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And then there was the Pearly Queen

Not exactly livestock. The pearlies are a charitable organization. Victorian street sweeper and colorful urchin Henry Croft was the first. He sewed pearl buttons to his clothes to raise attention to his fundraising for the local hospital.

When he died in 1930, he was followed by a procession of 400 pearly kings and queens. They raise money for lots of charitable organizations, traditionally hospitals.

I remembered pearlies in Mary Poppins, but on reflection, I think they’re just cockneys with ornamental buttons. They’re not quite buttony enough for royalty.

This lady seemed to enjoy having her picture taken, but she didn’t hit us up for any money.

May 30, 2023 — 7:03 pm
Comments: 2

Nouveau as all get out

Check this out. It’s Mr and Mrs Kipling’s invitation to George V’s coronation in 1911. It’s a cracking thing. From the May monthly newsletter of The Keep, which is the East Sussex record archive.

I wanted to link to a bigger version for you, but I haven’t yet found it in their Kipling papers. I haven’t looked very hard.

The Keep is in a place called Falmer (if you play Skyrim you’ll know why that tickles me) near Brighton.

it’s kind of miserable to visit in person. You have to get a reader’s ticket in advance and you have to know exactly what you want to see – no browsing the collection. Staff can be rude.

But it’s fun to browse online. At least, it is if you live in Sussex. They have quite a lot of their papers digitized and searchable. Periodically, I do a search of the name of our house + the name of our parish to see what turns up. There was a man of that name in this (very small) parish in the 1820s, so that’s probably our guy.

Nothing new has turned up for a while, though. I have a feeling the gub’ment scanning money has dried up.

May 10, 2023 — 7:52 pm
Comments: 6

Too soon?


Charles has already said he isn’t going to have a hands-off approach to current events like his mother did. He intends to be an activist king, and Net Zero is his passion.

This is very bad news for the monarchy, though he clearly doesn’t know it yet. It’s on shaky ground with a lot of people as it is.

Can you imagine a whole country huddling in the dark in the cold eating bugs while a man in a jeweled hat sitting on a gold chair in a marble palace harangues them for their selfishness?

May 9, 2023 — 6:01 pm
Comments: 9


In case you missed it, the Grim Reaper walked past the doorway during the coronation Saturday. I haven’t read an official explanation, but it’s surely a non-ghostly member of the cathedral staff who put his hood up at an inopportune moment.

Yes, I watched. I wasn’t going to, but my cousin from Alabama called to tell me she got up at 4am to watch (who knew I had a monarchist in the family?) and that shamed me into it.

I was astonished at how much Jesus there was in the ceremony. So many prayers. If I had to guess, I’d say most of the sermonizing was from the Reformation – all that emphasis on upholding Protestantism.

Penny Mordaunt held that sword straight up for two freaking hours and looked good doing it. Mad respect. It’s a shame she’s a WEF stooge.

Anyway, it was a heck of a spectacle and I’m glad I watched. Brits do spectacle. I had hoped to find pictures of the Barons of the Cinque Ports at the do, just to round the week out, but nobody’s published any yet.

Tomorrow – back to work!

May 8, 2023 — 7:01 pm
Comments: 7

Shithouse for sale

Today, I had coffee with a woman who has a Grade II listed outhouse in her back yard. It lost its seat years ago and has been a garden shed since forever, but it was once and for a very long time the privy that served the whole street. (!!!)

That’s not it in the picture, though. That’s a modern shed that you can buy fully assembled for $3,044 (the kit is a little cheaper).

Anyway, we fell to talking. All of us live or have lived in very old houses. So, naturally, we began to discuss ghosts.

Not me. I’m as psychic as a potato. I live in a 500 year old house and I haven’t experienced so much as a cold spot.

They weren’t exciting stories – footsteps in an empty house, being poked in the ribs by a Nothing There – but I felt cheated that I don’t seem to have that sense. It’s like being color blind. Or, I dunno – maybe they’re nuts.

Any psychics out there?

p.s. Why do outhouses have moons carved in them. Nobody knows for sure.

p.p.s. RIP Dame Edna. New Dead Pool Friday.

April 24, 2023 — 7:00 pm
Comments: 10

Where now?

The tweet:

Always makes me laugh that there’s only two manuscript parchment copies of the US Declaration of Independence and they are located in:

1) the US National Archives

2) the archives of West Sussex County Council, where it was found by chance in 2015.

Following up on that, it’s true. There are lots of copies, but that’s the only other one on parchment. Most copies are 19th C, but they believe this one was about ten years after the original.

Back to work tomorrow after a fabulous four-day break. I am sad.

April 10, 2023 — 6:48 pm
Comments: 7

Imagine if one pooped on the windshield

Six chinooks flying over Sussex. We were right in the flight path and I’m sure we heard them, but not sure when. There have been several times lately we heard something go over, like what the hell was that?

It was a jet once, for sure.

Flightradar24 isn’t great with military aircraft (but I prefer their interface). ADSBexchange does a more complete job. I haven’t seen anything like six of these go over, though.

There are plenty of chinooks in the RAF, but the article says these were American. What’re y’all up to?

April 5, 2023 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 12

This is a test of…

Britain has never had a nationwide emergency alert system. They’re about to get one and they’re flipping out about it.

Sunday, April 24th everyone’s smart phone is going to make what has been described as “a very loud noise” for ten seconds, or until acknowledged by the user. There has been speculation that people will drive off the road or have heart attacks. There are concerns that the government is harvesting who does (and doesn’t) have a smart phone.

It does seem a little pointless (and therefore a little sinister). Britain has very placid weather.

It doesn’t have earthquakes, a tornado alley, wildfires to speak of or a hurricane season. Some flooding, but you can usually see that coming. They had a couple of apparent tsunamis in the Middle Ages – at least, the sea snuck in and ate a couple of villages. They were never quite as directly threatened in the Cold War, though last year Vlad did promise to nuke London first if the current thing goes sour.

In the end, probably a nothingburger. Instructions are making the rounds how to claw the app out of the guts of your phone, though the article I linked said you can just turn your phone off.

I’ll probably decide to experience it. Curiosity and all that.

April 3, 2023 — 7:00 pm
Comments: 12

Oh, c’mon!

This one is a reach. Local news site has accused Upper Dicker and Lower Dicker of being “rudely named Sussex hamlets.” I’ve been to both and they is innocent.

Dicker is a perfectly cromulent word. It’s no Pratt’s Bottom

I know what happened. All these local news sites run on a steady diet of “this pretty Sussex village” and “this quaint Sussex pub” stories. And, while we have a lot of both, they soon blow through all the really good ones. Then they get desperate.

We are situated on a road that runs several miles between a village and a town. Not surprisingly, we’re on this road a lot. It was recently featured in one of these items as one of the prettiest drives in Sussex.

I told Uncle B and he laughed. “The one with the industrial estate?” The very one. Sheep are quaint in lambing time, though.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

March 24, 2023 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 5

Land of the Giants

Yes, we went to a model railway exhibition this weekend. It was a big one. Well, a bigger one than I’ve been to before, anyway.

This is a real thing here. Uncle B points out that we have plenty train enthusiasts in America, model and otherwise – and it’s true – but I don’t think trains are quite woven into the fabric in the same way.

They were advertising any number of other shows in the area in the coming months. We could do this all year.

I love going to these because I love anything in miniature…plus all the little tiny tools and pots of paint. Yes, I bought a couple. I don’t know why; I don’t do any kind of anything any more.

Phew, this would be an expensive hobby for real, though.

February 20, 2023 — 8:06 pm
Comments: 7