I am so sorry to have blown the Dead Pool this week. We played hooky and snuck off to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch, which is a little line of 1/3 scale steam and diesel trains that runs along the coast.
It is a fine thing to do on a hot day, sitting in the open carriage watching the pretty English landscape roll by. We saw ducks and swans and several fine, fat pheasants. Some of the crops — the rapeseed — have been harvested already. Some — the hay — just coming in now. And the wheat and corn are yet to come. They were looking good.
We had an amusing conversation about National Trust properties with a drunken gay couple in the carriage behind us. A station master came by at St Mary’s Bay and quickly searched the carriages to “see if we had any owls.” Nope, no idea.
The English are prone to embarrassment and carefully avoid it in most social situations, but in certain narrow contexts, they give themselves a sort of permission to be foolish. I think this is why they like pantomime and dressing in costume so much.
They also give themselves leave to wave to, and from, trains. Especially heritage trains. The RH&DR runs past scores of back yards and in many of them, children stood and solemnly waved to us like visiting dignitaries. Cars at the RR crossings, too. You wave back. You haveta.
Afterwards, we stopped and bought some of the best fish and chips in the neighborhood. And long about then it dawned on me, Holy shit — I’m in England!
July 25, 2014 — 11:47 pm
Since I didn’t tease it yesterday or anything, probably the best thing to do is push it off until next Friday. I’ll queue it up over the weekend so I can’t forget again.
To make it up to you, I’ll post pictures of the choo-choo later,
if any of them came out okay.
— 7:51 pm
So I got asked to do a flyer for the church fête in a real hurry today, and I thought, “I know — singing ewes!”
The hell was I thinking, right? Because I guess we’re going to sing songs or something. Still, I got this far before realizing that…just. No.
I went with a picture of the church. But please enjoy these two ‘tardalated ewes so my time won’t have been completely in vain.
July 24, 2014 — 10:23 pm
Here’s an interesting article from the BBC: local groups searching churches to catalogue Medieval graffiti. (I would also direct you to the Suffolk group and the Norfolk group for many more pictures).
Basically, it’s a bunch of amateurs (with professional guidance) fanning out across England to document and record ancient church graffiti. The project started in Norfolk in 2010.
2010. Seriously. That fascinating stuff has been hanging around for, like, a thousand years and nobody has formally cataloged and examined it. It blows my mind.
I can’t tell you how strange and common that is here — this weird lack of curiosity about local history — but I can kind of tell you why.
For hundreds of years, serious historians concentrated on Roman Britain. Those generations of academics who believed Greek and Roman culture were the high point of civilization — and that was, let’s face it, most of the modern era — were inclined to be embarrassed by what they saw as the primitive customs of the locals before the edifying arrival of Caesar’s boys.
To these people, the Medieval era was just a sinking back into provincial ignorance — do they still call it the Dark Ages? — the long snooze of Western Civ, waiting to be rescued by Italian culture again (i.e. the Renaissance).
Modern academics are much more inclined to revere primitive cultures. But the peoples who love pagan-y things tend to be Lefties. And Lefties believe showing the slightest interest in English things is raaaaacisssssst.
So there you have it. There are all these amazing places and objects and boxes of bones squirrelled away all over the country, unexamined. Every once in a while an academic turns something over with his toe and goes, “huh.”
Makes me crazy.
July 23, 2014 — 10:40 pm
I try to keep my secret identity as lovable, wisecracking internet weasel and my j.o.b. as far apart as possible, for obvious reasons. But I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to reveal that my new employer is a historical/archeological society — because there are so many in this area that hardly narrows it down at all.
In many ways, it’s my dream job — a little light clerical work, some audio-visual stuff, photographing and cataloguing the collection when I have time. I mean, holy shit. Perfect.
On the other hand, like all organizations of this kind, most of the work is done by volunteers. So I’m working next to people who are doing it for free, which makes me feel a bit of a ratbag. Except, I end up volunteering, too. I reckon I do at least two free hours for every paid hour.
Still and all, it’s going really well. I love it. And the important thing is, I have a bunch of keys, a desk, an alarm to wake up to and a boss to push me around again. Heaven!
July 22, 2014 — 9:27 pm
Everybody has a story about Friday’s storm, but I still haven’t seen any official suggestion it was anything but a typical Summer thunderboomer. You can see the leading edge of it again in the photo above (credit to this guy). Tenterden (where that picture was taken) had anecdotal reports of a funnel cloud, but that’s not official either.
It’s amazing the stuff that can happen without much official notice — before, during or after. Occasionally, the sea sneaks in and steals a village here. They are placid people.
Anyway, this is now officially my favorite weather event EVAR. And I just love weather.
And, yes — with the death of James Garner, the Dead Pool is officially won (step forward, Platypuss!). That means…Dead Pool 67! Friday! 6WBT!
July 21, 2014 — 11:01 pm
Today, everybody was talking about the storm (except any of the news sites, for some reason). There were rumors of a tornado. Certainly, the whole business started off very effing strange indeed.
It had been an unusually hot day for England and thunderstorms were predicted in the afternoon. Everyone who was outside agreed you could stand and watch the storm come. On the one side sun, and behind it roared a great fist of cloud. It hit with a sudden blast. I’ve never felt wind like it. It blew junk from the garden straight through the house. I had to lean my entire bodyweight against the front door to get it to shut and latch.
The extreme wind only lasted ten minutes or so, but there was a pretty good thunderstorm behind it blowing all night long. We lost power early on so we sat in the dark and drank wine. After which I slept through most of it.
I tried to get a picture of the approaching monster — the sun was going down and those first clouds were dyed orange, with an absolutely sharp edge because it was moving so damned fast. It was an amazing thing to see. Alas, that’s when I discovered I busted my camera when I dropped it earlier. By the time I fetched another camera, it just looked like a regular old thunder boomer, see above. And in color.
And that’s why no post yesterday.
July 19, 2014 — 8:43 pm
Friday’s post was pre-empted by the most hellacious thunderstorm. The leading edge of it was a blast of wind out of a clear blue sky that was like nothing I’ve felt before (and I played in Hurricane Gloria until the cops fussed at me). It blew garden debris the length of the house. Took my full weight leaning against the door to get it shut and latched.
Anyway, needless to say, we’ve been without power most of the night. All seems well now, but I’ve got to run. When I get back, I’ll see if any of the pictures I took do it justice.
— 8:09 am
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Vermont Novelty Toaster Corporation. Your message here.
I see Obama and Bob Dobson and a fleur de lis and a crab and a Star of David and, hey, looks like it’s 4:20 if you wanted to spark a doobie. And if you’ve already sparked a doobie, check out their awesome whirly toast dingus. You can make the toast go ’round and ’round and ’round…
Yeah, sorry for the novelty toast blogging. I’ve been watching the news today (and every day lately) with that “everything’s going to shit” feeling and I just know instinctively these issues don’t call for my special brand of retarded bullshit. So have a little untopical freelance retarded bullshit, on the house.
Hey, I was torn between novelty toast and baby meerkat.
July 17, 2014 — 9:35 pm
Lookie here. Somebody’s done made a crop circle near the Long Man of Wilmington. Here’s an aerial view of the Long Man on Google Earth. Squinting at the map, I don’t think it’s the field directly at his feet, I think it’s the field above and to the left of that.
Do poke around Google Earth. It’s always cool to explore England like so. I’m sorry to say, they no longer think the Long Man is Stone Age. More like 17th or 18th Century.
What’s non-obvious from the overhead shot is that he’s on the side of a very steep hill. We climbed up to him once — there’s a footpath both above and below him — and it was one of our most memorable outings ever. Just as dusk fell, a great thick cloud poured over the top of the hill, swallowing up the giant. And us, eventually.
I’m not surprised the farmer in the article is pissed. Between the crop circle and the people going to look at the crop circle, he’s probably out a few hundred pounds in wheat. They’re bringing the crops in now.
We were there just a couple of weeks ago — he’s a couple miles outside Alfriston, where we had lunch.
We didn’t do it, though. I swears.
July 16, 2014 — 10:30 pm