Category Archives: Photography

The Little Marks We Leave

At the time of this post, ten months have passed since my wife died – and there are still (it seems) a million and one ‘things’ of hers that need to be moved on. She liked to collect all manner of ‘things’. Whatever they were, there were (are) always too many of them to fit into our small ‘modern cottage’. Not only were the common areas of the house full-to-bursting, so was the attic too. And only towards the end of her life did she finally stop, sometimes, to ask herself: “Do I really need this?” Or, more often: “Tooty says the loft is full; do I have anywhere to put this?”

I can’t imagine how many items I have passed on to charity since then – but it’s lots. Multiple car-loads. And still it keeps coming. Most of her books are now sitting on complete stranger’s shelves; but a few – the oldest tomes – are still here. This is one of them…

It’s a slim volume that was first published in 1937. This is a later copy from 1949.  At 108 pages it’s hardly exhaustive, and wouldn’t really do as a proper reference book. But the flowers are beautifully drawn and painted, so really it’s an art book. On the inside cover this appears…

Clearly it was gift – from someone I will never meet, to someone else I will never meet (unless in the afterlife). In one of my often melancholy moods this made me feel a little sad. I wondered who these people were, and what happened to them. Then, as I turned the brittle pages – many of which are coming away from the dried-out spine – I found this…

One day, after receiving this gift, the recipient carried this book with (her?) and decided to collect specimens, which (she?) pressed between the relevant pages. Here is a sample of Chicory from rural Britain circa the early 1950s.

And here is some Corn-Cockle…

Lastly comes the Cuckoo Flower…

The absence of any more samples suggests that only one expedition was undertaken. But, perhaps for just one foray into the countryside, this book was precious to it’s owner. Precious enough for it to have survived and pass through any number of hands since that day. It certainly caught my wife’s eye and has survived her. So what do I do with it now? What we leave behind comes in many forms – not all of them with physical properties such as this book. They are little pieces of us: pieces that cannot die. For now I will keep this on my bookshelf. But it (the book) has nothing to do with my wife: she was only ever a custodian. Eventually (through charity shops or auction) I will probably pass it on to someone else that I will never meet: and they will wonder who the two names on the inside cover belonged to, and they will find the pressed flowers. And maybe they will add to them.

Poor Old Tooty: The Aftermath.

Well, actually there hasn’t really been an aftermath – if you don’t include me giving up bananas as a precution. In fact, other than a poor taste of t-shirt, all appears well at Tooty Towers…

If they ever remake Star Trek again, they know who to call.

But wait, perhaps all is not as tickety-boo as it might appear. Look what happens when I raise the aforementioned t-shirt…

Oh-no, how can I go out in public in a piebald state?

Argh, they had to shave my manly chest for the ECG sensors. Now I’m a hirsute titty freak!

Snails Ruin Summer Memorial – Well Almost!

During the Summer of 2020 I was inspired to create a sort of reverse window box that I planned to attach to a wall that faced my sitting room window. I hoped that the flowers within it would brighten the view out through the window, and make the street look colourful and cheery too. I showed it to my (then ailing) wife, and she agreed that it would look very nice. Come Spring we planned to plant some seeds in it; but (if you’re a regular reader of this blog) you’ll know that she never saw the Spring. But I went ahead and did it anyway – as a Summer memorial to her. I selected Scabious and Cornflowers – coz they were her favourites. I added Calafornia Poppies as (what I considered) a perfect visual counterpoint. Well they all germinated – the Scabious and Cornflowers taking the lead role. But, to my horror, they were all destroyed overnight by a gang of marauding snails. Too late I applied the snail pellets. But then, as the endless rains of Summer gave way to a few days of sunshine, this happened…

Linzi’s reverse windowbox lives. And best still, those are late germinating Cornflowers at the far end of the box. Better late than never: success!

No Footpath! No Shit?

As I walked along a narrow, single carriageway back lane, the sides of which were strewn (nay, overwhelmed) with greenery gone bananas in a wet English Summer, I chanced upon a hidden sign…

With such an abundance of native plants hiding it, I couldn’t imagine why it was there. And upon closer scrutiny, I discovered this…

Regarding the immediate area I could see no reason for its presence.

“No Footpath?” I said. “No shit – I’d never have guessed.”

Somebody paid money to have this erected: why?

Tooty’s Fashion For Fogeys 3

In my original Fashion For Fogeys I decried the fashion sense of men who are – how shall I put this? – past their prime. Men like me. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m not quite so able as I once was. Bits of me have expanded: others shrivelled horrendously. Of course, regarding the former, I refer to my waistline. For the latter, I refer to my brain. Well obviously the willy too; but we don’t want to talk about that. But (as a result of a withering cerebrum) I find myself digressing: back to fashion for fogeys. In the original FFF I displayed an uncanny ability to wear beige gracefully. I also mentioned that one wasn’t neccessarilly forced to drive a tedious silver/grey car to Waitrose whilst wearing said beige apparel either, though in actuality I did, but that, in my case it wasn’t the regular choice of automobile made by fogeys, but something from the Volkswagon group and finely crafted in the Czech Republic. Or, to put it another way – it wasn’t a Honda Jazz (or any model of Hyundai). Well today was shopping day: the sun shone brightly; and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t bring myself to throw on a T-shirt; some jeans; and a pair of Jesus boots . Yes, I dressed to go shopping. Awful isn’t it? Worse still I discovered a linen shirt in the back of my warddrobe: and guess what – it was beige – though I like to call it off-white. So, being a fashion icon for the older generation, I sought something to go with it that was both practical and stylish. Something that didn’t cry “Fogey!” Naturally success came within seconds. I set off the linen shirt with a pair of plain combat-style trousers in olive green, with a camouflaged ‘bum bag’ by Ellesse, and an equally olive green pair of Sketchers…

Cool, for an old bastard – right?

What – pink soles too?

But better still, not only did I not climb into a silver/grey Honda/Hyundai to visit Waitrose: I also visited Sainsburys (shock horror) in this…

Would have been Yellow, but they don’t make them. And I had to wait two and a half months whilst they built this Race Blue one for me.

So there you have it: the Guru plays by his own rules. And if you don’t want to become an old fogey, make sure you do the same.

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 1)

Prologue

The Earplug Brothers had only ever used their Hyperspace Pirate-look-alike-spaceship once previously; but following the discovery of a nasty pong in a region of space that wasn’t desperately far from Earth, they had re-boarded their under-used vessel and set off immediately to investigate…

Although the aforementioned region of space came within the boundaries of the Solar System, to the occupants of the saucer, it felt awfully far away from home…

But after studying for gaseous emissions for two days, they were getting decidedly bored. Well Miles and Chester were. Rudi and Valentine were both far too busy checking read-outs and analysing samples of vacuum to notice.  And Magnuss just felt space sick…

But between bouts of nausea and rushing to the toilet, the middle brother had managed to concoct a theory. The pong to which reports referred was of a very individual design. In fact Magnuss knew it well. He was certain that he had smelt it once before – when a false Supreme Being had supplanted the true Supreme Being, whom the Earplug Brothers had freed from inside a huge wooden crate…

…who then did battle with the interloper, soon to be known as the Wonky Supreme Being…

…and with the brother’s help, the real Supreme Being was able to blow the underpants clean off the Wonky Supreme Being and thereby defeat him…

Now, yonks later, Magnuss was certain that the current pong was utterly redolent of the smell that had erupted from the Wonky Supreme Being’s pants as they flew haphazardly across the battlefield, all that time ago. But, until he felt better and was able to speak without gagging, he chose to keep his thoughts to himself. Chester, on the other hand, was thinking how much more fun the saviours of Mars – Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison – were certain to be having, right now, aboard the Gravity Whelk

And Miles was recalling a happier time when the five siblings performed Los Caballeros Stupido a cappella whilst standing on a dangerously minuscule stage with their distinctive Cossack hats perched upon their heroic heads…

But whatever the subject on each Earplug Brother’s particular mind, it was certain that (after several days in the depths of space) they all longed to return to The Museum of Future Technology…

An hour or two later – no one is certain quite how long, because boredom makes seconds seem to last forever – Rudi and Valentine concluded their study…

…and became aware of their sibling’s discomfort. Being the eldest, and therefore the wisest brother, Rudi invited them all into the presence of the Ship’s Oracle…

“Hey, Man,” he said to the fountain of knowledge, “we aint sure what we should do next – know what I mean? We’re getting nowhere fast, and my bros are getting real cheesed-off: any ideas?”

To which the Oracle replied: “You pop off to the lavatory for a few minutes: I’ll contact the museum.”

Of course it was exactly what the boys wanted to hear, and five minutes later they were on their way back to the control room…

…feeling much better in themselves, their bladders, and hopeful for the immediate future. And as they re-entered the control room, they couldn’t help but notice that the video link to Earth was in the act of warming up…

Much to their surprise, the Museum of Future Technology’s toothy chief curator – Cushions Smethwyke – had been joined by their Auntie Doris.

Rudi spoke for all of them: “Hello, Cushions.” He said “Hi, Auntie: How’s tricks?”

“Hello, boys.” Auntie Doris replied cheerfully, as was her way. “Miss Smethwyke has some good news for you.” Then to Cushions she said: “Go on, Cushions: tell them.”

“Good news indeed.” Cushions spoke across the vast divide between the museum and the flying saucer. “We’ve got a more important job for you, back here in the museum.”

“Hey,” Valentine spoke for the first time since swearing at the recalcitrant computer terminal at his Gaseous Anomaly Work Station, “right on, mama. Smells aint no groove, you dig? Specially space-smells. Whatta you got in mind?”

Doris couldn’t restrain her enthusiasm: she spoke straight over the curator: “We’ve had another exhibit arrive from the future.” She squealed with ill-disguised delight. “It’s a bloody great big one. The biggest since Eyewash Station was destroyed.”

“Yes,” Cushions added as she pushed herself in front of Doris, “it’s from an era when all technology was based on a single material: stone.”

This confused the heck out of the brothers. “But,” Chester said on their behalf, “the Stone Age isn’t in the future: it’s in the past!”

“No,” Cushions replied adamantly, “not the Stone Age: but The Age of Stone. It will be an era when everything is constructed out of stone. And I mean everything: even stethoscopes, windmills, micro-circuitry, and lavatory seats!”

Whilst the boys absorbed this stunning information, Doris finagled her way centre stage once more. “And they want you to test drive it – so-to-speak. So get yourselves back here as quick as poss: Cushions wants to open it to the public, but she wants to make sure it’s safe first.”

Three seconds later…

…they were on their way. And Magnuss wondered if this was the right moment to mention his fears that the gaseous anomalies were the result of the return of the Wonky Supreme Being. That they weren’t space-smells – as Valentine had assumed incorrectly: but God-farts – infiltrating and permeating regular space/time from within another quantum realm entirely!

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Yes, Earpluggers, they’re back!

Earplug Adventures Wallpaper: A Scroton Five Emerges from a Hyper-Space Conduit Above the Museum of Future Technology.

If you’re an Earplugger, you’ll know that this picture can’t be right. The Scroton Five exists in a later era. Or maybe it has travelled back through time. Or perhaps this is a picture from the MOFT’s future. Dr Gideon Snoot might be coming home. Ooh there’s a possibilty. Maybe I can shoehorn that idea into the next Earplug Adventure

The Set: The Scene 3

Once again, if you’ve been exposed to the Earplug Adventures for long enough, it’s likely that you can recognise a scene by it’s set. Want to prove that you really know your Earplugs? Check out the following…

First up we kick off with an easy example of earplug derring-do. This set should be very familiar to you…

Yup, it’s the bridge set of the starship Chi-Z-Sox / Brian Talbot. But what does a predominantly yellow bridge crew tell us? Again yup – it’s the Brian Talbot. And isn’t that Placebo Bison I see standing at the front? Thrice yup: it can only be this scene…

Which, I’m sure you’ll recall, appeared in Distant Land: a story so wonderful that these characters returned in A Tale of Three Museums.

So, with the easy introductory question out of the way, it’s on to the second one. Recognise this?

It’s an early set, when I still had my fabulous ‘studio’ that was later demolished. Two silver earplugs on a see-through disc. Lit from above and behind in front of a sheet of something styrofoamish. Ugh, I guess it must be…

Yes, it’s the android earplugs aboard their flying disc – en route to a fortuitous encounter with the time-manipulator, Gobby – in Earplug Aftermath.

So who is this?

Silly question: Obviously it’s the world’s pre-eminent Earplug author, Tooty Nolan, in the act of shooting a scene in Fort Balderdash. And how numerous those scenes were. I liked Fort Balderdash: it was yellow. But do you recall any scenes set there? Well here’s one of them…

In this scene a Robot Guide…ugh…guides a rather miserable looking Plopper O’Hooligan and his girlfriend Belinda Noseguard somewhere to do something in Those Magnificent Earplugs. Moving on, what on Earth is this?

I’ll tell you. At the back stands a sheet of stiff corrugated plastic material in white. In front a sheet of similarly white flexible plastic lays across some empty boxes – to simulate topography. Centre sits a piece of polystyrene packing material. This is obviously a building. It’s quite a large set, and (at the time) it caught the attention of several passers-by. And it was used for one throw-away scene. This one…

…in which the leadership of the Ice World go outside, for whatever reason, in Those Magnificent Earplugs.

So, finally, to this charming shot of a fork-lift truck’s battery charger…

Sadly this is a set that I can never again use. It still exists, but since retirement, I no longer have access to it – though I’m sure they’d allow it, if I asked nicely. It is also a ‘set’ that has appeared in many stories – over and over – as the control panel in the Maintenance Department. It oversees the workings of the Museum of Future Technology’s Nul Space Power Generator ( and The Future Museum of Mars too). In this case I’ve selected this example of it in action…

Green lights across the board: all is well for Nennigross Numbwinkle and Catford Greene in Natural Selection. Of course it’s just as likely to be showing red lights, with all kind of warning signs on the panel above Catford’s head. I needed to be careful about the time of day that I shot my scenes here. During most of the day the machine was switched off, with no lights illuminated. At night, when the fork-lift was plugged in, they would shine red. In the morning, after a night charging, the lights would shine green. I had to make sure that I took my pictures within those brief windows of opportunity. Honestly, the trouble I go to in order to bring you The Earplug Adventures!

P.S all the aforementioned e-books are available as free PDF copies by simply clicking their images on the sidebar.

Wallpaper 628: Meadow Hunting

Normally my photos struggle to gain ten ‘likes’ on Flickr (after all the standard is terribly high, and there’s some very fancy cameras out there). This one seemed to follow the usual path – until I’d sat myself down to breakfast – to discover that, over night, fifty people had found this nice enough to let me know. Captured the essence of Summertime perhaps?

Wallpapers 625, 626 & 627: Tranquil / Hare Today / Flee!

As I stood, stock-still, in the middle of a sun-drenched meadow – framing this shot…

…a movement at the periphery of my vision made me pause a moment longer. I was then able to watch as a lone Hare loped towards me in a stop-start fashion – eventually arriving before me and totally unaware of my presence…

Unfortunately my autofocus chose that moment to ‘beep’.

Did I ever mention how much I dislike autofocus?

A Lifeline for Nature

In England many farmers are paid to leave parts of their land fallow for several years, and turn it over to nature. Some go so far as to sow seeds of plants known to be of benefit to endangered species. The results have been very heart-warming to those who give a damn about the creatures that share this land with us. And areas that would otherwise be an uninteresting mono-culture, look like this…

And this…

If we keep this up, who knows, we may yet save the world from ourselves.

Tooty’s Re-appraisal

Whilst out walking recently, I discovered a location that gave me a previously unseen perspective on a section of road that I’ve travelled many times upon a motorcycle since the first time in 1973 aboard my dinky little (and dog-slow) Honda SS50Z. I took a photo of it…

Back in the day, when driven quickly, this was a section of road that could be quite challenging. As the decades have progressed it has become more so. In fact it now has a reputation for being an accident black-spot. Oddly it is easier to negotiate it faster on a motorcycle than in a car. Car drivers, it seems (judging from marks left behind on the bank of the preceding downhill adverse-cambered corner [right of picture] ), lose the rear end in a slide; hit the bank; and are catapaulted across the road – usually to crash into a drainage ditch (or through the hedgerow) just before the gate in the picture. Despite an uneven surface that includes ripples, cracks, potholes, and surface repairs, motorcycles move swiftly without incident (unless they meet an unexpected horse / cyclist / tractor / hedge trimmer of course). Although I must consider myself advancing in years, I still enjoy a quick squirt along this stretch. In fact I wind my Yamaha YBR125 flat out in top gear, which requires some serious leaning to stay on the apex. This is called fun. But then I looked at a second picture…

…and thought: “Flipping heck, there isn’t a whole bunch of room for error! Maybe flat out in top isn’t a good idea – even on a diddy bike like mine: a rider could travel quite a distance through the air at 60 mph.” So, dear reader, you can rest easy in the knowledge that, from now on, the world’s pre-eminent author of earplug stories will take it a little easier. If a bigger bike passes me, I’ll just let it go. Aah…such maturity.

Photography: Seeing What Isn’t There (again)

As I wandered along a late afternoon English backlane, with the lowering Sun on my back, a Range Rover pushed past me – it’s large wheels splashing through some puddles that had formed amongst piles of gravel that had been carried downhill by Winter’s rainfall. I paused to take a few photos of the result. This is one of them…

Muddy water: Bubbles: Shadows: Gravel

Do you see the possibilities? This is what I saw…

The night sky in the mountains perhaps?

But with possible future Earplug Adventures in mind, I thought that perhaps one adventure might take place upon a most inhospitable world. So…

Wonderful things – puddles: where would alternative reality world-builders be without them?

The Set: The Scene 2

Once again, if you’ve been exposed to the Earplug Adventures for long enough, it’s likely that you can recognise a scene by it’s set. Want to prove that you really know your Earplugs? Check out the following…

For this first example, we travel economy class to the Costa Blanca for some location work…

Yup, real Spanish earplugs playing Spanish characters – in the shape of Los Tapones Del España

…as they make their way to the Museum of Future Technology in Museum of Terror.

Right, that’s the easy one out of the way. What the heck is this..?

Well it wouldn’t surprise me none if nobody in the whole world got this one right. But wait a minute: isn’t that the starship, Chi-Z-Sox, lying nonchalantly upon that glazing pallet? Hmm, so what’s with the blue background and plastic tube? The answer is this…

It’s from Plunging Into Peril, in which the Chi-Z-Sox overheated upon entering a planet’s atmosphere, and dived into the sea to cool off – much like I used to do when I went metal detecting on the same beach where I set up the Museum of Terror shots. Here we see the space ship racing through the water as it attempts to flee angry locals who believe the crew are trying to steal their duterium.

Here’s another tricky one…

“Ah,” you’re thinking, “I recognise that pink rocket: that has appeared several times as the device that brought down the invading End Cap mother ship in The Invasion From Hyperspace and other alternate reality or time-travel stories, including Evil Empire!” And you’d be right. But this doesn’t come from either of those tales of derring-do. THIS is the shot that was…ah...shot here…

It’s the nuclear missile that the KT Woo fired at an ice packaging plant in Cold War. I then cheekily used it again as an on-screen shot aboard the Chi-Z-Sox, when Professor Hidious Gout fired an entirely different missile at the island of Dr Adolf Weil-Barrau in Mutant Island.

So, to the fourth and easiest puzzle. Where have you (more recently) seen this?

Look closely. Yes, it’s those adorable characters, Lillie Whitewater and William of Porridge…

…as he utilises his fine baritone to sing ‘What Becomes of the Broken Winded’ to her at the end of Haunted Mars.

Wasn’t that fun: we’ll have to convene here again.

P.S – Don’t forget that you can read or download any of the aforementioned stories by clicking the cover pictures on the sidebar.

Tooty’s Rambling Art

Whilst out walking in the rain (with a water-proof camera, of course) I chanced upon a small gully that had been worn into the side of the road by Winter’s incessant rainfall. A steep hill meant that it flowed with sufficient pace to create a micro-waterfall; so, inspired by nature, I placed my camera into the water, facing up hill. I then left the resulting photo to fester in my computer for a few weeks. Eventually I decided to do something with it. I thought that perhaps I might bring into existence another world for my Earplug Adventures. So, without any plan, I started sodding about with a free photo manipulation program – Photoscape. The resulting cyber-doodle looks like this…

The Gravity Whelk arrives on the Ice World

Who knows, it might even appear in a story one day. Talking of which, so might this shot of Magnuss creeping into a missile launch facility…

Everyone knows that back doors are always left unguarded – don’t they?