Category Archives: The Scruffs

The Descent of Man – Part 2

“Their way of relaxing” takes a rather different form on occasion. Whether it is the getting back to nature aspect which drives them or just a bit of exhibitionism I don’t know. My neighbour has complained of witnessing far more than she would like which one day did include seeing the shadows on the living room wall of, shall we say, let’s find the turkey gobbler! Probably not the image Cliff Richard had in mind when he innocently sang about “the dim light casting two silhouettes on the shade”.

But I suppose on that occasion at least, they were indoors although we’d all wished the curtains had been drawn that night.

The al fresco by the fire pit stuff is without a doubt the most frequent. I could refer to it as the activity behind the sheets of love. But that may well conjure up an image of a curtain of silk when in reality it’s an acrylic pet blanket from the pound shop.Yes, replete with a paw print pattern! All I can say is with all that nylon and friction I hope he keeps his rubber soled sandals on. Just saying!

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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in The Scruffs


The Descent of Man – Part 1

Sometimes I think I survey the state of the neighbours behind me that live opposite what seems to be a parallel timespace continuum. It’s like witnessing Neanderthal man with his primitive approach to civilised living. It’s thanks to Primark that they are not wearing animal skins and sewn together pizza boxes.

One of the activities that unites the majority of the males is playing with fire. For most of them it takes the form flipping a burger or turning a sausage in between beers and most likely telling their womenfolk that they’ve cooked a meal. Given that most of the ladies are themselves salad dodgers, their contribution is usually in the form of opening a cardboard burger box, running a knife through a bread roll and fetching the ketchup.

Mr Scruff, in his guise as the God of Hell Fire is positively obsessed with fire – an activity I’ve touched upon in earlier blog entries… See Mr Scruff’s Tangoed Chopper and Mrs Scruff gets mad, real mad.

Last summer, a time which we Northerners define as that period of only slightly less rainfall and being able to unbutton the vest you’ve been stitched into since October saw Mr Scruff become an official nuisance albeit primarily to my neighbour.

He had taken to nightly wood burning sessions which had increasingly annoyed my immediate neighbour. The window seals on the Barratt properties aren’t exactly an airtight fit and so the smell of smoke pervades the house even when the windows are closed. I have actually bought a chiminea myself, being partial to the odd glass of chilled wine alfresco so I was also out in the garden. My neighbour’s top floor window opened and he had a go at Mr Scruff. When someone begins a conversation with “oi mate” it’s never going to end well. To be fair,my neighbours young son was seriously ill and had to be kept cool so he was under a strain from that and being forced to keep the windows closed because of the smoke made him react quite aggressively. Mr Scruff mewed piteously and said they haven’t got much money and it was their way of relaxing. You could almost hear the violins playing as he described his poverty stricken existence conveniently ignoring his almost new Focus sports parked outside etc. The window was slammed shut and then Mr Scruff’s head appeared chad like over the fence! He could have had the line “wot, no fires?” written below him.

After telling me he’d had a “bollocking” from my neighbour then asked if we had a chiminea. It was tempting to reply “what? Like this one I’m sat in front of?” but he offered me a free supply of wood for it! Not needing the volume that he did and having already bought a net of seasoned wood  so at least it didn’t cackle and spit or spew carcinogenic fumes from the glues we politely declined and he returned to his fire.

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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in The Scruffs


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The Scruff’s Cat Gets “Knocked Up”

Four dogs and two cats are still not enough for Mrs Scruff and as she added to that collection with yet another kitten. Something else to cuddle.

Kitten number two is now just over six months old and judging by the sudden appearance of every tomcat in the immediate area is now receptive. Barely a kitten herself, “Nokia”, (the one that looked like a mobile – see Blog entry “The Official Hoax Letter”)  was being stalked by a motley gang of misfits. Topcat was never like this!

So it won’t be long I imagine, that Mrs Scruff will have an entire litter to cuddle and the circle will begin again. Cat number one has shown no interest so I expect it’s a female and neither has cat/kitten number three. If kitten number three is female then this is going to become an ongoing problem as I expect that this too will not have been “done”.

There really is no excuse and even if they can’t afford, odd then they can afford a PS3 (I’m treated to the sight of Mr Scruff boxing on his days off) there are plenty of local charities who will help out to prevent the cycle of unwanted animals.

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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in The Scruffs


The Official “Hoax” Letter

I expect the Scruff’s literary heroes are The Borrowers as they themselves can’t seem to help acquiring things – wood, bikes, lawn mowers and of course dogs and cats. It doesn’t seem to be a consideration that they live in a tiny house that can’t really accommodate it all and it’s certainly too small for 7 animals.

A fourth dog appeared – a tiny King Charles puppy which Mrs Scruff fussed over as she does with every new young animal, losing interest as they grow. It’s fairly rare for Mrs Scruff to go beyond the boundaries of the property and she seems to spend her days watching TV and endlessly draping washing on the line for it to trail through mud or be left out overnight regardless of the weather. The dogs therefore, are in and out all day long. No sooner does the pack appear outside than they wait to be let back in which they communicate initially by staring through the patio door, then scratching at it before eventually barking. Occasionally, she fails to notice that one hasn’t gone back inside which surprises me as it’s a tiny garden although perhaps understandable given the amount of junk there is.


Mrs Scruff did leave the house and wasn’t aware that the boxer was still outside. Although it could see the rest of the pack through the patio doors, it couldn’t actually get to them. Inevitably the barking began and didn’t stop. One of the neighbours shouted for it to “shut up” but of course it didn’t. Later, that afternoon the doorbell rang and Mrs Scruff was at the door to apologise for her dog barking and to explain that she had left it out accidentally. It transpired that a few days previously she had received a letter purporting to be from Barratt Homes themselves stating that there was a clause in the deeds preventing buyers from owning more than a certain amount of dogs. She recognised it as a hoax and had gone to the police with it who most likely just logged it on to the system and did nothing especially as it was a civil matter. She contacted Barratt Homes who denied sending it and told Mrs Scruff that they were “concerned about misrepresentation” but I imagine also filed it under B1n. She didn’t know who had sent the letter so she was visiting each house to apologise and perhaps see if she could gain any clues. Prime Suspect’s Helen Mirren/Jane Tennison she aint!

That evening, when I happened to mention it to my immediate neighbour who had been unaware  of what had happened whilst he was at work, told me that he didn’t have a printer. That must have been true as months later he did ask me to print something for him.

So who sent the letter? I can only guess but whoever did was most likely someone who had originally bought their house from Barratt Homes to have known of the existence of the clause. After ruling out my immediate neighbour that only left two suspects. I can’t imagine that it had been sent by “Lily” (he of the unexplained police search – see earlier blog entry, “Whose been a naughty boy then?” That only leaves Megane Man, so named as he had a Renault Megane. He is at home all day enduring dialysis as he waits for a suitable kidney so I expect he is very aware of any extra noise. He does not make eye contact and I’ve never seen him smile either. The missus isn’t that much better but at least they are quiet and outwardly tidy.

The fuss must have died down over the months as Mrs Scruff has felt confident to add to her menagerie. One cat disappeared so she replaced it with a kitten. She had it in the crook of her neck and I thought it was a new mobile phone until she handed it over the fence for Mrs Fang’s inspection and approval when she was still in residence. The spaniel also disappeared but not happy at owning just three dogs she soon acquired a border collie puppy to bring the pack back to four sticking two fingers up to the hoax letter writer!

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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in The Fangs, The Scruffs



A Des Res with a Laundry room

As time went on and the Fang baby grew ever larger, the time approached for Mrs Fang to don her bright yellow T Shirt and return to work as a self employed cleaner. Around the same period a dog kennel arrived and was immediately assembled. Mrs Fang had clearly lured White Fang in to it, slammed the door shut and left him. No introduction, no period of adjustment – nothing. Clearly distraught, Fang howled pitifully and loudly for the entire afternoon.

Mrs Scruff’s dogs were upset and spent time at the fence separating them from the incarcerated Fang. Even Mrs Scruff was not a happy bunny, for whilst she might be a stranger to a damp cloth, she doesn’t mistreat her animals.

Eventually, Mrs F returned and released White Fang who understandably wouldn’t go near the kennel again. Whilst the kennel appeared large, it was in fact partitioned so that the other half could double as a shed – a sort of “man cupboard” for Mr Fang!

Although I wasn’t involved, I was party to the conversation which took place later when Mr Fang returned from work and a complaint was made about the failure to slowly expose Fang to his jail and lessen his distress. Mrs Fang didn’t appear in person but cowardly hurled insults from inside the house culminating in the declaration ” ees a friggin’ ‘usky” (for those for whom northern isn’t a first language, I translate – He is a frigging husky) as if the possession of a thicker coat and David Bowie eyes would naturally prepare him for all canine hardships. The fact that he was outside was not the issue but she ranted on aggressively although she wouldn’t appear in person to discuss it rationally. I do know that the complainer was actually going round to offer to exercise him whilst she was working to help but didn’t actually get that far as Mrs Fang was so keen to state that they’d just had a baby and she had to go back to work. No mention was made of the extra financial burden of their own making in having just bought a large brand new car in which to transport her mop bucket and dusters. Mr Fang slammed the front door shut bringing the conversation swiftly to an end.

I’m guessing that they did feel some pangs of remorse and guilt given that they wouldn’t open any curtains for two days. It transpired, sometime later, that someone had posted a letter through their door also complaining. I don’t know who exactly but my money is on Megane man two doors up who is at home all day waiting for a kidney.

One morning, the curtains opened! Enter Granddad Fang as chief child and dog carer. Like some aged keeper of the Waltzers at the local fairground (think more Status Quo than David Essex), he appeared each day in his stone washed denim jacket and jeans. Every hour, just like his daughter before him he went outside for ” a fag”. But, at least, the situation for Fang was resolved happily and Granddad Fang did play with him a little during the “fag” breaks.

The kennel remained unused as Fang wouldn’t go near it. Mrs Fang made a public display of filling it with his toys but Fang wasn’t having any of it. I actually saw Mrs Fang sitting hunched up in there to shield herself and her fag from the rain! A Lilliputian smoking shelter!! You couldn’t make it up. It was probably at that point she bitterly regretted the fact that the kennel door faced her neighbours!

So, what to do with the void? A dilemma. But not for master of invention and he of the power tools, Mr Fang. A bit of modification later and Mr Fang together with his new Bob the Builder tool belt had created a laundry room. Never mind it was only 4ft high – it was functional and they were going to use it. An extension reel clad in a plastic bag trailed from the house and a palette donated from Mr Scruff’s collection to keep the dryer from the actual patio flags were the chief safety features. Mr Scruff was called in to help manouevre the tumble dryer in to position. Ta da!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I witnessed Mr Fang virtually bent double on his knees actually using it and folding the laundry before putting it in to the washing basket. A few modifications to the roof later after a heavy downpour must have highlighted the faults…and leaks and MKII was created!

It didn’t last too much longer and the kennel was noticeable by it’s absence. All their belongings piled into a tranny van and a few trips later they were gone. But, to be fair, Mrs Fang did return and clean the place thoroughly before vacating for a final time. The patio slabs, now devoid of the laundry room positively gleamed.

So that was it, the Fangs reigned no more and that chapter finally closed. The house wasn’t empty for all that long but that’s a tale for another day.

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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in The Fangs, The Scruffs



Mrs Scruff Gets Mad – Real Mad

The Scruff’s fascination with fire continued over the summer. The fire pit, also a tip reclamation was a new introduction and gateway into the world of pyromania – allowing even larger pieces of wood to be burned. I was actually speechless when a whole set of MDF bedroom furniture arrived one day.

Fortunately, I was away for the weekend and didn’t have to witness or inhale the carcinogens of the boudoir. Nothing now surprises me about this family.

The rest of the family have a varied interest in fire – “Geek Boy” (Mrs Scruff’s son although not Mr Scruff’s as he is regularly swapped with a boy from Mr Scruff’s loins on alternate child care weekends) only does it if the rest of the family are out. The children are themselves obsessed with lowering things from their bedroom windows – I’s weird. It’s rare to see Geek Boy outside (think an emaciated and ghostly Harry Potter type) as he spends most of the time in his bedroom playing computer games.

Periodically, Mrs Scruff appears with a magazine, places it on the lawn and sets fire to it. She chooses to do this even if the fire pit and chiminea are available. I dread to think what the magazine contains and why it can’t go into normal recycling – time may tell.

The larger size of the fire pit and Mr Scruff’s fascination with outdoor survival meant that along with whittling sticks, he could now progress to outdoor cooking. Or rather, Mrs Scruff had to whilst he had the occasional poke about with it.

One day when many of Mr Scruff’s offspring were in evidence, Geek Boy had been shipped out although Little Scruff (the girl) was still there and relations were very much strained. Mr Scruff was still hypnotised by outdoor living and keen to impress his children with his survival skills. He’d even assembled two camouflage tents in the garden, although I fear that was more from the practical necessity of trying to accommodate them all. Generally, they bedded down with the animals in the living room – a modern day version of a biblical story without the gold, frankincense and myrrh.

It was a hot day and the midday temperatures were already pushing past the mid seventies so Mr S decided to get a roaring fire going in the fire pit. The family sat round it and watched the flames grow higher. Personally, I felt they were all bonkers doing that in the heat but clearly they thought was fine. It was decided that some sort of lunch would be cooked in a large disposable foil container sat atop the flame and heart of the fire which Mrs S tended and occasionally stirred.

An apt description indeed as there was a teenage girl present – could have been one of Mr Scruff’s but it was evident to me there would be trouble. She was at that age when she realised her effect on males and was using it. Earlier, Mr S had his arm around her as they looked at a mobile phone laughing and joking whilst Mrs S seethed and simmered pushed to one side.

I don’t know what happened as I was minding my own business (honestly you’d think I watched their every move!) and cooking lunch myself when there was an almighty crash. I could see the fire pit had been hurled to the ground and the scene was deserted apart from the dogs trying to lick at the food and one or two of the younger children still out there looking shocked.

Mrs S stomped back out and sat with her arms folded in full sulk whilst little Scruff tried to console her. Of course, hours later they were all lovey dovey again. They’re all bonkers I tell you – completely bonkers!

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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in The Scruffs



Mr Scruff and his Tangoed Chopper

Mr Scruff passes through various phases and interest, such as the archery one where he entertained himself with a bow and arrow (probably purloined from the tip) and fired the arrows into a knackered wicker basket or the one where he decided to become Mr Bicycle Repair Man. Before this phase was over he had amassed 7 bikes, most of which spent the time upside down in the garden and he obsessively removed the wheels from one and put them on another. I don’t suppose he had the knowledge or the Allen keys for anything more adventurous.

The one that has entertained him the most (and me) is the suspended reality that he is in fact a hunter gatherer. He obviously watches far too much Bear Grylls and come the sunshine, out comes his khaki tank top (believe me, he does not have the upper arms to pull this look off successfully), combat trousers in camouflage print (natch) and sparkling white trainers.

Many, many moons ago there used to be a shoe manufacturer who decided to retail his rejects by spearing the back of them, threading string through which whilst ensuring they could never be confused with a perfect pair, would indeed remain together whilst they were hung on a rack – much in the way of bananas.

Bizarrely, you could only ever try one shoe on at once as a result or if you had both of them on then you could only test walk by shuffling the few inches that the string would permit! As retailing changed and people didn’t want to be identified as wearing a pair of Tommy Balls finest (this is pre designer label shopping I might add) the shops eventually closed. However, the sort of trainers they sold were always the bright, white types that old people in particular favour, especially for the first day of their holiday.

Man must have fuel to burn and to facilitate this Mr Scruff began to bring anything that he considered combustible back from the tip. He started ordinarily enough, with offcuts of wood which he brought home in various dilapidated wicker baskets (or targets as he probably liked to think of them!) and progressed to wooden pallets before his piece de resistance – MDF bedroom furniture (more of that later).

The original offcuts weren’t too large but they still needed to be chopped to smaller pieces to fit into their chimenea, which judging by the state of it had been another tip cast off.

Enter the tree trunk as a makeshift block and an axe so rusty that it was bright orange. Mr Scruff had rescued a tangoed chopper! The original owner must have taken it to the tip as it was completely blunt and to use that most technical of terms – knackered!

So we are now treated to displays of his manliness on a fairly regular basis, more frequently, to Mrs Scruff’s annoyance, when Mrs Fang is in her garden.

He assumes the position like a weightlifter (I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t have a tub of chalk to complete the effect) and it wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t so knock kneed. He stands with his knees together, much like he is experiencing what my late father used to call “follow through”!! I don’t know if that’s something that affects men more than women but you get the picture.

The orange chopper is raised and brought down to ricochet off the wood as it’s too blunt to cut. He looks around for approval at his testosterone fueled activity and repeats the procedure until he has enough hacks of wood for the chimenea. It looks more like it’s been repossessed from a family of beavers.

Later, as dusk falls he sits in front of the fire on whatever garden furniture has passed through the tip that week. Occasionally, Mrs Scruff joins him, although given she spends the entire time in silence with her knees to her chin and arms folded in defiance, it doesn’t appear to be a shared pleasure!

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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in The Scruffs


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