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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Monday, July 21, 2008

Just occasionally...

... there is something to be said for working in an office which is so close to the river.

(Which is something you won't hear me saying in the middle of winter.)

The Editor

Sunday, July 20, 2008


The Editor's pater is 80 today. Many happy returns, Pater!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Superlambsafari the Second

I picked up a few more superlambananas on my cunningly-extended journey to visit Hazel for acupuncture on Thursday. (You can see the results here.)

But I was determined to bag as many as my little legs would allow yesterday, before heading back to work on Monday. This required some careful planning.

I got off the bus outside Lewis's so that I could go inside and catch their in-house one before the shop got busy. Having quickly established that there were no bags without which I could not continue to live in their Radley sale, I managed to overcome my vertigo sufficiently to descend the two very steep escalators down to the Wirral line in Central Station, emerging one stop later at James Street Station to take in Lambline. (Oh, how the staff at James Street are enjoying having random passengers taking photographs in their foyer!)

Next on to Castle street, where I could see a large man in a fluorescent orange jacket leaning over Baa-ve New World. I initially assumed he must be one of the superlambanana vets who are rumoured to be taking care of the flock but, as I limped closer, I realised that he was, in fact, a member of Unison who had been hanging a sign round the SLB's neck.

"Public sector pay, can't afford lamb or bananas!"

Times must be even harder than I had thought....

Into the Town Hall (where I have never previously set ferrule) to catch up with the magnificently-caparisoned Superlordmayorlambanana before, after only a few wrong turns, espying The Lambtastic Four at Exchange Flags.

From there on to Chapel Street, and through the huge automatic doors of the Finch Ideas Agency to see Top Banana in his full glory, complete with pocket handkerchief and portfolio case.

Back up to Old Hall Street to see the far-from-arresting First Past the Post, followed by Superlambananaleaves and Supercottonwoolbanana outside the Cotton Exchange. Not to mention the very soppy, confetti-sprinkled, SuperLoveBanana in the courtyard in front of Liverpool Registration Service.

Then off Old Hall Street to St Paul's Square for the gathering of the rather disturbing Mona, Commercial District Skyline and Savio the Superlambanana.

Back to Old Hall Street in search of Supergrassbanana. I had been looking forward to seeing this one - which has been covered in grass, and would appear to be hugely endearing - but I regret to report that it was nowhere to be seen. There was only Superplazalambanana, which bears a remarkable resemblance to Supercottonwoolbanana.

Time for a sit-down on a damp bench, a swig of drink, a bit of a think, and a comparison of the trail map with my A-Z in an attempt to work out whether I could get as far as Superlawbanana without needing to be winched up off the pavement by the emergency services.

Indeed, so far away was he from the bottom of Old Hall Street that I twice checked my map, convinced that I must have missed the turning. But it was worth the trek. And you can even catch a glimpse of the original Superlambanana from a vantage point behind Superlawbanana's plinth.

Time for another rest on another damp bench. Where exactly was I? And could I fit any more in? There are four in the Met Quarter at the bottom of Stanely Street, but I had had quite enough on Monday of trying to move through crowds. So I sacrificed that little flock in favour of Sgt Pepper who is perched high up in one of the windows of Blakes Restaurant on North John Street. He is difficult to see, let alone to photograph. Which is a shame, because he's very fine.

Another rest on another damp bench (flagging badly by this stage), before bagging Reflectana in the front window of Debenhams and threading my way wearily through the new Liverpool One shopping arcade in what I fondly hoped was the direction of the Hanover Street Bus interchange. I am relieved to report that even my sub-par sense of direction couldn't get that wrong!

After numerous failures, I have given up on trying to photograph Generation 21 at the top of the Aigburth Road from a moving bus. So I must break my journey there at some point before all the SLBs disappear on the 25th August, and take a proper picture of it.

I believe I have now seen 43 superlambananas, and photographed 39 of them. There are 120 in total, many of which I have no chance of seeing. But there are half a dozen down at the Albert Dock which I shall bag after work one day, and another six further up the river front which, with a bit of determination, I should be able to reach. And a couple in the East Village courtyard off Duke Street which would involve a bit of a detour on my journey home on one of the days when I'm on the bus. Oh, and there's one outside Allerton library which I shall make a special effort to visit after one of my acupuncture treatments. I have tried twice to catch the two at Lime Street station, but they have gone into hiding. If I can work out how and when one can gain entry to St George's Hall without scaling several hundred steep steps, I might try Lime Street again. The two in St George's Hall are particularly interesting.

A fraction of the photographs I took yesterday can be seen here. I am approaching the limits of my monthly Flickr bandwidth allowance, and there seems little point in paying to upgrade to a professional account when I am unlikely to be taking this many photographs ever again. Having to wait until the 1st of August to upload the others is not the end of the world.

My own personal favourite of all the superlambananas with whom I have been up close and personal this week is Superlamba-x-ray and child at the Women's Hospital.

I can't remember when I last had such an active week. I am very pleased to report that, despite all the walking I have done, my back has shown no signs of locking up in a scary and excruciating fashion. Certainly, it has been more painful than it would have been had I been resting at home. But that pain has fallen within manageable parameters, given how much I have enjoyed what I've been doing. This doesn't mean I'm as fit as a flea, but it does mean that I am a little more mobile than I had given myself credit for being. So that's good.

The Editor

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Black and blue

I'm aware that it's horribly disconcerting when someone who can usually be relied upon to blog once a week at most suddenly gears up into daily blogging mode.

Which is why I really hadn't intended to blog again today.

But then the postman brought me a parcel this morning. And I was forced to abandon my good intentions.

There is quite a complicated back-story to this wondrous gift, but now is not the time to rehearse it. Instead, feast your eyes on this (grossly inadequate because taken by me) photograph of a morpho box to keep morpho jewellery in.

If that is not one of the most beautiful objects you have ever coveted, either you must be extremely talented at coveting, or I must be an even worse photographer than I had realised.

Here's a picture of the box with the lid open so that you can see the underside of those luminous blue wings.

Butterfly supplied by Nicole at Bela Brazilian Designs (click on the icon of the morpho wing earrings in the sidebar to visit her shop); box designed and created by Neile (click on the icon of the yellow butterfly in the sidebar to visit her shop).

At the risk of sounding revoltingly soppy and un-British, I feel blessed to have both these talented artists in my life.

Sincere and fulsome thanks to Neile for this unique and glorious piece of art: I was anticipating something beautiful, but the reality far exceeds my expectations. I will treasure it.

The Editor

Monday, July 14, 2008

On safari

Alert readers - presumably the type who do not depend on opiates to get them through the day - may recall a fairly recent reference to the phenomenon of the superlambanana herd which is currently browsing the pavements of the city.

They are a passing phenomenon, as they will disappear at the end of August to be auctioned off to persons possessed of either very large houses or very secure gardens. So I have decided, as I am on leave this week, to attempt to hunt a few of the blighters down.

So, armed with little more than a pith helmet, a butterfly net, a camera and The Least Helpful Map In The World, I sallied forth on the first day of my safari. (In all honesty, given the state my back is in after all the striding through the undergrowth and fending off marauding lions, this may be only a one-day safari. But I would hope to be fit enough to attempt the more northerly reaches of the game park later in the week. We shall see.)

I did not bag quite as many of the beasts as the map had led me to believe I might, but my haul was large enough for it to be too unwieldy to include pictorial evidence of each specimen in one - or, indeed, several - blog entries.

I have, therefore, taken the previously unprecedented step of opening an account on Flickr. Clicking on the link will take you through to an album of all the photographs I took today. (Well, all of them except for the ones in which surly pedestrians deliberately strode between the camera lens and the object of the photograph.) I've incorporated a couple of pictures into this blog entry to whet your appetite. Or to put you off completely. Depending on the degree of affection you harbour in your bosom for superlambananas...

The Editor

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The fine art of apportioning blame

Being, as I am, possessed of a highly-developed sense of fair play, I am quick to anger when I see individuals being blamed for something which is not their fault.

I am, for example, only too well aware of how cold, miserable and frustrating it is to stand at a bus stop for forty minutes in the middle of winter when the scheduled bus has not arrived. But I do not believe that the driver of the next bus deserves to be viciously harangued on his arrival. Neither do I think there is a great deal to be gained by demanding details from him of what happened to the bus which was never seen. As he has been driving his own bus for the last several hours, I suspect he will have been unable to continue the direct lines of communication with the depot which, in his non-working hours, he no doubt maintains assiduously.

Likwise, I have never succumbed to the temptation of blaming any of Liverpool's legion of taxi-drivers for delays to my journey resulting from the city council's abject failure to keep sufficient roads open whilst tarting the place up for the 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations. Instead, I have sympathised with them over the impact of the road-closures on their livelihood, and have tipped them to the best of my capacity.

Imagine then, my wrath, on seeing the following feedback left for this delightful jeweller on a site which isn't Etsy. (I stress that it was a different site because it is one on which the buyer is asked to give the seller a star rating out of 5. And the buyer who left this particular gem docked the seller a star.)

"beautiful product, and that is what matters, but i did not
realise i would have a £13 customs charge as it entered the UK which may have
changed my decision.. "

Mmm. Petulant, much?

In what alternate universe is the fact that goods imported into the UK are subject to duties and taxes the fault of one artisan in the US?

I can accept that someone might be sufficiently unworldly on the subject of importation procedures that the Customs charge has come as a very nasty surprise. I can even, at a push, accept that someone might be sufficiently aggrieved to mention it in passing in their feedback on the item they have purchased. But to reduce the seller's average star rating for something that could not, even by the wildest stretch of a particularly fevered imagination, be deemed to be her fault is simply not acceptable.

The Editor

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nice day for a white wedding. Allegedly.

When I arrived in the office yesterday, the last thing I was expecting was an envelope from Libya.

Said envelope had been delivered from the post room on Tuesday, with the result - given that I worked at home on Tuesday - that speculation amongst my colleagues had risen to fever pitch by the time I hobbled in on Wednesday morning.

As a team, we were united in our admiration of the hardly-intimidating-at-all Colonel Khadafy postage stamp. It lent, we felt, a certain air of carnival to the correspondence.

Unable to fend my colleagues off with a stick after putting my briefcase down and turning my computer on, I opened the letter.

Imagine, if you will, the mixture of emotions engendered in my capacious bosom by the following (very slightly edited) transcript of what the envelope contained:-

"My Dear Editor,

I am more than happy to come across your picture, name and address in the ******** Magazine and I will like to use this as an opportunity to write you this letter.

Before then let me introduce myself to you. My name is NotYetABritishCitizen a 40 years old Ghanaian teacher presently residing in Tripoli. I work with your embassy (UK embassy – Tripoli).

In fact Editor I just develop interest in you from your picture and I wish to spend the rest of my life with you if you would not mind.

I am tall, humble, honest and hansome Christian; and I promise to handle you like egg when we become together. I will take good care of you and your wish will be my command therefore think about it and just give me the chance and the fact will be manifested.

I wish I have got your telephone no. I would have cal you right now. However, this is my telephone no **** *** *** *** *** you can call me any time you like and this is my e-mail address:
URgr8@anISP.com. I prefer we communicate via email since it will be quicker and cheaper way.

Please in your reply to me, tell me more about yourself and send me your picture and ask me anything you will like to know about me, Libya and my own country Ghana as we still have to know each other better.

Bye for now Editor looking forward to hearing from you as soon as possible, Your husband to be with lots of love, NotYetABritishCitizen xxx. "

I have, you will probably be relieved to hear, not the slightest intention of so much as corresponding with this charming gentleman, let alone spending the rest of my life with him. However, if there is one thing a blog comes in useful for, it is the cathartic process of drafting a response which will never be sent.

Highlights of my hypothetical reply might therefore include:-

"Dear NotYetABritishCitizen,

My address was most definitely not included in the magazine article to which you refer. You may consider your attempts to track down further information on my whereabouts from my employer's website to be romantic: I consider such behaviour tantamount to stalking.

I am aware of the photograph of which you speak and, quite honestly, do not believe for a moment that it alone could render anyone weak with desire. Frankly, you would have stood a better chance of convincing me of your immediate and undying admiration if you had attributed it to what I had said in the interview. (It is too late now to change tack, by the way.)

It may surprise you to learn that I mind your intention to spend the rest of your life with me a great deal. I consider it presumptuous of you in the extreme to attempt to foist yourself on me in perpetuity in this way. Whatever happened to meeting for a coffee?

When you promise to "handle me like egg", do you mean that you will crack my skull against the edge of a frying pan? Enquiring minds need to know...

I cannot for the life of me imagine what gave you the impression that I would be attracted by the prospect of my wish being your command. I can think of nothing worse than being humbly obeyed in all things. If I wanted a sycophant, I would get a dog.

You are sadly mistaken in your evident assumption that my being an MBE (thank you for using my full title on the envelope, by the way) is indicative of my being part of the British aristocracy, with the house, grounds and influence with HRH to match. Whilst I appreciate that my lifestyle would probably appear luxurious by Ghanaian standards, I am far from wealthy.

Even had I been tempted by the earlier paragraphs of your letter (and, should you be considering attempting this again with any other random British women, might I suggest something a little more classy than a page of lined A4 paper ripped from a pad?), I consider the fact that you have signed yourself off as my "husband to be" to be hugely offensive.

Beauty and youth, I may not have. But that is no indicator that I am so desperate to be married that I would accept a proposal from a complete stranger. You insult both my intelligence and my integrity. Kindly desist from any further importunings of this nature. If you do not, I can assure you that you will find the tone what Mr Larkin will have to say to you very considerably less palatable than the tone of this letter.

Yours finally,

The Editor"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Of grocers

If I

  • worked in the "Policy&Professionalism" department of a large public sector organisation; and

  • sent an email containing the salutation, "Dear Director's"

I think I would now be looking for a large rock under which to hide. Possibly for the rest of my life.

The Editor

Friday, July 04, 2008

Crayola colours

It may come as a surprise to some of the people who email me, but I really don't want to update my penis. I don't think I would want to update my penis even if I had one. I think I might be very concerned about the processes involved in updating a sensitive part of my anatomy.

I don't want to gain 3+ inches in length, either, because I've been five foot six since the age of fourteen, and I'm used to it. (I assume that I am supposed to be measuring myself while lying flat, and that that's why I'm being offered an increase in length rather than height.)

I certainly don't want any magic potions to increase my girth: I'm more than capable of doing that all on my own by the simple expedient of upping my Pringles intake - I don't need to pass my credit card details on to some dubious purveyor of snake oil for the privilege.

Much to the envy of my male colleagues, I don't only receive these marvellous offers on my home email address. Oh no. Having committed the cardinal error of once having had my email address published on a consultation document on my employer's website, I get them at work as well. All the time.

The firewall catches most of them, and sweeps them off into a secure facility from which I can, if I choose, release them onto the servers. (The wrong choice at this juncture could, I feel, be a funny way of handing in my notice.)

It doesn't catch them all, though.

Just the other week, I was working at home on something very complicated and technical, and concentrating like a very keen person, when an email notification popped - and I use the word "popped" advisedly - up in the bottom right hand corner of my screen, screaming

"You can see her clit!!"

(I couldn't. Just in case you were wondering.)

Even the aforementioned male colleagues who wish they could receive emails from nice Russian girls who are bored and would like to talk to them blanched a bit at that one.

Astonishingly, even the opportunity to catch a glimpse of naked pudenda pales into insignificance in comparison with the quite unspeakably-grim email title by which I was met this morning:

"Jerk your cum crayon and colour me white!"

Don't get me wrong. I am fairly robust. I am familiar with the existence of pornography. I find these "ride her all night and make her scream for more" emails laughable rather than distressing. But, "cum crayon"? Please don't tell me there is any man anywhere in the world who uses that as an affectionate nickname for his knob....

The Editor

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Have you seen yourself retreating?*

Lady Bracknell has long grieved over the petticoat's fall from favour of recent years and the unwelcome consequence, particularly in the summer months, that a lady's nethermost undergarments are a frequent assault upon the eyes of those who, as a result of their delicate breeding, were not brought up to anticipate such visions.

Until today, Lady Bracknell had believed this phenomenon to be largely restricted to those of relatively tender years.

Unfortunately, she now discovers that she was mistaken.

If there is a more unpleasant sight than the rear view of a scrawny woman of very late middle age wearing a semi-transparent white linen shirtwaister frock over what is referred to in common parlance as a "thong", Lady Bracknell has no desire to be exposed to it.

(Lady Bracknell, who chooses her words with great care as a general rule, has immediately regretted her use in the preceding paragraph of the word, "exposed". As a result of that one careless choice, she is now experiencing what she believes are known as "flashbacks". Said flashbacks are not proving helpful to her digestion.)

*Ogden Nash