Well it hasn't been much of a flamin' June, more like one flamin' day of June.. and with less time spent on my new country commute to Reading, it would be great to have some sultry, summer evenings to enjoy, whilst I'm not tearing it up and down to London for five days of the week.
I do love the month of June though, despite the weather this year. Before the longest day, when the nights draw out to 10pm, and there's a sultry hush up and down the street, William Wordsworth's "A Night in June" comes to mind:
The sun has long been set,
The stars are out by twos and threes,
The little birds are piping yet
Among the bushes and trees;
There’s a cuckoo, and one or two thrushes,
And a far-off wind that rushes,
And a sound of water that gushes,
And the cuckoo’s sovereign cry
Fills all the hollow of the sky.
Who would “go parading”
In London, “and masquerading,"
On such a night of June
With that beautiful soft half-moon,
And all these innocent blisses?
On such a night as this is!
From perfected, consistently brilliant talent to... you blow my mind fresh, new talent...
And they are best friends - which makes it even better.
I am a massive fan of BGT and this dance act (below) blew me away. Ingeniously put together - music and dance nostalgia!
Before we lose anymore of our National Treasures this year, I would like to dedicate this blog post to the ones that have passed. For some reason, Victoria Wood's death hit me particularly hard. She was amazing. They were all amazing. These are the icons I grew up with, who have influenced me in so many ways.
For a lover of words, this is pure genius! Spot a very young Patricia Hodge and Julie Walters ☺️
Iconic "will have you in stitches" sketch
And bringing it up-to-date, sadly minus our other funny Ronnie, but still brilliant comedy
This caught my eye a couple of weeks back, whilst I was making my way to work on the tube. As you know, I love all sorts of poetry. I remember studying Grace Nichols for GCSE English Lit. and Like A Beacon reminded me why I'm such a fan! It also reminds me that, although I love coming into the City and feeling the buzz, I also enjoy returning to the suburbs to relax and recharge.
Like A Beacon by Grace Nichols
every now and then
I get this craving
for my mother's food
I leave art galleries
in search of plantains
I need this link
I need this touch
swinging my bag
like a beacon
against the cold
Following on from my post on Wednesday; the funny poem I wrote when I first started working at the Post Office, here's another amusing P O related post.
A regular customer of mine handed me a very funny book "Golden Oddlies" by Paul Jennings around the time of my second Christmas stint. As you can imagine, it was pretty manic, but the Chapter "Psychological Grading" gave me great cause for comfort - and chuckles.
"Golden Oddlies" is the best of Jennings "Oddly Enough" column that he wrote for the Observer. If you've ever worked in a Post Office, stood in a Post Office queue, or worked in Customer Service, you will relate to his musings...
All British sociologists will welcome the Report of the Royal Commission for Psychological Grading in Busy Places, published this week for the Ministry of Development and Printing, for it represents the first real official attempt to cope with the problem in modern society of complication-neurosis.
This is a condition which can best be explained to the layman by actual examples. Let us imagine a suburban branch Post Office, with, say, six positions - Stamps, Savings, Money Orders, Position Closed, Pensions and Allowances, and Telegrams. An ordinary customer (in the sociologists' jargon, a neutral counter-unit, or N.C.U.) such as the reader or the writer of this article - a person, therefore, entirely free from complication-neurosis - goes in to buy a book of stamps. He is preceded in the queue by a complication-neurotic who, perhaps, wishes to send a parcel to the Virgin Isles, a possession of the U.S.A. The clerk looks dubious, then calls someone from an inner office with a glass door. They fetch down a big book - the Post Office Guide. They find the section on the Virgin Isles.
'Ah,' murmurs the First Clerk, 'Customs Declaration "A".'
They are not quite sure what this is, so they flip rather aimlessly through the pages until it occurs to Clerk Two to look up 'Customs' in the Index. They find it and Clerk One reads, in an unsure sort of voice, 'Two kinds of customs declaration form are in use, namely an adhesive form to be affixed to the parcel (mainly for Empire use), and a non-adhesive form (for most foreign countries). Two or more copies of the latter form may be required, see pp. 110-209.'
But pp. 110-209 are merely the alphabetical section covering the world's countries, containing the bit about the Virgin Isles where Clerk One started. We are in a vicious circle. But this is only the beginning. When they have finally decided about the Customs, Clerk Two says, 'What's in the parcel?'
'Well, it's a kind of model I made,' says the woman helplessly, 'and a few potatoes.'
'Potatoes, eh?' says Clerk One doubtfully. More page flicking, then, 'I'm afraid we can't accept it, ma'am.' For under 'Prohibited Articles' it says, for the Virgin Isles:
Letters, cotton seed, cotton and cotton seed products (except oil, manufactured cotton and cotton waste; see below); feathers and skins of wild birds (except ostrich feathers) unless for educational purposes; films or pictorial representations of prize fights; intoxicating liquors; potatoes...
And so on, while all the normal person or N.C.U. wants is this book of stamps. Not only Post Office are affected by the spread of complication-neurosis. Evidence submitted to the Commission shows that most of the people who want a simple second-class return to Birmingham in a hurry are preceded by the sort of man who wants to go on an obscure place in the Hebrides. He has voluminous inquiries about sailing tickets and seat places and insurance. His ticket, instead of being issued quickly with a metallic thump from a machine, has to be laboriously written out on a duplicate form with long footnotes about 'Messrs MacBrayne's Services'. In a bank, an N.C.U. who merely wishes to cash a cheque for £5, will be preceded by someone with a battered attache case full of little blue bags full of pennies and complicated company accounts.
The Commission's Report recommends a revolutionary technique of psychological grading, to be tried out experimentally at first in Post Offices.
We are in entire agreement with the experts who have given evidence (it says) that the present division of Post Offices into operational functions is arbitrary and inefficient. We therefore recommend a form of Psychological Grading. In a Six-Position Post Office two of the positions should be labelled 'SIMPLE'. The remaining four should be labelled 'COMPLICATED'. Counter units should be met at the door of the Post Office by a trained psychologist who by the answer given to some such question as 'Good morning sir (or madam); what do you require?' would be able to deduce the degree, if any, of complication-neurosis, and direct the counter-unit accordingly.
I need hardly point out the effect on our social life if the Report is acted upon. Normal people like the reader, or the writer, of this article will be able to pop quickly in and out of the Post Office, even at the busiest times. Complication-neurotics will have a special part of the Post Office all to themselves, screened off with trellis and artificial roses, there will be little tables where they can discuss their problems with fellow-spirits all day long over a cup of Post Office coffee.
The realignment of staff will mean an overall increase in Functionary Time (F.T.) without the corresponding increase in Functionary Units which sociologists previously thought this must involve. The Report, recognising the existing shortage of psychologists, outlines a scheme for Regional Training Colleges giving a special one-year course. In the Report's concluding words,
the initial expense should soon be repaid, since from Post Offices it is a short step to railway booking offices, banks, and shops. and we may therefore look forward confidently to an efficient rationalisation of the whole of our public life.
What to do on a rainy Sunday... I know, Netflix! Myself and my Aunty watched Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway. This is the story of Jane Austen and, of course, I live in Jane Austen country - Hampshire, UK - and am a massive fan of her work. Last year I visited Chawton where her house still stands.
"Mr Stink" has been sitting on my V+ box from Boxing Day 2012 and yesterday I finally decided to watch it. What prompted me was BBC was also showing "The Boy In The Dress" - another of David Walliam's children's stories adapted for television. I'd watched "Gangsta Granny" last Christmas and been impressed, only half realising it was Mr Walliam's creation, and all year I've been hearing lots of good things about his stories from the mum's coming into the post office. There have been comparisons with Roald Dahl and I love the fact he's working with the greatest illustrator Quentin Blake.
What I love and admire about great writers is that they take something very ordinary, find a way to bring it to life, tell a story with it and, most importantly, leave us with a message. They give their writing purpose.
Some people read a book to escape. Some people read for pleasure. Some, to better themselves. I read to find the hidden message - and yes, this is most probably because I'm a dreamer and want peace and love in the world. So, if I can find a little something to make the world a better place, I will search it out and use it.
"Gangsta Granny", "Mr Stink" and "The Boy In The Dress" are fantastic children's stories. I saw their appeal to children - but also I saw the bigger messages - reminders not to judge people by what you see on the surface, don't be scared to be different, make time for people in your life.
I remember reading everything of Roald Dahl's when I was younger and being moved, thrilled and delighted with the stories. I haven't read Walliam's books yet, but the TV adaptations left me with the same feelings of fulfillment.
Read more about "The Boy In The Dress" here.
I like to think I'm still working when I sit for hours watching the television. That's how I justify it to myself anyway. That magic word... Inspiration! I'm making up for all the years I barely watched the box at all.
How I react and feel about a show - and what decides whether I'll go back for more - is largely according to the following percentages: 75% based on the quality of the script, the characters, theme and ideals, 15% based on the acting and 10% based on who's playing the parts.
And I've got to admit, I'm in TV heaven at the moment. Current distractions include: Miranda (hilarious), Mrs Brown's Boys (downright stupidly stupid), ITV's Mr Selfridge (historical), Discovery's Jungle Gold (reality show), Prison Break box set (thrilling), Stella (wonderfully human comedy drama) and David Attenborough's Africa (natural history).
For me and me alone, this is a perfect platform for inspiration and a perfect balance for creativity to flow.
This is a must visit for all music lovers out there. I knew it was going to be good, but it surpassed all my expectations as soon as I entered the Intro booth. I had the Introduction to the BME to myself - it's like a mini cinema telling you what to expect and how to use your handy little Smarticket to capture bits and pieces of musical info. you might want to read up on when you get home. When I entered into the main event, I can only describe it as walking into Aladdin's cave of musical gems. A plethora of all things music awaited from costumes, props, instruments and memorabilia to famous concerts, important musical related dates and iconic singers, bands, movements and songs. On the face of it, that might sound a little dull, but let's add the funky lighting, the awe inspiring technology beaming out over 3,000 images, 600 video clips and 3,000 artist videos, and not forgetting The Core, the Edge Zones and the Gibson Interactive Studio. Everywhere you go music in all its forms bombards every one of your senses. This is the stand out feature making the exhibition so special and unique.
I was there to absorb the history of British music so spent most of my time in the Edge Zones. I used my Smarticket a lot because there's no way you can take in what each segment has to offer. My Smarticket now has the background to such things as the Mods & Rockers fighting it out in Margate, Band Aid, Britpop, and the birth of Rock n' Roll...
I could have easily spent several more hours wandering around but the O2 climb was calling, so I headed into The Finale booth and luckily enough, got to experience this all to myself. WOW WOW WOW. Described as "a complete sensory experience" it certainly lived up to the hype. I just stood there for 5 whole minutes completely lost in the thrilling visual and sonic montage of life-size scenes from the best concerts and acts in the last 60 years. The concert experience always gets me right there, and this was no exception. I almost blubbed in the sheer joy of it all. Well, when you love something that much...
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.