Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thanks Suzie

Thanks to the firm-bodied young accountant's almost complete lack of workload, which gives her ample time to investigate the mysteries of Blogger, I now have some permanent links to other blogs, and will add more soon.

"Morialekafa" is a real find - a retired anthropology professor who has a fine writing style and a reassuring hatred for Bush, Cheney, and all the other faulty human beings we'd like to see loaded into a siege catapult and fired a mile out to sea.

Mmmmm, ample.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Not So Bright

I would dearly love to have permanent links to other blogs, like Libertybob, Tif and others, but I'm too stupid to work out how to set them up in my template. If any of you other Blogger users can give me simple instructions I'll be grateful. As well as better informed.

I'd also like to draw your attention to Suzie Creamcheese's blog. She's a fine big healthy girl, and her heart, like her breasts, is definitely in the right place. Ahem.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Hard Currency

Sooz and I are going to Dorset for the weekend, to visit our friends Dave and Diana who moved to a village called Winterborne Stickland a couple of years ago(thatched cottages, local inn full of colourful rustic types, slight but all-pervading smell of cow-shit, that sort of thing.)

Dave is a cartoon animator by profession, and at the height of his success he worked on Yellow Submarine and Watership Down , amongst other things. He is small, Scottish and a fully paid-up manic-depressive, and as he plays tenor saxophone he has acquired the nickname "Toots", which he bears with dignity and grace. In common with many people who have decided to move to the country, Dave now makes a living doing just about anything he can, including painting cutesy-wootsie murals in kids' bedrooms, teaching saxophone, building work and so on. As he says, "Everyone has their price and at the moment mine is two bob and a pickled egg*."

Diana is bright, sparky, and looks a lot like a Disney fairy godmother (in fact for a while I thought that Dave might have drawn and animated her rather than go out and get a real girlfriend.) She has a tendency to sing Frank Zappa numbers after a few drinks and works as an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer, which means her job is to try and help dissaffected youth(s) to moderate their behaviour before they end up dead or in jail. It's the sort of job that most of us could probably stick at for about fifteen seconds before punching someone in the mouth, so in my book she's as fine a person as Mother Teresa, and a lot more cuddly.

The other reason that I'm going to Dorset is that my guitar-player son Matt has a couple of gigs there, and I've volunteered to drive him. Sooz and I have booked a room at the inn Matt's playing at tonight, so this evening we can have dinner, watch a young white boy playing the blues like an old black man, have a few drinks and crawl straight up to bed. I'm taking my bass with me, so at tomorrow night's gig, after Matt's finished his acoustic blues and ragtime set, Dave and I, plus a few local musicians, will join him for what is likely to turn into a lengthy and drunken jam session.

It promises to be a a good weekend.

* For the benefit of overseas visitors and young people, this is an archaic expression which refers to pre-decimal U.K. currency. Any attempt to explain pre-1971 British currency to a foreigner or even to a Brit born after about 1965 will lead to an embarrassing amount of ribaldry and disbelief, but here goes...

Before we had a system with one pound being equal to one hundred pence, British currency was made up of pounds, shillings and pence, which was naturally abbreviated to "L.S.D." Huh? I know, I know. It gets worse...

There were twenty shillings in a pound and twelve pennies in a shilling and therefore two hundred and forty pence in a pound. In addition there were coins worth a quarter of a penny (known as "farthings"), half a penny (pronounced "haypenny", don't ask me why), three pence (called a "thruppenny bit"), six pence, twelve pence (a shilling), two shillings (called a "florin"), and a coin which was worth two shillings and six pence and called a "half-crown". The "crown" coin, worth five shillings (or a quarter of a pound) was no longer in general circulation even when I was a child, although special occasions sometimes warranted commemorative issues. Paper money started at the ten shilling note which represented serious spending power when I was five years old.

Considering all of the above, the indigenous population of the British isles got along okay with the complexities of the currency, although arithmetic lessons sometimes got a bit tricky, as I recall. We didn't have so many tourists back then and we hated the ones we did have, so the fact that our money system rendered foreigners confused and tearful was regarded as a bonus. The old advertising trick of showing something costing £10 as £9.99 came out in those days as £9 19s 11d. There was also an imaginary unit (no notes or coins)called a "guinea", which was worth one pound and one shilling and was somehow considered to be slightly more upper-class than mere pounds, and used by expensive tailors and the like.

As well as all the above, there were slang words for some of the coins. A sixpence was a "tanner", and (getting perilously close to the point of all this), a shilling was known as a "bob". Like the "quid" for some reason it was always singular, as in "Can you lend me ten bob?" (Poking fun at Americans who say "It cost me fifty quids" remains one of the few pleasures left to the British, so don't tell your friends any of this.)

So...bearing all of the above in mind you will realise that Dave (remember Dave?) is suggesting that he is prepared to work for a very small amount of money indeed. And a pickled egg, of course, which is always worth having.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Singing Mice And Stuff

Scientists have discovered that mice have a much wider vocabulary than previously suspected. Not that they could take a philosophy class or anything, but apparently when you record their squeaking (the mice, not the scientists) using microphones sensitive to very high frequencies and then play the noises back four octaves lower, you get a series of sounds not unlike birdsong. (Why do people say "not unlike", instead of "like"? Is "not unlike" as like "like" as "quite like"? I heard someone say "not unfond" recently, and almost managed to stuff him into a sack with a dozen ravening weasels, but, alas he was oily and wriggled free.

I was surprised that the fact that mice can sing is considered to be newsworthy; after all, they did a perfectly workmanlike job in Disney movies back in the fifties and sixties. I know they had a tendency to pronounce "Cinderella" as "Cinderelly", but I have to say that's really just nitpicking considering that they probably worked for cheese, and being able to persuade your cast and crew to work for dairy products instead of hard cash has always been key to bringing a movie in under budget.

Oh, and the other item of news this week is that David Blunkett has resigned from Tony's Cabinet. Blunkett might be considered to be unfortunate because he's blind, but for the same reason he probably doesn't know how terrifyingly fucking ugly he is, so it balances out.