Fake but true

For my readers in forn parts (as Pratchett’s witches call them), here’s a sign that is fake, but ought to be true:


It put me in mind of a blogpost, that got the author criticised by those who just simply do not understand, which ran:

That’s Britain for you. Tea solves everything.
You’re a bit cold? Tea.
Your boyfriend has just left you? Tea.
You’ve just been told you’ve got cancer? Tea.
Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network bringing the city to a grinding halt? TEA DAMMIT!”

The original title had been, “Right now, a million kettles are boiling.”

Apparently (according to the nice lady giving the lecture on tea at Down House), at the start of World War II, one of the first things that the government did was to seize control of the tea supply and begin rationing so that no one ran out.

I have no idea what they’d do now, especially as coffee is so popular. Perhaps they’d start relying on Real Ale?

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Rude grammar

And in the theme of comic songs that are far better than they superficially appear, here’s Flanders and Swann’s wonderfully obscene ‘Have some Madeira M’Dear’.

(“Swann’s nephew thinks it’s about cake… So does Swann.”)

This is apparently the only known composition in English that contains a three-stage zeugma/syllepsis, and it contains three of them.

As can be expected from a live performance, they’re all slightly different. In this version he talks about his ‘finesse’. In the original it’s ‘prowess’.

Socially, there’s something else unusual – Michael Flanders is publicly using a wheelchair, at a time when society felt the ‘decent’ thing for him to do was to disappear and rot. He’s showing that it should make no difference.  “But of course you only see the people that have got the wheelchairs licked, those who didn’t get the wheelchair licked are mouldering away somewhere.”

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I have got to know audiobooks quite well, in particular the varying qualities. Just because something is ‘old’ doesn’t mean it’s better or worse. It’s people’s knowledge of them that’s most worrying. The library, understandably doesn’t have that good a selection – any good ones wouldn’t be there as they’re being borrowed. But it does have a scattering of dire romances and decent fare such as H.G. Wells, which due to being short wasn’t abridged. Pratchetts tend to be abridged, which is sad as they do it by removing the jokes.

So I went to the Charity Records/Tapes/CDs/Video/DVD shop. They have new staff. One was wearing a ‘school leaver 2015’ jumper. And they’d not heard of audiobooks. The school leaver, even when ‘audiobook’ was explained to her, insisted to me that soundtracks were the same thing. No. There were no audiobook CDs. There were a couple of crates of audiobook cassettes, which both staff told me I shouldn’t be bothering with as no one sells cassette players any more. Argos does. I’ve checked. And I have cassette players. And Argos also now sells cassette-to-MP3 converters for the princely sum of £25.

So I had a rootle through  and loaded up on the few tapes I could stand. At 99p each they need the encouragement. I left the complete Jane Austen as although a neat boxset they were all abridged. Some works, such as Jane Eyre, can stand abridgement, but some can’t. The sticky labels stuck all over the ornamental paper case didn’t help. But sitting at the back I found a gem, which someone will be getting for their birthday: The collected songs of Rambling Syd Rumpo.

The one below has the right words, Kenneth pausing for effect leaving some parts open to interpretation (which is what Pratchett uses when Capt Carrot can’t remember what thieves get hung up by), and Billy Connolly losing it at 1.26mins while he watches.


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Spring is Springing.

I wrote a letter yesterday. A letter! On a notelet! Then took it to the post office to be sent abroad. It was a very small notelet. I did wonder about using something bigger, but thought I’d succumb to waffling if I did and my handwriting’s difficult enough to read as it is. The joys of digging through boxes includes finding all sorts of ancient stationery, some of which the envelope glue has failed on, but still interesting to give and receive.

Christmas before last I was given a hyacinth. After it had flowered I planted it out. To mark the occasion the tree surgeons then dropped woodchips and some branches on it, crushing and burying what was left. Now it’s grown again and is in full bloom. Oddly, it’s a deep violet in colour, but all the photos come out blue. I wonder what colour it really is. The tree surgeons are due back next week. At least it should flower again next year.

To celebrate Spring and to allow all creatures to flourish, the council have decided to stop emptying any bins that don’t have lids or which they feel are overfull. Our bins were designed to be lidless and the smaller bins don’t shut properly if there’s anything in them. This is not the first time that the council have done this – they believe it saves costs as it cuts down on emptying and carting. I shall presume that dealing with the rats will be in next year’s budget – they were lively enough the last time this happened.

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Just finished watching ‘Around the World in 80 Gardens’ with Monty Don. It was originally broadcast in 2008, but what with one thing and another, I had to wait until now to see it. I now plan to steal ideas to try out in the garden I don’t have. The rest of the household says that I can have any garden to myself, they don’t want mud or outdoors. Bet things change if the sun ever comes out.

Monty finished it by saying that everyone’s looking for paradise gardens for inner peace, without realising that that can only come from inside.

Last night, in a compromise between money-saving and fine cuisine, we got a takeaway. As we sat and waited I got to see the standard plant that decorates such establishments. I used to have two plants like it but after owning them at least ten years had to give them away. They’d stayed small as anything larger was unmanageable. Had they grown to the height and bushiness of this one perhaps I’d have seen the sprays of delicate five-petalled white and pink flowers with wispy centres scattered all over it. It was beautiful.

The plumber/gas fitter has just been to change the heat exchanger in the boiler and issue a pass certificate. Stayed a few more hours than intended and covered himself in water at least once, but it’s done.

While he was here two ‘Elders’ came to the door and attempted to talk knowledgeably to me about religion. The 19 year old held his ground quite well, though anyone who feels that ‘Elder’ is a suitable title for a 19 year old outside Scouts really does need to see more of the world. He’s not quite grasped that any text is open to the social interpretation of whoever is interpreting it, but he had learned the default position of repeating, “God loves you!” if conversation appeared to be going down the route of science. I know He does. That’s why I was born in a time and place that offers daily miracles through Universal Healthcare, Free-At-The-Point-Of-Delivery, whereas he’d been born in Utah. I wished him well and that I hoped for his sake he’d never have to learn what that meant.

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Losing touch

A sad sight met me today when I came home: a Christmas card had been returned ‘address unknown’. That address has been working for years, but it’s true that I’ve not had any recent replies from it. The difficulty is that as it’s in Japan, it’s not like I can nip round the corner and see what’s happened. It’s an ex-housemate, who speaks perfect English, but her household probably doesn’t. At least the card got back so I know.

In the digital age the world seems smaller, up until it’s suddenly too big.

Happily working my way through library audio books. I’ve heard many adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers’ sleuths, read or performed on radio, but this is the first time I’ve heard her ‘unfinished’ work which was posthumously completed by someone else based on the notes she left and the letter she sent others. It’s lovely finding that all the characters have grown up, moved on, are busy enjoying doing other things. Makes a break from the usual miserable fare in other media these days.

Library charges for loans of audiobooks by the number of disks/cassettes they contain. It’s only fractionally cheaper than the charity shop and the shop may have a better choice.

It’s just taken two hours to start this computer. It’s running Windows 10. Windows 3.1 and 95 only took 15-20 mins to start up, allowing someone to make tea and toast in the morning. But two hours? Twenty years later? How is this progress?

I only wanted to start it to play an audiobook!

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Supervision required

Yes, I know it’s 1:30am. I’m up sorting something else out.

In the meantime, there is a member of the household now banned from the kitchen unless closely supervised. I was called in with the words, “I’ve filled the kitchen with steam!”

I had to break the news gently and urgently that it wasn’t steam, it was smoke.

Someone had managed to set their pudding on fire. Apparently it’s what happens if a mugcake is made with 2x oil instead of 1x oil and 1x milk then microwaved for too long. Made it in my mug too.

We had a fire here yesterday (in the fireplace) and yet it smelled far smokier today.

We’re hoping to move house. I’m hoping the new place has a better ventilated kitchen with multiple exits.

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