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If you have to explain the joke…


Okay, last one from the miniature railway exhibit, and I don’t know if this joke will translate. Or work in black and white. Do they run Michael Portillo in the States?

He’s an ex-politician who has done series after series of TV programs of himself taking train journeys across Britain, accompanied by a Victorian guidebook called Bradshaw’s Guide. He’s an ugly brute with a comically bulbous nose, known for wearing improbably loud clashing jacket-and-trouser combinations.

Anyway, here he is in an assortment of colors (we all agreed that none was loud enough) clutching his Bradshaw’s. No modern diorama complete without its Portillo.

If you can catch any of his programs, do. I call them ‘England porn’ — though he’s done a few in other countries, as well.

We gave up on his American series after the first three. He was riding Amtrak down the Eastern seaboard and Every Single Program he brought the conversation around to the history of slavery or civil rights abuses wherever it was he happened to be.

You can only take so much scolding before you grab the remote.


Comment from Uncle Al
Time: May 5, 2017, 12:03 am

Does “England Porn” include TV shows such as Midsommer Murders? The village and countryside settings are absolutely gorgeous. As for story lines and plots, though, it is, um, lets be generous and call them pleasantly undemanding.

Comment from Veeshir
Time: May 5, 2017, 12:35 am

That show sounds cool.
I like the way a lot of Europe has so many different periods of history all over the place.
You can go from Victorian to Roman to Saxon all in a few blocks in London.

I’m with him about all the slavery and stuff, the legacy of slavery the Brits left when we kicked them out took us nearly 100 years to get rid of.

Comment from Bob B
Time: May 5, 2017, 1:37 am

Hello Weasel, Your week of miniatures has reminded me of this short video clip of ants with battery meters and traffic control tags. I have no idea why, it just does. I hope you enjoy the clip.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: May 5, 2017, 3:30 am

Portillo was wetter than Middlesbrough on a Wednesday in March. When he lost his seat I was not altogether broken-hearted.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: May 5, 2017, 5:16 am

I like Brit Dramas. The key problem is that they seem to end before they really get started. “Home Fires” was a great series, all 12 episodes before cancellation in the middle of the story. In this one tiny English village during WWII, its like everybody was up to no good. So great fun!

Town slut, Doctor with lung cancer who can’t stop smoking, Vicar’s wife hot to trot, Cuckolded author shot up at Dunkirk, adultery with Czech deserters, even lesbian intrigue. Jeez, the two town matriarchs were either being cheated on by their husband or divorced instead. The matter of the war was just incidental.

But, alas, cancelled. I read that since there were no Muslims the brass decided it wasn’t topical enough.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: May 5, 2017, 1:10 pm

I’ve enjoyed reading about the miniatures; it has renewed my interest in them. Miniatures are big business in San Antonio, what with all the railroads and the Alamo (and all the other battles for Texas independence, too—San Jacinto is big. We won that one!) I may go shopping for a few defenders of the Texas Revolution.

Here’s railroad song (sorta) for you Stoaty, in honor of your birthday. I have sweet childhood memories of my father singing this, and I bet you’ve been playing it for a long time.


Comment from Ric Fan
Time: May 5, 2017, 2:53 pm

The creator of Midsomer Murders got forced out when asked why there were few to no minorities in the program and he said bc they were trying to depict the quintessential English village. Now, they stick some poor black guy or woman in the story for no rhyme or reason. And always only one. I have it on good authority that black people tend to have black spouses and families and like to hang out with other black people. You would never know this by Brit tv.

I’ve seen a number of Portillo’s programs but found them a bit boring. But got to love him — he’s a Thatcherite.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: May 5, 2017, 3:08 pm

How come you didnt tell us England had it’s own Sistine Chapel? St Mary’s, Kempley:


Comment from Drew458
Time: May 5, 2017, 4:02 pm

I haven’t a clue who this guy is, so your picture is lost on me. I have seen Midsommer Murders; my 82 year old mother watches and loves it. It’s kind of Murder She Wrote, only slower, classier, set 100 years ago, and with much better clothes.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: May 5, 2017, 4:41 pm

In Midsommer County the bodies pile sky high!

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: May 5, 2017, 6:40 pm

Speaking of England Porn, we’re now watching Father Brown.
I’m beginning to get the impression it’s not very safe to live in small villages in the Cotswolds!
People being murdered left and right!
So far 4 seasons worth of bucolic small village mayhem! And that doesn’t cover the other shows from the Beeb taking place in pleasant but equally lethal villages and hamlets all up and down the land.
No wonder people hide in bucolic Cornwall (Cornwallish? Cornwalsh? Cornwallian? sod it…), Welsh villages with funny doctors.

Having said all that, what’s up with your vill?
No murders, no suspicious goings on to tell us about?!
If you’ll pardon my saying so, all we get is cats, and chickens and the occasional lamb or odd stone woman flashing her privates above the doorway of some building.
Oh, uh, did you see the recent study released on Sheela Na gig?, the DailyMail had a writeup – here…
and I remained unshocked –
because I learnt it all on the StoatyWeasel site long beforehand.

And now some Portillo fellow is going about complaining Americans kept institutions left to us by HIS country well past the expiration date?
That just makes me angry!

I should build a train set of a small English village, put his likeness in a bucolic field talking to a likeness of Father Brown, and have him be landed on by Kurt Student para-dropping in to kill Churchill!
That’d show him!

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: May 5, 2017, 7:32 pm

Agatha Raisin is another series filmed in a beautiful village in the Cotswolds with dead bodies all over the place.

Today is Cinco de Mayo. I sure hope tacos and guac were served in the weasel/Badger household or shd I say, hacienda.

Comment from Pupster
Time: May 5, 2017, 8:32 pm

I don’t know where else to share this:


Comment from durnedyankee
Time: May 5, 2017, 9:09 pm

@pupster – glad you did, it made me burst out laughing.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: May 6, 2017, 6:45 pm

Since normally, I tend to keep matters I get into ’round hereabouts (‘specially as it’s on Ms. Weasel’s dime, so-to-speak, and it’s a pretty over-bold freeloader, sez I, who free-loads and scrapes ‘is muddy boots on the host’s carpet on the way thru…), I will only toss-in this bit justthisonce, and then slide on out for awhile…let the dust settle, as it were. No intent to personally offend anyone directly hereabouts, either…

All that said – I do feel compelled (based upon the accounting of Mister Portillo’s whingings whilst sojourning via Amtrak down the U.S. Eastern seaboard, or thereabouts) to state the following: There is NO Brit who should consider themselves to have ANY moral space wherein to look, speak or even imagine askance at any segment of the U.S. – North, South, East nor even West – with respect to Matters Dealing Slavery Nor Civil Rights Abuses, seeing as how their own national standing and/or skirts were well-muddied-and-bloodied in such matters for a very, very weary-long time both before OUR national convolutions and convulsions over such, and also in many de facto particulars well AFTER the point at which their own laws changed (for the better), outlawing (without actually doing-away-with) the sorts of reprehensible goings-on about which he was apparently whinging away.

In short: Portillo’s got no room nor standing in which to be going-on about us New-Country cousins – Go and read-up a bit on actual History, chappie, and don’t try to come the nasty-finger-pointer at us over here!…that won’t wash!

End of rant/full stop.

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