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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

Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year's Honours

Lady Bracknell is exceedingly pleased to note that the sculptor Willard Wigan (about whom the Editor wrote this entry for the Ouch blog in April) has received an MBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours list.

(It took many minutes of detailed examination of the full list of honours for the Editor to happen upon Mr Wigan's name on page 94 of 95: clearly - unlike Rod Stewart - he is not considered to have sufficient celebrity to merit being included in the lists of well-known persons whose names adorn our news headlines. But, then, neither was Bert Massie, despite having been knighted.)

Mr Wigan (and Lady Bracknell's Editor) will now be able to purchase, for a mere £15, one of these charming and aesthetically-pleasing British Empire emblems to sport on his lapel on occasions when he feels that the medal itself would be somewhat de trop.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hints and tips for the festive season. Or not.

The Editor's email inbox has been regularly assaulted of late by messages from a Mr J Sainsbury inviting her to submit her best Christmas tip to his website in the faint hopes that she might win large numbers of something called "Nectar Points".

Needless to say, all such emails have been swiftly consigned to the recycling bin. Even had the Editor been tempted to respond, she was doubtful that, "Hide under the duvet until Christmas is well and truly over" would have been in the running for the magnificent prize.

However, other Sainsbury's customers have responded in their droves. The results make fascinating, if not particularly helpful, reading.

Some respondents appear to have had considerable difficulty in distinguishing between a tip and a self-evident truth: the oft-repeated, "You can save money by buying your cards and wrapping paper in the January sales", for example, would seem to Lady Bracknell to fall firmly into the latter category. Ditto, "Putting money aside every month will mean you have more to spend at Christmas".

In these days of convenience foods, it is something of an education to realise what now passes as "home cooking". This singularly unappetising dip provides a case in point, consisting, as it does, of two pre-packaged items tipped out onto the same plate. (Presumably one can then feel entirely justified, when showered with compliments, in claiming that one has "made it from scratch".)

Lady Bracknell generally deems it best for all concerned for her not to impose her irascible company on any persons of whom she is fond on Christmas Day. Were she ever to resile from this policy, however, she would be very disappointed indeed if her hosts were to care so little for her enjoyment as to serve her this revolting alternative to a proper vegetarian option.

Neither, were she perchance to visit during epiphany, would her heart be even remotely gladdened at the prospect of this imaginitive method of using up left over Christmas Pudding.

Whilst not holding for a moment with the modern-day fad for excessive slenderness, Lady Bracknell suspects that a very brisk constitutional indeed would be required to work off the artery-clogging effects of freshly-fried chips (french fries to her American readers) dipped into chocolate fondue. (Hard as it may be to believe, Lady Bracknell is not making this up: doubting Thomases may wish to follow this link.)

What strange lives some people lead. Particularly this person. And this one.

There is, however, the occasional nugget of gold to be found, should one search with sufficient diligence. Lady Bracknell is prepared to wager that Young Master Marmite will probably busy himself in his kitchen as soon as he sees this recipe for mushrooms.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

From Lady Bracknell's personal correspondence

Dear Timmykins,

It was extremely kind of you to send me such a charming Christmas card: I am most grateful.

Might I, however, make one small suggestion?

I know (from having received correctly-addressed seasonal greetings from you for the last decade) that you are in possession of the correct postal address for the current Bracknell Towers.

Perhaps you might care to delete the details of the address you hold for the previous Bracknell Towers so that you will not be tempted to use it in future?

I was fortunate in that the regular postman was in charge of my post today, and recognised my name from the many letters and packets he has delivered to me since he took over the round. Had the relief postman been in charge of your charming card, I fear I might never have received it.

A very merry Christmas to you and yours.

Your friend,

Augusta Bracknell.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

And a peacock in a pear tree...

Regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that Lady Bracknell is not generally enamoured of modern Christmas decorations.

Anything both affixed to the exterior wall of a house and plugged into an overburdened electricity supply (particularly if there are chasing lights involved) should, in Lady Bracknell's considered opinion, be consigned to oblivion in perpetuity. And the sooner the better.

However, the Editor has a colleague with an enviable talent for producing quite exceptionally beautiful, elegant and tasteful decorations to mark any number of occasions.

So taken was the Editor with these lovely peacocks that nothing would do but that she fetch her mobile telephone at once and commit them to photographic record for posterity.

The Editor has assured Lady Bracknell that she did not manage to capture so much as a fraction of the visual impact of these gorgeous creations, and that, "You had to be there".

Nevertheless, Lady Bracknell considers the photographs (poor shadows though they be) to be worthy of a wider audience.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A pictorial interlude

The Editor is claiming to be too exhausted to take dictation from Lady Bracknell this evening.

She is muttering darkly about stress resulting from an eleven month delay in receiving full reasonable adjustment, but Lady Bracknell suspects that Mr Larkin's regular phone calls are at least partly responsible for the Editor's current fatigue.

In any event, Lady Bracknell hopes that her readers will be satisfied temporarily with this rather charming photograph of Young Master Bertram Bracknell relaxing after a busy morning "helping" around the house.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Stop, oh yes, wait a minute Mr Postman

The relief postman (decidedly less personable than Lady Bracknell's regular postman) rang the doorbell of Bracknell Towers at about 11.30 this morning.

Disappointed in his apparent objective of ringing the bell and dashing immediately away by the unmistakable sound of an elderly aristocrat limping slowly down a flight of stone stairs whilst jingling a set of keys (Lady Bracknell has, over the years, developed a particularly audible jingle for precisely this purpose), he chose to vent his irritation at the delay by folding her ladyship's Christmas cards in half so that he could squeeze them through her rather narrow letterbox.

Seconds later, Lady Bracknell opened the door and took delivery of three parcels. And subsequently bent down with some difficulty to pick her ruined Christmas cards up from the floor.

Lady Bracknell is sufficiently advanced in years to remember a time when those who worked in our service industries took a professional pride in providing an excellent service. Regrettably, those days appear to be long gone.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

In which Lady Bracknell is not calm

Regular readers will no doubt have gathered from the pages of this humble blog that Lady Bracknell's temperament would not, even by those generous few who otherwise speak kindly of her, be described as "laid back".

Amongst the many minor irritations which must be borne in life, one of the most irksome is the fact that, as soon as she has trimmed her fingernails (it is the eczema season, after all, and therefore rather unwise to provide oneself with weapons with which to tear one's skin), Lady Bracknell is immediately faced with a multitude of small tasks for which she is suddenly wholly unsuited. Knots must be unpicked; packing tape must be removed from the stout boxes in which the seasonal gifts she has ordered for her family and friends have been delivered; foodstuffs are all hermetically sealed under plastic film, the "tear here" tag of which is notably resistant to the grip obtainable using only the fingertips.

Is it that such tasks pass un-noted the rest of the time, or does life conspire to save them up for the express purpose of aggravating elderly aristocrats when they have already been rendered crotchety by the advent of television commercials assuring them that, if they order now, they can have their new carpet laid in time for Christmas?

Given that Lady Bracknell has yet to be persuaded of the need to purchase a new sofa in time for Christmas, it is unlikely that she will be swayed by any arguments the marketing men can put forward to the effect that her carpets are shamefully un-Christmassy. What next? A new patio heater in time for Christmas? New pillow cases? Is Lady Bracknell truly alone in her failure to find any logical connection between the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the decrepitude (or otherwise) of her home furnishings?

As so often happens at this time of year, Lady Bracknell's original question to her readers has degenerated into a complaint about modern day Christmas. As there are yet two weeks available to her ladyship to vent her spleen on this particular issue, it would perhaps be wise for her to close at this juncture, and to seek out some edifying task for which fingernails are not an absolute pre-requisite.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

It should not be assumed from the title of this blog entry that Lady Bracknell has any intention of altering the curmudgeonly attitude to all things festive which she has been nurturing in her bosom for many decades.

Nevertheless, she recommends such of her readers who are in search of a light diversion which will remind them of childhood sessions with paper, scissors, Gloy glue and glitter to avail themselves of a snow day via the icon which the editor has skilfully (and with minimal swearing) appended to the sidebar to the left.

The existence of this "Holiday Flake-a-thon" was drawn to Lady Bracknell's attention by the ever-vigilant Becca.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bad dreams in the night

If Lady Bracknell has one failing, it is a wearying propensity for having entire nights' repose disturbed by nightmares of the most distressing kind.

She was woken innumerable times last night by feverish dreams in which she conducted the most vituperative and unpleasant arguments with close friends: friends with whom she has absolutely no axe to grind in the waking world.

As a result, she feels positively wretched today.

Young Bertram Bracknell, on the other hand, has clearly mastered the skill of relaxed and dreamless sleep. No nightmares plague his subconscious mind.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A refutation

Mr Larkin, having been made privy to various photographic portraits of Young Master Bertram during the course of today, deemed it necessary this evening to call the editor on the telephone and complain that his nephew is "a bit of a porker".

Lest any of her readers should be labouring under a similar unfortunate misapprehension, Lady Bracknell feels it incumbent on her to explain that what might give the impression (to the casual observer unschooled in the desired appearance of the Selkirk Rex) of chubbiness is, in point of fact, the combination of a) a cobby build and b) fur which is the better part of an inch deep.

Bertram has no need of a reducing diet. He is a sturdy little chap, it's true, but no more so than he ought to be.

I see your true colours...

In which it is apparent that Young Master Bertram is not yellow...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

He is the bert*

Regular readers will have noted that Lady Bracknell has, of late, generously permitted her editor to use the pages of this blog to record her trip to London.

Despite the editor's protestations that she has only reached as far as Friday to date, and that she has much to say about both Saturday and Sunday, Lady Bracknell is of the opinion that it is high time for her to reassert ownership of her own blog.

Reminiscences of London are thus suspended (albeit temporarily) so that the latest member of the Bracknell household may be formally welcomed.

Caspar being once nicely settled in to the gentle rhythms of Bracknell Towers, Lady Bracknell turned her attentions to her search for a suitable junior member to complete the feline complement. For some years, her ladyship has been much taken with a relatively new breed, the Selkirk Rex. The attraction of the Selkirk Rex derives from its having both a curly coat and a body type conforming to that of what Lady Bracknell would consider to be a "proper cat". (Lady Bracknell has no doubt that there is much to be said for both the Cornish and the Devon Rex, but must confess that, to her eyes, they bear a striking resemblance to the piskies which inhabit those parts.)

To Lady Bracknell's considerable joy, the editor's determined interwebnet searches revealed that there is a breeder of Selkirk Rexes in South Cheshire. It having once been established that the redoubtable Becca would be more than willing to act as chauffeuse for such an adventure, Lady Bracknell lost no time in contacting the charming Pam at Mewsoscats. Having anticipated that all the kittens born this year would have been snapped up some time ago, Lady Bracknell came as closeas her upbringing will permit her to being beside herself with excitement when it was revealed to her that two of the little chaps born in May were still available for purchase to the right sort of owner.

A deposit having been put down, and a date set for collection, controversy began to rage over the appropriate name for what will be a very large cat indeed once fully grown. Lady Bracknell, being an admirer of the works of Mr Wodehouse, favoured "Bertie". The editor's friend Pop (who has been appointed as the little chap's official uncle) was adamant that "Bertie" would not do.

Pop's own suggestions ("Adolf"; "Sporran"; "Jock"; "Stanley"; and a word which, when combined with Caspar, would produce a result rather similar to Castor and Pollux) were dismissed out of hand. Particularly the last one.

The editor, who is fond of Tim Burton's moving picture, "The Nightmare Before Christmas", argued strongly for "Sandy Claws", deeming it to be both amusing and apposite.

However, Lady Bracknell is nothing if not mistress of her own household, and "Bertie" has won the day. So, pray welcome Master Bertram Bracknell to the blogosphere. (He is currently a little reluctant to pose for photographs, and the camera which forms a useful adjunct to the editor's mobile phone provides poor colour reproduction under low lighting conditions. Bertie is assuredly not yellow. It is to be hoped that future photographs will render his true coat colour with rather more accuracy.)

Reader's who find themselves beguiled by Bertie's dear little face may be interested to hear that one of his red brothers is still available and is, as Becca can independently confirm, a very personable little chap indeed.

On another note entirely, Lady Bracknell is touched by the compliments paid to her on this thread on the Ouch messageboard. She regrets, however, that the editor has mislaid the password which would enable her to append her thanks for the kind words directly to the thread itself.

*The title of this blog entry is drawn from a typing error made by the Mighty Mr C in a text message to the editor when she was on her way to an interview. It is believed that it was Mr C's intention to assure the editor that she was "the best". After giving the subject due consideration, the editor decided that she much prefers being "the bert".