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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, March 31, 2007

'Twas like taking bread to the top of the world

As a result of the Editor's latest experiments with her Kodak software, Young Master Bertram now appears to be auditioning for a role in an advertisement for a well-known wholewheat loaf.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Age shall not wither her

Pop phoned me last night. He was in an unusually sombre frame of mind. He said he hoped he'd judged my sense of humour accurately. He said if he hadn't, there was a distinct possibility I'd never want to speak to him again.

To put Pop's unwonted gravitas into some sort of context, discussions about what might constitute an acceptable birthday present had been ongoing for some time. He complained that I was very difficult to buy for, given that I'd already made him cross off spiders in a box, a wormery, scented drawer liners (don't ask), an anorak, and the complete works of Catherine Cookson from his list.

He said he was going to phone me first thing to wish me a happy birthday, and then turn his phone off for the rest of the day. Or possibly for the weekend. Or possibly for ever. He promised that any parcels which might arrive wouldn't contain spiders. They particularly wouldn't contain a toy spider on a spring. I could trust him on this: he was a Pop of his word. I said that was very fortunate, given that, should I receive a toy spider on a spring, it was unlikely to take me very long to decide on an alternative - and rather creative - use for the spring.

True to his word, Pop phoned early this morning to wish me many happy returns. He then hid under his desk. (Ok, that last bit might not be true. I haven't actually had surveillance equipment installed in his office. Yet. I'm just assuming he was hiding under his desk.)

Eventually, a nice man from Parcelforce arrived with a brown paper parcel and asked for my signature. It was immediately apparent from the calibre of the wrapping of said parcel (oh, ok, and the handwriting) that it contained my present from Pop.

Fascinating aside alert: many years ago, in his callow youth, Pop was a professional parcel-wrapper. Don't laugh. I laughed, and he was mortally offended. (I thought he was joking. He's usually joking. Just my luck that, the one time he was being serious, it was about something so unlikely.) Anyway, it must be a bit like riding a bike. Not in the sense that you get to enjoy the feel of the fresh air on your face and the mud on your trouser legs, but in the sense that, once mastered, the skill is never lost.

Boy, can that man wrap parcels. Using a variety of papers and two different kinds of sticky tape (clear for the inside; parcel tape for the outside). Whilst they're never going to come adrift in the postal system, they're a distinct challenge to get into. Particularly when a small voice in the back of your head is warning you that despite Pop's claims to the contrary, there may still be spiders in the box, so you're trying to unwrap the parcel in a manner which will ensure that any spiders which might be in there would spill out away from you rather than directly into your cleavage. Thus giving you approximately 1 extra nano-second to avoid being crawled on by a spider. (Spiders are nothing if not speedy in their movements. Not to mention hypnotically drawn to cleavages.)

Anyway, I got into it eventually. And this is what my lovely, lovely friend had sent me:

As soon as I'd revealed the hideously-insulting contents of the parcel (and pausing for only the briefest of moments to check that there were absolutely no traces of previously-unnoticed spider lurking anywhere in the pile of wrapping paper), I phoned Pop on his mobile. He pretended to be his own answerphone message. A pretence which he continued until he was sure I wasn't cross with him. Once I'd chuckled enough to allay his fears, he unbent so far as to concede that she looks slightly older than me.

I'm reminded - and not just on account of the spooky similarity in outfits - of Prince Charles asking me whether I'd been awarded an MBE to mark my retirement. The teensiest bit galling when you're still twenty years off retirement age. And you were thinking - up until that precise moment - that you'd scrubbed up rather well, all things considered.

But I digress. Of course Pop hadn't misjudged my sense of humour. My Old Biddy is fab. And it wouldn't cross my mind to retaliate with one of the figures from the complementary Old Coot range. Not even for a moment. Come to think of it, I wonder whether that's why Pop always refuses to tell me when his birthday is...?

The Editor.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

In which the Editor has rather too much time on her hands

The Editor has this morning realised that her new Kodak software allows her to apply what it euphemistically refers to as "fun effects" to any photographs she has taken.

Nothing would do, therefore, but that she publish a photograph of Caspar in which the "cartoon" effect has been applied...

... and one of Young Master Bertram (who, coincidentally, is ten months old today) in which both the "cartoon" and the "sepia" effects have been applied.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


For several weeks prior to Mothering Sunday, I tried to persuade my ailing frame that it was fit enough to travel into The Big Card Shops in town to purchase a suitable card.

(In the bosom of La Famille Editor, a card is only considered suitable if it roundly insults its recipient. The vast majority of the cards produced to mark Mothering Sunday are of the wholly unsuitable "I love my darling Mumsy" type. It is something of a challenge to track down a card which accuses one's mother of being a gin-sodden old harridan, but I've always managed to rise to that particular challenge in the past.)

My ailing frame was having none of it. My ailing frame protested that tottering round the corner to the local Tesco was as much as it could manage for the moment, thank you very much. The cards for sale in said Tesco were universally pastel of hue and saccharine of sentiment. They would not have been appreciated.

Not, you understand, that my considered decision not to inflict such a sickly monstrosity on my mother prevented my father from insisting (repeatedly, and at length) that my mother had been inconsolably distraught at the omission. My mother's audible cries to the contrary in the background did not deter him from his attack one whit. Neither was he long distracted by my innocent (no, really) statement to the effect that surely both my brothers would have sent cards to my mother. The fault for neither of them having done so was immediately laid firmly at my door: I, apparently, was guilty of failing to remind them that Mothering Sunday was imminent. (Being men, they have presumably been issued with those special man-blinkers which allow chaps to walk unimpeded through shopping centres and remain completely oblivious to whichever celebration day/week/month Hallmark et al are currently flogging in a manner similar to that with which one might flog a dead horse.)

This sort of tirade is what passes for fun in the Editor Senior household. And, to be honest, it is really rather entertaining. If you're accustomed to it, and if you have a sufficiently robust sense of humour to tolerate it, of course. Editor Pater has never really grasped the fact that some people don't share his preference for the verbal equivalent of being bludgeoned around the head and shoulders with a piece of lead piping: and victims who falter under his assault spoil all his fun.

However, I could have been spared this particular onslaught if only I had known about Moonpig. What an absolutely brilliant idea! You choose from thousands of cards (a great many of which are highly "suitable"); personalise your choice with your own message; and either have it sent to you so that you can sign it by hand and post it on or - and this is the really crip-friendly bit - they do the arduous posting for you! Ok, so it's not particularly cheap: but, in my rarely humble opinion, it's a very small price to pay for never having to battle through the pushchair-wielding crowds in WH Smiths, or limp - envelope in hand - in a pitiful fashion to the nearest post box, again.

The Editor

I remember, I remember...

Caspar, generally speaking the most dignified of felines, has an endearing tendency to forget to put her tongue back in when she has finished grooming her beautiful fur.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Who's closest?

Given that Lady Bracknell still lacks the level of concentration required to peororate with her wonted vigour, she offers instead a further game for her readers' amusement.

The description of the game which follows is taken from, "Three Hundred Games and Amusements", published in 1929 and written by Edward Verrall Lucas and Lucinda Lucas. (Mr Lucas' other works include the intriguingly-titled, "Anne's Terrible Good Nature". Lady Bracknell can only guess as to the volume's nature and content, unless one of her readers can elnlighten her further.)

"The players sit in a row or circle and one, having thought of something - of any description whatsoever - asks them in turn, "What is my thought like?". Not having the faintest idea what the thought is, they reply at random. One may say, "Like a dog"; another, "Like a saucepan"; a third, "Like a wet day"; a fourth, "Like a pantomime".

After collecting all the answers, the player announces what the thought was, and then goes along the row again calling upon the players to explain why it is like the thing named by them. The merit of the game lies in these explanations.

Thus, perhaps the thing thought of was a concertina. The first player, asked to show why a concertina is like a dog, may reply, "Because when it is squeezed, it howls." The next may say, "It is like a heavy saucepan because it is held in both hands." The third may say, "It is like a wet day because one has soon had enough of it"; and the fourth, "It is like a pantomime because it is full of tunes.""

Now, Lady Bracknell's readers cannot all sit in a circle or a row and be asked the question individually. They should therefore take this blog entry as equating to their having been asked the question personally by Lady Bracknell herself.

Lady Bracknell will allow a period of approximately 48 hours for readers to declare what they believe her thought to be like. When that stage of the game is over, an announcement of what Lady Bracknell's thought actually was will be made in the comments, and all who have played will then be at liberty to explain why they believe they came the closest out of all who have played to guessing exactly what Lady Bracknell's thought was like.

In the likely event that none of the players makes an accurate guess as to what Lady Bracknell's thought was, the top prize will go to the player who provides the most humorous justification for his or her guess.

Lady Bracknell hopes that she has explained the rules clearly, but is aware that her intellectual abilities are not currently at their sparkling best. Potential players are welcome to seek clarification, should there be any confusion.

Let the game commence:

What is Lady Bracknell's thought like?

Post script

Lady Bracknell forgot to add (did she mention she is not well...?) that first prize - should the winning player have a blog of his or her own - will be the opportunity to host a further round of "Who's closest?" on his or her own blog.

Should the winning player not have a blog, first prize will consist of feeling very smug.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Mighty Mr C

Regular readers will recall that mention has been made in these pages of the Mighty Mr C in the past.

Such readers as have long harboured a desire to watch Mr C in action will be thrilled (as was Lady Bracknell herself) to learn that video footage of his contribution to the "Speaking for Ourselves" oral history project (part of Scope's "Time To Get Equal" campaign) is now available online. And very dapper he looks too.

Further detail from his extensive interviews is available here. Tape 8 includes a mention of the Leonard Cheshire Lifetime Achievement award which was presented to him by Jane Asher in 2000.

Below is a photograph of Mr C receiving said award, flanked by his faithful acolytes, including Lady Bracknell's Editor and Young Master Marmite.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Morning ablutions #2

These photographs were taken with the Editor's mobile telephone, there having been insufficient time for her to fetch her camera.

That fact, combined with the furious speed with which Caspar was washing Bertie's ears, has resulted in these pictures not being of great quality.

Nevertheless, Lady Bracknell considers the series of photographs to have a certain charm.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Meals on wheels

Lady Bracknell's Editor has just rediscovered this photograph, which has been in her collection for some years.

As far as she can recall, it came into her possession as part of an email purporting to contain a number of amusing road signs from Malaysia.

Poetry Corner

The time being ripe for another game, but Lady Bracknell still being in indifferent health, here is one which is neither competitive nor difficult, but which should serve as a form of gentle, civilised entertainment.

The first player quotes a favourite line of poetry.

The object of the game is for each subsequent player to provide one line beginning with the final letter of the line played immediately prior to his or her "go". This to continue until either the players' fund of poetry-knowledge has been exhausted, or the game has ceased to be entertaining.

Contributions must be drawn from respected poems widely available in the public domain: this is not an opportunity for persons such as Dude the chauffeur to submit lines from ribald (and, possibly, self-penned) limericks.

Persons who submit lines with which the other players are unfamiliar must be prepared to provide a link to an online copy of their chosen poem, if so challenged.

Lady Bracknell will begin with:

Say not the struggle naught availeth

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


It would seem that the Editor's tireless assault on Google has, for once, had a positive result. No offensive weapons, thinly disguised as umbrellas; no crocheted replicas of woman's nether regions; no, this is what Lady Bracknell believes is sometimes vulgarly referred to as "paydirt".

Many years ago, Lady Bracknell's Editor was (fairly briefly) engaged to be married. Not wanting a gold engagement ring set with a tiny chip of diamond, the Editor engaged* the services of an artisan whom she had encountered at a craft fair. He fashioned unusual jewellery from silver and semi-precious stones, and had his workshop near (or quite possibly in) Thetford. The Editor much regrets that she can no longer remember the gentleman's name, but suspects that, in light of the fact that he was considerably advanced in years when she visited his workshop, he very probably retired from the business of jewellery-making some time ago.

Included in his catalogue of designs was a pair of silver peapod earrings in which the "peas" were fashioned from malachite beads. The Editor coveted a pair of said earrings but, given that she had to pay for her own engagement ring (a fact which really ought, in Lady Bracknell's opinion, to have served in itself as an Awful Warning to her), could not at the time find the funds to purchase them.

The Editor, having continued since those dark days to yearn sporadically for a pair of peapod earrings, bent the mighty Google to her indomitable will earlier today.

The earrings pictured left are, if anything, even more to her taste than the ones she saw all those years ago, and she will be making shift to purchase a pair the moment she has been relieved from the duty of taking dictation from her employer.

Having been directed to the web page containing the earrings themselves, the Editor discovered that they are being sold through Etsy. Billing itself as, "Your place to buy & sell all things handmade", Etsy is a beautifully-designed showcase for the wares of craftspersons around the globe.

The Editor has done little more than scratch the metaphorical surface of this cornucopia of delights as yet, but is looking forwards to many satisfying hours of perusing its pages. (Her one disappointment to date is that the humble shrew appears to be much under-rated globally as a design inspiration.)

Even Lady Bracknell (who is generally more than a little averse to animated tricks perpetrated by interwebnet designers whom she considers to be far too clever for their own good) was moderately impressed by the Geolocator page, and feels she could spend several happy minutes watching the bubbles of colour generated by the Editor's cursor on the Colors (sic) page.

Etsy gives every indication of having the capacity to provide a source of attractive gifts for such of one's friends and relatives who shrink from the mass-produced, whilst simultaneously giving the purchaser the satisfaction of knowing that his or her payment is going direct to whoever created the item chosen. And all without one ever having to leave the house. All in all, a most admirable venture.

*Lady Bracknell tried to resist the urge to use that particular word, but the temptation was too strong for her...

Post Script

Having now had the opportunity to search Etsy in more detail, the Editor is extremely pleased to announce that she has tracked down a craftsperson who produces resplendent knobs for wheelchairs. Unfortunately for Lady Bracknell's UK readers, however, the seller is currently only shipping said knobs within the US.

Friday, March 16, 2007

In which Lady Bracknell prepares to shuffle off this mortal coil

Lady Bracknell, who remains very decidedly under the weather, visited her general practitioner's surgery again yesterday in her continuing search for an accurate diagnosis.

The surgery being one of those modern affairs housing a variety of medical professionals (most of whom appear to be related to one another, coincidentally), Lady Bracknell spoke to her third doctor in as many weeks.

Generally speaking, Lady Bracknell would list this gentleman as her favourite at the practice. In her experience, he does not assume that his patients are wholly ignorant of their own complaints, and he displays an unusual willingness to listen to what they have to say and to frame his comments to suit his understanding of each patient's intelligence and personality. However, readers may judge for themselves whether the comment reproduced below was well-advised.

Having received some bad news in relation to the damaging effects of her long-term use of anti-inflammatory painkillers, and the unwelcome conclusion that she will very probably, in the immediate or near future, need to eschew them in favour of opioids, Lady Bracknell (whose character is such that that, regardless of her interior distress, she would always tend to react in a jocular fashion rather than to weep, wail and rend her garments) replied that she has long been aware of the strong likelihood that her pain meds will be the death of her.

To which her doctor's immediate rejoinder was,

"Well, unless the diabetes gets you first".

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Morning ablutions

Some time ago Lady Bracknell promised that she would publish a photograph of Young Master Bertram having his face forcibly washed as soon as the event could be captured on whatever the modern digital equivalent of film is called.

Never let it be said that Lady Bracknell's word can not be trusted.

Rock, paper, scissors (but very little rock, frankly)

Having had her attention drawn to the rather charming paper toys from Readymech (the patterns for which can be downloaded for free) by Popgadget, Lady Bracknell's Editor was inspired to embark on an interwebnet quest to supply those of this blog's readers who are handy with a craft knife, cutting board and glue pen with similar diversions.

The Epson site offers a variety of free papercraft downloads, including a mother and baby giant panda (not, Lady Bracknell suspects, for the papercraft novice), a collection of cacti, seasonal greetings cards and, of course, the exceedingly fine goldfish pictured left.

Elsewhere on the interwebnet, one may download a dinosaur, or create one's own copy of the statue of Christ the Redeemer at Rio de Janeiro.

Readers who eschew the cheerful may be tempted to construct their very own Hidden Cemetery, whilst those who are enamoured of the work of Mr T. Pratchett may divert themselves on an inclement day by fashioning a model of The Luggage, "coloured and textured to simulate sapient pearwood with octiron bindings". Lady Bracknell is rather disappointed to note that "fabrication of hundreds of little feet is left as an exercise for the builder".

It is but a short step from static paper models to automata fashioned from paper or card. (Lady Bracknell was introduced to the joys of automata many years ago at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in London's Covent Garden. She subsequently purchased Paul Spooner's wonderful book, Spooner's Moving Animals, which contains patterns for, amongst other things, an automaton of a goat chewing a hot water bottle. The book is now out of print, but both Amazon and Abebooks can supply a handful of untouched copies.)

There is a free download available for this agreeable sheep automaton at the Flying Pig site. The majority of Flying Pig's kits for paper animations are not free, but neither can they be said to be inordinately expensive.

Finally, although there is no paper involved in its construction, Lady Bracknell can not resist the temptation to include a link to a knitting pattern for a Clanger (discovered recently by the Editor whilst searching for pictures of the Froglets to jog Mr Larkin's memory).

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

In which the Editor continues to experiment with her new camera

This is, of course, Caspar. Her alert expression is attributable to the approach of Young Master Bertram, who is reluctant to allow anyone other than himself to take centre stage.
(Any suggestion that he might have adopted this particular trait in order to emulate his Uncle Larkin would, of course, be entirely scurrilous.)

Lady Bracknell went to hospital...

Lady Bracknell, despite having spent far more time than is good for her at the surgery of her general medical practitioner in the last fortnight, has not actually been to hospital at all, and fervently hopes that there will be no need for her to do so in the immediate future.

Her continued malaise, however, renders her unequal to the task of composing lengthy blog entries containing such necessary elements as logical flow and coherent argument. Hence the recent introduction to this blog of the parlour games which, to date, have proved to be most diverting.

Given the generally dubious state of health not only of Lady Bracknell herself, but also of the majority of her regular readers, this latest game should have considerable appeal and result in spirited play.

This game is similar to the popular "I went to market", in that a list must be constructed in alphabetical order, with players accurately repeating the previous "goes" before adding an item of their own.

An example would be, "I went to hospital because I had acne", followed by, "I went to hospital because I had acne and a boil".

Naturally, given the background of many of her readers, Lady Bracknell is hoping for more obscure conditions than the simple acne and/or boils.

As a side benefit to this game, it may be that readers who previously considered themselves to be very poorly indeed may decide by the end of play that they are really remarkably sprightly in comparison with the Person Who Went To Hospital.

The first "go" is:

I went to hospital because I had ankylosing spondylitis.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Small but perfectly formed

If, like Lady Bracknell's Editor, you are in the habit of

  • browsing the interwebnet in a random fashion for items of interest, and
  • subsequently emailing links to the pages you have found to your nearest and dearest so that they may laugh with you and/or share your outrage,

you may find, if you have delved into the farthest corners of a particular website, that the link you have pasted into your email is longer than the accompanying message.

Should you yearn after the ability to reduce the length of what Lady Bracknell understands to be called "an URL*" for any reason, TinyURL.com could be the answer to your prayers.

* Not to be confused with a wol.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Oh dear

Lady Bracknell's Editor has been given the task of researching parlour games which would lend themselves to being played in the blog format.

It would appear from the research undertaken so far that our American cousins like to play games at what they refer to as "baby showers". Here is a game that Lady Bracknell will not be playing, either on her own blog, or, for that matter, anywhere else:

Melt the Ice
The day before the shower, freeze diaper pins, miniature pacifiers, tiny plastic babies, or similar items in ice cube trays. Give each guest an ice cube in a glass of water or other drink. The first person whose ice has melted so that the frozen item floats freely in the glass shouts, "My water broke!" and wins the game.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I love my love with an 'a'

Following the success of "I went to market", Lady Bracknell deems the time to be right to introduce another game.

The first "go" is as follows:

I love my love with an 'a' because he is absurd. I hate him with an 'a' because he is amoral. I took him to Aberdeen, and treated him to asparagus and artichokes. His name is Alan and he comes from Alsace.

Readers wishing to take part in the game may, of course, adjust the gender of their loved one to match their own preference. They are positively encouraged to make their "goes" ridiculous rather than cloyingly sentimental.

Players should choose the letter which follows on from the last contribution published: there will undoubtedly be duplication of letters at those times when the Editor is not poised over a hot keyboard to moderate contributions the moment they come in, but this should not detract from the enjoyment of the game.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Miscellaneous news

Two items of minor note:

1. Lady Bracknell has been acting as ghost writer on the blog of the estimable Young Master Marmite.

2. In conversation with Mr Larkin earlier this evening, when the Editor said, "I've always assumed you've got one of those, but that you've just chosen not to reveal it to me", she was referring to his home email address.