Mash up

Yesterday’s post was bleak, so today I thought I would share a local news story with you for fun.

The A64 is the main road from York to Scarborough, passing near Malton on its way. Yesterday a lorry shed a load of instant mash all over the carriageway and chaos ensued. For reasons I do not fully understand I find this very funny.

http://m.yorkpress.co.uk/news/11293176.UPDATED_9_35pm__Instant_mash_spill_blocks_A64_in_both_directions/

You can also get a blow by blow account via the North Yorkshire Police twitter feed (@NYorksPolice) including many potato related puns

Happy Sunday

Namaste

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The tourist season opens

thevillage

Welcome back on board everyone! I hope you had a good break at the services, and are feeling ready for the next exciting adventure on our itinerary, which is where we are about to arrive. Our next stop will be the Village! I am very excited to introduce you to this particular destination as it’s one of my personal favourites. This is the part of the tour where we enable you to experience authentic rural Yorkshire, but before you leave the coach let me just pass on a few tips about how to enjoy your visit

As you may know, the local population in this part of the Island of the Mighty has a reputation for being a little gruff. The natives may appear a little grim, but are in fact mostly harmless.

Also the language spoken around this area is quite different from elsewhere in the country and you may be a little confused if approached by a native. If in doubt simply nod slowly and say “Aye!” drawing the syllables out as long as possible. That’s “aye” to rhyme with “pie”, not “aye” to rhyme with “pay”.

There are also a number of temporary inhabitants in the area attracted by seasonal work over the summer months. Generally they are exotics from Eastern Europe, visiting for the summer months to pay for college, but may come only from as far away as Middlesbrough. For those of you not familiar with the geography involved, Eastern Europe is on the continental mainland, and Middlesbrough is the other side of the Moors. Both are effectively foreign by local definition. In fact, anyone not born and raised in the Village is defined as foreign, even if they come from the next village along the lane less than two miles away. .

The Village itself comprises a church, a pub, and a village hall, renowned for its indoor bowls team and the monthly quizzes penned by a local inhabitant referred to only as “EBL”. Unfortunately you will not be able to meet EBL because she has an international fanbase to manage and can’t spare time for our coach party today.

castlehowardThis is where she lives though and if you use a telephoto lens to peer intrusively through her windows you may catch her working at her computer. Just make sure she does not catch you. Not after the incident with the coach party in March…but let’s not dwell on sad memories. We’re here to have a great day out!

The church will be of interest to those history buffs among you. The foundation stones are robbed out Saxon gravestones with parts of their original inscriptions still showing at ground level, although they are thankfully eroding since being uncovered some years back and so will no longer bring pagan shame to this house of God. The church was refurbished as recently as a hundred years ago and has some very interesting wood carvings inside.

Life in the Village is pretty hectic as anyone will tell you. The post office is available until 1pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, and as if that wasn’t enough the fish and chip van calls every Wednesday evening at 7.30 for up to 15 minutes. Although the Library van has been cancelled due to savage government cutbacks, leaving a number of elderly housebound inhabitants without recourse to the printed word and utterly dependant on daytime television for mental stimulation, the locals are not down-hearted. Oh no! They hold a bingo night every month as well as the quiz I mentioned earlier, and a barbecue every August whether it rains or not.

Another popular local activity is going to the pub. There is a traditional pub in the Village, as is required by law for any English settlement with more than two households comprising at least one adult of drinking age (for the purposes of the law, “drinking age” is 14 and above). If you decide to visit this particular establishment I must caution you not to offer to buy Dennis a drink. He has been dead for two years but still consumes copious amounts of beer and wins the raffle at the quiz at least every other month. The police are becoming concerned that he is disturbing the other lads in the lock-up if they have to pick him up for being drunk and disembodied, while regional healthcare professionals have noted a marked decrease in drunkenness amongst the population with whom he has shared a cell for the night. Hearsay evidence claims that they “don’t want to spend another night with that weirdo again”. Fortunately Dennis takes such comments in his stride and speaks ill of no one.

At certain times of the year you might be lucky enough to observe the local hunt in full colours, meandering about aimlessly in the middle of the road now that they can’t harass foxes. We are not expecting to see them today, but you will see the racehorses exercising on the Gallops if you follow the lane down there. Racing is part of the lifeblood of this community and racehorses will hold up traffic and trample small children with perfect immunity in this dedicated constituency. Apparently this is the kind of attitude that makes the locals proud to be British.

Finally, do not be alarmed by that man over there with the writhing trousers. He has a ferret named Sheila who lives in his pocket and gets a bit lively if she hears a coach arrive. She will bite, but only if you are prepared to pay for it. It is recommended as an authentic part of the Yorkshire Village Experience but costs are not included in the price of this trip. However you can get a 10% discount by quoting the code “Ah’m not fram rownd ‘ere” when paying her human.

Please enjoy your visit and be back at the coach by 4 pm as we have to get back to the hotel in time for the evening entertainment. Tonight the local schoolchildren will be putting on a series of humorous sketches including “The Four Yorkshiremen” in original dialect. Thank you.

 

Colour Savings Time

Snooker

Friday night in the Seventies didn’t get any better!

One of my happy routines as an Electronic Bag Teen was to watch snooker with my dad. I know, I was really living la vida loca back then! We also watched showjumping, Tom & Jerry and Dr Who, and if possible any silent comedy films starring people such as Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd. My father was a discerning television viewer who would quite literally turn on for a three minute cartoon, then turn off again.

During the Seventies, which is when all this crazy was going on chez Bag Teen, Friday night didn’t get any more exciting than Pot Black, a half hour performance of snooker showmanship. All the big names were there, such as the great Fred Davis, Cliff Thorburn, Dennis Taylor, Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths and eventually a very young Steve Davis. And you really had to learn the how it worked because back in those days we were on colour-savings time and mostly everything was in black and white. Believe it or not, I didn’t find out my eyes were blue until the Eighties.

For those of you not familiar with the phenomenon, colour-savings time (or “CST”) was invented in order to manage an orderly transition from the Age of Monochrome to the Age of Multichrome. Colour had of course been invented some years previously, resulting in general excitement with a tendency to hysteria and significant economic success for traders in smelling salts. The population gradually became more alert to the opportunities of a nuanced colour scheme in their everyday lives, but initially it was considered a social shift of cataclysmic proportion which needed delicate management. For centuries colour had been as theoretical as the Higgs boson, and until someone invented the equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider (it was actually called the Large Pantone Collider and patented in 1928 by Ingrid Bergman’s uncle) there continued to be savage debate over such contentious issues as the colours to be found in a rainbow, or the actual colour of the Red Sea and its implications for biblical epistemology.

Nevertheless, demand was high; the world expected colour in every last nook and cranny, although early attempts were clumsy as armies of painters (or “colourists” as they were known) were deployed globally to render key landmarks and treasures in red, green, or blue. The discovery by Howard Carter in Tutankhamen’s tomb of the colour gold, for example, caused quite a stir. The colourists started with works of art and later moved into cinema. Their early enthusiasm was prone to excess, and indeed one colourist was so carried away when updating the Book of Kells that he was forcibly sectioned for the greater good.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AKellsFol032vChristEnthroned.jpg

The new phenomenon of colour resulted in some extremely vibrant pages in the Book of Kells

Gradually colouring became mainstream and coloured versions of everyday items made it into the shops, such as blue jeans and itsty-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot bikinis. Following the psychedelic period at the end of the Sixties, the world was mostly transitioned but the BBC lagged a little behind due to a limited budget. It couldn’t afford a complete colour output and snooker balls were last in the cue.

As a result, my father taught me the rules of the game the old-fashioned way: keen observation to memorise the placement of balls on the table. Snooker nowadays is a garish game, but then it was all shades of grey, and not in a kinky sense. Now there is the green baize, and balls of white, red, black, pink, blue, brown, green and yellow.

The important thing to remember with snooker, the really important thing, especially if watching in monochrome, is that apart from the white and the reds, all the colours have a home spot marked on the baize. They return to it throughout the game, like salmon to the glens or pigeons to their lofts. It is a game of physics: angles, velocity and spin. The goal is to clear the table by potting all the balls in a certain order, ending with the black. Only the white must never vanish down the rabbit hole. There are hideous forfeits if this happens. Hideous.

Knowing these rules and paying attention to play, it made perfect sense then for whispering Ted Lowe, the television commentator, to murmur “and for those of you watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green.”

What were your favourite TV moments as a teenager?

Namaste

British-ness

The Sealed Knot

The Sealed Knot is a Civil War Re-enactment Group. When we talk about the Civil War we mean the one we had in the 17th century after which we gave up on republicanism as a bad job and set up a global empire instead. That turned out well.

I do understand that the rest of the world is not blessed with being British. In fact, I am not even sure whether I mean British or English when I say this. As a nation within a United Kingdom of other nations, I am so confused as to my national identity that I can’t even tell you where I am from. It all depends on context.

The question “Where are you from, EBL?” elicits one of the following responses:

If the question is asked by a foreigner and I am abroad, I will say British.

If the question is asked by a foreigner and we are in the UK, I will say English.

If the questioner is British and we are in England, I will say Yorkshire

If we are in South or West Yorkshire, I will say North Yorkshire

If we are in North Yorkshire, I will say “village near t’ Moors”

If we are close to my village I will say its name

If we are in my village I will say “I was born near London” and be subjected to much hilarity and ritual abuse. After that we all have a pint and take the piss out of Westies (people from West Yorkshire). It might be worth noting that the pint could comprise either tea or beer, but not usually both at the same time.

So imagine my joy at falling over a meme on Facebook about British Problems. I have to confess I am guilty of pretty much all of them, so now I know that I am in fact British.

It turns out there are lots of these on the web but I thought I would share a couple here as a warning to anyone who might be planning a visit to our sceptred isle, set in its silver sea.

I was looking forward to a nature documentary but when I sat down to watch it the narrator wasn’t David Attenborough

Honestly, if the national religion in this country is the NHS, then the national voice for all things furry, scaled, feathered or generally of the living persuasion is David Attenborough. You all know it’s true. The BBC exports enough of his stuff to the rest of you. His hushed tones allow you to share his reverence and awe for the natural world in all its quirky, stupendous glory. As a nation we are honoured to have him as one of our own.

If you visit us, however, we are not all like David. Oh no.

I live outside the UK so when I say “With all due respect” no one realises I’m insulting them

This is something visitors need to look out for. Listen for tone of voice or heavy sighs, and perhaps look for crossed arms or hands on hips. When Brits speak loudly and slowly it’s because they think you are slow of English or that you are a pain in the neck (or both).

Similarly

I phoned Netflix customer support, which is US based; they were so overly polite I thought they were being sarcastic and hung up

From this you can assume that customer service in the UK is of a different nature to that of the US. It might not be as bad as in Paris, but only because we keep apologising while stitching you up. I don’t know what your own country is like and I’m sure it varies in different parts of the world, but if you had a line representing the best and worst of US customer service, British customer service would be off the scale at the worst end. If we do it really well, you might not even know we are mocking you.

Don’t be fooled by the fact we apologise for everything either. In fact, I suspect the whole “Nation of Sorries” thing might take an entire new post, so that’s all for now. I need to go and tidy up before the cleaner gets here. I wouldn’t want her to find the house a mess.

How British are you? It’s not a matter of birth but of attitude!

Namaste

 

Shopping List

Today was not a work day, oh no it was not! It was a Saturday, as I am sure many of you will have spotted. It was a day for Getting Things Done at home.

Sigoth and I compiled the shopping list for a trip into town.

Shoppng List

1. Pay the newsagent.

We don’t have a daily paper ourselves but the demented mother likes to have one. It helps her keep track of the date at least, and she enjoys the pictures of puppies. I used to worry about the headlines because she likes a particular red-top with an undying devotion to that princess that was killed. Some of the front pages can be alarming if you happen to be the kind of person, like my mother, who thinks that newspapers carry actual stories about real life events with any degree of accuracy. Really these publications should be stocked on the Fiction shelves in the shop. Thankfully she now doesn’t take in what they say, so is no longer upset. Every cloud has its silver lining.

2. Drugs

3. Nails

4.Goat’s milk yoghurt

5. Paint brushes

I know, it’s an eclectic mix. In fact it made me think I was going on some kind of Outward Bound course with Sigoth where we would have to use the items listed to build a device for crossing the Atlantic as part of a team building exercise.

We talked it through and here is our plan:

First, take all the drugs to produce a creative mind set.

Then use the paint brushes to slap the yoghurt onto some rocks. We assume the course will take place on the Moors because why would you do this anywhere sane. Or warm.

Use the nails to make abstract patterns and leave them on the yoghurty rocks to rust. After a while the rocks will be covered in all kinds of beautiful lichen fed by the yoghurt and growing in psychedelic patterns traced by our drug-fuelled brains.

We will enter these into the Turner Prize or similar and win a large amount of money with which we will purchase luxury tickets to cross the Atlantic.

Job. Done.

Either that or I am just kidding and we are really going to make a bomb.

I hope you had an interesting day. Do tell me how it went.

Namaste.

 

 

Lines in the sand

I was watching one of those clichéd movie moments the other night instead of doing something productive. It was the moment when the hero says something similar to “That’s a line I will not cross!”. Usually there is dramatic body language attached, including miming drawing a line, presumably in mimed sand.

nooooooo

I recently discovered within myself a steely core of resistance in another area. In retrospect it was not really surprising but I was a little taken aback at the time.

It involved tea.

There is no doubt that clichés are popular because they resonate within us, and highlight something we all recognise. In this case, we all have limits to what we are prepared to do. Milgram’s infamous experiments purported to demonstrate that people can be pushed further if someone in a white coat and with an air of authority is doing the pushing. Whatever the validity of the findings it is true that authority figures can push us along, and potentially arguable that that is how organised religion gets away with so much. Let’s not go there today though.

The reason I am musing on this cliché is that I know I have my own limits. In some cases these are reflected in the charities I choose to support; for example, I prefer to donate to mental health charities rather than donkey sanctuaries, or overseas aid rather than diabetes. All of them are important but I have to prioritise. I will still put a few quid in any of those tins if shaken at me, or if someone is jumping from a helicopter, or whatever. I am just more likely to put additional time or effort into some of them, although sometimes it’s about what skills I have to offer or location and timing. I trust that other people prioritise differently and we all balance out.

I am a signed up professional so I adhere to a code of conduct. This means there are lines at work I will not cross either, and I have had occasion a couple of times in my career to have to stand firm. It has worked. People aren’t evil or stupid on the whole.

Back to the Tea Incident then.

I recently had surgery on both shoulders and as a result when I woke up from the anaesthetic I was severely restricted in movement. The nurses bustled about me and made me feel cocooned in a warm fuzzy glow. They brought me a glass of water with a straw because I couldn’t lift anything. I sucked it gratefully.

This was an English hospital, perhaps more importantly a Yorkshire hospital, so naturally the next question was not “how are you feeling?” but “would you like a cup of tea?”.

I indicated that I would. In fact I actually croaked out “Oh God! Yes!” and hoped it didn’t sound too desperate or needy.

Yorkshire tea

The tea lady checked how I took it (strong, dark and handsome, if you must know), and returned with a mug of the beautiful brew. A mug, I repeat, because this is the home of right and proper tea drinking. God bless Yorkshire and the NHS.

There was only one small blemish on the tea horizon. She had put a straw in it.

“You can’t lift that,” she said. “So I put the straw in.”

“I’m not having tea through a straw,” I thought. I said it out loud too.

I reached forward through gritted teeth to lift the mug of hot, steaming liquid.

The tea lady sucked in her breath audibly.

The other patients all froze, eyes glued to my bed, like a group of medicalised meerkats.

Somewhere the orchestra played tense music at the rate of a rapidly beating heart.

The nurse at the next bed went into one of those slow motion dives across the room, hand outstretched, crying out “Noooooooooooooooooo!” as my arm wobbled and I winced with the pain.

Well really.

Of course I didn’t spill it. It was tea. You don’t waste tea. It tasted wonderful.

As they say round here, even my dog wears boots.

What are the lines you won’t cross, great or small? What are the risks you will take?

Namaste.

The List and I

I’m pretty sure at least some of you recognise my friend: the To Do List. Naturally before Christmas I compile one, and it’s a thing of beauty. It has time segments and cross referencing and dependencies and contingencies. Names are allocated to jobs. Tasks may be crossed out vigorously when completed or hesitantly drawn through if not quite up to standard. Often they are annotated as a cascade of sub-tasks becomes necessary.

The Christmas List (and to be fair it’s really also a New Year and Beyond List) seems to realise a life of its very own. It sulks when I don’t give it my full attention. It nestles in my lap purring as I type frantically at the keyboard ordering from the supermarket or the gift retailers who are going to make Christmas achievable for me this year. To be honest I think it’s a cat in disguise. I can sometimes feel its claws as it pads round in a circle on my thighs, finding just the most inconvenient spot to rest, like on top of the keyboard. I don’t have a cat any more since I developed an allergy so it fills a niche.

Today was a good day though. Today I completed all the time-critical essentials. As I typed the final question for the Village Quiz on Friday I felt the weight lift from my shoulders. The list hissed a little as I crossed off the last item in the MUST DO category. (Did I mention categories? I have those too.)

I gave it a severe look.

“Now then, little list,” I admonished (for it was indeed much smaller than previously). “You and I have made a great team over the past month or so. Don’t spoil it now. I’d like to remember this as a successful venture. Who knows what we’ll get up to next year?”

The list sulked a bit and pouted.

“You still have to phone your friend about that visit, and finish the knitting for the imminent arrival of Baby A. Don’t think you can ignore me.”

I sighed.

“Look, list,” I said. “I know I have to do those things. But they are not as time critical as all that. I can leave them until tomorrow. The baby isn’t due for a couple of weeks, and I have almost finished. Plus the visit isn’t until April!”

“Tomorrow,” the list sneered. “Oh yes, good idea. Leave them until tomorrow. Don’t come crying to me when you are up against the clock.”

My lists tend to the sarcastic; I simply cannot imagine where they get it from.

EBL’s To Do ListSo that’s what I am going to do: leave things until tomorrow. This afternoon I have sat around watching bad TV and playing games on my phone. Now I have enjoyed a restorative cup of tea and slice of Christmas cake (thanks to the list it was a beauty this year – plenty of topping up throughout November and December made it moist and slightly more alcoholic than is good for me.). The natural progression is to have a little natter with you before I do in fact concede and pick up the list again. After all, we are friends. We have just had a minor disagreement about priorities today.

Tomorrow, as the list observed, I have much to do. But as Scarlett O’Hara would say, “Tomorrow is another day.” We can begin each day afresh.

Namaste.