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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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...

I am given to understand that it is now autumn.

This understanding is not based on my careful observation of the colours of the leaves, or the shortening of the days, but on the resident felines' previously unwonted commitment to snuggling up on me at night.

I have had cats all my life. I am wise to their ways. It takes more than some pretty purring to convince me that I am being snuggled up to because they love me. It is my firm belief that I am being snuggled up to because I am warm. That I am, in point of fact, being shamelessly exploited as the world's largest hot water bottle!

I am also prone to being shamelessly exploited as The Brunt Of All Blame. And not just by Pop.

Bertie wandered into my bedroom at 5.15 this morning, shouting his displeasure at being soaking wet. To prove just how wet he was, he rubbed his flank against my bare leg. He was right: he was wet. He then proceeded to leave muddy paw prints on my duvet, before settling down to dry off in a particularly absorbent area.

Now, given that
  • to the best of my knowledge, no-one actually held a gun to his head and forced him out through the cat flap; and
  • he has a perfectly good litter tray indoors for lavatorial emergencies

I believe I have some justification for feeling aggrieved that he couldn't just have been damp quietly on his own for another hour or so. Particularly given that he had already woken me up in the middle of the night when he decided that it was his turn for the human hot water bottle, and that he would need to beat Caspar up in order to get the best and warmest spot.

The Editor

Saturday, September 27, 2008

If it's not superlambananas, it must be...

... jewellery.

Apologies to the Dude for the sustained lack of anything he can get his critical teeth into, but there a few items of jewellery-related news which I feel it incumbent on me to pass on.

Firstly, my great friend Nicole has opened a new Etsy shop Beijo Flor. In recognition of the fact that most people are currently feeling the pinch financially, she's produced some simpler pieces at extremely reasonable prices. Prices which are made even more reasonable by the fact that you can buy anything at 10% off the listed price in her grand opening sale. Everything in the shop is very recognisably Nicole - no-one else combines stones and colours in quite the same way.

Secondly, Veronica is holding one of her periodic 50%-off-everything-in-the-store sales - always a good opportunity to get hold of something classy for less than you might expect. Now that Veronica is offering lots of gemstone rings, the sale allows you to get one made to fit your ring size* for well under a tenner - and the shipping is free!

(* Here's how to work out your ring size in foreign.)

Thirdly, I found out yesterday that it's possible to buy a book of photographs of the lovely Bek's amazing jewellery designs. Be Clever...The Art of Bek Caruso can be ordered from Blurb.com. I've checked, and they ship internationally. The book is in a chunky 7" x 7" format - so nice in the hands - and is on my list of things-to-buy-when-I'm-slightly-less-impoverished.

Ok, that's it, My need to spread the word is (temporarily) assuaged. On with the motley!

The Editor

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Can you feel the love tonight?

Any remaining readers of this blog who have not yet succumbed to the prevalent fashion for Superlambanana Ennui may be thrilled to discover that the Liverpool Echo - in conjuction with Bruntwood - is running a "SuperLOVEbanana" competition.

The prize for the winning entry is a 4 foot high superlambanana model, with two runners-up prizes of a mini lambanana.

To be in with a chance of adorning your own home with a superlambanana, you need to submit your 250-word entry by the closing date of October 3rd. It can be a poem, a song, a story, or a memory.

(I have visions of nascent poets all across Liverpool desperately trying to come up with words that rhyme with superlambanana. Pop and I devised a deeply unpleasant limerick between us. Fortunately, I failed to commit it to memory.)

In no way is this blog entry merely an excuse for me to publish this photograph of a mini lambanana which I took using my mobile phone on the way into work one day last week, and had completely forgotten about until this afternoon.

The Editor

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pedestrians who have absolutely no concept of how much space they occupy, #1

Little girls with pigtails and Barbie umbrellas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Window shopping

After a long day spent largely despairing at the actions of colleagues several hundred miles away - particularly the one who tried to get me to disagree with a ruling made by a member of my own team - I'm having a gentle potter through Etsy's malachite listings with a view to possible Christmas gifts for Mater.

Mater loves malachite.

I doubt she'd thank me for this, though.

The Editor

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Come by

If have you have been breathing a (fairly sustained) sigh of relief about the fact that Superlambanana Shooting Season is over for the year, and have assumed that I shall be getting back to being snippy about poor access, then look away now.

Because there are still a couple of loose ends left to tie up.

Firstly, there's the auction which took place on Tuesday evening at St George's Hall, at which over half a million pounds was raised, £400,000 of which will go to Merseyside charities. You can read about what happened here. The auction catalogue itself is also available online - it's a bright, glossy publication which, if you have any interest in the beasties at all, is worth a look.

More exciting than the auction - at least, for those of us with neither the finances to bid for a superlambanana nor, frankly, homes with sufficient space in which to display one - was the fact the majority of the auction subjects were herded onto St George's Plateau and put on public display on Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday. The fact that more than 40,000 people went to wander through them should give you some indication of just how well-loved they are in the city.

It was raining when I arrived at 9.15 on Tuesday morning. I doubt this will surprise you. As one of my colleagues pointed out earlier this week, my strongest memories of attendance at Capital of Culture year events will probably be of getting wet.

I was glad I went. Not just because Superstegbanana and Tiger in the Woods were there (click on the link to my Flickr stream in the sidebar if you want to see them), but because the lambs looked fab gathered together. (Plus, they had all been spiffed up for the occasion, so they were at their sparkling best.) Even first thing in the morning, the exhibition was busy. One of my colleagues walked up to Lime Street from the office that lunchtime and regaled me by email with his horror stories of having barely been able to see the sculptures for the swarms of people which had descended on them. Grim.

Another 34 of the considered-to-be-slightly-less-desirable superlambananas will be put up for Internet auction from Tuesday the 16th. Details here.

What remains of the flock of 125 are those which were designed by local schools, churches, community groups, etc. After a wash and brush up, those have been returned to the groups who created them, and are to be seen dotted here and there around the outskirts of the city.

If you have been paying particularly close attention, you'll be aware that I started the third paragraph in this meandering blog entry with the word, "firstly". Which rather presupposes that there will be a "secondly". But what can it be? Surely to God the whole thing is now over, right? Er, wrong.

Secondly, the long-awaited and much-delayed Urbananasplash has finally been unveiled at the Matchworks in Speke. (And not, perhaps, during the best of all possible weeks for Urbansplash themselves.) The original trail map promised that Urbananasplash would be installed "early July". Two months later, we were expecting something really special. Did we get it? Well, it's, um, big. Really very big. And it's a permanent installation.

The local free rag is disappointingly silent on the question of whether it's going to be used as a topiary armature, which is what it resembles to me. Because that would be cool. Well, you know, eventually...

At the moment, unless you approach it from a very carefully-calculated angle, you could easily miss it altogether. It also appears to be rusting at some of its joints already. Which may, of course, be a deliberate design feature rather than a failure to appreciate Just How Much Rain falls in Liverpool. But mine not to reason why. Mine just to hobble around the city, camera in hand, and report back to my faithful readers. Who, I have no doubt, will draw their own conclusions.

The Editor

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I'm going to go out, I'm going to let myself get absolutely soaking wet

We get a lot of rain, west of the Pennines. I had never really realised quite how much rain until I spent three years at university east of the Pennines. Where it didn't rain anything like as much. But, even by our usual standards, yesterday was wet. It rained and it rained and it rained. It didn't drizzle. It didn't spit. It just rained stair rods all day.

Which was a great shame for the La Machine company, because it meant that the anticipated hundreds of thousands of visitors to their street theatre show - the biggest ever in the UK - didn't materialise. (Despite poor forecasts, though, the weather is very considerably more clement today, so visitor numbers really should be up.)

A great shame for the organisers, yes, but good news for me. I can dry off in a couple of hours from getting soaked through, but it would take me weeks to recover from getting caught in a huge crowd of people, none of whom is watching where they are going.

So, donning my already-soaked-from-the-journey-in-to-work raincoat, I limped from the office as fast as my stick would carry me across to Kings Dock, where La Princesse had just woken up for the first time. I arrived moments before her escape attempt was foiled by a fusillade of fire-crackers, which caused her to turn tail and stalk off in a huff.

Nobody who has even dipped into this blog occasionally over the years can have failed to recognise that I am a martyr to arachnophobia. Having seen press photographs like this one over the last few days, I was quite concerned about how I would react to the monstrous beastie, despite knowing in my rational mind that she is constructed from steel and poplar wood. However, given that she is operated by a team of puppeteers, at least seven of whom are immediately visible, I experienced no frisson of fear when I was close to her. (And this despite the fact that I nearly had heart failure last Sunday morning when I discovered a large house spider floating dead in my washing up bowl.)

What I particularly like about the whole shebang is that this genuinely is a dramatic production, and not just somebody showing off their model-building skills and a lot of flashy special effects. Commuters coming out of Lime Street station on Thursday morning, and goggling in horror at the sight of the immense spider hanging off Concourse Towers, were told that she had been disturbed out of her long hibernation by all the building works which have been going on in the city. I initially assumed this to be an example of the justly-famed Liverpool sense of humour, but soon realised that it is part of the fictional narrative which binds the whole event together.

Local opinions over the value of the event are mixed, to say the least. It is causing traffic problems because roads are shut off to allow Her Highness to wander through the city. The tunnel, for example, is closed completely for about twelve hours tomorrow, so this is no small inconvenience we're talking about. The event has cost something in the region of £1.2 million, almost entirely funded by local taxpayers. I have heard a lot of people complain that that money could have been better spent on something lasting and practical. There are also no end of arachnophobes making vociferous complaints about the trauma it is causing them. (To which the only sensible response is, "It's a puppet, for fox sake!!")

If I am in two minds myself, it's only because street theatre on this scale is so damned inaccessible to people with all sorts of different impairments. That aside, I have long been a patron of the arts and have, perhaps, a better grasp than some of the scale of the finances needed to put on a good show. La Princesse will never be forgotten, and she is making newspaper headlines as far afield as Pakistan and China.

I have been told that there will bea programme next week on the BBC in which all of La Princesse's "best bits" will be broadcast. I have been unable to track down any such listing in the online Radio Times, but I promise faithfully to update this blog entry if and when I hear anything definite.

There are many, many more photographs (mostly far superior to my own) on Flickr, if you can bear to look...

The Editor

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Pity the poor Pop!

There he was yesterday, driving innocently down the motorway, talking to me on his bluetooth headset, not a care in the world, when I heard a sudden, loud noise and he explained to me that he needed to finish the call and pull over onto the hard shoulder while he tried to work out what had hit him.

It transpires that what had happened was that a driver on the opposite carriageway had veered off the asphalt and just missed crashing into the barrier on the central reservation. The move, though, flung up a shower of gravel, half bricks, discarded shoes, etc, etc into the path of Pop's brand new car.

The car is quite poorly. Its windscreen has been smashed to smithereens; its bonnet is pockmarked from the shrapnel; and its left radiator is cracked. But it did its job. It sacrificed its own bodily integrity to protect that of its driver. Pop is unhurt.

For which I am profoundly grateful.

But he was very shaken.

So a bit of pity - if you can spare it - for the poor Pop would probably be very welcome.

The Editor