30 July 2008

A few more scribblings from the notebook

Odd words (more than they look, perhaps?)

Places which are things:
Ash, Ebony, Rye, Beer, Ore, Ham, Stone, Cork, Rock, Bean, Minster, Capstone, Tong, Wainscot, Boot, Leek…and of course, Chipshop.

Places which sound like people:
Leonard Stanley, Margaret Marsh, Terry Lugg, George Nympton, Cherry Hinton, Edith Weston, Martin Husingtree.

Prompted by Jilly over at Jillysheep writing about odd names, some right names for the job (all encountered in the course of my first job many years ago):
Mr Roach the fisherman, Mr Stamp the postman, Mrs Waterman the baths attendant, Mrs Nursey the child-minder, Mr Highway the driving instructor, Mr Lockett the prison warder…

23 July 2008

Tiger Tails, anyone?

The other day I came across a list of what the tuck shop at my school stocked in May 1968:

Crisps (plain, cheese and onion, salt and vinegar, Oxo, chicken, and smoky bacon)
Wagon Wheels
Captain Scarlet biscuits
Chocolate digestive biscuits (plain and milk)
Capri biscuits
‘Tiger Tails’
(Twiglets too, sometimes)

So that’s the healthy eating options taken care of, then…

Not that school dinners at the time were a whole lot better, as just about anyone who ate them will remember. They should really have been described as ‘heritage food’, as they still fairly faithfully reflected their Edwardian origins:

Monday: Liver and bacon, potatoes, carrots; jam tart, custard
Tuesday: Rissole, potatoes, peas; jam roly poly, custard
Wednesday: Shepherd’s pie, swede; blancmange
Thursday: Steak and kidney pie, potatoes, carrots; rice and apple
Friday: Fish and chips; fruit salad, custard

But then as now, the financial pressures on the school cooks who fed us were considerable. They had derisory budgets to buy the food with, and perhaps it was no surprise that they occasionally came up with the odd, well, oddity, such as hamburger shortcake (scones on greasy mince) or fruit cocktail flan (a few pieces of tinned fruit in a glutinous sauce on stiff pastry). They did some good things too - the fish wasn’t bad, actually, and always fresh, as school was in the east coast port of Lowestoft; but my real favourite was cheese and potato pie, which was so smooth I think it must have been made with mashed potato and cheese sauce.

Anyway, see you at the tuck shop afterwards…

06 July 2008

A few translations, or what you see is not always what you get…

Occasionally it’s handy to wrap up what you’re saying, as in

Thank you for your helpful fax/ letter/ e-mail [You mean I’ve got to do something about this?]

Sorry, I evidently didn’t explain that well [Listen up, Cloth-Ears]

We’re having limited success with x [It isn’t working]

It was good of you to go into so much detail [I can’t believe that anyone can whinge at such length]

See what support X needs [Find out what X is doing and stop him or her]

I feel someone else should be given the chance to do this [I don’t want to]

Can you improve on that price, please? [I want to pay less]

(Special one for contractors, this) Can I help you? [Who the hell are you and what the blazes do you think you’re doing?]

03 July 2008

A book meme

which kcm at Zen Mischief Weblog has tagged me to complete:

So many contenders for most of these, mind…

One book that changed your life: The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, first read as a library book when I was eight, and many times since. It was perfect for me, and the first book that I loved so much that I wanted to buy it for myself.

One book that you have read more than once: Cotillion by Georgette Heyer. Funny and well plotted and the (early 19th century) clothes worn and bought by the characters are to die for!

One book that you would want on a desert island: The King's England, edited by Arthur Mee (all forty-odd volumes!). If restricted to a single volume, then one of John Hadfield’s anthologies such as A Book of Beauty.

One book that made you laugh: Where Did It All Go Right? by Andrew Collins, about being a child in the 1970s.

One book that made you cry: Rose in Bloom by Louisa M Alcott – the deathbed scene is a real three hanky job.

One book you can’t read: War and Peace, though admittedly it’s a long time since I tried.

One book you wish you'd written: Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones.

One book you wish had never been written: I wouldn’t say that of any book, but there are some I wish I’d never read, like The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, which I find profoundly disturbing. If that’s a classic children’s book, thank goodness I never came across it as a child!

One book you're reading: Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

One book you're going to read: Barnard Letters, edited by Anthony Powell