Saturday, April 30, 2005

Slaidburn Silver BandOf course, the real reason I was so incoherently angry was I'd got bored playing Transport Tycoon Deluxe Edition, so spent ages cunningly designing a strategically flawed island which took up the whole map. Basically I built Holland. Huge swathes of land lying at sea level behind fringing dykes but I made sure the bits I wanted were on higher ground. So perfect for a catastrophe when the competitors get too good.

Only then I discover that if the land runs to the very edge, and so is surrounded by only one square of sea, no coast forms, and so when the land in lowered, no flooding occurs. There's nothing quite like Armageddon being delayed by a technical hitch.

So that'll be waste of time squared.

Other stuff.
Are poppies supposed to be out in April? I know the may [is hawthorn blossom capitalised?] is already stingingly out in some places, but poppies? But then they are growing against a dark south facing wall.

But as I've just had the annual outing of the banana plant, maybe it's not that soon (but maybe it is). And manoeuvring a plant which is now taller than I am is interesting. When it's not sweeping surfaces clear, it creaks like the warps on a dried-out clinkered boat. And why does the saucer for a pot cost two-thirds of the price of the pot? Spot the Traditional Bank-Holiday Activity.

[Ah, my half-watch Lord of the Rings in the background as I type plan has gone a bit awry. It's snowing (but it's much too warm for that; maybe it's cherry blossom snow). It's snowing on Channel 4, and both BBC channels. ITV was just about doing a wobbly strobe-lit Chris Tarrant (now there's something more scary that the old Doctor Who titles), but even he succumbed to the tumultuous dandruff. Digital is still plodding through Casualty, but it's in a different room].

Speaking of television (I know I just typed speaking, but it is like I'm talking, although I suppose you can't hear the silly voices which occasionally emphasise different parts of it), has anyone else noticed that [global audiences look away now] the music which is used in the Evian adverts is the same song as was used to advertise Renault? The moi, je joue, je jouer contre vous, je joue, ah oui, plus fort one. Does France not have enough music to go round? You'd think with their nationalist airplay rules they would have produced something different by now, but then I suppose those rules did produce Alizée, so maybe not.

But if they don't have enough music of their own, could they not use music from any other country? They could highlight the car's anti-corrosion treatment by using the Chemical Brother's Galvanise (or was it Basement Jaxx? Same thing really). Except that might be false advertising. Perhaps using autre-langues music might not be Gallic enough. Maybe we need zany music with the vowels of a donkey to mentally reinforce the key features epitomising French cars. Namely low humidity only electrics, the comforting sporadic clatter on the motorway, and the economy provided by the impossibility of using a carwash (impossibility possibly meaning inadvisability).

A quick Google suggests that the je-joue thing was sung by Brigitte Bardot, and has lyrics even I can translate. But you'd think Evian's ad exes might have noticed that the same song had been used very recently.

Moving on (once again).
Today yielded another Traditional Bank Holiday Activity: The May Day Fair. Which was about as pitiful as all the other fairs are. The weather was typical of fetes, in that it felt like it was going to rain, but didn't. So once again I donned the tradition English summer (or thereabouts) combo of a mac over a t-shirt (but no shorts yet). And then round the various stalls.

Second-hand books. Second-hand tat. First-hand tat. Second hand tat and books. Tombola. Second-hand tat tombola. First-hand tat tombola. Plants (any cheap? No? How about a walnut, variety Kent Cob? Isn't a cob a type of hazel? You're not sure, but they're round? Right...). Cakes (any cheap? Any which aren't Victoria sponges?). Homemade jam (it's a cheese because you can't see through it). Homemade honey. Homemade chutney. Homemade something in a jar, can't read the writing, got lumps in, best not. Tat for children. Lucky dip, comes in three barrels: boy, girl, baby (obviously for those Schroedingering). Jewellery. Purveyors of Sweet Tea. People who give out Sweet Tea for free, although patrons may have to faint on demand. Purveyors of Good Furmity (what, no Henchard?). The Harking Back to Olden Times Stall: It's all changed now (TM). Cards (now with added glare from the teenage daughter seconded to run the stall). Abortion (sorry, anti-abortion campaigners, not somewhere with more knitting needles than the WI [see second-hand books and jams]. Maybe that's what was in the lump-filled jar). The marginally less popular Recycle stall (complete with abandoned drinks container in front). The Kiddy Death Jump. The win an inflatable sword stall. The hit something stall. The hit something differently stall. The Human Fruit Machine (it's amazing how much a man with pants on his head, and a pencil each nostril, can do). The rope stall (only selling the idea that knots are cool). The Punch and Judy Show (as done by the man giving the announcements). The Beer Tent.

And somehow I've managed to imply that there was far more than there was. Probably because many stalls combined things like plants, books, cakes, things in jars and tat (how long can it be before we see tat in jars? Scratch that, said he thinking of the model ship in bottle). Whenever I go to anything there, it always feels like the site is too big for what there is. It's permanently sparse. Everything is pushed too the edges, and with the continually empty central arena, there's huge void, devoid (really should have seen that coming) of anything of interest, or even people. When I go, even if I get there as soon as it opens, it always feels like I'm a straggler, and everyone else has already gone home.

And apparently a fair few (ok, two at least) people were quite annoyed that there's an election on. Why? Because it means that no political party could be active there. And why does that matter? Because apparently the Conservative bottle stall, and the Liberal book stall are normally the best stalls there.

And is anyone else wondering about the implications of the choice of stalls run by those parties?

The best bit, other than wondering about the suitability of Ferry Across the Mersey for a spring fair somewhere south of the Thames, was the announcer. This year, somehow, they've managed to disconnect half the PA, so messages do not echo forever, and aren't painful to hear (well, physically painful). He kept plugging the Punch and Judy show, next to the committee tent, well, it's not a tent, it's more, it's a caravan... and it's not next to it either, before letting slip that he was the guy giving the Punch and Judy show (you mean there's a man in there? And Mr Punch is not alive? Wah, wa-wah...).

At um o'clock, the der...mawahawara... so that'll be nice... I've been told there's been a credit card handed in, so if you have a credit card, please go to the committee tent... I told you earlier about a credit card that's been handed in, it's not a credit card, so if, er... It's a Coop Dividend card. So if you have a Coop Dividend card, please go, if you have lost a Coop Dividend card, please go to the committee tent... We have the name on the Coop Dividend card, so if you have lost your card, please go to the committee tent... Would [NAME] please come to the committee tent? We have also been handed a small teddy bear, so if you have lost a small teddy bear please go to the committee tent... At [click] o'clock there will be [wha-om] in the main arena. So that'll be fun... We still have a small teddy bear which looks like a prize, so if you have won a small teddy bear, please go to the committee tent... If anyone owns a small teddy bear which they have lost, would you please go to the committee tent... We have just been handed a mobile phone, so if you have a mobile phone, could you, er, please check you have it with you... I've just been given a very nice hippotamus... We have had a large green hippotamus handed in, if you have lost your large green hippotamus...

Unfortunately he shut up when the town band started to play. And what was it they were playing? The same song they always play, regardless of the occasion. My sources suggest it might be, er, Googling what I thought was said brings up not a lot, and a "did you mean?" I'll let you know if it's the right one if I can ever get Java to install in Firefox. But it's the thing they always play. Church parades, Remembrance Sunday, carnivals; it's all one and the same as far as they're concerned.

Much chuntering later, and I can confirm the panacea music; it's Slaidburn, a march by Rimmer (not that Rimmer, or the other type). To hear it, scroll down to the "Additional Plugins are needed to display the media on the this page" section. Ok, the bar above the final paragraph. Ah yes, the joy of Scouts banned from marching (it was too militaristic, so now shambolic is preferred) as they attempt to negotiate acute turns on endless Church parades. I think one year, having realised it's mostly right hand turns (due to taking the long way round), we put the people with the longest legs on the left, only to have one of the Districts (who was always a mean idiot) overrule us on the grounds of lopsidedness. He obviously was never someone whose toes got crushed on the right, or had to break into a banned run on the left. He also famously decided one year that two troops could march side by side. Even if there hadn't been people on the pavements the buildings don't exactly help this formation. And of course neither would yield an inch to the other. Imagine the boat race coming into Hammersmith Bridge with a few less sticks but a lot more people.

The reason for the confusion over the name? I must have misheard "It's Slaidburn" to mean it is called Laidburn (I know I had it spelt out for me, but I'm dyslexic you know, and he went way too fast, and I was still struggling to work out the sounds of the name, and then suddenly I have L I D B U R flung amongst it. Spelling it out only makes it worse).

Today also gave me a stark choice: God or Labour? The ranters flanking the High Street. I went round the back of Labour.

Hmm, Mordor's still enveloped in snow; maybe I should have chosen God.

Oh, and isn't having to test opened bottles of Pimm's to see if they've gone off so damned arduous? Although the vegetation was rather meagre consisting as it did of only an apple and an orange. There should have been borage (the mint having not over-wintered), but I'm never too sure which one it is, and if it's the one I think it is, it's flowering anyway.

But at least I wasn't the person getting terribly upset when, whilst watching Doctor Who (having retreated inside) a few generous Pimm's's to the good, the Dalek was freed by a dappy animal rights protestor (oh, are we not doing analogy today? Oops) with an excessively collagened overbite. And how the heck should one spell the plural of Pimm's? Pimm'si? Pimm'ses? Or is it just like sheep?

And Our Man in Havana makes exciting slightly "relaxed" reading. It's wonderfully daft.


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