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I found a loophole, said Weasel!


Our Christmas tree. Yeah, it always looks lame in black and white, but I give it a try every year. Trust me, it was lovely.

I know some people take the tree down the minute Christmas is over, but that’s definitely not us. We usually aim for Twelfth Night, because it’s traditional and we’re like that, but January 5th (or is it the 6th?) just seemed too soon. The tree was still lovely, hadn’t dropped a needle, and we weren’t quite ready to wave g’bye to Christmas.

But the other traditional day is Candlemas (did I mention we’re traditional?). But that’s February 2nd, and that just seemed way too long, even for big crybabies like us.

Then I found a loophole – Old Twelvey Night! This is where Twelfth Night fell before adoption of the Gregorian Calendar and some hearty Brits still observe it. Because pff – that was just, like, 1582.

I love these people.

It’s tonight — the 17th of January. We’re going to take our tree down and do it right. Bottle of fizz, a nice steak dinner. I’m not going in in the morning so we can sleep in. Try to hold onto the true meaning of Old Twelvey Night. Which is steak and champagne, I guess. I don’t know. You can just make this shit up if you want.

Wishing you a very merry Old Twelvey Night, from our household to yours!

January 17, 2017 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 11

This guy.


Cartoonist I just discovered. Actually, I liked this panel best. It’s arty. Doesn’t work well small and in black and white, though.

I don’t know much about this guy. He’s British, probably. He’s a libertarian, I think. He got into a Twitter duel with @notch (the guy who sold Minecraft to Microsoft for $1B) and briefly drove him off the internet.

Here’s his archive.

You know, I was going to post a disclaimer about how I didn’t agree with him on everything. Then I realized it was a pure conditioned response because some of his comics are about race. I wouldn’t feel moved to disavow him if we disagreed about economics or feminism or history. Just race. And that made me angry, so I didn’t.

Happy MLK Day!

January 16, 2017 — 6:57 pm
Comments: 10

If you don’t hear from us for a while…


We got a robo-call about an hour ago, GLaDOS letting us know we’re in the flood plain. Here’s the map. They’re updating continually, but we are currently in a red zone.

Property flooding is expected for this evening’s high tide, as a result of today’s North Sea surge combining with high water springs.

What happens is, when there’s a high tide and a surge, the narrowness of the Channel squeezes the water onto the land. Violently. I wasn’t much worried at first, but Uncle B has been gleefully telling me stories of whole towns wiped away overnight and, errrrm. Well. We’re packing a couple of bags and cat/chicken carriers, just in case.

I don’t think it’ll be tsunami fast; if there’s a problem, we’ll have time. High tide’s in six hours.

See you on the other side!

UPDATE: well, it’s 45 minutes to high tide, and nothin’. I think we’ll live. Have a good weekend, everyone!

January 13, 2017 — 5:50 pm
Comments: 19



See, that’s the stupid thing about weather satellite maps — when you got weather, you can’t see the map. We’re in there somewhere, anyway. AND IT’S SNOW!

Yeah, I know many of you in the States are sick of it, but we haven’t had snowfall in several years, so I am real excited. It won’t be much, but I’m happy to see it.

I think 4″ is the heaviest snowfall I’ve ever seen here. As you might imagine, even small amounts look awesome lying all over our Tudor farmhouse (but the chickens won’t come out until it’s gone).

This one’s coming along with 60 mile an hour winds and the lights are flickering, so I figured I’d better get something up quick.

Regional question: when snow not only falls but accumulates, we called that sticking. Brits call it laying. Or possibly lying. What is it where you are?

January 12, 2017 — 8:26 pm
Comments: 20

This one’s for Onkle Bee


This is Amber Rudd, our current Home Secretary and MP for nearby Hastings and Rye, getting her heel stuck in the sidewalk while waving to reporters. One of Cameron’s Cuties.

It would be a bit of self-aggrandizing to say we’ve had dealings with her, but we’ve kind of had dealings with her and she’s not Uncle B’s favorite person.

I have a confession to make: I made it all the way through this presidential election without listening to a Donald Trump press conference, other than stray clips.

But I simply could not pass up the opportunity to hear for my own self how he describes Buzzfeed as “a failing pile of garbage” and the BBC (THE BBC!) “BBC? That’s another beauty.” I expected him to be pretty cringey. I was wrong.

It was glorious.

Here’s the C-span straight version, untouched by the hands of fake news.

Himself talks from 6:49 to 24:52, then there’s this boring lady for fifteen minutes, then him again from 39:45 to 1:02. The media bits are in the second sequence. He sucks up to the NY Times a lot for being good boys and not running the bogus story (classic behavior modification) and refuses a question from CNN because they’re “fake news.”

Go on, treat yourself.

January 11, 2017 — 8:54 pm
Comments: 14

…I found her little footprints in the snow…


Ummmm…the Imgur pics, the Reddit thread. Hey, all the serious journalists get their stories browsing Reddit, neh?

I’m using Uncle B’s new bread machine to make pizza dough. You may recall that I was once a Pizza Professional. Poncey Sicilian pizza restaurant in the early Eighties — the kind that pioneered vegetarian pizzas with brocolli and carrots. That sort of thing.

The raisins, they puffed up like engorged ticks.

But we made really good meat lover’s pizzas, too.

The only component we didn’t make in-house was the dough; we bought it raw from a local bakery and kept it frozen. We then thawed, shaped and baked the pizza bases in-house. I was upset when I discovered they don’t sell raw bread dough in the UK. Dunno why.

Anyway, this thing has a 45-minute pizza dough cycle that makes what seems exactly like what I used to work with. We shall see. It’s proofing now.

Bonus: according to sources, kids these days call pizza “za”. I have never heard anyone say “za” — except me, obviously — but that little two-letter word has gotten me out of several tight Scrabble dilemmas. You’re welcome.

January 10, 2017 — 10:12 pm
Comments: 23

Nice hat.


An altar covering in a little parish church in Herefordshire may originally have been a dress worn by Elizabeth I. This is important because no other dress of hers exists.

Or, it probably does, but one hasn’t turned up yet. Clothes (particularly fancy ones) were so expensive in Tudor times that they were frequently re-purposed. And Cromwell sold off all the royal togs in the early 17th C, so before that date we’ve got this one dress (maybe) and Henry VIII’s hat.

Someone researching something totally else ran across the thing and realized it was made of cloth of silver. In Tudor times, only the monarch and immediate fambly could wear cloth of silver. Other stuff was embroidered on it afterwards (one embroidered bear exactly matches one that appeared in a picture book in 1594).

My tame historians are very excited about this.

The best article I found was this one in the Telegraph, but their articles sometimes get stuck behind the paywall. If that happens, here it is in the Mail (the article is old; I think this has drifted to the top of the news because the dress is about to go on display at Hampton Court after extensive refurb).

January 9, 2017 — 9:23 pm
Comments: 12

The Last of the Maharajahs


Nope. Not another Andy Edwards post. This is by the lady who sculpted the Fine Lady’s horse — Denise Dutton — and she’s done some nice civic sculpture herself.

The subject is interesting. It’s Duleep (or Dalip) Singh (1838–1893), the last Maharajah of the Sikh Empire. He came to the throne when he was five (or seven; the internets differ), after his father and brothers were killed during the first Anglo-Sikh War. He wasn’t there long before the British annexed the Punjab and sent him to live in England.

He Anglicized. He met Queen Victoria (who sounded smitten with him — bit of a horndog, our Vicky). He converted to Christianity. He was given an allowance and a series of castles to live in and took to typical English gentleman stuff, like hunting and horses and spending way more money than he could afford.

Toward the end of his life, he started to stew about his lost throne, reconverted to Sikhism and threw in his lot with some shady Irish and Russkies hoping for revolution, but it didn’t come to anything. Not for Duleep, anyway.

A short summary of an interesting life. Worth poking around Google or one of them library thingummies.

Good weekend, all!


January 6, 2017 — 9:55 pm
Comments: 5

Yes, yes, YES!!!


Perhaps you thought it odd that I didn’t identify the sculptor of the Fine Lady in yesterday’s post. Perhaps you didn’t.

Sometimes, it’s like I don’t even know you.

Well, anyhoo, the truth is, I had some difficulty working it out. Banbury’s page on the Lady identifies the modeler of the horse as Denise Dutton, a well-known horse-sculptin’ lady, and the designer of the monument as Artcycle. That link is the only reference to Artcycle I found on quick inspection, and it’s a phonebook type listing. Has them down as Monumental Masons.

But if you reverse image search a picture of the Lady, you find Cornovii Edwards, which is described on its website with this bit of cheerful gibberish:

Cornovii Edwards is a family name of the most ancient provenance in the world of revered artists and masters of the bronze casting tradition. It is our privilege to serve and protect time honoured skills and continue the endeavour to guard our prosperity, the most valuable riches of that being our people’s craft, identity and our links to one another.

The Cornovii were an ancient Celtic tribe. Near as I can figure it, Cornovii Edwards is actually Andrew (‘Andy’) Edwards, and there’s not a lot of biographical information for him online. Which is weird, because he’s filled some impressive commissions.

Like, the recently unveiled sculpture of the Beatles in Liverpool. And this sculpture of Frederick Douglass for the University of Maryland that was presented to Obama. Verrrry high level stuff for a young guy.

In the comment thread on the previous post, Fletcher posted a link to this article on the tenth anniversary of the unveiling of the Fine Lady, which includes a neato YouTube on the Making Of, including still images of Andy modeling.

Browse the Cornovii Edwards website for more examples of the excellent house style.

The thing in the picture? That’s a little confusing, too. It’s the Staffordshire Saxon (another neato Making Of video here), a nine foot tall monument made to commemorate the finding of the Staffordshire Hoard.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: that thing is a leeetle bigger than nine feet. It’s a P’shop. They’re raising money to make a version of the statue over 100 feet high, to be erected on the spot where the hoard was buried. They’re calling it the Anglo of the North (play on Angel of the North, that fugly old thing).


Why have I never heard of this before? And why is this guy so hard to follow online? Dude needs better PR.

January 5, 2017 — 8:24 pm
Comments: 10

Lookit this fine lady


Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.

There were three Banbury crosses, all destroyed by the Puritans. So I’ve read. Banburians put up another one in Victorian times, in honour of Princess Victoria (the old lady’s first child).

But this Fine Lady, believe it or not, is a modern commission. 2008. And she’s a very fine bit of civic sculpture, at that. It’s bronze, but I don’t know by what process makes it look whitish instead of the usual brown/green.

Yes, she has rings on her fingers and bells on her toes. If you go poking around Google, you can find closeups of several details. It’s full of pagan-y, hippie symbolism:

Spring Flowers: The Fine Lady wears a crown of thirteen (the ancient months of the year) spring flowers, alternating daffodils and wild roses. Hidden among the flowers you can spot two butterflies and a moth.

The bells on her feet are interpreted as both musical bells and by seven bluebells, (representing the days of the week) on her toes and she drops petals from her raised left hand.

The raised left arm not only balances the raised right leg of the horse, it represents the creative side of the brain while the right arm holds the reins showing motor control.

The frog represents metamorphosis, the cycle of nature and community.

The other symbol to look for is the Sun, which has been a symbol of Banbury since the sixteenth century.

But the whole thing is so beautifully modeled, I do not care. I bitch lots about ugly public sculpture; it’s nice to see something so well done.

January 4, 2017 — 9:55 pm
Comments: 14