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Bedeviled by aunties

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I’ve started and abandoned several posts tonight. I’m sick of the sound of my own voice, I guess. So, here…here’s a picture of something.

Who is she? No idea. She has a sweet face, hasn’t she?

Years ago, I had a friend who was a photographer; his work sometimes took him abroad. When it did, I looked after his cats for him. He paid me with bits of junk he picked up in his travels. I love me some bits of junk.

There’s a flea market in London he liked particularly (note to self: why have I never been to this alleged flea market in London?); picture frames were something I liked particularly (I like to start with the frame and then paint the picture for it). Hence, this.

Only, he bought it with the photograph in. And every time I tried to throw the picture away — or at least take it out of the frame — I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t. What if this is the last vestige of this lady on earth? What if I toss it and there’s nothing left to prove she even existed? It would be like she never was. Like I’d wiped her right out of human history with my own fair paw. That’s a heavy burden to hand a weasel.

So she lives on my sideboard, next to my actual family. There are no notations on the photo (people! Be kind to the strangers who inhabit the future! Write names on your stuff!), but the photographer was Edmund Wheeler, 43 Western Road, Brighton.

Brighton! I don’t know from ‘Western Road’ but I’ve left Brighton headed West a time or two. Maybe we crossed paths, Aunt Fan and me.

Aunt Fan. I made that up. And the book she’s reading: it’s Wuthering Heights. She thought it was rubbish. And tosh. She liked to say “rubbish” and “tosh”. She also liked port in the evening. I made all that up, too.

You live with somebody else’s Auntie on your sideboard for twenty years, you have a right to her biography, I say.

May 31, 2007 — 5:20 pm
Comments: 17

Weasel has piles

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Piles of emails. Piles of bills. Piles of phone messages. Sad, disconsolate piles of soiled and crumpled socks and shirts and underpants, waiting to be laundered. It’s heartbreaking.

I made a bunch of stupid promises to clients today, just to make them shut up and go away. “Be off, little man! Your foolish ‘job’ and ‘deadlines’ do not concern Weasel.” S’okay. My mouth has been writing checks my work ethic can’t cash for nigh on half a century now.

All this could have been avoided if only one of my rich old aunties had left me a little something on her way out the door. But no. I’m all out of rich old aunties now, and it turns out I wasn’t nearly as popular as I thought.

Oh, well. I’m tired of posting about me and my travels. Tomorrow, I’ll post about…me and some other thing. Enjoy!

May 30, 2007 — 6:38 pm
Comments: 6

Day of Suck

flying out the UK

Right. Here we go. This is an absolute asshole of a journey, on so many levels.

I am not a happy bunny. I am, in fact, a pretty hungover and sad bunny. My plane doesn’t leave until 6, so we can have a leisurely morning of it, but that makes everything all the later out the other end.

Heathrow is a multiculti snake pit. The gate is miles from the check in. The moving walkways are a sort of Möbius strip; you walk and walk without getting where you’re going. And somehow keep bumping into that bastard MC Escher coming back the other way.

The brisk tail wind that wafts me gently into England is a head wind going back, adding an hour at least to the flight. By the time I arrive and make it through customs, I will just miss one bus and wait an hour for the next. Then it’s a short cab ride home. Have you ever grabbed a cab for a short hop? They don’t thank you for it.

By then, it’s midnight local time. Five a.m. in my head. Shuffle through two weeks worth of voice messages and bills and into bed. I have to go to work bright and early tomorrow. No, really.

And that’s if everything goes as well as it can.

I suppose I’ve ruined my intercession prospects with Saints Buttelf and Rumpswab. If you have anything interesting you pray to, a weasel would be grateful for the thought.

May 29, 2007 — 6:57 am
Comments: 10

Steam-powered Britannia

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Once and sometimes twice a year, on Hope Farm in Sellindge, Kent, Britain comes out to play. The old Britain. The steam powered one.

There are vintage cars and motorcycles and tractors and musical automatons and, older still, shire horses pulling the plough. There are people selling old screwdrivers and thumbplanes and tires (or tyres, if you prefer) and cakes and teacups and books. There was a Magic Accordeola playing Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

And there are steam engines. Steam tractors, steam motorcycles, steam rollers.

We ate a good Dutch cheeseburger and listened to a bad garage band. Mostly, though, we looked at, listened to, smelled the bitumenous exhalations of and otherwise enjoyed keeping company with steam engines.

It was a happy end to a happy two weeks. And then the rains came. And the weather, which had been sunny and fine the whole time, turned mizzly and cold and entirely appropriate to my mood. London tonight in the drizzle, Boston tomorrow night in the…whatever.

Oh, well. That’s tomorrow.

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May 28, 2007 — 6:44 pm
Comments: 6

Special bonus weekend report: Mr Brain’s Faggots

mr brains frozen faggots

Because if you can’t trust a weasel to keep a promise, what is this world coming to?

pork faggots frozenWhen I first saw Mr Brain’s fine product, I’m sure it was labeled “Mr Brain’s Frozen Faggots.” I can’t work out if “pork faggots” is more or less funny than “frozen faggots.” Anyhow, of all the absurd things in the British supermarket that make an American fall to the floor and bark like a hound, Mr Brain’s offering takes the prize.

I’ve always meant to try them. I almost left it too late; we had to visit several supermarkets before finding one down-market enough for MBPF’s.

I was pretty sure I was going to be okay with the pork balls, but the “rich west country sauce” worried me a good deal. Looks like some unholy mash-up of moose testicles and Shoney’s strawberry pie filling. Frozen, it was a symphony of shit brown and ice crystals.

Cook from frozen, 30 to 40 minutes at 230 Eurodegrees.

On the whole…not bad. Tasted very strongly of sage and onion, like country sausage but less firm. Subsequent research has turned up worrying information about the traditional composition of faggots, but it looks like the Brain variety involves nothing more terrifying than pig liver. Ugh. Liver.

I ate all four. I’d do it again on a bet, but I won’t crave them in the middle of the night. Just as well, really.

I leave you with this classic BBC news item about the Doody family and their famous love of the British faggot.

If I die in the night, tell the weasels I love them.

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May 26, 2007 — 7:13 pm
Comments: 10

Friday, May 25

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May 25, 2007 — 11:32 pm
Comments: 2

An embarrassment of mustelids

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We visited Wildwood Trust today, an animal sanctuary outside Canterbury. Not the best in some ways, but the staff is friendly and it’s awfully heavy on mustelids, so we like it. Stoats, weasels, badgers, otters, pine martens, pole cats. One elderly graying mink, who slept splayed out on top of his cage box like he didn’t give a shit, which he didn’t.

I saw my first real, live stoat here. His name was Socrates (“Soccy” to his friends) and he came out and did the weasel dance for us that day and everything. It’s one of those golden weasel memories. We went back to visit Soccy many times.

Of actual weasels, we saw hide nor hair. Not that day, nor any other. (Well, they’re all weasels to me. Brits call regular sized weasels “stoats,” and only the little teeny ones “weasels”). Anyway, the teeny ones always hid from us, even at feeding time (now with extra bunny asses!).

Today, Soccy’s cage was full of weasels! Well, two. Curled up in a happy sleepy funtime weaselball behind the glass wall of the hidden lair.

Get the size of these guys! Fully grown, they aren’t much bigger than mice. This little vicious killer dude could curl up and nap in a teacup.

Soccy, alas, has gone on to that great Weaselheim in the sky. We asked.

Got some great pictures of the lynxes (which are new, I think) and the wolves, who howled for us prettily when an ambulance went by. And the harvest mouse (surely, they must be on the sixth or seventh harvest mouse by now). The Scottish wild cats have had themselves an adorable vicious psycho killer kitten (beautiful and famously untameable, those things. They look like big stripey housecats and think like Ted Bundy). I started to post more pictures, but this blog isn’t a particularly good gallery.

Anyhow — farewell, Soccy! I lift my glass of…whatever the hell this is I’m drinking.

He was a stoat. The very stoat. The stoatiest of stoats.

— 7:05 pm
Comments: 24

Booze of the Day: Bellini

It can’t be champagne every day. Oh, no. Sometimes, it’s only sparkling wine.

B had one of these with a client and thought it was very nice. It’s a Bellini: prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, and peach juice. For the record, two parts prosecco and one part peach juice (or peach pureé). A couple of raspberries or strawberries floating in it is very nice, too. Refreshing on a hot day.

Something about this nagged at me, until I realized…I blogged this cocktail last Thanksgiving.

Yes, it’s true. Even I learn things from S. Weasel.


I stole the photo from a United Airlines press release and stuck a weasel on it. Because theirs was nicer than mine. My photo showed too much of the sad kitchen detritus of drunken mustelids on holiday. And theirs had peaches!

 

 

— 12:00 pm
Comments: 3

Shapnots: Botolph’s Bridge

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Eep! It’s enough to drive you to drink, this sign. It’s monks, burying the body of St Botolph at midnight.

Or, as we have taken to calling him, St Butt-Elf. Because, all things considered, we’d rather go to hell together.

Botolph was born in the 7th Century…sometime. He died in 680 and was buried in the foundation of the church he founded in Icanho. Wherever Icanho is. Nobody knows. In 970, King Edgar moved his remains to Burgh. In 1020, Cnut moved them to Bury St Edmunds. Later, parts of him were moved to Thorney, parts of him to Westminster Abbey, and his head was taken to Ely.

Not surprisingly, he’s the patron saint of travel.

Botolph led to Botolphston led to Boston. Uh huh. Weasel don’t make this up.

— 1:00 am
Comments: 4

Shapsnots: St Rumwold’s Church

The thing about this corner of England is not that there are wonderful old buildings about — that, you would expect. The astonishing thing is that there are so very many wonderful old buildings. They can afford not to be precious about them. There’s nothing the least unusual about an 18th Century home, a 15th Century pub or a 12th Century church. In fact — at least as far as churches and pubs are concerned — there seem to be more from those particular centuries than any other. Perhaps it was a fad, like hoola hoops or the environment.

Kent and Sussex are dotted all over with little churches with their distinctive squat steeples. You see the square outlines poking out all over, surrounded by quaint villages, being squeezed by vulgar modern cities and way, way out by themselves in the middle of sweet nowhere at all. They have many structural features in common, not least of which that they always stand unlocked. Point of religious principle, I suppose.

We’ve turned the latch and stepped inside many of these empty little churches (and we haven’t been struck by lightning or nuffink). They all feel heavy with the passage of time. More by the passage of time, certainly, than any great burden of religious piety. These aren’t great and ancient cathedrals; they’re very old, very small churches for small and rural people. Generation after generation of ‘em. Somehow, I have a more vivid sense of the flirtations that have surely taken place inside than of the prayers.

Maybe that’s just me.

Anyhow. This one is St Rumwold’s. As usual, there is a list of past rectors posted in the entryway. The first was S. deWeston in 1286. That, children, is what you call very fucking old. Though, as usual, chunks of it have been replaced and repaired over the years. More of this one than most, actually — the stone tower has, at some point, been replaced by a wooden one, and the steeple by lead one (early Nineteenth Century, that…I could read the dedication from below).

St Rumwold, I discovered, was a 7th C saint who only lived three days and fell out of the womb preaching sermons. Hey, I don’t make this stuff up. People 1,400 years ago made it up.

May 24, 2007 — 10:00 pm
Comments: 6