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Set Weasel on KILL!

margargetcalvertMargaret Calvert is still alive, but only because I haven’t found her yet. When I heard her interviewed on Radio 4, it’s the first I learned her name, but I had been looking for her for years. By her works I knew her.

Margaret and her boss, Jock Kinneir, undertook a much-needed redesign of British road signage in the middle 1950s and introduced thereunto previously unknown levels of suck and stink.


Weasel exaggerates? You decide. Let’s start with this here. The previous ‘school crossing’ sign was a charming little boy in a cap with a satchel leading a littler girl. As Margaret describes it, “It was quite archaic, almost like an illustration from Enid Blyton, and very grammar-schooly. I wanted to make it more inclusive, because comprehensives were starting up, and I didn’t want it to have a social class feel.”

So she smashed it to bits. Class warfare, feminism AND it looks like ass! Trifecta! Margaret later confessed that the little girl was based on a photograph of herself as a child. Yup. She had a model for this glommy piece of shit. Boggles the mind, don’t it?

She’s a Kiwi South African. Did I mention that? She emigrated all the way from far-flung colonies to screw over the mother country’s signage. Speaking on behalf of resident aliens everywhere: naughty, NAUGHTY immigrant!


But I don’t hate her for the School Crossing sign. I hate her for a sign I’m not even positive she designed. IT IS THIS ONE. Can you spot why this sign makes Weasel shiver and foam at the mouth? WELL, CAN YOU?! (Hint: say yes, or I’ll fucking come over there and hurt you).

Yes. Yes, that’s right. In order for a skidding car to make these tracks, the left front tire would have to detach itself, cross over and land on the right rear while the right front tire correspondingly travels diagonally over and does the other thing.

COULD. NOT. HAPPEN. This is suck writ huge. A graphical “ain’t got no” — times the tens of thousands of them jammed by the side of the roadall over Britain. How many people signed off on this abomination? How many bovine visual illiterates drive past it every day without a second glance?

I have one of my ‘funny spells’ whenever we pass one. It hurtssss ussssss. And oh…OH!!! There’s one at the end of the driveway!! MY DRIVEWAY!!!! I took one look and I thought, “Right! That’s how it’s going to be?”

So you can understand, when the vicar came at me waving a page of Miz Calvert’s best work and asking me to choose which three best typified my future life, I was like, “ZOMG! Darth Vader is really Luke Skywalker’s father!!!!!” and hid under the sofa.

Two more sessions to go!

December 18, 2008 — 6:10 pm
Comments: 32

AIIIIII!!! geddidOFFAme!


I can’t believe I did that…I CAN’T believe I DID that. Uncle B and I just got back from seeing the vicar about the…THING. That legal thing. That…ugh…let’s back up a second.

You can’t get married just anywhere in the UK. They’re stuffy about civil ceremonies — outside the church, only licensed venues in your area are allowed to do the deed. The Town Hall would’ve done me fine. For an extra £50, a wheezy old git in a tricornered hat and kneesocks will walk ahead of the happy couple through town ringing a handbell and going, “hear ye, hear ye!” Nay, a-shitting of thee I am not.

Uncle B wasn’t happy with the idea. The Hall is pretty shabby and downmarket and all the worst people get married there. I’m like, “but it’s so old!” and he’s like, “pff! No it’s not — it’s 18th Century!”

Oh, how we laughed.

We had never even considered the church option, because — duh. But then he met the local vicar and was taken with her (her! Lady vicar! Oi! Clue!). Our little community outside the town has its own ancient church, which — like so many ancient churches in little communities — is struggling to survive. And so in time it grew to seem a neighborly good deed, this propping up our local House of Saint Mustelid.

The vicar said she would certainly consider (!) marrying us…provided we come in for several counselling sessions (!!!) beforehand.

And that’s where we have been this night. First thing, we were each handed a mimeographed page of British road signs and asked to circle the three which most typified our idea of marriage. And so naturally I gave the vicar a lecture on Margaret Calvert — the New Zealand woman who redesigned most British road signage in the 1950s and a parTICularly violent hate object of mine — including several diagrams drawn on the spot to explain why Calvert’s graphic design skills are totally Teh Sux0r.

Yeah. I think that went well.

December 17, 2008 — 8:20 pm
Comments: 53



Okay. I confess. The general lateness and lameness of posts lately? I’ve been…


…asleep. And that’s not a metaphor for hot, hot mustelid sex or anything. Uncle B and I have passed out comatose a minimum of ten hours a day since I got here, snoring and farting like livestock.

Seriously, it’s whack. It’s Britain-induced narcolepsy. Turbojetlag. Even the cat can barely lift her head off the pillow to cadge Friskies. I knew I had some catching up to do after a year of low drama and high anxiety, but this is stupid. We haven’t spent eight hours awake in a row since November 26.

Tonight, I struggled awake to the sound of, “oh my god…it’s ten o’clock!”

And I go, “I dreamed I was having lunch with Mrs Rockefeller and Bette Davis.” And I really was.

And he goes, “I dreamed I was watching the Prime Minister put on a conjuring act.” And he really was.

Well. We’re a well-matched pair, I guess.

Surprisingly, that’s not as happy a thought as you might imagine.

December 16, 2008 — 8:30 pm
Comments: 25

Any excuse to eat fruitcake


Him, not me. I can’t stand the stuff — though I had a bite of this one and it wasn’t bad (it didn’t have that horrible boozy taste; Uncle B was terribly disappointed). The powdered sugar snowflake is a nice touch.

Sorry to be so damned boring. I’m chasing Father Christmas this week with my skirts flung over my head.

That mental image? You’re welcome!

December 15, 2008 — 9:00 pm
Comments: 26

At the sign of the restesing weasel

return of the restesing weasel

Eh. Lord knows when my stuff will show up — including my desktop computer and all the sweasel graphics thereupon — so I just drawed another restesting weasel.

Yes, this one is based on a roadkill weasel, too, but please don’t tell that slopbag Dave in Texas. Jesus, the way he carried on about the last one, you’d think I’d shot Bambi’s mum or something…

December 12, 2008 — 7:07 pm
Comments: 36

It is bitter, and yet…

angostura bittersWhere do you go for the latest in cutting edge medical information? Yes, me too: the trans-Atlantic in-flight magazine. There, snuggled between the barf bag and the instructions for using your seat cushion as a flotation device (I wonder, has anyone ever survived using a seat cushion as a flotation device? I think not), I found an article on Angostura bitters.

They were invented in the 1820s by a German doctor serving in Simón Bolivar’s army. He intended them as a general health tonic, but they quickly passed into folklore in Venezuela and the Carribean as a sort of cure-all. I mean, raising people from the dead is pretty good going for a cocktail. No-one outside the firm knows what’s in them, apart from sugar, alcohol and gentian.

The author of the article I read swears that a few drops in a small amount of soda water will settle an upset stomach and crank up appetite (and I’m sure we’re all searching for an easy way to increase appetite!)

The British Royal Navy latched onto them as a seasickness cure, which is why pink gin is the official drink of the Navy. A shiny new sixpence to the lad or lass who manages to think up the “pink gin/homosexuality in the Royal Navy” crack that eludes me here. Feel free to work Hornblower in somehow. Anyhow, you make a pink gin by swirling Angostura bitters around the glass and then filling it with gin. Mmmmm! Pink!

I really like bitter, ouchie beverages, so I made a mental note to order some of this stuff. Then I saw it in the booze section of the grocery store here. I’ve been a-drinkin’ pink vodkas ever since: vodka, tonic and a splash of bitters.

It’s…nice. It’s not reallly bitter, though. It tastes like this professional dentifrice my dentoid used when I was a teenager. Why I should find that appealing, I…point you to the observation above about my love of things bitter and ouchie.

I give it …

  three and a half drunken weasels.

December 11, 2008 — 7:43 pm
Comments: 38

Curiously incurious

There are 200,000 listed properties in the UK (I forget where I read that). I’m pretty sure we looked into at least half a million of them before we found what we were looking for. No, it wasn’t one of these pricey horsey things — I just needed a screencap.

There are still LOTS of wonderful, heartbreaking properties that anyone with a fistful of money can buy — and many need LOTS of heartbreaking repair and renovation. Outside (most) royal palaces, these homes have been continuously lived in and altered throughout their lives.

We looked over one house with a 13th Century cellar, a 15th Century kitchen, and a fine 18th Century façade stuck on the front. Heh. Modern architecture.

I really liked that one, but it needed a lot. We still drive past it often, and the new owners haven’t done much with it. Uncle B calls it Hell House. He worried about the drains. And the funeral parlor next door. (“It’s very quiet,” the tenants told us, “but sometimes late at night, you can hear the refrigerators kick in.”)

We were told there was “probably” a 16thC smuggler’s tunnel connecting that house to the (still extant) pub across the street. And I’m like, “what the FUCK is the matter with you people?!?” You tell me there’s “probably” an ancient tunnel under my house, and I’m “probably” out back digging a hole with a spoon within 15 minutes of signing papers.

Jesus. You can take the whole blasé English thing too far, you know.

So it’s just as well we didn’t buy a house in one nearby lovely, haunted old town. Most of the houses there, you have to sign an agreement not to dig more than 18″ deep in your own garden. On account of you’ll almost certainly dig up something important and Roman. Or the plague.

They were really hard hit by the Big One of 1348.

December 10, 2008 — 8:18 pm
Comments: 17

Legends of Olde Englande

gorilla suit

Oh, aye. When a man in a Santa-hatted gorilla suit playing a drum kit salutes you with a banana stump, sure an’ it’s goin’ to be a long Winter and hard.

Yeah. These people are weird.

I’m having trouble finding my rhythm; stand by for adjustments. I was always a morning poster ’til now, but I need every ounce of daylight to do house-y things. After which there’s Tea Time then Nap Time then Booze Time. My cup runneth over.

Tomorrow morning, the neighbors behind are cutting down a line of trees in their garden to get rid of the rooks — who are, I admit, very noisey. But it’s a shit thing to do. In December. Corvids are extremely fucking clever animals, and rooks are social and attached to their trees. I’m going to miss the bastards; I hope they take up residence in nearby trees, owned by somebody less keen.

On a happier note, the same neighbors told us there’s a stoat living under their back porch. A stoat, in case you haven’t Googled, is what the Brits call a proper, full-sized weasel.


December 9, 2008 — 9:00 pm
Comments: 25

Putting the ‘suss’ in Sussex

Well, you didn’t think we’d put the ‘sex’ in Sussex, did you? Too much hard work.

I have to be cute about the exact town, since that plus the name of the house (not really Badger House) is sufficient unto a mailing address. Houses with names are common here, but our whole neighborhood is houses that are named but not numbered. That’s just how special we are. I think I can safely say Sussex.

Heh heh. Weasel make funny. The county of Sussex is so wide that, for administrative purposes, it has been divided into West and East Sussex since the Twelve Century. Had to be, since you couldn’t ride a horse from one end to the other in a day.

The motto of Sussex is “We wun’t be druv” — which means I shall end my life as it began: in the company of stubborn, illiterate rednecks

Badger House is walking distance from the nearest good sized town and a few miles from the English Channel. On a clear day, we can stand on the shore and see France, but not well enough to get a missile lock. We are surrounded on all sides by acres and acres of sheep. This is serious farming country, for reals.

Our usual roaming territory is wider, stretching from Canterbury in the East, where the Cathedral is, to Salisbury Plain in the West, where Stonehenge is, to London in the North, where there are no British people left at all.

That covers many impossibly cool places and things, about which it will be my pleasure to blog — as I am all politicked out for a while and sick to death of the stupid economy.

December 8, 2008 — 7:20 pm
Comments: 26

Splashing out

Today begins Woolworth’s last, agonal 50% off sale. Or, I should say “50%” off sale. The signs blare ALL STOCK 50% OFF and, in tiny letters halfway, “up to.”

Our local Woolies is crap in good times, so we took a drive to a posher neighborhood. It also was crap, but in a posher neighborhood. I’d estimate most things were discounted by ten percent, making them a slightly less attractive bargain than the markdown bin in the supermarket. But with crazy people and very, very long lines. Still, I got a few things. Needle and thread. Clothes brush.

And this item, which floats around in the bath and displays the water temperature in degrees C and F. Now I can finally learn metric degrees, while simultaneously discovering if the water is really 200ºF by the Weaselfeets and 40ºF behind Weaselass Dam.

Uncle B says I could just feel with my hand, but That Would Not be Science.

Happy Friday, you poor ol’ working stiffs! Today is the 75th anniversary of the end of Prohibition — cheers!

December 5, 2008 — 7:37 pm
Comments: 25