Some things make me laugh

Yes, and “It takes maturity to be able to laugh like a child again,” said Moffat Machingura. Oh yes he did.

So, I must be terribly mature.

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There have been a couple of things on the radio this last week or so that have made me laugh – and continue to laugh every time I think about them, and then I’ve had to bore everyone I meet who’ll stay long enough to listen… but things are never so funny second or third hand. It’s the way I tell ’em.

In the spirit of sharing, here they are. Judge for yourselves a) my sense of humour b) whether or not I’m three gallons of crazy in a two gallon bucket.

This was on The News Quiz when, at the end, the participants read out (real) newspaper cuttings. I checked this one out and it is, in fact, from 2011.

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I LOVE THIS!

The second piece, which keeps coming back to me and making me giggle, was from Clare in The Community – brilliant BBC Radio 4 comedy by Harry Venning, adapted from his cartoon strip from The Guardian. The family au pair is an Eastern European girl called Nali, played wonderfully well by Nina Conti. Nali is always full of sage proverbs and rural anecdotes from her homeland. This was on the occasion of Clare’s boyfriend coming back after a separation:

(To be said in Eastern European accent). “I love a happy ending. It’s like when Cousin Ludmilla fell into the threshing machine but Cousin Boris was still prepared to marry what was left of her.”

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That oh so common bit of textese – LOL, not to mention LMAO and ROFL…

It made me laugh. It still does. It might not make you laugh. I’m fascinated by this. It’s what makes humour so very subjective – and writing it exceptionally tough because some things just AREN’T FUNNY to some people when they have me reduced to helpless giggles.

Just to end with:

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Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

I suppose all this indicates that what makes me laugh is to do with words, their clever use and accidental misuse?

Happy Saturday!

The weather and my mood have little connection

The weather and my mood? Well…

I have my foggy and my fine days within me; my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with the matter.

I can’t claim to have said that, until now. It was Blaise Pascal, born 1623, long before Seasonal Affective Disorder was even thought about. Or, it might have been thought about, but certainly wasn’t labelled.

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I’ve often claimed exactly that – that the weather and my mood have no connection. I’ve often asserted that I love being out in all weathers, except possibly driving rain when I’m up to my knees in mud. But not lately…

Lately, though I hesitate to admit such weakness in myself, the weather and my mood have buddied up to become best mates. Inseparable companions. Joined at the hip.  It’s grey and miserable…so am I. Cold and dreary…so am I. Though having said that, when it’s raining I’m not crying streams of tears, and when it’s windy…enough said).

I didn’t notice until I DID notice and this was on Tuesday of this week when suddenly the sun came out – and so did my optimism and joie de vivre.

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Damn! I am not the master of my fate. I am not the captain of my soul. Not at the moment, anyway.

Before I accuse myself of being too hard on myself, in fairness, I’ve been under the weather for a few weeks now, just not on top form with the dreaded throaty-chesty lurgy – AND I certainly had a few days of concussion the other week having flown gracefully off my horse and landed not at all gracefully on my head AND I’ve been unconscionably busy with work.

But, the weather and my mood? Here’s some research, so it must be true:

Thank you, Huffington Post.

“Day-to-day weather does affect your mood (if it’s already a bad one).”

“If you’re in a good mood, chances are, bad weather won’t bring you down too much. But if you’re feeling crummy already, a cold, dreary day could easily make your mood go from bad to worse.”

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“In a 2008 study published in the journal Emotion, researchers evaluated the personalities and moods of more than 1,200 adult men and women through daily questionnaires that were later cross-referenced with the local weather. They found that climate-related factors like temperature, sunlight, wind and precipitation had no notable impact on positive mood, but that temperature, wind and sunlight did have an effect on negative mood. Increased temperature had a mostly positive effect on negative mood, while increased wind and decreased sunlight had a mostly negative effect on negative mood, though these effects varied from one individual to another. Sunlight was also found to have an effect on how tired participants said they were. The results were somewhat inconclusive, but they do point towards the need for more future research into the mood-weather link.”

I see a new career beckoning.

Caroline Coxon, the human guinea pig.

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Little memories – or larger ones?

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Desert Island Discs nearly always casts me away (see what I did there?) on a raft of my own memories and yesterday was no exception. The subject was Julia Cleverdon (I’m sorry, who?) – she’s jolly famous, actually, if you’ve ever heard of her. Funnily enough, after writing that, I thought I’d check her out on her own website. Evidently, I wasn’t alone in requiring more information…

“We’re sorry, too many people are accessing this website at the same time.”

Anyway, here’s a little piece about her from another site:

“Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO, CBE is a passionate and practical campaigner who has gained an international reputation for inspiring individuals and organisations from business, government, education and civil society to work together for the common good.”

International reputation? Ooops. Mea culpa, as if apologising in Latin makes a blind bit of difference.

The first piece of music she chose was this:

And that’s always, ALWAYS associated with some happy memories of my university days, up in Liverpool.

As a surprise treat for my parents, Peter and I booked the four of us tickets to see Romeo and Juliet, the Prokofiev ballet, at the Liverpool Empire. We went out to dinner first and we still kept it a secret what we were going to see.

Arriving at the Empire, everywhere there were huge adverts and billboards for the act appearing the next week at the same venue. Misleading.

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If you could have seen my father’s face…

An absolute classic of horror and disappointment, quickly transformed to British stoicism and good manners, expressing delight in the prospect of an evening’s entertainment with these comedy stalwarts of the late seventies.

Nothing against Little and Large, by the way, but absolutely NOT an act that my parents would have enjoyed in a million-zillion years.

Romeo and Juliet was magic!

So are my memories.

Caroline has a Good Idea

A Good Idea to turn adversity into triumph…

On Tuesday, the weather was like this:

Only far less artistic. Cold, wet, windy and unpleasant.

On Wednesday, the sun came out. Hoorah! But my car wasn’t celebrating. On the way back from the yard, coming up the hill into Buxted, dear Olive Oil the Freelander started making the most horrendous ear-shattering jet engine noises and struggled to get home.

I am not THAT stupid, dear readers. I managed to work out that it was the exhaust, so I phoned Mr. KwikFit and he said, ‘Bring it straight in!’ – as straight as the road allowed, given all the bends.

Enter Caroline’s Good Idea.

Rufus, the slightly nervous labrador, needed exercise – I don’t take him to the yard with the other two at the moment because he’s anxious around horses. Why not take him with me in to town to KwikFit and walk home the couple of miles over the fields?

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Toby, Bonnie and Rufus by Tim Coxon

WHAT A GOOD IDEA!

It all started so well…a bit on the muddy side, but well…

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Thanks again, Tim Coxon

 

Not for long.

I ventured into the flood plain and ended up wading thigh-deep along what was meant to be a footpath, with Rufus swimming along beside me.

We took a slight detour across a marginally-less flooded field, only to discover that at the end of it was a gate with barbed wire along the top and a notice on the other side.

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There was no bull – or the bull was fully-submerged so I didn’t notice him.

But then I was lost. Lost and wet and very cold.

I was drenched up to the tops of my legs and Rufus was soaked all over and covered in mud. I approached some guys doing some fencing (as in boundaries round fields not as in pointy sword fighting). I asked for directions. One of them said the magic words, ‘I’ll give you a lift home, as long as you don’t mind having the dog on your lap in the front of my van.’

His van was fairly respectable (at the start of the journey).

So – a HUGE thank you to J P B Fencing of Waldron, for a generous act of Good Samaritan proportions.

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I have just now sent an email to convey more thanks.

So Caroline’s Good Idea, which could so nearly have been a catastrophe, turned out to be a demonstration of kindness.

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Out of clutter, find simplicity.

Said Einstein. And Wendell Berry said, ‘“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”

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Yes, New Year. A sort of resolution. Clear out the clutter in my study. Actually, first clear out Peter’s clutter in my study (once his) so I have more room for my own clutter…

In doing so, I came across all my university files and very, VERY nearly threw them onto the bonfire of the vanities.

But not quite.

I just couldn’t bring myself do it. Let me see, these are now forty years old or thereabouts. When am I ever going to need an essay entitled ‘Which novel seems the more prurient in attitude to sexual love, Moll Flanders or Clarissa?’ or ‘Pope’s ability to convey feeling in verse,’ or some notes on Plato’s Republic, named,  by me, ‘Ever Such A Jolly Brief Summary.’ (Plainly, I’ve hardly matured at all!)

These files are indubitably clutter but they represent three of the happiest most carefree years of my life, spent at the University of Liverpool (English and Philosophy, Joint Hons.)

I started reading the comments after the essays. Anything to avoid my self-imposed clutter-ridding exercise…

Hmmm…

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This, about William Faulkner, was from my absolute heroine, American Studies tutor, Hermione Lee. I’m blushing with unseemly pride.

But…oh look, B Minus Minus (How on earth is that extra minus designated?) on Tamburlaine… apparently I write ‘fluently – too fluently, one feels’? Hee hee hee! Whoever this tutor was…not a heroine, obviously.

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And lookie here! The cover of my D.H. Lawrence notebook…those EEEEEEEs in creep are unmistakably Peter’s writing. No-one writes an E like Peter does. Thanks, Peter. Supportive even then!

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So how can I throw all  this away?

It would be like throwing away myself.

Slobbing! Yesterday’s plan.

My early Sunday thoughts:

“What’s the plan for the day? Slobbing in the morning, followed by slobbing in the afternoon, then a snooze before the main evening slob?”

(Also a quote from the inimitable Red Dwarf.)

Dave Lister says hi!

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There’s nothing wrong with a bit of slobbing once in a while. Especially not if it’s:

  • Sunday
  • the morning after the night before (a dinner party)
  • raining
  • windy
  • chilly

And I’m a little battered and bruised following a less than spectacular fall off one of my horses (He tripped up over his feet and I went tumbling over his head and landed with a smack on the ground!)

And I’ve been non-stop doing stuff for what seems like months on end…

Well, those are my slobbing excuses and I’m sticking to them. Be kind to yourself every once in a while, Caroline.

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This is a picture of me, except there were two, and sometimes three, labradors slobbing on the coach with me. It was cosy.

We watched a not-that-good-but-perfect-for-a-Sunday-afternoon film called:

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And some other stuff but then, just when I wanted to go off to bed, (slobbing can be quite exhausting) I was drawn into the VERY good first episode of a new drama series:

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Called Remember Me, starring Michael Palin, seriously dark and spooky. An absolute MUST WATCH.

I’d have missed it if I hadn’t been slobbing!

 

The (very slow) Arrival of the Queen of Sheba

Oh, happy memories of my piano-playing days when I heard Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, piano duet version, chosen by TV writer Sally Wainwright, on Desert Island Discs today.

N.B. This is not ME playing Arrival of the Queen of Sheba with my little friend. Read on, then you’ll be IN NO DOUBT.

At the sound of the opening notes, I was plunged unhesitatingly back to Northampton High School for Girls…

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There’s Derngate…

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…and the main school building.

In a instant, there she was before me, my long-suffering piano teacher, a sweet woman called Elizabeth Bush. Well, she used to be sweet. I expect it wore off after a few years of teaching me.

I even saw the music in my mind and, with Google-amazingness, here it is, the very same copy:

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Oh my goodness.

When I said ‘happy memories’ of playing Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, that wasn’t strictly accurate. True enough, I loved the piece and, in my imagination, I could sound as good as the couple in the YouTube video above. Better, even.

The trouble is, or was, that I wasn’t that good at playing the piano – and was even LESS good at practising  being not very good at playing the piano.

As some sort of incentive, maybe, Miss Bush suggested we should play the duet together in assembly. Had she a death wish?

I remember the excruciating, grindingly-slow, halting and mistake-ridden performance to this day. Assembly overran by several minutes.

I expect it was Miss Bush’s fault.

Mr. Handel has barely stopped spinning in his grave.

 

 

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”

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Image by Gretzky

 

Yes, Friedrich Nietzsche on the subject of music.

Friedrich Nietzsche of the impossible spelling, which I have to check EVERY time I write it, and of the outrageous moustache, which I don’t.

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I love music – yet I hardly ever go to concerts or listen to radio stations which play music. Occasionally Classic FM…if my brain needs soothing.

So – lately, I’ve discovered two new artists and one new track by an artist I already knew. Then,  I went on to buy the aforementioned tracks.

Here’s how I heard of them, all you music promotion people who spend millions and zillions on publicity campaigns.

First, Tricky and the track called Hell Is Round The Corner

See, I’m not at all averse to a bit of rapping and trip-hop.

(Eclectic, moi? Mais oui!)

“As a producer and a musician, Tricky is noted for a dark, rich and layered sound and a whispering sprechgesang lyrical style.”  Sprechgesang? Even I, with my limited grasp of German, managed to work that out – speaking-singing.

Where did I hear it? On Desert Island Discs, yes, RADIO 4, when Steve McQueen was the guest. (Not Steve “Bullitt and Great Escape” McQueen, but Steve “12 Years A Slave” McQueen).

Second. Kate Bush, on the same programme – and OF COURSE I’ve heard of her… but had somehow missed the track, This Woman’s Work. (Sorry, not a very good recording).

And finally…

Music from a trailer for a new ITV period drama called Grantchester – which I await impatiently.  Here, thanks to Mr. Google and my own persistence in finding out exactly which track was used – Jamie T’s track, Don’t You Find

SO – at the moment, my writing hours are inspired and enlivened by THIS music.

Next week, it might be Bach or Purcell…

Autumn is a second spring…

“when every leaf is a flower,” said Albert Camus, I’m reliably informed by Mr. Internet, who is the fount of all knowledge, much of it unverifiable.

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Yes, today’s the first day of autumn. AUTUMN. A much friendlier, more familiar word than FALL (sorry, North America!)

Sadly, and I am shamefaced to report this, I only realised this because Mr. Google told me.

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The animation amply illustrates the decline of my memory

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Evidently, it’s in the autumn of its lifespan,

The trouble IS, because of Google alerts and Facebook reminders, I don’t NEED to remember dates…like people’s birthdays, anniversaries and equinoxes. And whose birthdays do I forget? The people who aren’t on Facebook. THAT REALLY SUCKS!

“The Internet is becoming our main source of memory instead of our own brains, a study  from Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Columbia University has concluded. In the age of Google, our minds are adapting so that we are experts at knowing where to find information even though we don’t recall what it is. The researchers found that when we want to know something we use the Internet as an ‘external memory’ just as computers use an external hard drive.”

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It’s quite frightening to speculate what people like me will do if ever the internet goes down permanently. Lose a few friends, that’s for sure, through not remembering their birthdays.

How did I get from reflecting about it being the first day of autumn to THAT?

Well, at least there are still a few synapses firing in my brain…

Not TOTALLY reliant on my external memory.

 

 

What is it about pork pies?

Yes, what IS it about pork pies? To be specific, Melton Mowbray mini pork pies…

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I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEM.

This is not as straightforward as it may seem.  I don’t much like pastry, unless it’s warm. I am not a big meat eater. In fact, I’m not a big eater AT ALL…

but, if there are pork pies in the fridge, I’m a bit like…

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If I were to enquire too deeply into what goes in to a pork pie, I’m sure my blind devotion might be shaken…so I won’t.

Oh. My. Goodness. There is a Pork Pie Appreciation Society. With its own website  Based at a pub called The Old Bridge Inn, in Ripponden, West Yorkshire.

Here, there is even featured a five-tier wedding cake…made from pork pies.

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Yes, I love pork pies. But maybe not that much.

Here’s someone else who loves pork pies so much she (?) –  Jan-UK – has written a song about them, to be sung to the tune of Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah.’

Here are a couple of verses:

“I saw the pie on the plate as I passed by the kitchen

(dah dah dah dah dah dah)
I smelt the aroma of pork as it wafted by
(dah dah dah dah dah)
Pies are my passion
I just turned back for the plate and that porky pie
My my my porky pie
Pork pork pork porky pie

I could see
This diet was no good for me
But I was an addict
And I just couldn’t break free

Later that day once the cook went away I was waiting
(dah dah dah dah dah dah)
I crossed the hall to the larder and I opened the door
(dah dah dah dah dah)
I stood there naked
I felt the knife in my hand
And pork pie was no more…”

Hmmmm, I suppose it’s a sort of comfort to know I’m not alone.

However…I might just quietly…

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