Happy New Year?

You will have noticed that I have gone with a more political theme for 2012. Yup, it’s going to be quite a year here in the old US of A.

I spotted the Pearls of Christ Church sign while on a road trip recently with my friends Twylene (who we all call ‘Aunt B’) and Bubba. We had to stop and take a picture. The pastor seems to be having some problems explaining the difference between the Bible and politics to his congregation. The church has its own baseball field (dubbed the ‘Field of Grace’), and he has had to post the following on the perimeter fence:

OK, I’m not sure where to start with this sign. For one thing, what with being raised Episcopalian and all, I have never heard of a church where alcohol is not integral to the whole faith thing. I mean, our immediate response to any sacrament is to throw a cocktail party.

But guns and theft? Really? Do we have to post a sign about that? At a Church?

© Copyright 2012, Southern Dysfunction



Filed under Church, Uncategorized

Beware of the Dog

‘I can’t seem to stop crying, and it feels as though I am having a heart attack,’ I confessed to the doctor last week. After some interrogation, he ascertained that I was not only moving mother and big daddy from the big house, but was also expecting dozens of relatives to arrive for Christmas, all of whom are on different diets. One is macrobiotic, one lactose intolerant, one only eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and then of course, Big Daddy only eats cholesterol. Do you have any idea how hard it is to plan a menu under such circumstances?

‘Don’t worry,’ he assured me. I am just going to give you a little prescription to get through the holidays. Then you can come back and we will get you some serious professional help’. I just LOVE my doctor.

So I happily trotted off to the pharmacist, took a little pill, stopped crying, and went down the street for dinner with my friends Twylene and Bubba. Have I told you about them? They are fabulous southern cooks, with close links to the more dubious characters in the Country Music Industry. From what I can remember, we had something with grits. But that was after a couple of glasses of wine. [note to self: read the instructions on the medicine label].

The next day, while shopping for groceries with Miss Pearl, I took a call on my cell phone. ‘Honey,’ chirped Twylene, ‘you’d better get your ass over here because your poodle is arriving in half an hour.’


Sure enough, there she was, in a little pink jacket. The adoption lady explained that she is on a strict diet of turnip greens, sweet potatoes, and lean beef. No, I am not kidding:

God knows what she is going to think about English food.

Anyway, it turns out that her name is Blanche, and she has been living in a trailer park in Goodletsville, Tennessee, with some no account owner, and is the rejected love child of Tammy Wynette’s last dog. Trust me to get stuck with a C-class celebrity with a fussy appetite.

But, for what it’s worth, she’s pretty cute:

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction


Filed under Friends, Uncategorized

Merry Tennessee Christmas!

Well howdy! You will have noticed that I have been absent for some time. This is because my autumn went plumb crazy when Big Daddy sliced a golf ball in the mountains and decided it was a good idea to fetch it out of the creek, instead of using his walker and oxygen like he was ‘sposed to do. Several months later, and you will be happy to hear that he is fine, and that he and mother are moving to a deluxe apartment in the sky. No, that is not a euphemism. It’s a penthouse.

Anyway, I’m back! And I thought I would start out by sharing some photos with you that just sum up the true spirit of Christmas back here in Tennessee, where Mary and Joseph decided to skip the inn:

Where, if you have truly accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, the angels will hang out the washing and chop the firewood:

Where the wise men are very scary drag queens, who are legally entitled to bring automatic weapons as a present for a minor:

And finally, where shotgun weddings in dubious circumstances are so normal, that grandma knit Joseph a whole trousseau:

Merry Christmas, y’all!

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction

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Dry Dock

It is not easy to explain to those of you who have never experienced the joys of a dry docking just how tedious it can be. Let me put it this way; I had a pedicure less than a week ago, but after three days in the boatyard, my feet look like this:

Trust me, I am doing my best to hurry the process along. The first and most important thing in my experience is to dig out the Joy of Cooking and make baked goods for the boys with the big tools, to keep energy up and spirits high.

I am due out at the end of the week and it is critically important to stick to that deadline, because my friend Steve is flying in from Nashville on Sunday for a cruise. Those of you who follow this blog will remember that he is the one who spent last winter trying to turn a country ham into prosciutto. ‘Oh darling,’ he gushed when I asked him how he wanted to spend the week. ‘I just want to see fabulous gardens and country houses. Show me your England!’


I am thinking that he is picturing something like like this:

Or, to be perfectly honest, something like this:

So I need to get out of here, because he’s definitely not prepared for Brentford:

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction


Filed under Thames

Open Barge

I know, I know: it’s been too long! But after a couple of months’ cruising, you sort of forget about the rest of the world.

Besides, last weekend was the annual rally of the Dutch Barge Association, which is always a superb opportunity to catch up with old friends and to meet new ones, all of us bound by the fact that we are clinically insane enough to enjoy life aboard a big steel boat designed to lug potatoes around Holland. Take my friends Bill and Sue Cozens here, for example. Whenever they move their barge, Izambard, she insists that he impersonates a hood ornament on the stern while she gets on and does all the hard work.

What do  people do at a barge rally, you might well ask? In fact many of you who are asking were actually there, but have come away with only a vague impression of the weekend, especially after the hog roast on Sunday night.

I am reliably informed that one of the highlights of the weekend is always the barge handling competition, in which — and this is entirely serious — judges award points for how efficiently you can retrieve a bottle of beer without killing anybody:

I spent a few days getting ready for the rally, because Calamity Jane was open to the public during the weekend. Fortunately, my friend Chris came to join us for the week beforehand, and as an escapee from the Reservation, she knows all about how to stage a house effectively for a charity tour of homes. So I put her in charge of interior decorating while Poppy and I concentrated on the outside of the barge:

Which reminds me; in case you haven’t noticed, I have posted some interior shots of Calamity Jane on this site, so you can have a snoop around, just as though you were at the rally in person. Tempted to visit? I would love to have you here.

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction


Filed under Thames

Up in Flames

Many thanks to those of you who have emailed me in the past few days to make sure I am doing alright. I’ve got to admit, it’s been a tough few days out here in Berkshire, where I am tied up next to Cookham Lock waiting for a mechanic to fix my prop shaft.

Poppy, the faithful deckhand and pirate queen, went to get some petrol for my little dinghy this morning only to be told that they’re not allowed to sell gasoline in cans because we might make Molotov cocktails with it. So you will be relieved to know that the local constabulary here in the sleepy village of Cookham have this whole rioting thing under control and are taking sensible precautions. After all, Poppy does look a bit like a rampaging youth first thing in the morning, and it’s no secret that yours truly is forever mixing cocktails.

Actually, we do have serious gang problems out here on the Thames and it is important not to look a member in the eye directly in case they think you are disrespecting them:

The 'Cookham Massive'

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction

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Soul Duck

You never know who you are going to run into here in Wind in the Willows country, and this weekend was a good example. My friend Judith Edelman, who was visiting me in Windsor, was the first to spot it.

‘My God’, she exclaimed, ‘that duck looks just like James Brown!’ And you gotta admit, she has a point:

Unusual Duck in Windsor

The King of Soul

How weird is that? Like the time Prince William turned up at Sperry’s steakhouse in Nashville and  freaked out all the WAPs at the salad bar. I mean, you could understand it if you saw James Brown in Nashville or Prince William in Windsor, but the other way around just feels kind of wrong.

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction

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