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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

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Remember, remember...

Having not set foot outside Bracknell Towers since Wednesday last, and having been rather let down by the Asda online shopping service - which managed to stock and deliver only part of her order - Lady Bracknell is running rather low on essentials. She therefore decided to venture out to her local Tesco store.

There is a particular breed of Sunday shoppers which can, in many ways, be likened to the Sunday drivers towards whom Lady Bracknell's esteemed father used to direct such enraged invective in her youth. Sunday drivers may have been consigned to the annals of history, but Sunday shoppers are with us still. Lady Bracknell twice narrowly escaped being trampled on by persons who felt a sudden urge to step back from the dazzling displays of frozen convenience foods and alcohol in order, perhaps, to better appreciate the range of products in its entirety. (It is Lady Bracknell's considered opinion that, no matter how far away one stands from the frozen convenience foods, one will struggle to spot anything particularly exciting.) Lady Bracknell was also faced, at every turn, by a mother and child whose sole purpose in visiting the shop appeared to have been to block other shoppers from reaching anything on the shelves.

The only day which is worse than Sunday from this perspective is Thursday morning, immediately after the old age pensions have been collected. Quite how married couples who have lived together for forty years or more can remain unsure about their own and each other's food preferences is a profound mystery. Perhaps they have so far run out of things to say to each other that discussing the merits of one brand of baked beans over another is what now passes for sparkling conversation in their household. But, in any event, do they really need to block the aisle entirely with their shopping trolley while having that discussion?

But Lady Bracknell digresses.

On exiting the shop, she was accosted by a rather grubby small boy who suggested that she might like to donate a penny for the guy. Given that there yet remain some four weeks before Bonfire Night, Lady Bracknell politely declined to contribute.

It is a sad reflection on modern society's rejection of the pleasures which can be derived from everyday life that we must all be forced to live in constant anticipation of the next "big day". In Lady Bracknell's youth, one did not start to think about Bonfire Night until after Hallowe'en. Indeed, one took one's - by that time - somewhat shrivelled swede lantern (there was a dearth of pumpkins in the UK in those days) to the firework display, and held a sparkler in one's other mittened hand. Add a baked potato to the picture, and this was almost more excitement than a young child could contain without bursting.

Likewise, one did not think about Christmas until mid-December. But now houses across the land are bedecked with lurid and ghastly lights for a period of almost two months in total. (Lady Bracknell will desist from railing further against the modern Christmas pro tem: but her readers may be sure that she will return to the subject again at a later date. Possibly more than once.)

The purpose of the guy is to sit atop the bonfire and be consumed by flames during the course of the evening. He is called a "guy" because he is an effigy of Guy Fawkes who, as every school boy knows (or ought to know), attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and who was consequently put to death for treason.

However, the "guy" for whose benefit Lady Bracknell was encouraged to hand over a penny this morning was by no stretch of the imagination an effigy of Guy Fawkes. It was, ironically, a Father Christmas pyjama case. And one clearly fashioned from a synthetic fabric of a type which would melt - and, quite possibly, emit toxic gases while doing so - rather than burn. Lady Bracknell cannot decide whether to be amused or appalled by this confusion of two characters with such diametrically opposed modus operandi.

Two questions remain:

  • ought one of our national periodicals to run a "first sighting of a guy" poll, somewhat akin to that for the first cuckoo song heard each Spring? and

  • what would the average modern street urchin's response be to the donation of the single penny which he has requested?


Blogger The Goldfish said...

I exercise a strict criteria for donating gifts of money to urchins, both those who accost one in the street as well as those who knock on one's door.

* The "Guy" must demonstrate that some effort and imagination has been applied in its making.

* Carollers must sing carols and have at least two verses in their repetoire. Jingle Bells is not a carol.

* Treat-or-treaters must be wearing costume, preferably something homemade. They must also be willing to accept barley sugar sweets or, if I have run out, Strepsils.

I must admit that already my mind has turned to Christmas. This is mostly for practical reasons. I need to order, receive, wrap and post out all my presents. In order to ensure timely delivery, I attempt to have all this achieved within the first week in December.

I must also admit to having in my possession a flashing plastic Jack O'Lantern a full month before Halloween, but this was sent to me by my mother in an attempt to restore my failing health (!). A week later she sent two pairs of socks so fluffy that they resemble faceless rodents.

3:13 pm  
Blogger marmiteboy said...

I have just regained control of myself following the strepsil comment. Very funny indeed.

Lady B asked the question about the response of a street urchin upon gib#ving them a penny for the guy. I maybe able to help. When I lived in the smoke filled environs of Merseyside I stepped out with a young gel (I know this may be hard to imagine but it is none the less true). Lady B may remember her because although not related they shared the same family name. She was of course from lower stock coming from what is locally known as the Noccy. I have gone off subject sorry.

Anyway on a shopping trip to the lovely town of Birkenhead we stumbled upon a couple of young scallies begging for coinage to enable them to purchase fireworks to throw at the local cat population. They asked for a penny for the guy to which my young lady duly responded, giving them exactly one of her majesties pennies. The young scallies were not particularly enhralled by this kind gesture and used all kinds of language that culminated in them tell us to 'FOOK OFF YER TIGHT BASTARDS'.

No pleasing some people.

8:07 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

I don't know. They don't want Strepsils; they don't want single, shiny pennies.

Lady Bracknell had always rather assumed that persons who have been reduced to begging in the streets would be grateful for any donation, no matter how small. Apparently not.....

8:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Begging yer pardon yer Ladyship. Any chance of donating that titfer you are wearing for our guy?

Robert Keyes

8:38 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

What? Consign this superlative example of the dying art of millinery to the flames? Has the anonymous correspondent entirely taken leave of his senses?

8:59 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

In private correspondence, Young Master Marmite has suggested that swede lanterns might be considered rather posh in comparison with the common and ostentatious pumpkin lantern.

Lady Bracknell wishes to assure him that nothing could be further from the truth. Her esteemed mother carved lanterns out of swedes for no other reason than that pumpkins were unavailable.

Pumpkins, being essentially hollow, lend themselves to being transformed into lanterns. They are also soft enough to be relatively easily carved.

The swede, on the other hand, being exceedingly solid all the way through, is by no means suited to being hollowed out. Transforming a swede into a Hallowe'en lantern is an arduous and dangerous task, requiring an exceptionally sharp knife, and a very strong carving arm.

Even if a swede lantern was not initially scary, the withering process which took place between October 31st and November 5th was always sufficient to grant it a particularly horrible appearance.

9:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be nice to think that you could give the urchin a penny - a shiny, new one, certainly - and he would respond with a cheerful Gawd bless yer, missus, his dirty little face wreathed in sudden smiles.

I must admit that I am not sure that I am going to try this for myself, however.

Yours anonymously,

Anonymous Passer-By

1:39 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Lady Bracknell,
I admit with shame that I have only just encountered your blog. Henceforth it shall be forever branded on my memory.

12:11 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Prism!! Where is that baby??

7:47 am  

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