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The Castle Howard Incident

18 Apr

Let me encourage you to visit Castle Howard in York. The House and the gardens are simply breathtaking. A day there is bound to remind everyone of the glory of humanity and of nature. I have no doubt that it was not the where, but the who and why which caused the incident.

Christopher and I spent a few hours there to top off our travels through Yorkshire. It’s easy to get lost in reverie within the rooms of the house.  They really knew how to use wallpaper in those days. I am envious of those who lived during a time when “the look” required using as many different patterns in decor as possible.

We wandered the natural sensuality of the Woodland Garden and the precision of the Walled Garden, and I’m sure in most circumstances, the people who pass through them cannot help but absorb the serenity and peace of the environment.

Please do not let the unfortunate incident involving a certain young man and his lackadaisical attitude to the gravity of keeping a promise stop you from enjoying what is otherwise a truly magical place.

You Can’t Get Into The Hall of Fame Unless You Limp—Casey Stengel

22 Jan

Thank you much for the condolences regarding my being excluded, yet again, from the inductees to the New Jersey Hall of Fame.  Much like the dedicated fan who left roses and cognac at Poe’s grave, a dear man nominates me every year (I do not know his name as he signs the form only with his prison number), but I have yet to get in. Please do not concern yourselves too much on my account. I am well aware of how these things work and as lovely as the honour would be, I simply refuse to play their games. I have done nothing but praise the Garden State, but it looks like my refusal to sleep with a certain prominent New Jersey politician continues to haunt me.

To those being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year—Martha Stewart and John Travolta among them—I offer my hearty congratulations. It looks like they “did what it takes” to get the coveted prize, but I’m afraid I just couldn’t stomach those stumpy hands anywhere near my person.

You win some and you lose some, I suppose.

Should A Boy’s Best Friend Really Be His Mother?

14 Mar

I have never been a huge proponent of days set aside to celebrate reproduction (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, etc).  To me, the simple fact that one participated in the merging of egg and sperm hardly makes one deserving of a whole day of recognition. However, I am clearly alone in this view. Germany has its Muttertag, America its Mother’s Day, and today we have Mothering Sunday.

As you know, I have a mother and I have resigned myself to sending her a card (and possibly ringing her, if I’ve enough vodka in the house) on the second Sunday of May. I will do that, because that is what one does. However, I do feel that some people take the whole “honour thy mother” thing a tad too far.

I am not unaware that mothers make sacrifices for their children. And I acknowledge that most go to some trouble to care for their offspring. Fair dues. However, my mechanic regularly services my car (and even buffs the interior leather), and I certainly don’t feel compelled to “honour” him with perfume and flowers on an annual basis. Why mothers should be celebrated simply for doing their job is beyond my comprehension.

Have you noticed it’s often men who feel obliged to go out of their way on Mother’s Day (without any regard for the fact that the woman who actually pays their salary needs to be driven into town for brunch with her new editor)? Maybe my confusion lies in the fact that I am a daughter. Clearly mothers have different expectations of daughters, which could cause the relationship to be somewhat strained. I asked Christopher why sons are the worse offenders in terms of showering adoration on their mums; silence was his only riposte. I guess, bringing him into a world of beauty and sophistication means nothing, whereas the simple act of buying and laundering his pants for sixteen years apparently deserves lifelong gratitude.

Of course, having never known the apparent “joy” one experiences after giving birth to a younger and generally smaller human, I cannot speak from personal experience of the so-called maternal bond. Clearly, there must be something to this veneration of “a mother’s love” for nothing without some basis in reality could be tolerated by the public for so long. It isn’t that I begrudge a mother and son wanting to acknowledge their mutual affection—-more power to them. However, I simply think it needs to be kept in check (particularly if it interferes with my work schedule). The umbilical cord must be cut at some time or heaven knows what could happen.

As I said, though, I know I am the lone voice of sanity with regards to this issue. So, “Happy Mother’s Day” to all of you mothers out there. A good day to you all. Enjoy this afternoon with your son. Please don’t let me and the future of my career affect you in any way. I’ll make my own way to my meeting, don’t you worry. Savour your time together, because tomorrow he’ll come back to me. Never you fear.

An Urgent Public Defense

6 Jun

I have recently been accused of being unfair to young people, a claim quite frankly I find deplorable and libelous. Christopher has volunteered to serve as my counsel should this case go to court. But I am appealing to you, my loyal readers, please do not accept this character assassination without giving due consideration to my history. I have spent much of my adult life doing nothing but traveling the world and spending ungodly amounts of money having adventures purely so that I could pass on my stories and wisdom to the young people of today. I do not enjoy singing my own praises, but quite frankly no one deserves more praise singing for their efforts to benefit young people than I, their humble servant.

That said, young people have a lot of problems and are in desperate need of a good shape up. I do not hold them individually responsible—clearly their parents have let them down when they permitted them to develop their own personalities before the age of twenty—but we must accept that the young people of our country are in a right state. I feel quite strongly that it is unfair that teachers get the blame. Please view the clip below to see what I mean.

This clip highlights a few important issues. Teaching is not an easy task, and being a new or supply teacher is clearly worse. While my time as a teacher was rather limited, I do have acquaintances who worked as supply teachers to earn some pin money. Both Mr Bindingcock and Miss Fluck said they felt bullied and threatened during their brief excursions into the world of teachers. I think many of us forget that today’s teenagers, on average, are at least seventeen inches taller than they were in our day. Combine that with swagger and you have got a nasty piece of pie. I don’t doubt that on programmes like this the usual stench of violence and pubescent perspiration has been edited out. Any adult, regardless of previous criminal prosecutions, who teaches should be commended for their bravery and commitment.

More importantly, though, what I find most shocking about this clip is the students’ utter indifference to having a man of such stature in their presence. John Humphrys is both visually and aurally delicious yet at no time do any of these little rascals attempt to worship him in the way he so clearly deserves. Had I been a young lady in that classroom, I would have cherished every second of breathing the same air as the great man and I don’t mind admitting that I would have dropped my hankie at his ankles a number of times, if you know what I mean. This is of course because I was raised to be that way, and I lament that that childrearing strategy has fallen by the wayside.

In summary, 1. young people have problems but I am not unfair to them, 2. so-called friends should keep their mouths shut and 3. if John Humphrys is willing to forget the unfortunate incident he and I shared in the lift of Broadcasting House, I would simply swoon if he would get back in touch.