Anyone For Tilling?

Last night’s viewing included the delightful BBC adaptation of ‘Mapp and Lucia’.  I was looking forward to this as I enjoyed the previous version with Prunella Scales as Mapp and Maggie Smith as Lucia.  E F Benson was gay, and though in the ’30’s he could hardly have been ‘out’ in the modern sense, he is remarkably free in his fictional characterisations.  Though Mapp and Lucia are both heterosexual and end up marrying, ‘quaint Irene’, the cigar-smoking, dungarees-wearing artist, is clearly lesbian.  There is also, despite the petty snobberies, an enjoyable freemasonry among the characters who, apart from Miss Mapp who is continually counting things to make sure the servants haven’t stolen them, respect and appreciate their servants and talk to them almost as equals.  Georgie Pillson will not take Glebe Cottage (why is there always a Glebe Cottage?  I’m sure there’s one in the Archers, if it hasn’t been flattened to make way for a hyperspace bypass *) until he has consulted his maid Foljambe.  Her comfort and convenience comes almost before his own.

Miss Mapp is amusing and we almost like her, but she’s too petty and miserly to be lovable: Lucia, however, is adorable.  With her smatterings of Italian, she is the undisputed Queen of Tilling, even though she’s only there for the summer. Anna Chancellor is perfect as Lucia, but I’m not entirely sure about Miranda Richardson’s portrayal of Mapp: she’s a little too toothy and smiley for my liking.  I think Prunella Scales did her suppressed rage much better.

The setting is also part of the appeal: set in Rye, Sussex, where Benson (and Henry James) lived, it is very attractive and features some unique houses.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but if you go to Rye there are plaques on the doors of the houses where some of the characters lived.  It reminds me a little of Eyam in Derbyshire, though for different reasons.  There, the names on the door were of plague victims who shut themselves up to die so that they wouldn’t spread the infection.

A plaque on both your houses?

Kirk out

*Yes, I know that’s ‘Hitch-Hiker’s’ but they might as well have a hyperspace bypass, the way they’re going

Shaking, Rattling and Being on a Roll

I am unreasonably, excessively happy at the moment.  The cause?  I have just sorted out a problem with the central heating.  I know that doesn’t sound like much cause for deep rejoicing but somehow the sense of empowerment that I could actually suss out what was going on and find out how to deal with it and deal with it! – all without having to call in an engineer, has made me high as a kite.

OK well, if I’m honest I had help on this one.  For a few weeks now after coming on the boiler has been making a rather fearsome rattling noise.  Mark makes a similar noise in the mornings but it goes away after the application of coffee: I did not think this solution would work with the boiler.  But it was starting to unnerve me.  What if it was a death rattle?  What if it was the prelude to the thing blowing up and scattering boiling water all over the kitchen?  So I consulted my Facebook friends.  The consensus was that it was down to the pressure; on looking at the gauge I saw it was at zero.  Oh dear.  Steve opined that the boiler would need to be topped up.

Now, I relish these jobs about as much as root-canal work, since I don’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to do it right.  So I checked the company’s website where they had a helpful video on how to top up your boiler using a hose which ought to be located nearby.  I couldn’t find a hose but did see a little valve.  I wonder? I thought.  I turned it gingerly, wincing, and heard the rush of water.  Then I had a sudden panic: what if I’m emptying the boiler and not filling it?  So I called the helpline, got straight through (!!!) and was told quite simply and straightforwardly that this was indeed the right thing to do, so off I popped and did it and Bob was most definitely my uncle.

Deep joy.

I went and worked in the library this morning as it was so cold.  Twelve degrees in the kitchen (twelve!  That’s fifty-three in the old money) and in the library it must have been about twenty-five (77).  Lovely.  The radio play is taking shape.

Kirk out


The Sheepshank Redemption

When I was in the Girl Guides, along with other more mumsy skills like how to make a really Hot cup of tea (Oo!  I wonder whether that’s where Douglas Adams learned it?) and how to fold napkins (chiz chiz chiz) I was initiated into the art of tying knots.  Not just decorative knots; proper knots.  Useful knots.  Powerful knots.  I found it quite exciting, what could be achieved with a length of string: I learned the difference between a reef knot and a granny knot, and that stays with me, as does the way to make a slip-knot.  Others, such as the half-handed cross-over sheepshank and the double-sliced turnover with vinaigrette*, are lost to me.  But I still feel that sense of power and excitement that an object so simple as a length of string (or rope) can be made to perform so many different and useful functions.

I did think I’d come across a book on the subject when I found a slim volume called, simply, ‘Knots’.  Alas, I should have known better, since it was in Mark’s bookcase.  It turned out to be by R D Laing and to concern the mental and emotional knots in relationships.  I read it all the same: it was interesting but it tied my brain in knots…

At the moment I am writing a poem called ‘In the Deep Mid-autumn’ which is a parody of the well-known carol.  It was Mark’s idea and I liked it, so we are both writing one and doing them at Pinggk tomorrow.

See you there

Kirk out

*that may not have been the exact name

I Might Or Might Not

Last night I was Struck by a Thought in the middle of the night, and for once instead of telling myself I’d remember it (I never do) I picked up my pad and by the light of the moon bouncing off the frost, I wrote it down.  In fact I wrote down two ideas – rarely do Ideas strike singly – and they were these:

It may/It might

Dress penis

Not only that, I was astoundingly able to make sense of them over my morning tea.  They both pertain to the novel, and the first is a dialogue that goes like this:

Leuka:  I may go to the party

Leon:  You mean, you might go to the party.

Leuka:  So – what you’re saying is, might is right?

The second refers to a time long, long ago when I was wearing an ankle-length dress outside on a hot day.  To avoid tripping over it, I had gathered it up in one hand, and as I was walking along I couldn’t help noticing that people were smirking and giggling.  I eventually twigged that the cloth I held in my hand resembled a pendulant* penis.  I guess you could say in a way that I was cross-dressing…

Which brings me to last night’s TV (last night on iplayer, not last night in the real world) and a programme called ‘The Boy in the Dress.’  This was an excellent and light-hearted drama about a cross-dressing boy featuring Tim McInnerny as a martinet of a headmaster and Jennifer Saunders as a French teacher with a terrible accent.  This was followed by ‘Still Open All Hours’ which is shaping up to be a terrific sequel to the Ronnie Barker sitcom featuring some of the original characters and some new ones and brilliantly written as ever by Roy Clarke.

Kirk out

*Is ‘pendulant’ even a word?  Spellchecker doesn’t like it – but that spellchecker’s a curmudgeon.  He doesn’t even like the word spellchecker unless it’s hyphenated.




A Perfect Branestawm

I have rarely, if ever, seen such a perfect, spot-on and generally whiz-bang, tally-ho and ram-jam lickety-split adaptation of a book as the Beeb’s recent Professor Branestawm. I loved Norman Hunters books as a child: illustrated by the illustrious, not to say splendiflicate Heath Robinson, they were children’s comedy classics, and this adaptation everyone and everything is perfect, from Harry Hill’s Prof with his seven pairs of glasses on his forehead to his housekeeper Mrs Flittersnoop spouting malapropisms and his best friend Colonel Dedshott of the Catapult Cavaliers (Simon Day) being thoroughly military all over the place.  There were squeedles of Pagwell-based fun including an exploding but ultimately fire-extinguishing automatic tea-maker, the wild waste-paper which brings photographs to life and oodles of other stories.
It was an excellent start to Christmas Day, though later on I thought the Dr Who episode was not the best.  The dream idea was a bit drawn-out, and it was somewhat light on action.

We did have a great day, however, with Peter coming over for a thigh of turkey while we had the traditional nut-roast with sausages; all accompanied by pots, parsnips, sprouts, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce and washed down by Rioja.  Then there was Prosecco to go with the pudding and mince pies.

Yesterday I did little but slump in front of the telly and eat cheese: I watched Victoria Wood’s prog; very funny and featuring just about every British actor still living:

then in no particular order, ‘Chicken Run’, a couple of ‘University Challenges’ in which I scored well over a hundred points, Rory Bremner’s review of the year – brilliant – and before deciding that my eyes were square and I’d better read a book instead, we all watched ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’. This turned out to be a cracker.  There’s an unusual role for Ewan McGregor as a civil servant asked to assist in a rich sultan’s project to dam a river, irrigate the desert and bring salmon from Scotland to populate it.  It sounds like a rich man’s folly, but all his – and our – assumptions are overturned in this understated and engaging film, the best feature of which is that the two protagonists are attracted to each other but maintain a respectful distance and do not instantly fall into bed together.

Apparently Ewan McGregor had to learn fly-fishing for the film.  There are some amazing shots of salmon leaping, and also a scene where he makes a fishing-fly, which reminded me of J R Hartley.  Now, who can tell me who J R Hartley was?  Anyone?  Ms Vanilla Rose, I bet you can.  Or Tottnm.  Come on now, no googling…

Kirk out

Madness of Mark, Madness of Computer

You will have spotted that there are various categories on this blog, making it easier for those with an interest in a particular subject – say, poetry – to browse all the entries on that subject.  You’ll find them on the right-hand side of this post, printed in different sizes according to how often I’ve used them.  Well, I’ve embarked on a radio play about Trans issues (see yesterday’s post) and I decided to browse all the posts under the category ‘The Madness of Mark’ to get some fuel for the dialogue.  One of the recurring scenes in the play is to be the couple in bed drinking tea (or coffee) and talking.  This is like the ‘home’ scene which gives an idea of their developing relationship – and what better material could I find than my own blog?  So – I clicked on the category and started to read.  I read, and I scrolled, and I read and I scrolled – and when the progress bar appeared to be near the bottom I just thought I’d find out how much was left.  So I dragged the progress bar down to the bottom, whereupon it popped back up to its original position.  It did this again and again.  As I’ve ranted before:

– what is the point of a progress bar if it doesn’t show how far you’ve progressed?

It’s like road-works on the M1 or painting the Forth Bridge.  So I got the bit between my teeth and determined to find out just how far the madness of Mark extended – whereupon the computer itself went mad: it opened about a squillion copies of a document and jiggled them about in front of me.  I tried to close them, but as fast as I clicked on the little red box in the corner, more of them appeared.  It was like being Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice:

In the end the only thing I could do was turn the computer off and on again…

So I have only got part of the Madness of Mark in my notes – still, it’s enough to be going on with.

Mark and I are in the habit of having breakfast together one day a week (on other days I breakfast about an hour before he does) and this morning we were chatting and having muesli when I started to choke.  I got rid of it, and then spluttered ‘there’s an oat in my throat’.  Of such stuff is poetry made…

A slightly longer post than usual today, since I won’t be posting over the Xmas period, so have a brilliant Christmas and a thrilling New Year.  I intend to…

Kirk out

Ken Doddery

I never was much of a Ken Dodd fan, but you’ve got to take your hat off to the guy.  He’s in his eighties now and still performing, still touring and even giving Celebrity Mastermind a go.  He still has all that (electric) shock of hair, though it must be dyed: they’ve managed to catch him looking totally ga-ga here but he did quite well in the quiz.

The only woman contender (they always use the word ‘contender’ on MM, rather than ‘competitor’; I guess it gives the thing more gravitas) was a bobsleigh athlete who really should have stuck to her field (or slope) of expertise; instead she got baffled by the sheer vastness of Ambridge from 2002 onwards.  Here’s a question they should have asked:

Why the hell did the BBC appoint the editor from hell (sorry, Eastenders) to control The Archers?

She was also very slow in answering questions, which made me wonder whether people who practise super-fast sports make up for it by being super-slow in real life.

I always count the number of general knowledge questions I get right.  It’s usually between six and nine, though it does depend on how fast the competitor (or contender) answers.  Too fast, and I don’t get a look-in; too slow and I don’t get a shot at enough questions.  I really must write in and ask them to fix that.

Holly is due home today, so sanity will return to the house.  In the meantime, I shall be starting on the radio play I’m writing for the Beeb.  They have a drama window coming up in the autumn and so I’ll be working on something about Mark’s trans stuff.  I think I’ll call it ‘Lost in Transition’…

Kirk out

PS  I heard another noxious compound verb this morning: ‘to risk-assess’.


O Come-Come-Come-Come-Come-Come-Come All Ye Faithful

I pride myself on not being one of those ‘o hum all ye’ people (see previous post): having had a church upbringing, the words of traditional hymns are in my DNA.  And so I knew most of the carols off by heart at last night’s ‘Nine Lessons and Carols’ and didn’t have to struggle in the dim religious light with glasses and hymn books and service sheets.  The only one I didn’t know all the words to was ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’ – and who knows all the words to that?  So that when it came to ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ I belted out the first and second verses with gusto and got ready to enjoy the descant on ‘Sing Choirs of Angels’, only to find that everyone else was singing a different verse entirely.  ‘Oh, they’ve put in an extra verse’ I thought, and waited it out, only to find when I breathed in to give the choirs of angels a belt, that they were singing yet another strange verse.  Weird.  I fumbled for my service sheet to see what hymn number (or hum number?) it was.  ‘Omit  verse 7’ said the rubric.  Verse 7?  You don’t often get seven verses in a hum, as Pooh once observed.  Or was it Piglet?
I think it was Piglet.  Anyway, I scrabbled about in my hymn book (or hum book) and found the right page just as the weird verses ended.  Who knew ‘O come all ye faithful’ had so many verses?
Apart from that it was a beautiful service with a full choir (St James the Greater is known for its music) performing subtle, graceful harmonies and thunderous unisons with organ voluntaries bringing up the rear.  I particularly love the descant on O Come… where the sound goes up like a rocket into the sky and everything explodes together on a shower of song.
Hey, that sounds like a Leonard Cohen number…
After all that singing I needed a beer and so we lurched down the road to the Old Horse where I had a sadly indifferent pint of Tiger*.  And thence to the chippy on the way home where I finished watching ‘Harry Potter and the Seven Dwarves’.  Or something.
And so to bed.
Kirk out
*by which I mean it wasn’t that great, not that it didn’t care whether I drank it or not

Gothic, Anglo-Saxon and Black Mirrors

This morning, a propos of nothing, Mark turned to me and said: ‘I’m quite often distracted by the Lord’s Prayer because I’m trying to remember it in Anglo-Saxon.’

‘Anglo-Saxon?’ I echoed, in disbelief.

‘Or Gothic,’ he added thoughtfully.

So – moving on… last night Holly was around and we watched Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’.  If you haven’t seen any of these I highly recommend them: somewhere between thriller, sci-fi and crime drama, these off-centre futuristic TV plays are totally gripping; thought-provoking and disturbing.  They engage the viewer emotionally while delivering a mental punch.  This seasonal special, ‘White Christmas’ featured cloning, imprisoning people within snow-globes and forcing them to listen to Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas’ over and over, time-turning and savage retributary justice.  I won’t spoil it by giving away the crucial plot-point but just watch it.  OK?  Watch it now!

In fact the whole series is on 4 OD, including one I’ve blogged about before:

so go watch them.  Well, when you’ve finished reading this post anyway.

That makes me wonder: what are you doing while you read lizardyoga’s weblog?  Are you drinking a beverage?  Listening to music?  Flipping back and forth to Facebook?  Waiting for the insurance company to answer your call?  I’d really like to know – so drop me a comment.  And if you follow me I will always come over and take a look at your blog too.

It’s such a joy to have Holly home for Xmas.  Well, actually she’s popped off to Doncaster for the weekend, but she’ll be back on Monday, and finally we’ll have someone Normal in the house.  Someone I can chat with about everyday stuff without it turning into a conversation on the Lord’s Prayer in Gothic…

Kirk out


Beer And Carols

Last night was like this:

Not so bad of me, though I look a bit manic: Mark says he looks like a vampire.  Or was it me who said he looked like a vampire?  It’s hard to keep track after so many carols… anyway, Beer and Carols is always a good gig; following the complicated philosophical concept of drinking beer and singing carols, it has grown in popularity and now a number of pubs seem to be hosting similar gigs.  We began with the old favourite, ‘O Hum all Ye Faithful’ which goes like this:

O hum all ye faithful

doubtful and neglectful

o hum ye

o hum ye

the words ye do not know.

Hum and forget them


and hum it very quietly

and hum it slightly louder

and hum it very loudly

the tune, the bit ye know.

And after that we had – oh, you name it: While Shepherds Watched, In the Bleak Mid-winter, Once in Royal, We Three Kings, etc etc etc.  The most moving bit – the only moving bit, if I’m honest – was when we sang the first verse of ‘Silent Night’ in German to commemorate the Christmas in the trenches.

Stille nacht, heilige nacht

Alles schläft; einsam wacht

Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

– and seemed to hear the ghostly voices of doomed soldiers coming over the mud and through the fog.  But then it was back to beer and wild dancing as we ding-donged merrily on high and angels from the realms of glory winged their flight all o’er the earth – until I had to go and get my bus.

I gather they did the same sort of thing in our local, the Cradock.  Might go there next year.

Kirk out

*I’ve actually forgotten that bit.  Ironically…