New is better?

I keep being told that I should replace Little Dragon because newer cars are so much more efficient, with less emissions etc.


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It lives!

This week, after 4(?) burned out alternator brackets, Frankie has been resurrected. Nothing has fallen off yet, but we’re taking it carefully in case it does.

Dragon has a new friend in its lair, same colour, same make and model, same vintage. No one’s sure who owns it which makes getting it moved tricky. If Frankie wants to come back I’m not sure there’s going to be room. Still, I’m sure Dragon is happy communing with another version of itself with even worse paintwork.

A change of circumstances means that I’m finally going through stuff, chucking it or sending as much as possible to charity. The charity even sends letters (a new thing they do now) saying how much it went for. A friend visited since and commented that they could see space that hadn’t been there before. Hooray!

Something odd happened at a charity shop though. It was a national charity, with signs in the windows saying they want and accept anything. The person in charge though wasn’t just unbelievably rude, but she demanded I walk across town to another branch to donate as nothing donated could ever be relevant to her branch. I informed her that next time I’d be donating to her rival then left it with her anyway out of principle. Her underling looked mortified at her behaviour. Later I visited another branch and they said they said to ignore her and that their own branch would happily take anything, even if it was unsellable, as it can still be sold for recycling.

There’s more to go, but the hoarder in me is better at letting go if I have photos first. There’s a coat I particularly like and would like one day again even if it’s hand made, so I want proper photos so that’s possible. It’s not big, so it will keep. I already acknowledged this is one reason I became an archaeologist – hoarding the ‘important’ things for a nation allows clear outs on a personal level.

Was reading about life in a submarine, how to cope in a small space. Organisation is the answer. This could explain why I fitted better three times into rooms 6ft x 9ft than one 3x the size, but then it was also about useable space – I rearranged the furniture before I moved in and opened up the small spaces, but the larger space came with unmoveable furniture that had been designed and fitted by someone who’d never lived there.

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History judges

Had an ice cream in the park the other day, dipped in marshmellows and everything. When I commented on who had invented the soft ice cream process I was roundly corrected and learned that any background can be anywhere.

The ice cream man could be described as a founding member of the Margaret Thatcher fanclub. He was from Gantham and remembered visiting her Dad’s shop. He’d been able to buy his council house. She’d got where she got by merit not birth. And it was difficult to pick any hole in his argument that he thought the world of her. We did agree that the right-to-buy had since gone awry in a way that wasn’t meant, but you can’t have everything.

Incidently, accordingly to him the ice cream process wasn’t the adding of air to make the fluffy ice cream go further, but the adding of a chemical to make the rock hard frozen tub ice cream into ‘soft scoop’ “without that you’d need a chisel to get it out.

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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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