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Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Stop the bus - I want to get on! Beating the Olympic bus lanes.

The year was 1962. The place was Guernsey. The bus driver stopped. It wasn't a bus stop so some people shook their heads.   As a child I took no notice. We waited, engine running, until the driver tooted his horn.  And then, on the other side of the lane, a cottage door swung open and a very old lady appeared. Slowly, with the aid of her stick, she made her way to the garden gate.  Still the seconds ticked by. The bus driver jumped down from his seat and helped the old lady on to the bus. 'You're late today, Flo, he said kindly, guiding her to her seat. 'Nonsense,' she said, her face breaking into a smile. 'It's you, Joe, who is early.'

Compare that with the way the world sees us today:  Bafflement and long waits reigned on London’s roads this week as drivers struggled to comprehend the new lane changes, diversions, banned turns and parking restrictions for the Olympics, which officially start tomorrow.
As host city, London is as cosmopolitan as they come, but transport is its weak spot: Traffic often clogs up its narrow, historic roads, bus schedules can change at a moment’s notice and the subway (the famous underground) suffers from daily delays and century-old infrastructure.
The road changes, which were coming into full force yesterday morning, are causing additional pain.
“Drivers do have somewhere to go, but it’s been a bit confusing,” said Paul Watters, head of road policy at the Automobile Association. “We know it’s going to be tricky and difficult, and it’s bound to be full of teething problems. We’re almost there now, so hopefully it will be better.”

Is this really what we call progress?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Holiday's in Victorian England - A comma-n complaint?

Welcome to all who have a fear of misplaced commas -  here's  one in urgent need of removal. Back in April one Gordon Thorburn  published a book about Victorian England, and as I'm a fan  of the era, I decided to take a look. The book cover is beautifully finished in brown and white sepia print, but the title - now that's a different matter. 'Holiday's in Victorian England'   has  recently become a talking point for all the wrong reasons.

This month's  'Oldie' magazine (which I usually read over my husband's shoulder) takes up the story. 'For a website whose business is principally literary, it was interesting to see Amazon offer  (this) newly published title.  Gordon Thorburn's book has now had its cover amended, but it can still be seen on Amazon with its erroneous apostrophe intact.' 

It reminds me of a heading I saw once years ago whilst I was still a cub reporter. 'TRAGEDY FOR YOUNG PUP'S, it said in 72 point bold (the biggest you could get at the time). It was, indeed, a tragedy.

Well that's it for this blog post. I've found an old fashioned pub that does wonderful steak and chip's followed by free coffee's.  It, is, if you'll pardon the expression, just too good to miss...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Paddle your own canoe - anyone for the Water Olympics?

History often highlights the genius of invention - and this 1950's converted van with 'built-on' canoe wouldn't look out of place on the rain-sodden roads of today. In fact it could well start a new fashion.

Visiting a vintage rally recently reminded me why I love history - and particularly historical fiction. There was an air of  nostalgia amongst the polished, painted and perfected motors of the past that evoked a real sense of  life in post-war Britain.

Have you ever wondered why some people hang on to relics of the past, nurturing them like small children, trying to keep themselves, as well as their possessions, forever young? It's because we don't want to grow old. Twenty-something are now having botox, thirty-year-olds worry about finding a suitable man to father their children, whilst older women are busy telling everyone that 'fifty is the new forty.'

Meanwhile, we all watch as the world changes,  wondering what to expect next.  Floods in summer, sunshine instead of snow, seem to have become the norm.  Maybe we'll all need to build a Noah's ark, or at least have a van-cum-canoe on the drive. But for now we can wallow in the past -  and still look forward to the future.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

This bread was made for walking...

I love all things French (it could be to do with my ancestors) so was amazed to see this French  stick in a  supermarket on the Fylde Coast recently. The  first ever edible walking stick maybe?

At the same time I discovered  the delectable  written  by an Australian girl who' s addicted to travelling round  France.

Do you think she'd appreciate my photo? Or would she dismiss it as a load of old boulangerie...?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Fifty shades of grey hair...

What is it about grown women and sex? Do they think it's just been  invented?

 When I was thirteen our (all-girls) form teacher took us for Latin.  I loved English, so had chosen the 'dead' language  in the hope that it would  help me to become a writer.  Every morning, when she took the register,  Miss Wright made us answer in Latin,  our surnames denoting the  pecking order with the  addition of 'please.'

'Please' in Latin, translates as  'si placet' (with the emphasis on the hard 'c.') .   We trainee teenagers carried it off without a hitch, until it  came to six, which sadly, is 'sex' in Latin.  And yes - you've guessed it - I was number six. Each day for a whole year I shouted  'Sex si placet,' to the great amusement of all my friends.  Childish, puerile even, if girls can be called such a thing.

Move forward to 2012  and 'Fifty shades of Grey.' Middle aged women are reading this masochistic tome on their Kindles,  giggling, like teenagers and sniggering behind their hands.  Did I miss something? Has sex been re-invented? Are pensioners the new teens?

D. H Lawrence, eat your heart out.  Lady Chatterley might just have become a Dame... 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Free 9ct gold ring? It must be the 1970's....

If your name is JOHN and your wife is CHRISTINE - this heavy 9ct gold signet ring is yours FREE!

This was the message in the window of  a Blackpool jewellers when John Muir caught sight of it back in 1971. John, who worked at the Department of Employment in the town, was amazed when he walked past Prestons Ltd and saw the second-hand ring.

 'I had just got engaged to  my fiance, Christine, at the time,' he told the Blackpool Evening Gazette, ' and I couldn't believe my eyes.  The ring had John  inscribed on the top face and Christine on the underside.  Even though we were only engaged, Prestons very kindly gave us the ring.'

John has kept the  message from the window (above) but, sadly lost the ring a few years ago.

 On March 25 this year the couple celebrated their ruby wedding anniversary so, if you've seen a similar ring in a shop somewhere, maybe you could let us know?  In the meantime, I can't help thinking  this story says a lot about life in the North of England forty years ago. Can you  picture the same scenario today?  The resort, I suspect, would be overflowing with   'Christines' and 'Johns.'

Give us a ring...

Friday, 6 July 2012

The calendar that saw into the future...

Searching through  my Guernsey memorabilia yesterday, I found this old *Bakelite calendar that once stood on the mantel in my grandparents' parlour. When I was a child  I used to love clicking the metal pieces in the corners to change the date, though sadly they no longer work. Looking again, I saw that  the date had stuck on September 11....  Just a coincidence?  Or is this  a psychic calendar? I wonder what else it knows about the future!

Nineteen thirties/forties Bakelite calendar

*Bakelite , according to the OED, is 'an early brittle form of plastic made from formaldehyde and phenol.'