Friday, 21 September 2012

Eight legs bad

I was trying to find some conkers the other day.  I managed two which I fear is scarcely sufficient for my purpose.

And that would be?  Keeping out spiders.  A correspondent to The Guardian had stated firmly that conkers keep spiders away and as we are entering the spider season and given that spiders and me have a complicated relationship (faults on both sides I’m sure, but I’d just as rather not have them in the flat) this seemed like a plan, albeit one unlikely to work.  But a low level arachnophobe like myself has to try what he can.

In the meantime I have spreading the word.  A till driver at Tesco who was fretting that there had been a spider in her car while she was driving to work and would still be there when her shift ended, was very taken with the idea and vowed there and then to fill her car with the nuts as soon as.  I just hope they don’t all roll under the brake pedal, though that would make for an entertaining inquest.

Meanwhile the female half of the couple in the ground floor flat (the male half was once bitten by a moth as long time readers of this blog may recall) was also fascinated by the idea and has asked me to report on whether it works which strikes me as tricky as I will have to show the absence of spiders.  A bit like the old joke about the chap who carries an anti-tiger charm in Scotland and when asked why states that he hasn’t been bitten by one yet.

But my researches may come to naught as I am finding it hard to find any, as stated above.  I have put out a plea on facebook, the modern equivalent of chaining yourself to the railings outside the Houses of Parliament and will keep looking.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

'Now is the Summer of Our Discontent...'

So it’s possible that they may have found Richard III’s skeleton? Gosh.

I had the chance to visit the place where the Battle of Bosworth Field apparently didn’t actually happen (as recounted here) and as stated, just by the canal is a rather sweet little memorial at the spot where, tradition has it, Richard died. If memory serves, the small monument had an inscription to ‘the last English king’ which was odd as the Plantagenets were French. As the peerless 1066 & All That points out, the last English king of England was Edward the Confessor as after that we have Harold (Danish), the Normans and then Plantagenets (French) then the Tudors (Welsh) and the Stuarts (Scottish) and finally the Hanovers/Windsors (German). And people say that the English are insular.
It is thought that the skeleton might be Richard because it has signs of curvature of the spine. I had thought that version of him was Tudor propaganda (x-rays have shown that the famous portrait of him was later altered) and wonder what this will do for those people who believe him to be a highly maligned figure.

I’m sure you’ve heard about this, Richard was a good king who didn’t murder the Princes in the Tower (though I side with George MacDonald Fraser who, like Cicero, asked cui bono) and was an all-round good egg unlike the untrustworthy wife-executing and altogether a bit too Celtic Tudors. It’s one of those things that people get surprisingly wound up about to the surprise to outsiders. Other instances I’ve recently come across on the net include the behaviour of George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars films, the behaviour of the Doctor in the most recent episode of Dr Who and the incidental music in the last couple of seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation which apparently spoilt one poor chap’s childhood.

The observant amongst you, ie all of you, will notice that all these examples above come from the world of science fiction film and television. I do paddle in the shallows of that particular fandom and one of the attractions is the high emotions that it produces in a few unhappy souls. ‘But what about the pain Jackson caused me!’ wailed one commentator on a forum about the Lord of the Rings films in response to the moderator complaining that his increasingly vicious comments were causing pain to others. You get it with Sherlock Holmes fans as well where liking the recent Robert Downey characterisation is a sin beyond forgiveness or redemption. I know connoisseurs of horror cinema who still hold Barry Norman in open contempt for his many slights on their preferred genre.

In the meantime, here’s the excellent Horrible Histories programme doing old King Dick with full admiration and open worship to whoever came up with rhyming ‘can you imagine it’ with ‘Plantagenet’.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Not to Mention the Dog

I keep having this strange feeling that there’s a dog in the room.  Oh, good.  There is.

I’m looking after him while his owners (assorted members of the clan) are away for a long weekend.  I think of him as a dog in law.  I’ve done this before and he knows me well so it’s no great ordeal, rather the opposite even if he is a touch excitable and tactile in his affection.  At least he’s sleeping through nights now.  The first time he came to live at my expense, I awoke at about four in the morning as I sometimes do and sleepily went for my glass of water before falling back asleep until a reasonable hour.  On this occasion though I was brought to a fuller awakeness by a furry snout and wet nose thrust towards my face, attached to a dog that was not only wagging its tail but its whole body in that way that long-leggĂ©d canines can.  ‘Oh great,’ he seemed to saying, ‘this is way earlier for my walk than my usual owners manage!’  I was obliged to disillusion him but he bore the sorrow well.

Better than he did than when he arrived on that first visit.  After his pack had left, he took to his basket and whenever I looked around I could see just his two eyes poking out from his bed and gazing at me with complete and total reproach.  As it happened, another brother ‘phoned just then so I shared my discomfort with him.  He failed to help by pointing out that not only was the dog obviously thinking ‘I’ll never see them again’, he was also thinking ‘And it’s all your fault.’  Very helpful.  My lodger cheered up soon enough though, round about lunchtime if memory serves.

It’s all been less fraught this time.  A twenty-something neighbour referred to him as a doggy, being apparently unaware that there is an age restriction on that word, otherwise all well so far.  And best of all, we haven’t found a corpse. 

As any reader of the crime reports in the papers will be aware, murder victims are frequently found by dog walkers and this always alarms me mildly whenever I am dog sitting.  He’s here for another day, so fingers crossed, I really don’t have the time right now for the paperwork.

On an entirely different topic, it was brought to my attention last night that for the last four years I have been completely misunderstanding the purpose of those label things that you put on your blog.  I thought they had something to do with search engines, apparently not.  It seems they’re an aid to navigating to my other blog entries.  To quote Jessica Hynes’ character in Twenty Twelve: ‘Who knew?’.

Given I was in the habit of ensuring that I never repeated a label, this will have meant that anyone clicking on one will probably have been directed back to the blog they’d just read.

Sorry about that.