Tuesday 30 November 2010

Bullfighting, Michael Morpurgo, William (no not that William) and Waffle Irons

I found a postcard the other day. I’ve never seen one like it before. The sender was Spanish. I was going to post it on here, but then I saw the words “Reproduccion prohibida Brevete. C1963.”

I used the Google translator and apparently it means “Driving Licence reproduction prohibited.” Hm, so to show it on here? I’ll describe it instead. And if anyone can advise me as to the legality of showing it to you, I’ll reconsider.

It is a cartoon picture of a bullfight. The bull is on his knees, his bloody back full of lances, his tongue lolling out and the matador is about to deliver the coup de grace.

On the ground are a shoe, a pumpkin (!), tomatoes and a banana – and a little brown bird watching the proceedings. Behind the matador are several people – I think they’re British. A man in colonial garb waving his walking stick, a woman who for some reason puts me in mind of Miss Jean Brodie is bashing the matador over the head with her umbrella – she has tears running down her face - and five more touristy types, all upset. One blonde woman is on her knees beside the bull, one arm across her eyes, the other upraised as if pleading for the bull’s life.

Phew – they say a picture paints a thousand words. I’m still not sure if the cartoon is anti-bullfighting or anti-bullfighting-hating-tourists. Or indeed if it is anti-anything at all and just tells a story.

Just after I found the postcard I read Toro! Toro! by Michael Morpurgo. I’ve bought several of his books for my grandchildren when they are older, but I’ve been drawn in to reading them myself.

I wasn’t going to read it. I didn’t want to read about bullfighting. I already know what happens and just thinking about it upsets me. But I think it does us good to have our emotions stirred up. Anyway it's about more than bullfighting.

Until I read Toro! Toro! I’d never heard of the massacre of La Sauceda at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. I’ve since looked it up for more detail.

But back to Michael Morpurgo. He sounds like a very nice man – a very very nice man. I saw him being interviewed a few weeks ago which is what drove me to get the books. I’m so glad I did.

And did you see that the BBC is making a new series of Just William? I was so pleased and even more so when I found out that the talented Daniel Roche (Ben from Outnumbered) is to play William.

I should say that William was my hero when I was a child. I had some of the William books including: William, Just William and William the Fourth which I read over and over, but I used to scour the shelves in the library for ones I hadn’t read and it would be a happy little me that went home with a couple of Williams under my arm.

Hm, maybe I should invest in some of those – for the grandchildren of course.

So this started out as a short post to show you a postcard that I decided not to show you after all. Methinks I have been struck by the waffle iron again.

Monday 22 November 2010

Improve your writing

I’ve spent far too much time here doing the exercises and it’s rather like being back at school, but in a fun way.

Tuesday 16 November 2010


First of all I would like to say that I like the sound of foghorns. I like the mournful one note sound and the way it echoes. I like the regularity of it and the atmosphere it conjures up.

Tilly does not.

At the first blast around 3 am she landed on my pillow, a hairy wreck. She sat next to my head, listening. I gave her a cuddle.

Second blast she vanished under the duvet between us. Every time the foghorn sounded, she made little gasping noises. She was convinced there was some kind of noisy monster in the garden out to get her.

It got very hot and rather crowded with a scared hairy dog in the middle of the bed. She got too hot and sat up under the duvet panting heavily, backed up a little and stuck her bum on my pillow.

Eventually around 4.30 am she turned round and had her head on the pillow.

The foghorns were softer and she clearly thought the danger was past. She slept well after that. Unfortunately I didn’t. Yawn.

I don't like foghorns!

Monday 15 November 2010

Autumn Mist

I left home this morning in thick freezing fog and five minutes later I was on the by-pass where the fog was no more than autumn mist.

It was breathtaking with the mist shrouding the fields and the sun gleaming on the golden leaves and the sails of the windmill poking up in the distance.

On the radio Chris Evans was talking about The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists which is one of my favourite books and I was suddenly awash with good feelings! Perhaps because thinking about that book reminded me that however bad things may seem, compared to the way things were when it was written, we’re not so badly off these days.

Well, not yet anyway.

By the time I got down to the quay five minutes later the sun was shining and the sea was as blue as the sky and as flat as glass. Rooftops were white with frost and I came round the corner to park in my normal place only to find Road Closed signs.

Oh well, back down to earth.

I’ve been inspired by Martin over at Square Sunshine to look into the bag of postcards we found when we cleared out the garage in the summer.

I’ve put my hand in and picked one out. The people on this postcard look a bit glum. The year is 1971, the place is the reception hall at Bognor Regis Butlin's and the postcard cost 3 pence to post. I don’t remember the 1970s looking like that!

What is often more interesting than the pictures is the writing on the back . . . just who were Dick and Elsie that’s what I’d like to know!

Monday 8 November 2010

Operation Stack

Well I was intending to take some photos of the glorious autumn colours, but my camera batteries were flat and by the time I’d recharged them the trees I’d wanted to capture had been stripped bare, the autumn colours were scattered all over the roads and pavements and somehow the moment had gone and it took the season with it.

So I took some of the sea instead. I love it when it’s like this! I just wish I could capture the noise, the smell and the taste of it. The waves were crashing pretty high over the prom – higher than the street lights.

Not saying I’d want to be out ON it mind you. Been there, done that, have no wish to repeat it. Do I feel a story about seasickness coming on? Probably not, but then again, never say never.

Over at Felixstowe (that’s it there across the water) Operation Stack is in force. I daresay it is the same story at most major ports.

Who’d want a life on the ocean wave eh? Out there in a fishing boat or a giant container vessel or a ferry. Not me.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Understanding English

I don’t pretend to. I know the basics. But something 3 year old Imogen says has made me think.

For will not, she says “willn’t”. I thought she was wrong, but that it made perfect sense. More sense than “won’t”. What it says to me is that she has a good understanding of how our language works.

So I looked up willn’t. Apparently Charlotte Bronte used it in “Shirley” as it was local Yorkshire dialect. Perhaps it still is! Imogen is one quarter Yorkshire.

At one time in some parts of the country people said wol instead of will. But as the language developed we seem to have hung on to the wo bit for the negative and will for the positive.

Conclusion – it seems that willn’t is the archaic form of won’t and it may just be as simple as won’t being easier to say than willn’t.

And upon further investigation, I find there is even a Facebook page dedicated to willn’t. It is called "Willn't, the grammatical contraction of the future".

I think I prefer won’t, but this is the joy of having a living language. It could change back to willn’t one day. And why not? My spell checker doesn’t like it, but Imogen does.

Monday 1 November 2010


Summer’s end. A time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. The dark half of the year begins.

There is a green bloom on the fields already, the new crops are growing fast and it is easy to see why this was considered the beginning of the new year.

I had prepared a big wad of waffle, but one of my new year’s resolutions is to cut back on the waffle so consider yourself spared. Well it’s all about the cuts at the moment isn’t it and I don’t really know what else I can cut back on, except maybe wine and chocolate and that would be asking too much.

So how did I spend Halloween? Firstly I was stung by nettles, then I punched a metal bar. Yes you heard it right, I punched a big solid metal bar and I have the bruised knuckles to prove it. And while I was reflecting on my misfortune (well you didn’t think I punched the metal bar on purpose did you?) my ankle gave way and I twisted it yet again. And glitter from my witch’s hat has given me a rash on my neck.

So things can only get better, right?