Swapping over, staying put

‘Frankie’ [Frankenstein] the car has been living up to its name. After three months it has now gained a new engine. Its second new one. When connected the garage filled with black smoke (I was stood round the corner). Since then and a few more flashing lights there has been a new battery and chunks of new alternator. It’s roadworthy, but Dragon is watching from a safe distance.

What’s annoying is that as Frankie was initially all fixed we moved everything across, so now we’re back to driving Dragon but this time without the maps etc.

In other news, or not, we’ve been having a think about the household. The house prices round here have now hit the point where a ‘starter home’ cannot be afforded even with two professional incomes and a hefty deposit (£300k, up from £160k 18 months ago) . So instead we’ll be saving up while getting everything else sorted out. Saving won’t keep pace with the price rises but as they’re now unsustainable we can sit and wait – if we bought now it probably wouldn’t hold its value anyway.

We’d prefer somewhere warm, cleanable, with parking and with the garden that I’m dreaming of, but we’re already in a location we like and we’ve shown recently that it is just about affordable on one income (so long as no one wants to eat out, travel or buy anything). That latter point is worth having – I have seen people struggle when they set up a lifestyle assuming both would be working full-time forever. Next month there’s going to be a role swap round here and spare money will be a good thing while things settle.

So in the meantime please bear with us. We were looking forward to inviting everyone to the clean, warm and bright shiny new home that we’d renovated ourselves, but instead shall be remaining in a place that no matter how hard you scrub has always got a layer of dust stuck to every surface by the time it’s dried. The next immediate project is a good clear-out, packing up and working through better storage. It’s always depressing visiting showhomes that cause, “Oh, we can’t invite these people back to ours”, but then if “these people” care it doesn’t matter.

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New saga

Two years ago I had a crown fitted in a prominent tooth. It was absolutely solid and I was very happy with it. Then it started to wobble and eventually the infections started and today I had a surprise extraction of crown and root as there’s only so long that antibiotics can hold it before it comes out altogether and we thought it best to push luck no further.

The replacement is to be an implant with a bone graph, as what was left of the root and the maxilla meant that nothing else was possible. So, one painful saga ends and another begins.

Still, I’m finding all this very interesting to watch.

I’ve been asked why I mind having a gap. It’s the not cosmetic gap I mind, it’s that if a tooth is removed the others start moving about and given where the gap would be that would limit further options in the years to come. I wore a brace for five years and have dug up all sorts of interesting dentistry so I know that things can move about, but I also know that if infection goes wrong it can go really wrong, so I’ve admitted defeat and have a leaking gap where my tooth should be.

What I recall is that my great grandmother on one side kept a silver knife in her handbag so that she could cut up her food, as it was the same tooth that bothered her. My great grandmother on the other side had all her teeth out as a 21st birthday present from her employers as she was a Good And Faithful Servant. In comparison I still have a lot of options open to me, including amoxicillin if it all goes wrong.

We’ve discounted bridgework as that messes up the other teeth. I shall be getting a partial denture to hold the gap (and for the look of the thing), but building work will start before the maxilla starts to reabsorb. It’s going to take years, but I’m hoping I have longer!

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Still reading ‘The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste’. Still a good book.

But while at the beginning items were presented with historic statements, such as where astroturf was first used, now more personal comments are sneaking in. And given that this is about taste and the authors pride themselves in the middle class lifestyle, some of them are really personal. In other areas cultural difference, misunderstanding or that the book was written 25 years ago are fairly prominent.

God has started to get a heavy mention, although inappropriate prosthelytising has been left out of the section on Dinosaur Parks, which is more about the joy of the wee beasties.

Wearers of one garment are simply called “Tramps and hookers anywhere in the world” while fake nails are similarly described as making the wearer look cheap. The world’s a big place where the meaning of garments changeover time, culture and geography and the description of well done nails showing a lot of time and resources involved.

There’s a synopsis of the lives of Margaret and Walter Keane. In 2014 this became a mainstream film. It would be interesting to see how the film differs.

And Metallica is described as, “one of the most repulsive of all trash metal groups” with a lead singer who, “once said the only love songs he wants to sing are about beer”. This will be the same Metallica who sang and played with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

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At present I’m reading ‘The encyclopedia of Bad Taste’.

It’s worth the title (and the quid from oxfam).

The authors say that after studying in Higher Education, they could wax lyrical on why Willem de Kooning created shiny balloon animals, but felt at a loss when they looked up from their books and wondered where all the leopard print was coming from.

High Art is taught in college as culture, yet they had learned nothing of the more abundant High Street culture. If the difference between the two was a question of money, the High Art may be highly profitable per item but the street expression is a multimillion dollar (it’s an American book) industry too and some works, such as Dolly Parton, are both multimillion dollar and loved icons in their own right. High and Low Art may be as transient as each other unless preserved. There were more items produced representing the ‘bad taste’, in terms of type or number produced, “from accordians to zoot suits”, giving the High Art a rarity value, but at the same time this meant that the low art was more representative of the real culture of the population at large.

Based on this the authors researched each item. Their list is subjective, but each has a piece on the history, explaining where the troll doll, bouffant, astroturf and white lipstick really came from, what it was a reaction to and what it was taken to represent.

Sadly the book only goes up to 1990, but there’s plenty of horror contained within.

And I’m really wondering why cool whip didn’t take off in the UK.

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When I was small(er) and squeaky(er) my parents decided that the first film I saw in a cinema should be a good one. If I was to see a screen bigger than 14 inches, for which you had to get up, walk forwards, poke a button, then sit back down again, every time to change the channel or change the sound, it should be a proper film that was worth it.

So in 1993 I got to see Jurassic Park with Real Live Dinosaurs!!!

It was in a small, elderly, red velvet-seated cinema in Yorkshire and must have made an impression as I was still bouncing and squeaking when I saw dinosaurs again at Eden Project last year.

And 22 years on I’ve just seen Jurassic World. Real Live Dinosaurs again, this time with interactive effects. I want one of those hamsterball things. And none of that genetic-fiddling stuff – T-rex and Raptors are great enough on their own.

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Changing civilisation

The Roman and Greek writers complained that civilisation wasn’t as civil any more so there’s nothing new there, but there’s a couple of things that happened yesterday that made me wonder.

As I was travelling home by train there was a poster on the platform. A child had died on the tracks two days earlier. The poster apologised for the inconvenience. It wasn’t tongue-in-cheek, it also praised (in small letters underneath) the work of the rescue team, but the purpose of the poster was to staunch the flow of complaints the railways had been getting as despite the death being the top news headline and clear announcements throughout the day since it happened, there was still greater concern over the reaction of self-centred members of the public affecting complaints levels and revenue. I’m not sure whose reaction is worse.

I sat an interview yesterday. Went well! But I discovered beforehand that I had grown out of my adult-tailored clothes and could only fit into my child-size ones. There is now such an obesity problem in children that the clothes for young teens dwarf me no matter what size I now am.

There’s a meme: “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore”. I can see their point.

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For the benefits of customers, sometimes companies ‘improve’ things.

Apologies to anyone I’d normally be talking to on msn/hotmail/skype – my hotmail has suddenly ‘updated’ to skype only for instant messaging, without my asking it to, and presents with only a randomly selected and out of date handful of addresses with no means of retrieving the others. The ‘real’ skype provokes meltdown on this computer.

Likewise I’d have simply updated the blog post I put this week (we went to St Austell’s brewery – they do ice cream), but I can’t find the dashboard anywhere. I can select to follow any one of a number of strangers I’ve never heard of, but it’s a matter of pure luck (which technically it can’t be) as to what pages load when I sign in.

As usual hotmail also can’t reply to anything either, but that’s more to do with it being this time of day. Not so long ago there was a nice man who came from the phone company and found someone had stripped out the copper from the external cables.

So on the few occasions I’m near a computer long enough to type something, the technology “updated for your convenience” won’t let me. Don’t think I’m being rude in not chatting – I’m just missing the good old days when international stamps were sold in places that weren’t only open while everyone was at work.

Incidently, I’ve not used Amazon since Christmas after the mess made of a present that tooks weeks and cost more than twice as much to sort out. HMV and Waterstones are expensive, but work out to about the same cost overall with a lot less stress, especially now they’ve realised what they were doing wrong and have stopped demanding payment upfront for a product you’ve not seen. (It used to be that they demanded payment then refused to refund or return if the item arrived damaged, hence I moved to Amazon).

And they wonder why so many people fear computers and dismiss technology.

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