shewhomust: (Default)
On 14th August 1967, the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act came into force, closing down the UK's pirate radio stations. I remember listening to the last broadcast of John Peel's Perfumed Garden. The show had always run on the basis that no-one bought advertising during its late night slot, and no-one listened, including management, so Peel could ignore the station's top 40, and play what he liked. As the station's last day began, he just extended the show until morning - 5.30 am, according to Wikipedia (and here's a track listing).. I won't say I heard it all, but I slept and woke and slept again and as it came to an end I was still there. I remember Peel saying that 'they are closing the gates of the Perfumed Garden, but we are on the inside' - and I got up and went for a walk, because that was what I wanted to do. And realised when I got home that I had gone out without a key, and had to sit in the porch until someone else woke up to let me in.

Later that afternoon I turned the radio on again to hear Radio London sign off (with the station signature tune, which was known as Big Lil.

It was 50 years ago, I was in my teens, and Wikipedia says that the Perfumed Garden had only been running since May '67.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
That previous post from Bouillon took me by surprise: until I sorted through the photographs, I didn't realise how much I had to say about that evening walk. What had stuck in my mind was the following day, the Monday - Easter Monday, in fact, and it happened to be my birthday. This wasn't a big deal. We hadn't particularly planned to be on holiday on my birthday, it just so happened that when we looked at dates, the period that worked best for us had my birthday in the middle of it. So we were on holiday, every day was a special treat, and a birthday, well, that's just another day.

I woke up, however, feeling every bit of a year older - more than a year. I blame hotel pillows, I can never find the right combination of 'enough but not too much': for whatever reason, I woke up with a painfully stiff neck, and spent much of the day moving very cautiously, and not looking up.

Easter Monday, say my notes, is the new Sunday. We'd been surprised the previous evening how much was open; now we were surprised all over again how much was closed. Specifically, the pharmacy: there was no chance of replenishing my supply of paracetamol. But the Castle was open, which was the main thing, and we enjoyed our explorations - in the rain.

Then a longish drive to our next destination. Birthday: a day for crossing borders with no observable difference on the two sides, between one year and the next, between Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. The best thing about the drive was something we saw trice on the motorway, a heavily wooded bridge carrying a strip of undergrowth to allow wild animals to cross the road safely. This is a Wildbrucke in German and a passage à gibier in French; if it has an English name, I don't know what it is.

Then we reached Trier, and it stopped raining. There are many things to say about Trier, but for the moment what matters is that it was a major Roman city and doesn't intend you to forget it, so [personal profile] durham_rambler celebrated my birthday with the Roman menu at Zum Domstein.
shewhomust: (Default)
April 5th was my father's birthday - in my mind I still say 'is', but it's twenty years today since the last birthday of his lifetime. When I can, I like to mark the date by visiting Finchale Priory, where he and his family spent holidays during his childhood, in a hut which his father had built. That's where we went this afternoon:

A place for reflection

At the top of the path we met a pair of walkers coming towards us, a woman of our age and a much younger man in a dog collar: did we know these woods well, they asked; was there another path that went down to the river? We told them the path they were on would take them to the river, if they persevered, and they turned round and set off again. They weren't walking very fast, but I was dawdling, taking pictures of the carpet of windflowers under the trees:


and the very first spears of wild garlic just beginning to bloom - in a week or two its white stars will have replaced those of the windflowers. Where the path reaches the river, and turns right along its edge, there is a little beach, and that's where we met the duo again. He was looking without much enthusiasm at the water, and we pointed out the notice that warns of strong currents. He was resolute: he was an Anglican vicar, it seems, and he was due to baptise someone "from a culture that requires total immersion" so he was scouting for a suitable location. He had previously baptised someone in the sea, but that was so cold (even wearing a wetsuit) that he thought he'd try the river...

A little further on, I spotted these alien growths:


I'd never seen anything like them, but [personal profile] durham_rambler photographed them with his phone, and tweeted the picture to @SeymourDaily, who tweeted right back that they are toothwort (Lathraea squamaria). A new-to-me plant identified by living-in-the-future technology.

So then we went and walked around the ruins, and stood on the bridge to laugh at the ducks. The female was just rootling around in the shallows, but the male was doing the full upside down dive, and they look so funny when all you can see is the tail and the feet paddling like mad.
shewhomust: (dandelion)

Early on the morning of Sunday 13th August 1916, there was an explosion underground at Woodhorn Colliery in Northumberland. Because it was overnight on Sunday, only the maintenance shift was working, so only thirteen men - three stonemen, two putters and eight deputies - were killed. Only thirteen. It isn't one of the famous mining disasters: that "only" is more bearable when set alongside the 204 men and boys who died at Hartley, for example. Ir isn't immortalised in song, like Trimdon Grange, where 74 died. I wouldn't have known about it, had we not taken GirlBear to Woodhorn Museum, and seen the memorial.

Still, thirteen men dead. There's so much commemoration going on at the moment about the appalling slaughter of the Somme, and the impact on local communities - and it deserves to be remembered. But something very similar was a permanent part of life in mining communities.

The Chronicle tells the story of Tamar Armstrong, who felt the earth tremble and was alarmed for her boyfriend, rather than for her father who was also underground - and how guilty she felt about that first reaction, especially when her boyfriend survived, later to be her husband, while her father was killed - and so was his brother. I had to fill in a mini questionnaire to read the article, but it was worth it.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
William Morris, born March 24th 1834. The William Morris Society of Canada baked him a Strawberry Thief cake:


ETA (again): It gets better. They make a habit of this. Apologies for the dud link - it should work now!
shewhomust: (dandelion)
[ profile] samarcand's birthday is not until next week, but it falls on a working day so the party is tonight. Hooray! Party!

Today is (was) Grandma's birthday. Grandma was my mother's mother, and for much of her life she did not know when her real birthday was. Her mother died when she was a small child, and she was brought up by her stepfather and stepmother. When she started school, her stepmother claimed to know her age, but not her birthday, and the headmaster said, well, never mind, she can share mine.

It was not until her children were grown and married that she told them this story, and my father pointed out that there would be a record of her birth (in those days, at Somerset House). So he and my uncle went and looked it up, and not only found the true birthday, they discovered that Grandma was a year younger than she had thought.

That's how my mother told the story, anyway. She always put in that the wicked stepmother had deliberately made Grandma a year older, so that she could leave school a year earlier - but my mother was a great myth-maker.

Anyway, July 25th: Grandma's birthday and the beginning of the school holidays, a day worth celebrating.
shewhomust: (guitars)
If Jackie Kay, presenting Radio 4's Pick of the Week, had not mentioned it, I would not have known that today is also the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Ewan MacColl. I don't doubt that they would have been happy to share a celebration, and there'd be some fine songs sung at it. Here's just one of them:

ETA: [ profile] durham_rambler points out that we also overlooked Bob Copper's centenary earlier this month...
shewhomust: (puffin)
Today is Alan Garner's 80th birthday.

I was beginning to think I had invented this fact, because everyone is keeping so quiet about it, but his unofficial website confirms his date of birth. Perhaps it's a surprise party?

Anyway, here's my contribution: a nice little story I found while I was poking around the web. "Forty years ago I 'won' Alan Garner in a Puffin Club competition..."

Happy birthday, Mr Garner!
shewhomust: (dandelion)
[ profile] lamentables went to a WWI commemoration and it seems to have been all right, to have expressed something worth expressing:


Minimum Monument is the work of Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo, and this iteration was commissioned by the Birmingham Hippodrome. So alongside my ambivalence about commemorating the outbreak of the war - and with the news each day as sanguine as it is, to claim that we are remembering the War that was going to end all wars - you can set an entirely different class of ambivalence about art which is apparently related to a particular place and time, but which is actually the thing that a particular artist does. Nonetheless, it feels appropriate, all those fragile little beings melting away...

Another fine photo, by someone else and one that catches the dissolution of the figures.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
[ profile] durham_rambler telephones to say he's on his way home from his meeting. There's only one problem - today is the 9th of June, and he's right by the Scotswood Road. Some sort of race appears to be in progress...
shewhomust: (dandelion)
Today is the two hundredth anniversary of John Rae, the arctic explorer. I've written before about Rae, and how we ran into some early celebrations in Stromness. A new statue has been unveiled at the pierhead - though as far as I can judge from photographs I prefer both his memorial in St Magnus Cathedral and this wonderful structure:

"A Hoose Within A Hoose"

From the photostream of Orquil on Flickr, who has posted a whole series of great pictures on the subject.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
August 19th is World Photography Day, it says here; date chosen because on August 19th 1839 the French government, having had time to consider the daguerrotype, announced that it was "Free to the World" - no, I don't know what that means, either. I could stop and research it, but I'm going to post and run, because I have a couple of photo related things I've been meaning to post, and today must be the right time.

First, Google's new image search feature - hours of fun for all the family! When I click the 'images' option, Google now offers me the choice of dragging an image into the search box. They offer me van Gogh's Starry Night which, if dropped in the search box, produces lots more images of, yes, van Gogh's Starry Night. I'd been trying to identify a flower I had photographed growing wild by Tunstall Reservoir (this one, in fact) so I thought I'd try dropping that in the search box:

Pretty, but not exactly helpful. (I suspect I'm using the feature for what I would like it to be, rather than what it is. Oh, well...)

Second, via this gallery of wonderful photos on Flickr, a blog of pictures from the Caucasus (not sure how active it is, but there's plenty to see there already).
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
We had promised ourselves that since we had worked, more or less, through a wet weekend, we would take today off instead, and go out somewhere. But by the time we reached the breakfast table, we had heard yesterday's news (a woman had been killed by a fall from the cliffs at Seahouses, three walkers had been rescued from the Cheviot, believed to be suffering from hypothermia) and seen the local weather forecast (more rain): clearly today wasn't going to be a day for going out, either.

I consoled myself with the travel section of Saturday's Guardian, if consolation is the right word for the curious mixture of emotions it provokes in me. There's irritation: "It says here that 'The new Hepworth Wakefield gallery in West Yorkshire ( may be at the opposite end of the country to Turner Contemporary in Margate'. Or it may not - that'd be the Pier Art Gallery, wouldn't it?" There's sheer bafflement: does everyone but us regard a long weekend in a city as a holiday (I'm sure that can be a pleasant break, but an actual holiday?)? Is £125 a night for a double room (without breakfast) really a "mid-priced country hotel, the sort normal people can afford"? No wonder they can only manage to take short breaks...

And then there's "Oh, that looks good, I must make a note of that." This week it was the back page feature in which readers recommend urban walks in Britain: the water of Leith walkway in Edinburgh, a walk round maritime Deptford inspired by Charles Booth's study of poverty in Victorian London, a walk around Southampton's medieval city walls (I didn't know Southampton had medieval city walls)...

While I argue with the Travel supplement, [ profile] durham_rambler works his way methodically through today's paper, reading me things that I really need to know, like today's birthdays: happy birthday to Jan Pienkowski, 75 today, to John Renbourn, 67 and to Esther Williams, 90 today, and still dangerous when wet -

- but that's where I came in.
shewhomust: (Default)
Today is the centenary of the birth of Mervyn Peake.
shewhomust: (guitars)
Dave Swarbrick is 70 today (still not dead!)

A grateful nation has declared a bank holiday to celebrate, and we will be there...
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
Since it's after midday (here, at least) I don't have to maintain a straight face, do I? Thanks to [ profile] poliphilo for the reminder of the BBC's classic 'spaghetti harvest' April Fool - and for the pointer to the thing itself, posted on YouTube by the Alexandra Palace Television Society (they have a web site, but it doesn't look as if they visit it very often). Fifty-year old television!

Despite which, my own favourite remains the Guardian's creation of San Serriffe.

[ profile] steepholm informs us that Edward Jenner has a museum. Other gentlemen of the eighteenth century decorated their gardens with ruined towers and abbeys, some complete with resident hermit; Jenner's folly was a Temple of Vaccinia, a thatched rustic grotto in which he vaccinated the poor people of the district, without charge. (A note on the web site announces that "A wedding licence is being applied for." I find this... incongruous).

Staying with the medical theme, the wonderful Valerie Laws has won a commendation in the Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition. The poem, Lifting the Lid, is part of her continuing work on the medical science of dying - it's beautiful but painful, a bit like staring at the sun. Read it on the Poetry Society's web site.

Shetland Forwirds is a site dedicated to Shetland dialect. There are sound samples from different parts of Shetland (Michael from Fair Isle explains that when his parents were first married, his mother had trouble understanding conversations between her husband and his brothers: she came from as far away as Lerwick - pronouned 'larrick'). There's a dictionary and a collection of idioms (though someone might have told the compiler that in treating 'cast on' as a Shetland term for 'add extra stitches in knitting' he was confusing local dialect and technical jargon). There's an extract from a translation of the Gospel of Saint Mark (direct from Greek into Shetland). And more.

And that's five, so this is no more than an explanatory note, that I found Shetland Forwirds through the web site of Shetland Library, which offers still more good things, including Basement Browsing: As an extra service to our customers, we regularly open up the library basement so that you can have look at some of our reserve stock - lots and lots of extra books for you to browse. (Please note that children under eight must be accompanied by an adult.) (Yes, I know that this probably means that the library is too small - but what a sensible way of tackling that problem!)
shewhomust: (Default)
There's an old joke:
When God made man...
...she was only testing.

When did I first hear it? Perhaps in the 1970s - that's why I say 'old'. But I recently heard this version:
Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes, O:
Her prentice han' she try'd on man,
An' then she made the lasses, O.

- which is dated 1783. Happy Burns Night! I'm off to boil a haggis...
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Last autumn in Chinon, passing the Mairie on the way back from the pizzeria to our hotel, [ profile] durham_rambler asked: "Did it ever occur to you that France was the first country to have a mission statement?"

Bonne fête, tout le monde! And liberté, égalité, fraternité for us all!

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