are settling into life in France. Jealous – qui moi? Only ever such a large part….. Thanks for the heads up on Jones the groans album. It really is very listenable indeed. Nice arangements with plenty of “air” around each instrument. I’m listening to it on Spotify right now. The guitar tone is nice. very nice, Not much bass to the tone (maybe that’s my headphones though…) . I like Nobody’s Fault But Mine, well different from the Zep version.

    anyway, that’s enough rambles for one night.



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