Sunday, 30 October 2011

Much obliged...

When the Postman knocked on the door recently and asked the Shah to sign for a package (which he did with the pen clasped in a chubby fist and the tip of a pink tongue protruding cutely from between his lips) he left us with a cheery wave and a “much obliged!”

In the same way that the smell of our son’s shared university house transported me back to my own student digs, just this one phrase was enough to instantly place me back with my long-dead grandparents, decades ago.  Suddenly, all the sayings that were common currency during my childhood came flooding back – expressions such as ‘mustn’t grumble’ or ‘fair to middling’ described one’s physical health or state of mind.  Going on a trip to the shops, Granny would insist that our mode of transport was Shanks’s Pony and if we walked really quickly, we might be going like the clappers.  If I bickered with my brother en route, I’d have told him to shut his cakehole or offered him a kick in the cobblers whereupon I would have been told off for behaving like a guttersnipe and told “I’ll have your guts for garters young lady!”  Dodging out of the way of a clip round the ear, I could come a cropper and drop whatever I was holding because I was so cack-handed.

Do something a bit daft (there’s another one) and I’d have been a Nit or a Nitwit or possibly a Clot or a Chump; maybe even a soppy date or a daft ha’porth.  Asking an obvious question would have provoked the instruction to use your loaf.  Over-excited children were acting the giddy goat; an adult doing the same might well have been called a BF (bloody fool) or a silly sod – quite mild reproaches compared with the ease with which today’s teenagers blithely instruct each other to f*ck off quite unashamedly.

Something a little disturbing would have caused the adults to nod knowingly at one another and describe it as a rum do or perhaps a diabolical liberty.  My mother still likes to opine that there’s nowt so queer as folk.  But then she hails from an era when gay meant happy and queer meant odd.

Gordon Bennett! (who he?) was a favourite exclamation along with Lord love a duck!  and Oh my giddy aunt! 

While I don’t regret that language moves on – it has to, otherwise we’d all still be thee-ing and thou-ing – it does seem a shame that it has become coarser in so many ways.  Years ago, pretence at sympathy might have resulted in someone saying hard lines or hard cheese.  Today, you are more likely to hear 'tough tits'. 

Whereas people routinely live together before (or instead of) marriage these days, when I was a child it was called living over the brush and much frowned upon.  However, the cost of living today means that coughing up for a wedding would leave many couples stony broke

There are so many regional variations too – idioms that are particular to one area of the country.  One that I’ve only ever heard from my maternal Grandmother was “you’d laugh to see a pudding crawl” usually employed when a bunch of grandchildren had a fit of the giggles.  I still have no idea why puddings might crawl...

Perhaps you could enlighten me or at least tell me how many beans make five...?

Thursday, 27 October 2011

7 billion and you

The increase in the population of the world has been much in the news of late.  Apparently, it will reach 7 billion souls sometime next week.  As if that wasn't mind-boggling enough, I came across this interesting little gadget on the BBC website.

See where you fit in the great scheme of life, the universe and everything....

What number am I?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A philosophical question

And that question, dear readers is this:-

Why is the Shah such a goon?

God knows, I have blogged about his, ahem, little foibles time after time.  In fact here, here and here just for starters.  But tonight just about plumbed new depths of lunacy, even for him.

So - picture the scene.  All is peaceful at Crap Cottage.  The boy is at Uni.  The girl is out at a friend's house.  My mother has only phoned three times (once in the middle of the day when I was in a meeting) to tell me she needs a new washing up bowl and the Shah's mother has only phoned the once to complain that he never visits (he went last week).  We are enjoying a civilised supper.  Just as we finish eating, I turn my head slightly and catch sight of the family calendar hanging on the wall.  There are four columns for each week - one for each of us.  On Thursday, in the Shah's column it says one word.


Yes, the Shah is meant to be out at a curry night with his footie mates.  

What a goon.  

Does he phone them up and feign illness?  Does he phone them and 'fess up?  No he does not.  He rushes upstairs like a cat with a firework up its bum, changes his clothes at the speed of light and heads out of the door yelling "Feck!  Now I'm going to have to eat all over again!"  

Like the Shah, only paler
And he wonders why he can't lose weight.....*sigh*

Monday, 17 October 2011

Missing - one cat

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front this week.  One of our cats has disappeared and I've put quite a lot of time and effort into trying to track him down.  In the process, I've discovered a website called Animal Search which has so far been incredibly helpful.  They will liaise with your insurance company directly, add your missing pet to a database and supply you with posters and flyers to display and distribute.  Insurance companies will often fund a reward as well and Animal search provides an 0800 number for people to ring in confidence.  Handy as I guess they often don't want to be the bearers of bad news.  However, any news is better than none.

Sadly for us, it's been a week since Jim just didn't come home one night. There have been no phone calls so far and we are slowly becoming resigned to not seeing him again.

Very sad.  He is hugely missed.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Fascinating Aida

If (as the saying goes) you only see one show this year - make it Fascinating Aida's 'Cheap Flights Tour'.  I have been vaguely aware of their existence for years now but without actually realising what it is they do.  Essentially they are a cabaret act I hope they wouldn't kill me for saying that) and sing hysterically funny (and wonderfully rude) songs that they write themselves.  

They shuffled to the forefront of my consciousness recently when someone sent me the link to the now famous 'Cheap Flights' song which you can watch here:-

Ignore the audience applauding - keep watching till the end.  There are versions on YouTube with subtitles if you prefer.

Anyway, I managed to get tickets for a Sunday matinee recently.  The Shah was very sniffy.  "Who are you going to go with?" he asked snidely.  "YOU" I said, "and, for that, you can drive."  After a period of whining and bleating (all of which I ignored as ever) he gave in half-gracefully and the promise of a G&T at the theatre cheered him up no end.  We had brilliant seats - 2nd row - and the atmosphere was great - relaxed and friendly.  The trio came on stage to rapturous applause from a packed venue.  Their opening song (about Bankers) called Companies Utilising Nifty Taxation Systems (and I'll leave you to acronym that one for yourselves) rendered the Shah a weeping, hysterical blob.  By half way through the first half of their act, I sincerely thought the woman next to me was going to vomit with laughter.  She almost had to be stretchered out and given a hefty dose of gas 'n air.  Adele Anderson announced 'Cheap Flights' by saying that they had written it specially for a swanky party they played at in Ireland, had put it up on YouTube and it had gone fungal. Dillie Keane interrupted to say patronisingly "I think you mean vinyl..."

Another gem is The Dogging Song.  Needs no explanation from me...:)

The pair of us laughed ourselves stupid.  It was a fabulous show and I thoroughly recommend it.  Afterwards, the three of them came out to the foyer to sell DVDs and CDs and chat to their fans.  Never seen an act do that before!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Memories are made of this

We’ve just taken the son back to Uni – this time to a shared house.  He spent last year (his first) in Halls which was great at first but the attraction of living with people he hadn’t chosen to live with soon wore off and he got fed up with them using  his stuff and not cleaning/replacing it.  Consequently, he and six mates have rented a house together and we were graciously permitted to take him up there today – the car groaning with stuff.

So we arrive at the narrow Victorian house on the narrow Victorian street, not designed for cars but parked up both sides.  Across the road, other harried-looking parents were lugging boxes and duvets into similar houses, accompanied by similar, grumpy-looking teens.  Our boy had not complained at all about getting up at 9am but was clearly suffering in the sleep department.   We waddled up the road, laden with all the stuff and he opened the front door.  And then it hit me.


I was instantly transported back thirty years to all the rented dumps I ever lived in.  It was that mixture of musty carpet, damp and old cooking smells.  It reminded me of the various shitheaps I inhabited in North London....boy – the memories!

In one flat I shared in Stoke Newington, we had a combi boiler which was so unpredictable that you had to turn on the hot tap in the kitchen, then run out of the room until the boiler had ignited with an almighty BANG.  How none of us were ever killed or poisoned is a miracle.  Snails got in under the back door and slithered their way across the kitchen and into the living room to leave luminescent sticky trails across the carpet.  The garden was full of dog poo from the Alsatian called Randy who lived next door and used to jump over the fence purely (it seemed to us) for the pleasure of shitting in our garden.  He belonged to a West Indian family who used to incessantly shout at him.  It got to the point where we would hear Mr Randy (as we called him) shout “Rayunday!” and we would all chorus “Git in yo box!” to save him the trouble.

There was no central heating.  We had convector heaters which were hopelessly inadequate.  One day, whilst on duty at the local A&E, I got a phone call from one of my flatmates.  Annie announced laconically– “Hi it’s me – H burnt the flat down.”  Our third flatmate had wanted to dry a towel and had draped it over the heater, forgetting to remove it and causing a small conflagration.  Their memories of the whole incident may be different from mine, but I remember the culprit incurring further ire from both of us by mooning over the hunky firemen who came to sort it out rather than expressing any sort of apology.  As we stood regarding the blown-out windows and the smoke and water damaged mess that had been a double bedroom, Mr Randy appeared from next door.  He was carrying some huge sheets of hardboard.  He said nothing – it would have been difficult anyway because he had a mouth full of nails.  He simply strolled over to the broken windows and calmly nailed the wood into place, humming all the while.  As we stuttered our thanks, he simply said “no problem” and strolled out again.  I doubt my boy will have neighbours as good as him.