Posts by Pam

What is this?

A new ‘attraction’ has appeared in the berm.

Any ideas for what this is?
Who put it there?
Why?

Gallery:

Click on any image in the gallery to enlarge it.

Answers to editor@geddington.net please!

We’ve had suggestions that it is:
An old lawn sprinkler
An old child’s roundabout
An industrial water sprinkler
and the best one so far:
It’s a trap for all those that let dogs off leads!

Castle Gardens 50th Anniversary

The invitation said: “Come and join us to celebrate 50 years and the opening of the Queen Eleanor Lounge.”

So I did. And it was a very convivial affair, attended by plenty of residents and several members of Kettering Borough’s Silver Service, the department that is charged with providing Sheltered Housing designed to meet the needs of those over 55.

At 2pm, His Worship the Mayor, arrived and was introduced to the gathering.  In his brief speech (there was food and drink to be had!), Cllr Scott Edwards spoke of his pleasure that such a remarkable property was provided for those who wished to live independently, but at the same time, in a safe, secure and high quality environment, in the centre of Geddington. The high quality was on show as the lounge had been newly decorated with new lighting, new floor and even a new clock.

Cllr Edwards performed the unveiling ceremony – a purple curtain was whipped off to show the new name.

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After that the refreshments were available to all, who were keen to help themselves. However, Community Safety Officer John Kinloch, did sterling work with a tea tray and no-one had to wait for a second cup either!

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Cllr Edwards was welcomed by each resident as he sat and chatted with anyone who had a spare seat next to them.  Then it was time to cut the ceremonial cake. This was dutifully done by Cllr Edwards and Mrs Jean Johnson, a senior resident who has lived at Castle Gardens for many years.

A brief history.

The bungalows in Hall Close had been completed in 1961 and had proved very popular.  As the Council had wanted to build more homes for the elderly, it started to think about other possible sites in the village. In 1964 the Council agreed to buy the three cottages in Wood Street from the County Council, the tenants were re-housed and the properties were demolished. Work on the new building began in 1966 and was opened by the Duchess of Buccleuch in October 1967.

 

The building was later refurbished in 1998, by reducing the number of flats and using the extra space to install a bathroom in each flat. A lift was also installed, both improvements greatly enhancing the living conditions.

Which brings us to 2018 and Castle Gardens became part of the Borough Council’s Sparkle Programme where the Council, in consultation with residents, redecorated the communal areas, installing a new carpet, new flooring in the lounge, patio doors and a new patio. The residents decided to celebrate their new lounge by giving it a new name – the Queen Eleanor Lounge.

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas – a revised version of an old story, received by the Plain English Campaign, from a law firm.

Whereas on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real estate (hereinafter called (“the House” ) a general lack of stirring by all creatures The Night Before Christmas therein, including, but not limited to, a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stockings, socks etc., had been fixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St Nick a.k.a. Santa Claus (hereinafter “Claus”) would arrive at some time thereafter. The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionary treats, including, but not limited to, sweets, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as “I”), being the joint owner in fee simple of the House with the party of the second part (hereinafter called “Mum”), and said Mum had retired for a sustained period of sleep. At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g. kerchief and cap.

Suddenly and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real estate adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e. the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance. At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter “the Vehicle”) being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus. Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter “the Deer”). (Upon information and belief, it is further assessed that an additional co-conspirator named “Rudolf” may have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and wilfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either expressed or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.
Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local by-laws and health regulations. Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stockings of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute ‘gifts’ to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the Gift Tax Code.)

Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as ‘lookouts’. Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim:

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

 Or words to that effect.

 

Haiku Humour

In Japan they replaced the impersonal
and unhelpful error messages
with Haiku.

The words that women use . . .

We’re getting close to the time when plans are being finalised, the food has been organised, the children occupied, but some caring male partner says something and whoosh! from the female! What was that all about?

So with tongue firmly in cheek, and remembering that this is a female putting these words down, here are a few words men may benefit from knowing the meanings behind the words.

  1. Fine : This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.
  2. Five minutes : If she is getting dressed, this means half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
  3. Nothing : This is the calm before the storm. This means something and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.
  4. Go ahead :This is a dare, not permission. Don’t do it.
  5. Loud Sigh : This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to No.3 for the meaning of nothing.)
  6. That’s OK : This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That’s OK means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
  7. Thanks : A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say, you’re welcome.
  8. Whatever : Is a woman’s way of saying … YOU! (The . . . ?  I don’t think I want to put swear words in this post, so just use your imagination.)
  9. Don’t worry about it, I got it : Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in the man asking ‘What’s wrong?’ For the woman’s response refer to No.3.

Only in the U.S.A. (but also in GB)

The fifth in this (not to be taken too seriously) series also has a humorous side to it. Consumers are given helpful suggestions and instructions both in the USA and here in Great Britain. A few examples.

“It seems that not all legal disclaimers on websites are the work of humourless lawyers. The ‘Website Terms of Use’ for search engine ‘SearchFeast’ are certainly a change from the stereotypical format. For instance, the copyright clause says, ‘For everyone’s sake, just assume that everything on the site is copyrighted unless we say it’s not. So you can’t use the stuff except how we say you can on this page or anywhere else on the site without our written permission. And like we said before, it’s not likely we’ll give you permission anyway. In fact, even if we wanted to, the lawyers are likely to veto any deal anyway. So it’s better you don’t even ask.’

And following the notes on jurisdiction, the writers explain. ‘If all this sounds kind of mean and un-diplomatic, you should have seen what the lawyers gave to us in the first place. We had to remind them that torture and sacrifice was outlawed in the United States. Boy, did they look disappointed.’

Gt British companies comes up with some plain English. (but are we really this thick or is it them?)

On a hairdryer: ‘Do not use while sleeping’
On a bag of Fritos: ‘You could be a winner! No purchase necessary! Details inside! ‘(Shoplifter special?)
On a bar of Dial soap: ‘Directions: Use like regular soap.’ (and that would be how?)
On some Swanson frozen dinners: ‘Serving suggestion: defrost.’ (but it’s just a suggestion)
On Tesco’s  Tiramisu dessert (printed on the bottom): Do not turn upside down.’ (well … duh, a bit late!)
On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding: ‘Product will be hot after heating.’ (… and you thought ???)
On packaging on a Rowenta Iron: ‘Do not iron clothes on body.’ (but wouldn’t that save more time?)
On a Swedish chainsaw: ‘Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals.’ (was there a lot of this happening somewhere?)
On Boots Children’s Cough Medicine: ‘Do not drive or operate machinery after taking this medication. (oh really!)
And finally:
On Nytol Sleep Aid: ‘Warning: May cause drowsiness.’

Quantas Queries

And for the fourth in this Christmas week series, something quite different. Nothing to do with Christmas, just something to bring a smile to your face on a wet Wednesday.

After every Quantas flight, pilots always complete a ‘gripe’ sheet, which conveys to the mechanics, the problems encountered with the aircraft during the flight. The pilot completes the top part of the form listing the problem, the mechanics read it and then respond in writing on the lower half what remedial action was taken, so the pilot on the next flight of the plane can review the form before taking off.

Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers lack a sense of humour: here are some of the actual logged complaints and responses.

Pilot: Left inside main tyre almost needs replacement
Mechanic: Almost replaced left inside main tyre

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough
M: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft

P: Something loose in the cockpit
M: Something tightened in the cockpit

P: Autopilot in altitude hold mode produces a 200ft per min descent
M: Cannot reproduce problem on ground

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear
M: Evidence removed

P: Friction locks cause throttle to stick
M: That’s what they’re there for

P: IFF Inoperative
M: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode

P: Suspected crack in windshield
M: Suspect you’re right

P: Number 3 engine missing/skipping
M: Engine found on right wing after brief search

P: Aircraft handles funny
M: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious

P: Target radar hums
M: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics

P: Mouse in cockpit
M: Cat installed

Mammoth Party Time

Mammoth Party Time

Every now and then, people ask me to go to parties.

Most people on meeting a stranger at a party start their conversation with the inevitable question, “What do you do?” I use to answer by saying that I work in direct mail, but that tends to result in people telling me that they don’t read all the junk mail that comes through the door and I don’t know why firms keep sending it out. In vain do I point out that companies wouldn’t use direct mail and we wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for the fact that direct mail actually works, and that in fact I spend my time helping people get higher response rates.

Next I tried saying that I was in advertising, but inevitably people think this means television advertising and when I started talking about direct mail, we got back to the same problem I had in the first place.

So recently, I have been telling people that I am a writer. This seems to work well, it has a certain cache and for some reason people often think writers are interesting. But the problem is still the follow-up question, which in this case becomes, “What do you write?” When I say I write silly sales letters they never know quite how to reply, so I fill the gap by asking, “and what do you do?”

Just this last week I got the weirdest answer I have ever had. The lady I was speaking to told me that she researched woolly mammoths. It appears that two months a year she works with a team in Siberia searching for remains of the great beasts. Then they ship the frozen remains back to a lab in Moscow and gradually defrost the animal, often uncovering almost complete creatures.

But the oddest thing about this was the way in which the defrosting is done. In order to preserve as much of the animal as possible, it seems they use hand held dryers, working across the frozen remains inch by inch removing all the surrounding mud and stone to reveal the animal itself before delving into the stomach to look for the last meal, testing the hair and tusks and so on. They do this for ten months a year working in sub-zero temperatures, while waiting for the return of the short Siberian summer, for the next mammoth hunting season.

At the next party I think I’m going to change my story!

A Tree for Christmas

Another seasonal story, but from a different perspective.

A tap at the door. Another customer. I struggled into my wellies for the sixth time that day, picked up my spade and sallied forth.

I had watched our little plantation of Norway spruce trees grow from tiny plants, transplanted, watered and weeded them and now I was selling them for Christmas. Selling them freshly dug and with roots on too – that was the big attraction. My customers were mostly parents whose offspring accompanied them with great excitement, running up and down the rows, overflowing with anticipation of Christmas.

I did hear of a move to standardise Christmas trees. Whoever thought of that had obviously never sold any, for tastes in trees differ widely. Some people like tall thin trees with well-spaced branches to hang parcels on. Others prefer their tree with spreading branches; they obviously have a large house to put it in – a tree can  be a status symbol too! Then there are the popular short, dumpy trees with lots of little stems to hold decorations, but not taking up too much room.

The most unlikely trees sell. I regarded the one with a long bare leader as a poor specimen, but a customer was thrilled with it as a good way of displaying a fairy on the top; it would fit neatly into a corner out of the way, she said. Some customers choose their tree in two minutes, others take twenty and endless discussions ensue.

Then I had to dig – and dig. Some kind gentlemen take a spade and help me, but others just stand and watch. Perhaps they had bad backs. I dug first round the tree and then under it: little ones were easy, but five or six footers took some moving. A tug this way and that, a heave and the tree was out.

It had spent eight years in our garden, rain and snow had fallen on it in winter; the sun had baked it in summer; birds had perched on its branches and its fresh green growth had charmed us in the springtime. Where would its new home be? First it would go into a hot dry room, dressed up and in pride of place. Later it would be cast out in the cold again, left in a bucket for weeks, almost forgotten and ultimately planted in a different garden among strange trees. Would it be happy in its new surroundings? Would its new owners cherish it as I had done?

Generally speaking, yes, they would. Many of my customers came back each year, well satisfied with the previous year’s purchase. Their tree, they would tell me, had shed no needles over the carpet and had flourished. They had planted it out, watered it well in summer and now it was putting on new growth. They could not bear to disturb it, so wanted to buy another this Christmas; a rooted tree was so much nicer and had a lovely smell. I helped them load the tree into their car and waved them off, parents and children happily planning together: ‘Mummy can we decorate it tonight?’

Prince Albert by Winterhalter 1842

I eased off my wellies and put the kettle on. Would I have time for a snack before the next contingent arrived?

Prince Albert had certainly started something.

 

Lo, the Angels . . .

With only a few days to go before Christmas, I felt a little light relief might be welcome amongst all the hustle and bustle. I will be putting a humorous post up each day until the 24th December.  Some will be long, others short. Some modern and a few with a nostalgic look back at simpler times.

My first, though, will be seasonal, and here I must say quite clearly that the school that is mentioned is NOT Geddington’s school, not even based on it, although some of the thoughts and actions may be familiar to its teachers . . .  But I think it only fitting to dedicate this story to all the teaching staff, and those who help, not only at Geddington’s Primary School, but those in the Nursery Schools and Pre-schools.

So, with that proviso, here goes:

Lo, the Angels . . .

Other people have Christmas. Village schoolteachers have nativity plays. From early November and through to the late, dark days of December, the village schoolteacher feels that this year’s nativity play is possibly the most unholy thing to be conceived and produced; that parents normally indulgent of the efforts of their offspring will not be able to ignore this year’s fiasco; that they will see it as an open invitation to turn to another religion in disgust; that this is the very last nativity play she will attempt, that she is in the wrong profession altogether and next July she will  leave and be a shorthand typist. (Forgot to mention that this isn’t a 21st century story!)

However, the term progresses inexorably. As December begins, the clothes horses are brought out from the headmistress’s adjoining house and the, by now, traditional scenery is touched up and pinned onto them. No one thinks of asking the headmistress how she airs her clothes during December – village headmistresses bear their discomforts with seemly stoicism. An incredible sardonic donkey peers over the scenery at a tomato box on legs, complete with 15-year old straw, but as yet no inhabitant. The dressing-up box is opened, the giggling angels are fitted with grubby robes and they take them home for Mother to add a little biological whiteness to the biblical scene. The shepherds tighten their dressing gown cords and wince as the hand towels are bound around their heads with a vicious pull.

The three wise men empty their mothers’ tea caddies for gold, frankincense and the vicar is approached once again for his ebony box for the myrrh. Their crowns are made from old jewellery and copious gold paint. A huge spangled star is made which, Lo! They will behold in the East. Well, at least one will point and say ‘Lo’. The others will be grinning vacantly at the front seats. The angel Gabriel is bigger than the other angels and, therefore, of a different breed, she feels. She has to be dressed in the redoubtable school cleaner’s nightie, which is of nuns veiling ‘and made when people knew how to run and fell’ as she observed tartly. Fresh tinsel is bought from the Christmas-orientated shops in the outside world; last year’s is tarnished and would be bad for angelic image . . .

Rehearsals move slowly. Joseph is often away at the speech clinic and has a script cunningly composed of words without the letter ‘s’. The angel Gabriel herself is away with what is reported as a ‘bladder complaint’ despite her superiority. The little shepherds cannot manage their crooks, everyone catches cold; even the little girl who is playing Mary sniffs and claps a hanky to her nose as she is asked to lean solicitously over the tomato box.

Dawn breaks on the last Thursday before the Christmas holidays. Night must fall, the teacher tells herself comfortingly, and the shorthand is coming on well.

After lunch, the boys put out the chairs in rows for their mothers, aunties, grannies and for the whole tribe of Israel to sit on. The baby doll is laid in the straw for the first time. Everyone is ordered to the outside lavatories, for the last time, as they are warned severely.  The whole cast is lined up at the door ready to file into what is inevitably termed a tableau. The teacher surveys the squirming line and cannot remember ever seeing such a motley bunch of shepherds, such a shifty-eyed pair of inn-keepers, such a miserable Madonna, surely the most retarded of Wise Men . . . this moment is the nadir of the school teacher’s year.

But now the headmistress starts to play a well-loved carol at the piano for the audience to sing together quietly. This announces the start of the proceedings and muffles the sounds of the said tableau forming. As the music begins, the angel Gabriel is allowed up to the lavatories by special dispensation owing to the nature of her ‘complaint’. A glimpse of grey stockings is seen as she hauls the nuns veiling round her knees. The teacher, by now anaesthetised to anachronisms and the like, merely breathes a sigh of relief as a flash of tinsel past a back window denotes mission accomplished and a speedy return.

As the music dies away, the screens are removed by two stalwart boys who have been standing behind them waiting for the countdown. The clear voice of one of the bigger girls hangs on the air of the unusually quiet schoolroom. ‘And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth . . . ‘ The words of the Authorised Bible, so maligned and meaningless over the past few weeks, ring out again this time clearly and truly, subtly enhanced by the soft local accent. A metamorphosis begins and takes shape under is own slow impetus. the schoolteacher feels a relaxation in her heart and she knows at a certain moment every year, that this will be the fitting climax to the whole year. These children are probably the best she has had, she thinks proudly and it is a privilege to be able to work with them for a short part of their lives.

‘And lo the angel of the Lord came upon them . . .’ Enter the grey socks bearing the star, which, Lo, they are all looking at. The screens are drawn together for the last time and the miracle, which happens every year, has taken place once more. The moment is crystallised into a private significance for each person watching.

Yes, privilege is not too strong a word, thinks the teacher proudly. Moments like these are possibly not experienced by shorthand typists.

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