scribbles tagged ‘Bristol’

mourning of the funeral

Friday, December 6th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

Poppy checks funeral detailsDad’s funeral was just right for him. The funeral directors were excellent. A man from the funeral directors in a top hat with a silver-tipped long cane walked in front of the hearse as it approached the crematorium. Something wonderfully reverent, respectful, about this little show. I couldn’t deal with the physical presence of Dad’s body. Being in the same room as the body that no longer hosted the dad I knew was overwhelming. From the moment the hearse pulled out in front of our cortege car I was in full mucus-soaked tears, unable to pull words together.

Despite dearly wanting to say some words at the ceremony, I opted put, unable. I hadn’t anticipated being the blubbiest of the family though I was well prepared with multiple thick white cotton handkerchiefs. Everything went smoothly. The funeral was a very traditional, Christian, event. The archaically expressed Christianity didn’t speak to me, the sentiments and shared respectful kind words were good to hear in the company of so many people who’s lives he’d touched. My brother’s tribute was spot-on, as was Dad’s ex-boss’s.

I didn’t wear a hat (Mum’s request), I didn’t wear black. Mum requested that I wear my new dark-blue tailored suit, she wanted me to look good and talk bout my new job with the guests. Only a couple of people wore hats, they looked good.

I wonder how the funeral process will change over time? Live twitter feeds with hashtags projected on the wall relaying condolences from those who can’t be present? Live camera shot of the coffin moving to the incinerator?

The wake made much more sense than the funeral. It was good for me and I hope for the guests. More emphasis on the wake please.



mourning of the funeral
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morning of the funeral

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |


Portishead, BristolNo-one slept well that night. All awake and dressed before the alarms chimed.

I took mum to the hairdressers and wandered around town trying to think of Christmas,  stay warm, share the apparent normality of the other pedestrians.

No rush, everything sorted, I just wanted to get it over with. I think we all expected the funeral and wake to bring a closure that might release deep sleep and remove what feels like a physical hangover as if mild alcohol poisoning were running through my blood, amplifying noises, emotions and bringing a feeling of physical sickness.

Mum’s hair looked good. Later she showed me dad’s tie collection. Did I want any? I wanted them all, I wanted to look at them and imagine him wearing them, I wanted to tease him about his taste in ties.

Wendy:  “No, I don’t think I’ll wear them and I don’t know anyone who wears ties. That one’s nice

Mum: “It was your dad’s favourite

Ties If mum hasn’t given them to charity by the next time I visit, I think I will take some and wear them. Clearly we have a similar tie-design sensibility…

morning of the funeral
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like my wife…

Friday, August 16th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

colleague: where are you from?

wendy: Reading town at the moment, originally from Bristol

colleague : yes, they’re very similar

wendy: NO! Bristol is beautiful!

colleague (and 2): my wife (girlfriend) is from Bristol, she sounds like you

In my new job I’m being compared to wives or girlfriends at least once a week, I suspect its intended to be flattering, it feels slightly creepy.

I’ve learned that I am not spontaneously told the wife/girlfriend’s name. The ‘wife/girlfriend’ stays defined by their relationship. She is theirs (‘my’) as opposed to belonging to someone-else (‘his’), or even being a free-agent that chooses them (I am ‘her’ lover). Lack of a name makes this person into a role rather than a person, it’s subtly dehumanising. Knowing that I’m rarely spontaneously told the name, I now always ask, to raise the wife/girlfriends status in our conversations to that of the unique and special person that she is:

wendy: what’s her name?

Being compared to sexual partner is creepy, but not quite as creepy as being told they wish their partner was more like me. I’m still new, that kind of comparison may yet come when they know me better.

like my wife…
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hold on tight!

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Nicholas Ransley & Catrin AurThere was a charmingly shambolic tone to John Pryce-Jones conducting of the tasty Welsh National Opera orchestra for their Christmas Proms at Bristol’s Colston hall.

Rating: :-)  :-)  :-)

Ratings explained

Just John?

It wasn’t an Omnishambles by any stretch of the imagination. A completely retrievable set of miner shamblings by John that in no way seemed to undermined the orchestra’s ability to put on an awesome show. A very polished performance by the orchestra.

Christmas spirit?

The shamblings started when John introduced the 3rd piece in the set – and got it wrong. The Orchestra subtly let him know. John tried again, wrong again. By his fourth attempt he had worked-out what piece he was introducing. The audience giggled affectionately. Even the orchestra seemed amused by his unawareness of the running order. As the evening progressed and John threw in some sexist stereotypes under the guise of witty retorts to introduce each piece – he seemed drunk. His keenness to hold onto the rail around the conductors stand didn’t help make him look sober.

A blacker pot

The most entertaining part of John’s performance was when he shifted from conducting the orchestra to conducting the audience. We definitely needed his help, we didn’t know the tempo, the pitch, and couldn’t even remember the words to ‘Rule, Britannia’. We surely were a bit pathetic. Even our flag waving was decidedly below-par, no wonder are no longer an empire. We were a bit damp squibb-ish.

What was the set list?

My favourite was Grieg’s ‘In the hall of the mountain king’. The ‘Dam Busters March’ seemed like a bit of an outsider It certainly kept me happy and toe-tapping. I found ‘Those Magnificent men in their flying machines’ a tad more befuddling, a bit of befuddlement can be a good thing.

Musical Menu

hold on tight!
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Urban art

Monday, September 19th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

This August Bristol hosted a “see no evil” ‘block’ party, in a street dominated by 1970’s blocky, brutalist style architecture, Nelson Street:

“Some of the world’s leading street artists, some of the biggest pieces of permanent street art, some of the best music and one big block party August 20 2011!”

Artists included:

  • Tats Cru (NY)
  • El Mac (LA)
  • Niels Shoe (Amsterdam)
  • Mr Wany (Bristini)
  • Inkie (Bristol)
  • Aryz (Barcelona)
  • Zeus (UK)
  • Nick Walker (UK)

The artwork transformed places you might quickly walk through on your way somewhere else to places you go to linger. The varied pictures and styles change moods, raise questions, touch the soul. Bros 1957 and I lingered there, talking, smiling, photographing for several hours

to the car park

Urban art
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the wild, wild, west…

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

nigger whore!

Calls from the coach-load of Police cadets to my 15 years old friend, Diana. I moved myself between her and the coach to block their view of her coloured skin. I’d grown-up in a middle class white suburb of Bristol. Diana was one of the ‘half-cast’ (mumsie’s term) people in the large town. Everyone knew them by name, they were special people. I’d always been proud that the intelligent, beautiful, articulate and aware Diana was one of my friends. The day after the St Pauls riots Diana asked me if I’d come with her to check that her grandmother was ok. In all innocence and a broad local accent I didn’t hesitate

Year, coarse, me luv!


I didn’t understand why she’d even asked. To me it was a mini adventure. I’d never gotten off the bus at St Pauls. I’d ridden the bus through to the city center. Seen the prostitutes lining the streets, heard the reggae booming from loud speakers hung-out of townhouse windows. The place seemed alive. I’d always wanted to get off the bus and look around, but it was Bristol’s black ghetto, nice middle-class people didn’t go there. Bristol was a major port in the slave trafficking triangle. A side effect of Bristol’s role in slave trading was a large local Black population. Few had moved into the suburbs, as Diana’s mother had done when she married a white man.

The police continued to hurl verbal abuse. Not at me, I appeared to be invisible. Abuse directed at Diana who cowered behind me. It was obscene that these ignorant people could reducetThis strong, intelligent, fifteen year old girl to a cowering wreck

My belief in the police as a just arm of the law forever shattered

10 years later I bumped into Diana in a Bristol bank. She had 3 small children in tow. From our brief conversation as we waited in line I discovered she was unemployed, single, with 5 children all fathered by different men. She apologised for herself. There was nothing left of the beautful potential I’d seen, she didn’t seem to know that she was worth anything more than being a low income mother. She never really had a chance. I felt guilty for viewing her motherhood as under achieving, for hearing her self apologies as confirmation of failure. Knowing that I am where I am because I’m white, priviledged, and have a plucky ‘dont mess with me’ attitude validated

Rioting again in London town, not Reading town

My life is littered with luck

the wild, wild, west…
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tinkle tinkle tinkle

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

servant call systemTyntesfield house has a bell-pull system to call servants. At the foot of the servant’s stairwell each bell is labelled with its location. I was surprised to see that nearly all the bells are the same size and shape.

They sound the same, they look the same.

Servants had to look at the bell moving then read the room description beneath to work out where they should go.

tinkle tinkle tinkle
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buried empire

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 | tags: ,  |

Arnos Vale Cemetery11am, Memorial Sunday

A small group gathered at the Arnos Vale cemetery war memorial. I stand in silence during the ceremony then wander on. A lady from the memorial group approaches

Rob is going to give a talk and show a video on the work of the commonwealth war grave commission, would you like to join us? There’s tea?

Oh yes! what a treat. I walk with them to a grand building that is empty inside save a tressle table holding a large tea urn, jug of milk and collection of tea bags. I take a mug of tea and a seat. A young man introduces himself

I’m Dave. I heard the trumpet and came in.

He is another wanderer, lured to the cemetery. A man of few words, recently moved to Bristol in search of work.

Arnos Vale CemeteryRob was nervous.

The video was an excellent mix of World War 2 footage, Michael Palin’s narration, and images of war memorials and graveyards from around the world. In France they are still discovering and re-buring bodies, everytime they lay a new road, build some housing, the bodies are there, just beneath the surface. Rob refers to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission  (CWGC) as the Impperial war graves commission, as if he can’t quite let go of the fact that Britian is no longer an Empire.  The CWGC tries to identify the newly discovered bodies, records their existence and reburies them in the local war graves cemetery.

buried empire
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naughty or nice?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 | tags:  |

Local wise manHe threatened to send his pixies around if I was naughty. Told me that he would know if I was good, or not, before he shuffled away into the crowded pre-christmas shopping centre. A retired lecturer from Bristol University’s Arts and Drama department he was well spoken and an engaging talker. In Victoria Square he happily talked to me for the best part of an hour.

He talked of Bristol history; of his involvement in the first balloon festival, of how Don Cameron could once be seen hand sewing balloons in a garage near Clifton suspension bridge, of the founding of St. Peter’s Hospice and best of all about the recently lost social customs of Victoria square.

Victoria SquareThe park was originaly owned by the residents in the surrounding houses. 6ft high metal railings kept the area safe from the public who walked through the central path, the public right of way. Theses metal railings, like so many, were removed to supply iron to help with the British war effort as part of world war 2 then never replaced.

On the right side of the walkway the children of the surronding houses would play, watched over by their Nanny’s. On the left side of the walkway the parents would relax. Occassionally a Nanny would bring a child over to talk to thier parents. The Children would not walk on the public right of way through the park, a specially constructed underpass enabled them to cross without meeting the public. In the 1970’s the underpass became a place where drunks and homeless people gathered for shelter, so the local council removed it by filling it with soil.

Victoria Square

naughty or nice?
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cor anglais and french horns

Monday, November 15th, 2010 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

The opening piece of the evening was Morrow from Gattaca (re-used as a ‘theme’ in the film Atonement). Mistaking the track for Departure, within minutes tears were streaming down my face.

wendy: I first fell in love with Nyman’s music in 1983 when I saw the Draughtsman contract

mumsie: I remember, you’ve been playing Nyman’s music to me ever since

As we talk I realise how each time I purchased a Michael Nyman album I would bring it to mum and dads then play it to mumsie, insisting that she listened. I remember her continuing to do the laundry, prepare dinner, vacuum the house, never seeming to take time out to focus on just listening.

Now, watching the Bournmouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) perform pieces that  I’d only previously heard. I noticed new things; how the lead Violin spoke to the lead Viola in Trysting fields, how the voices of different instruments came from different places. Listneing to music in the car, the instruments seem to be disembodied, the have no place to come from.

After the tuba’s and french horns had made some floor rocking contributions to ‘a watery death’:

mumsie: he does like his brass

wendy: which one is the Cor anglais?

mumsie: next to the Oboe’s, the tall thing that loops to the floor and back

wendy: woodwind?

mumsie: yes

Mumsie was pleased to recognise all the pieces. The closing scheduled piece, Memorial, was Nyman’s tribute to the victims of the 1985 Heysel stadium disaster. They decided to add a lightweight encore before letting us loose on the watery night streets of Bristol. Mum was pleased, evidently the BSO don’t normally do encores.

Michael Nyman wrote ‘Departure

cor anglais and french horns
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Bristolian hat-wearers unite

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

dance teacher: Wasabi makes you jedder
wendy: Jedder?
dance teacher: yes jedder (demonstrates by shaking her shoulders)
wendy: Oh (signifying realisation), Judder! Where do you come from?
dance teacher: Reading, why?
wendy: (decides not to mention her unusual accent)  I’ve never met anyone who actually came from Reading
dance teacher: where are you from?
wendy: Bristol
dance teacher: whereabouts in Bristol do you live?
wendy: I don’t live in Bristol, I live in Reading
dance teacher: Oh, whereabouts in Reading do you live
wendy: Cemetery Junction

mutually understanding silence

dance teacher: a lot of people wear hats like yours in Bristol
wendy: (pause of disbelief)… I got this little beauty from Jacksons
dance teacher: Jacksons?
wendy: Jacksons, at Jacksons corner in downtown Reading, the shop
dance teacher: Oh

During the evening I put more effort into keeping the conversation going by trying to find out more about the dance teacher. An interesting life; writing a novel, travelled to the US for research where she met some influential dancers. She was given the dance business after she met the previous owners at lessons, the work involved arranging themed hen-night evenings and many more interesting stories.

The teacher looked happy enough, the conversation flowed, while I focussed on her. For a brief moment she appeared to show a interest in me when I mentioned my admirations for the fabulous Josephine Baker. But the conversation almost always felt like hard work, mostly disappointing because of

  • incongruence with my experience of the world “people in their 50’s are too scared to leave the house or go anywhere on their own“. I mainly mix with fiesty fifties.
  • what seemed like an extreme lack of self confidence “I can’t dance“. Yet she teaches it.
  • naivity “I didn’t realise that running a dance business would involve a lot of hard work”
  • lack of an active interest in wendy!

She smiled as she talked, conversation liberally punctuated with self-deprecation and giggles. She was  interesting and some might find her self-deprecation charming.

Bristolian hat-wearers unite
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car neige

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , , , , ,  |

3pm. Somewhere near Didcot. 21st December

How sensible am I,   starting my journey back to Reading?
Unbeknownst to me, Reading had already come to a standstill
The Reading Chronical had already published the standstill*

6pm. Pangbourne. 21st December

Gridlock in PangbourneThis is where I encountered the full car neige,   the tail end of the traffic trying to get into Reading.   The traffic standing still,   sliding sideways, not yet abandoned.   Local radio traffic news talked  50 yards taking 2 hours to cover.   Urrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhh……

Across the next hour I called and consulted with multiple friends. The phone network was often too busy to connect my calls.   Despite the presense  of many car drivers I felt very alone.    My calm sensible friends and I agreed that I needed to get off the road quickly and get shelter for the night.

Elephant Hotel Bar, Pangbournewendy: do you have any spare rooms for the night?

receptionist: stranded?

wendy: yes, well, um, yes

receptionist: we have one room left,   would you like a toothbrush with that?

wendy: OH! (signifying relief at getting a room and supportive receptionist) Yes please, thank you, I was turned away from the hotel down the road, a toothbrush!   how thoughtful

Handsome Other Guest (HOG): we’re stranded too,   I’ve only got a hammer and some ski poles in the boot of my car,   maybe we can do a deal over the toothbrush?

wendy: I’ve got a blanket in my car, we could build something like a tent with the poles and hammer.   Not sure where the toothbrush comes in

HOG: (Huge smile then turns to receptionist) table for 6 please

receptionist: we’re waiting for the chef to get in before we finalise the menu,   we’ll try and feed everyone

HOG: Table for 6?   Can you put me on the waiting list

Butcombe beerClearly the snow car chaos called for some serious parking-up and a pint of Butcombe.   My party for one joined a few other party’s for one and we all shared stories of family, cars, hills, walking, the IT industry  and other topical faerie tales.

*  the exceptional Number 17 bus was still on the move, albeit erratically.

car neige
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Happy trio reading scheme

Saturday, November 7th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

1969 School Report.  Age 5After my first 6 months in the English school system, in 1969,   the school headmaster observed me to be:




producing interesting conversation

enjoying drawing

a slow reader

occassionally shedding tears

Happy trio reading scheme
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apostrophe annihilation

Saturday, September 5th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Local councils are phasing out the use of apostrophes because they are complicated, confusing (to GPS units), messy and generate too many complaints.

  1. In   January 2009 the Daily Telegraph reports that Birmingham city council has updated their street name signs to remove apostrophes.   From now on, no sign produced by Birmingham City Council will contain the punctuation mark.   Debates over whether Kings Norton really should be King’s – or even Kings’ – Norton may rage on, but they will be useless.   And nearby Druids Heath – which was never actually home to one, let alone many, druids – will never take on the possessive, no matter how furious local apostrophe advocates become
  2. In February 2009 the Yorkshire evening post reported that Wakefield council dropped apostrophies from its roadsigns.
  3. In March 2009 the BBC reported that Bristol City is removing apostrophes from public road signs.   “Bristol City Council says the ban makes the road signs look “neater” and argues that if capitals are used then apostrophes should not be…       …Roger Mortimer, from the Cotham and Redland Amenities Society, says residents are keen to keep the threatened apostrophes.   “I think it is an example of just ignoring the English language. Punctuation is extremely important and the apostrophe is very valuable – it gives you a sense of place.”

The founder of the apostrophy protection society is quite upset.   He mentiones that ‘this could be the first step towards linguistic anarchy’  .   I wonder whether he knows about text messaging?  

The colonies find this a bit amusing.   3 News (New Zealand) wittily reports that:    “the Queen’s English is now the Queens English.   England’s second-largest city has decided to drop apostrophes from all its street signs, saying they are confusing and old-fashioned.   But some purists are downright possessive about the punctuation mark.”

Imagine  a Monty Python sketch with the team in suits and ties passionately discussing the value of the apostrophy in avoiding linguistic anarchy. Lots of arm and leg waving, diagrams and charts.    Terry Jones demonstrating what total linguistic anarchy sounds like…. …and its impact on your sense of place…     which probably involves falling over.

Meanwhile the Times reports that councils are publishing crib sheets to help their staff work-out where to put apostrophes for the rare occassions when they are allowed.  

This post  is dedicated to my many tolerant readers who refrain from correcting my spelling, typing  and gramatical aberations despite the irritation and distress this causes  them.
apostrophe annihilation
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early captive

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

My parents took the family on a day trip to London, to the Tate gallery.   At 7 yrs I was not well equipped to appreciate the treasures on display.   Mum and Dad seemed to spend ages looking at dull boring pictures of clouds (Turner).   I asked permission to explore the galleries at my own pace and was allowed to wander off.   I walked briskly,   errr ran,  around the building capturing impressions browsing for literally seconds at vaguely interesting paintings that I’ve long since forgotten.  

Then.   I turned the corner of a gallery to be confronted by the death of Chatterton.  

His vibrant orange hair glowing,   his purple velvet breaches full of warm lively texture in the daylight.   The torn paper on the floor.   His face white as marble.   Clearly dead.   I was captivated,   I stood studying the painting for what seemed, to a 7 year old, like eons.   I fell intrigued.   Who was this beautiful man?   Why was anyone that beautiful, dead before being old and wrinkly?  

He became my first love.   He was a local Bristol boy,   I was a local Bristol girl.   Later I read Peter Ackroyd’s book ‘Chatterton’ and wondered whether his death was an accident or deliberate. I visit St. Mary’s Redcliffe  occassionally,   the place where Chatterton reportedly discovered the manuscripts on which he forged his texts.   He has remained young, beautful, and with my thoughts.  

From AElla

O! Synge untoe mie roundelaie,
O! droppe the brynie teare wythe mee,
Daunce ne moe atte hallie daie,
Lycke a reynynge ryver bee;

Mie love ys dedde,
Gon to hys death-bedde,
Al under the wyllowe tree.

early captive
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I likes crosswurdz

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

During our trip to Cornwall Flat Eric made some west country friends, including Jamie Bear, who now sends Flat Eric post cards, care of the Wendy House.   Jamie Bear prefers surfing to crosswurdz and indulges in creative spelling,  


Looks like curdles aw ’round

Postcard from the bear

I likes crosswurdz
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get orf moi land

Sunday, June 14th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

get orf moi land,

or  in regionally more accurate terms    ‘OI!   git orrrf my lahnd with the optional extra ‘OAR isle shoooooot yew” is often creatively  used by Bristolians to deal with all sorts of naughty intrusiveness.

Twigletssomeone hogging the twiglets?     ‘OI! git orrrf my lahnd…’

Seattle symphony stealing your artwork? ‘OI git orrrf my lahnd OAR else….

Seattle symphony orchestra is (allegedly) stamping on your emotions:   ‘OI git orrrf my lahnd OAR isle shoooooot yew

A birdy around the Wendy House garden has a reasonable variation on this call,   here she goes,   sat in the neighbours Rowan tree:

(18 seconds of chirpy   & wobbly camerawork warning)

get orf moi land
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Monday, February 9th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |


As a youngster I was unaware that my Bristol accent was amusing until  I  went to University where complete strangers  with strange accents would ask  me to sing Wurzels songs, say ‘Oooh AaarrrrhH’   and offer me cider.      I do know a few people that can handle a combine harvester….   ….I would quite like to drive a combine harvester, for fun…


The Wurzels sang ‘Combine Harvester’


The Wurzels sang ‘I am a cider drinker’

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dangerous misunderstanding

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

Bloodshed pronounced in a received accent sounds like Bristolian pronunciation of Budget

there will be budget so wear a flack jacket

dangerous misunderstanding
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c’ohm pair

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

When thinking in a Bristol accent with a hint of NW US phrasing and twang:

compare sounds like cohm pair

leading to typing mistakes, more than once, HahahahHAhaHAHAHahahahaha (the sound of manic laughing fading into the distance)

c’ohm pair
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virgin underpass

Saturday, January 10th, 2009 | tags: ,  |


Next to the Marlborough St. Bus station in Bristol is a rather unattractive small shopping complex that has provided homes for budget shops. In the late 1970’s the shop at the end of the underpass (below) sold second hand vinyl records. It was one of the best second hand record shops in Bristol.  


The shop  was good because it was big and the staff  checked the quality of the records,  knew and cared about the music.  


I would enjoy spending hours in the shop. It was called ‘Virgin records’, before the first Virgin records mega store opened in London  Probably  around the same time the record label was founded

virgin underpass
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cute accent #8: dulcet tones

Friday, December 12th, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

Since repatriating to the UK I have not been the lucky recipient of any spontaneous exclamations of ‘cute accent’.   It has been pointed out that I sound foriegn.    I attribute this ‘foriegn accent’ accusation to remnants of my regional, Bristol, burr.     It is possible that the following  comment counts as an English equivalent of saying ‘cute accent’,   it is also possibly something different:

English person in open-plan office (EPIOO):   I heard your dulcet tones nearby and thought I’d take the opportunity to talk to you

Wendy:   Oh (signifying a double message of I wonder if that means cute accent? and what does the EPIOO want?)

cute accent #8: dulcet tones
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which festival?

Saturday, September 13th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

Bristol Jazz FestivalAccording to the Gaurdian summer music festivals are popular events but there are too many festivals chasing too few ‘star’ acts.   The Observer lists ‘Boutique festivals’ as small-is-beautiful with reportedly shorter queues, higher quality food,   and more child-friendly facilities than large  such as Reading, Glastonbury and t in the park.

On the August Bank Holiday weekend over 80,000 people visited the town of Reading town for the festival.   I snuck out on the train heading west  for the smaller  Bristol Jazz festival.   Wandering towards the train station I passed many Reading  festival attendees in the de rigeur style that involved:

  • denim shorts.
  • personaised wellies.
  • a British variation  on  the grunge theme.
  • NO  suntan
  • sunglasses cunningly repurposed as hair-bands.
  • bum bags (US = fanny-packs)

Reading Music Festival Attendees

which festival?
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ex-colonial accent

Monday, September 8th, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

Lady on plane with English accent (LOPWEA):   where are you from?

Wendy:   Bristol, England

LOPWEA:    I though you had a  foreign accent

Wendy:   I’ve recently lived abroad for 8 years,   where would you guess the accent is from?

LOPWEA:   Austraila or  New Zealand

Wendy:   yes,    its ex-colonial English,   the NW US

ex-colonial accent
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distributed (human) memory

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008 | tags: , , , , ,  |

<Essay warning>

Not distributed within the mind,  distributed across people and other things.   The work of Yvonne Rogers  in the 1990’s introduced me to the idea of distributed cognition.   Here are some examples from my everyday life:

  • placing my empty bottles by the front door to remind me  to take them to the bottle-bank when I leave the house (memory distributed between bottles and Wendy’s absent mind)
  • going upstairs to get my passport,   when I get upstairs I’ve forgotten why I went there,   going back downstairs and seeing the holiday (excitement level: Amber) details on Darling I remember why I went upstairs. (memory distributed between holiday details on Darling and Wendy’s absent mind)
  • At the pub quiz,   trying to name a song title from hearing a snippit of the  tune,   I can only hum the continuation of the  tune,   another team member can sings the lyrics to my hummed tune,   a third team member can now name the band then the fourth team member can remember the song title (memory socially distributed between team members).  
  • I can’t remember my password as letters and numbers,   I can’t remember the layout of a keyboard,      when infront of Darlings keyboard I  can reliably produce  my password  (memory distributed between keyboard layout and Wendy’s absent mind).   The recent move from US to UK keyboards has been a bit password-disruptive.
  • I can’t remember how to get from St Nicolas’s market to Clifton,   but when I am in Bristol I can walk the route directly with no trouble whatsoever,   very pleasant it is too   (Memory distributed between the city-scape and Wendy’s absent mind).   Note that the Schrocks recently experienced the way that St. Nicholas market can suprise you by turning out to be exactly where you  are wandering.

People, sensibly, strategically delegate the effort involved in constructing some memories to post-it notes,   lists, calendars,  address books,   mobile phones,  bag-contents, places,  blogs, photoalbums, family and friends.  

A die-hard cognitivist might say this is just context-cued recall.   Both paradigms provide the means to describe human behaviour,   but the approaches to psychological  theory building and  research are radically different.   The cognitivist would attempt to identify the specific cues that work most effectively and assess them in a lab,   one specific unusual context,  rather than analyse everyday activities in commonly meaningful contexts.   These different research techniques would yield different practical,   application, recommendations.

The cognitivists make the research language and approach to understanding human behaviour their domain as specialists,   ‘everyday’ approaches enable results to be readily recognisable, understandable and communicable to people outside of a specialist discourse.   They also afford more meaningful pragmatic applications.  

<Essay warning over>

My next essay will probably be on Reading’s buses

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small press

Monday, February 4th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

Not an affectionate hand gesture,   a book press.

Small press’ such as Reading’s own ‘Two Rivers Press’  can  target selling their publications to interest groups,   niche markets.    Two Rivers probably refers to   the river Kennet and Thames that meet in downtown Reading.  

It publishes works that  have general intereast and  local significance,  for example,  Adam Sowan’s history of street names ‘Abbatoirs Road  to Zinzan Street’,   the works of the Reading local, international, performance poet (AFH),   and historical treasures such as history and analysis of  what is thought to be the  oldest written song in English (circa 13th century).   The  manuscript of the song, a ‘rota’,  was found in Reading Abbey and now lives in the British Museum.  

A wonderful pocket-sized book with many thematic  block-prints and ebulant multilayered interpretations of the meanings of the rota.   A rota is a song intended to be sung in a round of several people….     Wikipedia describes the Reading Rota in a rather dull descriptive manner,   the author of the Two Rivers book explores possibilities with a cheeky enthusiasm and passion that makes the book a pleasure to read,   its style is  pixie-years  beyond Wikipedia.

Sumer is icumin in….     there has been much singing in a broad Bristolian burr in the Wendy House recently,   though I haven’t managed to do the minimum 2 or three voices required for a rota.   I am,   at least,   not scaring the cats who defintiely prefer me not to sing in their presence.

 How apt that a small press based in Reading should publish a book about a hand written document found in Reading long ago.

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Saturday, December 15th, 2007 | tags: , , ,  |

During a rather unrare  planningy moment:

Spanish person:   you’ll need your passport number to complete this form

Wendy:   will an out of date passport number work?

Spanish person:   I don’t know. They accept other documents

Wendy:   My Birth certificate?

Spanish person:   No,     it has to be a UK Birth Certificate

Wendy:   It is,   I’m born and bred in England!

Over a lunch of chicken and chips with lashings of vinegar:

Someone from the Colonies (don’t know which):   Are you Australian?   I can hear an accent

Wendy:   I’m English

SFTC(DKW): but you’ve lived abroad for sometime?

Wendy:   Yes,   8 years in the US,   but its probably my regional English accent that you’re hearing

Over a disturbingly small cup of tea:

New Zealander:   I can hear your American intonation

Wendy:     that’s actually  my English regional accent intonation

New Zealander:   (immitates raising voice-pitch towards end of sentence)

Wendy:   That’s right,   Bristolians raise their voice towards the end of a sentence,   well spotted!   (I squeaked the last bit in a higher pitch)

I don’t think I convinced anyone.   Maybe I’ve been colonyised?

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temporary home

Thursday, September 20th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

My parents moved home in April 1982 when I was 18yrs studying for my A level’s in June 1982.  

Mum & Dad had been looking for a new home earnestly since 1977.   After 2 years of their looking I no longer took their house- hunting seriously.   I saw a fussiness that would rule-out all almost-right choices.   Hmmm….   like parents like daughter?   lets just not go there.    Suddenly in January 1982 they found a house nowhere near my school  and succssfully  purchased it.   They placed me in a foster-home for me to cover April 1982 thru June 1982.   Due to a vicious bout of the flu I was bed-ridden and couldn’t join in the choice.

My parents picked hosts who were a couple starting on their second marriage,   both recently divorced from their first marriages.  He was a ‘Royal Engineer’ who was thoroughly commited  to the Faulklands war  that started in April 1982 both were staunch supporters of the Ronald Regan and  conservative Prime Minister  Margaret Thatcher.     I hated the stink in the home.    Their Labrador puppy peeing on the floor daily didnt help.  The couple  made it clear that my  coloured friend should not come to their house.   She was not an appropriate person for me to spend time with.  They explained to me that it embarressed them and lowered the tone of the neighbourhood to see her walking towards their house.   Soon it became obvious that my male-friends were also not allowed to  call at this house,  apparantly it  made their home look like  it was a brothel.  

I had friends of all colours and genders,   but only the white females were allowed to be seen walking to their house.   Even  this honoured class had to  be dressed appropriately,   meaning some form of Victorian image of demure.    Village life in 1982.   It may be village life today.   At the time I was furious with my parents for leaving me there.   Retrospectively I think I learned a lot of valuable lessons from the difficult experience of living with these people.

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Visiting time at the BRI, 1968

Saturday, June 9th, 2007 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Mumsie packed older brother (9yrs) and I  (5yrs) on a public bus for a 40min bus ride to the Marlborough St. City centre bus terminal.  

Exciting.   Adventure.   Upstairs on a double-decker bus without any adults.   Going to the big city.   Bother held my hand as we left the bus.   We walked up the hill towards the   Bristol Royal Infirmary.  I knew the way because I came on the Bus with Mumsie every Thursday when she came to the city to shop.  

Crossing the road,   very scary.   Mumzie always held my hand,  checked for traffic.   I didn’t know how to cross the road.   I still find it particularly tricky.   I held my brothers hand tightly, walked fast and close to him as we crossed the road.   Once in the hospital I had no idea where to go.    My brother read the signs and found my other brother (6yrs) in the childrens ward,    who promptly started crying.  

What a wuss.   Here in this interesting big hospital with lots of fabulous toys and other children to play with and all he does is sit in bed  crying!   I wandered off to play with the other children and big toys.     One of the children  was bald.    Some wacky children in here.   Then dad turned up and we left crying brother in the hospital,   crying even more now.   We rode  home in Dads pale blue Ford Corsair car.    I was allowed to  sit in the front seat because Mumzie wasn’t  there.  

All in all   a fabulous adventure.

Visiting time at the BRI, 1968
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Amazing Grace

Sunday, March 25th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

 If you appreciate good dialog,   good acting in the storytelling of social-political change based on real events that can produce heated  post-viewing discussion  then you will thoroughly enjoy this film; “Amazing Grace”.  

:-)  :-)  :-)  

Ratings explained

The film is part of the UK celebration of 200 years, 25th March,  since the Abolition of the slave trade (slavery was still legal) in the British Empire.   America was no longer a part of the British Empire at this stage and continued to trade in Slaves as did European powers such as France, Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.   The  film follows the lead abolitionist’s,   William Wilberforce’s, efforts.   The title comes from a song whose original lyrics are attributed to John Newton a repentant master of slave trading ships and influential adult in William Wilberforce’s life.   For me the film compares favourably to, can be classed with,  the classic play  “A man for all seasons“.    


  • Story.   This is a story worthy of being made into a film.   It stands without explosions,   sex-scandals,   profanity,   nudity.   So few films nowadays are sufficiently brave to leave these components out of the screenplay.   What does it include?   Horror,   suspense, tension, pathos,  wit,  conversation as an art-form and fabulous scenery (parliament buildings, big wooden sailing ships etc).
  • Cast.   For shere breadth of talent including Michael Gambon, Albert Finney, Ioan Gruffudd, Ciarán Hinds, Rufus Sewell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bill Paterson, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Jeremy Swift,  Youssou N’Dour.   The talent is doubley worth mentioning for their lack of conformity to the current  Hollywood standard of ‘beautiful’.   If you need a dosage of  current-standard pretty boys and this is not the film for you.   Hoorah!
  • Scene details.   For example the unusual card-tables for the parliamentary card-clubs,   the kitchen crockery and utensils in the background of the kitchen scenes.   Ioan looked wonderfully sickly and ill in many of the shots where he is supposed to be so,  no holidng back on under-eye darkness,   sweat,   and unsightly body contortions.  
  • rhetoric.   The parliamentary rhetoric was wondertful,  pressumably this was taken from original transcripts of parliamentary sessions.   The jibes are typically cheeky,   sarcastic,   cutting and yet the serve to reveal the weaknesses of the recipients position beautifully.   The rhetoric is not constrained to witty come-backs it includes some,   by no means all, of the arguments for Britian continuing to engage in  the slave trade.    The less positive reviews of the film on Rotten Tomatoes describe this tendancy as ‘Speechifying’ and ‘Talky’.   I like Speechifying when it isn’t lengthy  dull monolouges and I didn’t notice any lengthy dull monologues in this film.  

Areas for improvement:

  • slavery arguments: given the film focus I was slightly suprised by the low-profile given to some of the topical arguments for slavery.   For example,   if evolutionary theory was mentioned in the debate I missed-it.   The notion common in Britain that people were born to a natural status,   aristocracy,   working-class,   black (US = People of color) divined by God was not mentioned.   This seemed odd,   I would have liked at least some passing reference to these beliefe systems more clearly evident within the film.   The nearest reference to the notion that every person is born to a position in life was the reaction of the opposition to a petition of the people,   why should they take notice of a petition of the people?   The portrayal simply makes them look arrogant,   evil,   as viewers we are not lead to understand that it was a common belief that people were born with different capabilities,   different values to society.   I would have valued a little more clarification of the depth of impact of the American Independance and French revolution on the priorities of parliament.   Though I suspect this would have made the film even longer and more ‘speechifying’ which would have irritated more viewers that aren’t me.
  • slave trade is not slavery:   The film does not make it clear to the viewer that Slavery was still legal in the British Empire for a further 30 years.   This blog article by Louis Proyect points this out and provides an informative persepctive on a worthy storyline not tackled within this film.   The blog article includes details of   people portrayed in the film and cites a poem written by William Wordsworth dedicated to one of them.     Louis makes a convincing point  that William Wilberforce being portrayed as the lead role was perhaps not a good choice:

Every other abolitionist figure is subordinate to him, which is of course detrimental to the film since they are far more interesting than this bible-thumping prig.

  • shift girl focus from love interest:    Barbara Wilberforce (Romola Garai) wearing pink lipstick and lip gloss just didn’t ‘feel’ right though I realise the ladies of the day did have access to powders and creams that they used to change their lip colour.   Her wig was also suspicously  perfect and an unusual colour (redhead).   She sported the modern fashion for a voluptious top lip,   though not Scarlett Johansen proportions.    It was challenging to discern her talent from the odd accessories.   Hannah More is present in some scenes and even has some lines,   I was disappointed that her role was not more significant.   The cynic in me thinks the small contribution  her role in the film  might be because she was not young,   beautiful and married.     I visited Hannah’s birthplace while in Bristol last week:

Amazing Grace
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