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Topic Summary

Posted by: sam
« on: March 15, 2024 »

see OP
Posted by: sam
« on: February 18, 2021 »

With your combination of real world and theoretical cellblock experience, and my Open University course at Emerald City and other American hellholes

World's highest prison population = ideal demographic

If you can't hold a tune you don't last long in the joint

along with a brief but formative ‘scared straight’ exposure thanks to a neighbour who was the county sheriff (lesson learnt: he who confiscates fireworks gets to set off fireworks), incarceration is beginning to sound like a viable career move. We should be able to rule whatever secure government facility in which we find ourselves. You’ll be known as “the dentist”, with slightly aggrandised backstory to send chills down the spine of even the most hardened con

and I’ll be the man who can get things, such as forks forbidden by The Man to keep the men from dreaming

and Netflix,

when they’ve had it turned off as punishment for the latest shanking.

In hindsight that cutlery factory wasn't the best idea

I like life in outside lockdown as much as I’m sure you do, so we shouldn’t have to spend actual years inside: just long enough to pad our respective CVs and sell our story to the highest bidder, taking care to secure film rights.

"We heard you're in for stealing bikes."
Posted by: sam
« on: February 17, 2021 »

I didn’t discover Australia until turning on the TV here for the first time and meeting my new Neighbours.

The breakup of the Kennedys, the rise of Toadfish(?) into the legal profession, garden gnome pranx, the clinking of glasses of champagne as the apex of contentment: so many memories not yet washed away by the deluge of TV since. I think it was on twice a day, too, leading me to wonder just how highly regarded it was.

Time now for my second instalment of domestic bodges:

We recently acquired a new heater, so small that it sits on one of the kitchen countertops. You can see its not too distant neighbour Mr Kettle. As a prophylactic against steam, I have repurposed a shower cap, a spare from my Covidhair collection. I would pass this along as a new marketing opportunity, but fear reprisals from Health & Safety.
Posted by: sam
« on: February 16, 2021 »

How I made it this far through life without seeing that astounds me. Speaking of cutting,* this morning involved a trip to the vet for a bunnicure. And speaking of having a giraffe, in observance of John McEnroe’s birthday today:

"Mr McEnroe, I assure you the All England Lawn Tennis Club does not allow giraffes on centre court."

* Correction: crushing, of course. But I kept hearing it as "cutting". Whatever the punishment, I imagine a young McEnroe meting it out.
Posted by: sam
« on: February 15, 2021 »

The Americans once had a purge of blackcurrants which means, to this day, they're mostly currant-less

How true. I only learned about currants (and sultanas!) after moving here. I think Sun-Maid were behind the purge.

Machiavelli in a bonnet

My umbrella is Canadian...

If I knew any Canadians growing up they kept their identity furled, perhaps afeared of the consequences of outing themselves. One need look no further than the value of the Canadian dollar, parked almost permanently below ours, to have our exceptionalism further validated. Other than outlier Hawaii, Canada is the only thing standing between us and contiguousness. Chief associations:


Some French going on

Draft dodgers (all is forgiven, come back home)

Mounties, from Dudley Do-Right to Due South


Ambassadors from the north
Posted by: sam
« on: February 13, 2021 »

The US of course has public holidays to augment our miserable vacation allowance. We just don't call them bank holidays. Valentine's Day falls in that no man's land of observed but "You're having a laugh if you think you're getting today off unless it's Sunday."

TW & I don’t celebrate VD. (Nor does anyone when you put it like that.) It's not a protest against commercialism or forced observance of domestic niceties; we long ago stopped doing holidays. I don't remember when, it just sort of happened. That doesn't mean I won't play Dylan on Christmas,

The Grinch of YouTube

it means it's just another day, for better or worse. I will however mark it by diving into the little book of Don'ts for Wives, published 1913 and reprinted to offer guidance and wisdom to all who still seek it.

• Don’t be jealous of your husband cycling in to the country just because you don’t cycle. If you can't, or mustn't, or don't want to, that's no reason for cutting off one of his chief pleasures.

• Don't expect your husband to have all the feminine virtues as well as all the masculine ones. There would be nothing left for you if your other half were such a paragon.

• Don't be troubled if your husband is not an Adonis. Beauty is only skin deep and the cleverest men are rarely the handsomest, judged by ordinary standards.

Naturally there are Don'ts for Husbands.

• Don't spend night after night at your club, leaving your wife alone to count the hours until your return.

• Don't let any hobby so overmaster you that you spend every minute on it when you are at home, especially if it is something in which your wife can take no part. Leave some time to devote to her.

• Don't "talk down" to your wife. She has as much intelligence as your colleague at the office; she lacks only opportunity. Talk to her (explaining when necessary) of anything you would talk of to a man, and you will be surprised to find how she expands.

• Don't omit to cultivate a sense of humour. It will carry you safely past many a danger-signal in the home.

Posted by: sam
« on: February 13, 2021 »

Given the age of America I suspect it is them who have done most of the copying.

This got me thinking about provenance, and things which are considered British. A short list of not-so-fast:


Invented by an Englishman, true, but he had to cross the pond to be inspired by our capitalist vigour.


The eyes are the windows to the soul

Many wish he had stayed on the Upper East Side from whence he was whelped. He renounced his citizenship a little while ago, so although that doesn't change his origin story, he is indeed now 100% yours. (Mine too, as I also have a red passport. I think. Will have to check on the colour.)

Winston Churchill, arguably, as his mother Jennie Jerome was an American and without her he literally was nothing. I will however refrain from bolding him. For a hidden history scroll down here.


Your stereotype still can't escape the umbrella, but we've got you beat.


"The name James Bond came from that of the American ornithologist James Bond, a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide Birds of the West Indies. Fleming, a keen birdwatcher himself, had a copy of Bond's guide and he later explained to the ornithologist's wife that 'It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born.'"


because so many of us, me included, use that interchangeably with Tim's www; of course we should be caned, and may still be in the fullness of time. We can thank a lot of people (Actually, I invented the internet), most of them in the States.

There are better histories out there, and I'm happy to be corrected, having spent all of about 5 minutes researching this. I liked this quote though: "As for Crovitz’s declaration that the TCP/IP protocol languished for decades in the hands of government, only to be set free by private enterprise, Cerf responded, 'I would happily fertilize my tomatoes with Crovitz's assertion.'"

I'll leave you with this, spotted at the station a number of years ago:

Posted by: sam
« on: February 13, 2021 »

I know this makes it sound like I grew up in the 30s, but it was the late 70s/early 80s.

Way back in the mists of the 20th century, that’s for sure. It sounds like we’re roughly contemporaries. I think that ferret needs explaining, and a full accounting of your spares would be welcome, if that's not breaching data security.

How not to annoy a ferret in 2 easy steps:

As long as we’re time travelling, were I to mention party lines, would people know what I’m talking about? Don’t everyone raise your hand at once. We only suffered that when I was still in the earliest of single digits. Certainly made gossip a lot easier: even expected, all the better to keep up with the Joneses. Now you need to be part of the security services, or have a warrant, or maybe buy something on Amazon which does the trick.

The first phone we had that stands out in my memory was big and it was pink. My mother brought it home as a surprise for the family, and boy were we surprised. We were expecting, I don’t know, black and office-like. The family gathered around the new device, mouths agape at the outrageousness of it. My sisters were delighted; my father and I, perhaps still in thrall of gender norms, less so.

I don’t remember when you were actually able to own your own phone, and if it was truly ours, or leased from Ma. That would be Ma Bell, the great matriarchy which ruled all things telephonic for many decades and was finally broken up in the early 80s, when anti-trust laws still had teeth.

"Watson, do we have Prince Albert in a can?"

Professor Larrington had just returned from three months in Captain Cook's Mistake...

Show me the way to go home
Posted by: sam
« on: February 12, 2021 »

Having grown up with winters that were proper Fahrenheit cold (one anachronism clinging to another) and usually featured a generous helping of the white stuff – even a bonafide blizzard one year –

Pretty much this

the snowfall in Far East Sussex is rarely anything to write home about. The ice is another story. Took a tumble the other day and have seriously considered strapping on a helmet when navigating our very long drive (#NotAStealthBoast: it’s also a bridleway. And here we are without any horses.) There’s one in storage…

Sweating the details: I spent about the same amount of time photoshopping those straps onto that helmet as I would fiddling with real ones.
Posted by: sam
« on: February 12, 2021 »

The first episode of my tour of British TV was Minder. Up next: Only Fools and Horses.

This was chosen after I bailed on a request for ‘Allo ‘Allo! for technical reasons. The episodes on YouTube kept jumping backwards slightly, which was doing my head in.

It also didn’t help that the pilot, The British Are Coming, started thus: "Your wife is a wonderful cook, René. She makes rabbit taste like chicken." "That was chicken, Herr Colonel. Rabbit, as you will well know, does not have a wishbone." "Wishbone, ha. Good, we can make a wish!"

Face off

I've only ever seen bits and pieces of Fools and Horses over the years, usually slumped on a friend's couch over the Christmas holiday, having laid claim to the bowl of mixed nuts. It helps that it's on Netflix, who keep jacking up the subscription fee, so I need to get my money's worth.

Notes from Big Brother, Season 1: Ep. 1

"Stick a pony in me pocket" – what does that mean? I don’t have to know to enjoy the opening credits showing street scenes, one of my favourite types of intro ever since The Streets of San Francisco, Hill Street Blues (which used an innovative cold open before taking the viewer on its weekly ride-along), and NYPD Blue. I’ve watched so many police procedurals I’m practically an honorary member of the force.

Is the cladding on that tower block safe?

Although I like things relatively tidy, I'm warmed by the cluttered sitting room showing Rodney on the couch, where I have spent so much of my life. There's a spare car tyre; it stands to reason they've got bicycles stashed somewhere.

First joke is Rodney arguing with Grandad over whether it's Sidney Potter or Poitier. "You know him. Always plays the black fella." I had an immediate flashback to Archie Bunker planted in his chair, though Archie is a lot harder to watch without earphones. Racial slur alert.

Del Boy’s punchline,

delivered while a topless calendar girl looks on, makes me wonder if John Logie Baird realised he was inventing a time machine. The live studio audience's laugher reminds me that I'm now used to comedies without laugh tracks, and don't want to go back.

Rodney is multitasking, keeping an ear on Grandad whilst keeping accounts, provoking Del Boy's ire: "You dozy little twonk." Detective Sipowicz never called anybody that, but I have a feeling he came close.

"You’ve been nothing but an embarrassment to me since the moment you was born!" Del is unhappy that his parents took 13 years between innings, landing him with unwanted babysitting gigs. "I had Ostermilk stains on my Ben Shermans!" Guess I'll have to look up Ostermilk now.

How many dads came home from the shop with otter's milk?

"For the first three months of her pregnancy you were treated as an ulcer. To this day I think the original diagnosis was correct." Some people think milk helps with that, but you're advised to use a proton pump inhibitor and a course of antibiotics to kill the heliocobacter pylori.

They discuss the advantages of a cash business, collecting VAT but not paying it, etc. Remember that Al Capone got done for taxes, boys. "The government don't give us nothing, so we don’t give them nothing!" Do we have any volunteers to examine the logic? I could be persuaded either way.

They head down the pub, where Joyce the barmaid is likeable but "a bit of an old dog."

How about a leopard? She's already halfway there.

More banter. Del to Rodney: "Society has placed you in the corner of its deepest cellar to grow moss, be forgotten about." Make me laugh again like we used to.

They meet Trigger, who looks like a horse thanks mainly due to the power of suggestion. Carrie Bradshaw, on the other hand, is a natural. Note that I'm sex blind when it comes to people who look like animals. Hell, I was a spitting image of a wookie back in the day.

That's not going to get you out of jury duty

Trigger proceeds to sell Del a load of "old English vinyl" executive suitcases at £8 per, haggled down from £17. Maybe could've stayed at £17 if they were rich Corinthian leather. Rodney overrides Del Boy's dodgy calculator, which apparently would've been enough to bamboozle Trigger. He should take lessons from Nugget.

£200 seems like an awful lot of money for the time.

There's a joke about mispronunciation.

Definitely non-U English

Back at home there’s a long setup with Grandad involving Emperor Burgers (whazzat?) and cheeseburgers which must be to flesh out the character, as there’s not much of a payoff.

Del Boy speaks for all of us

Love Grandad's surround-TV action.

There's a joke about Millwall winning the cup that goes over my head.

The crisis in this episode is that Rodney is feeling worthless. He needs a bigger percentage of Del's respect. We take another detour through oldie tyme humour as Rodney is reminded that even his love life isn't so hot, seeing as he had to drug Shanghi Lil to get his leg over. Her precise ethnicity was in dispute in the pub: "Chinese Japenese it's all the same to me." Paging Archie Bunker again.

Rodney tries his best to storm out, but it's hard when you're skint. It later transpires he's left home.

Del Boy does the rounds trying to flog the useless briefcases, which are rejects because the combinations are inside. He's got one of those three wheeled cars which always look a bit dodgy to me. I could google their safety record, but it would be nicer to hear from someone who's driven one.

Grandad's trying to play noughts on a talking chess board when he gets home, which makes me wonder when those first came out. It has been put in the scene for punchlines like "Illegal move."

The prodigal brother returns, having gotten no further than Stoke Newington, which my train used to pass through when I lived in Enfield. Never got off there, I wonder what it's like. Given London property prices, likely well beyond my means.

There's a happy ending.

Must remember to put Til Death Due Us Part in the queue.
Archie vs Alf
Posted by: sam
« on: February 11, 2021 »

This following anecdote concerns my wife. I tire of calling her that here, yet would prefer not to use her name, so henceforth she may also go by 'TW'. This is an initialism of her own choosing. It stands for The Wife. Having spent nearly all her working life surrounded by men who often used that phrase, she's told me it doesn't bother her. I've never actually referred to her that way.

Our anniversary approacheth: decisions, decisions

When TW first alighted at the university in the States where I would later sweep her off her feet (details on application), she wasn't happy about one of the first things she saw: an armed policeman on campus as a matter of course. She tells me that the holstered gun hanging nonchalantly from his belt chilled her to the bone. Note that these were the days before mass shootings became commonplace.

Having grown up playing "guns" (I don’t recall if there were good guy/bad guys; we were all just armed & ready), I wouldn't have thought twice about it, but she had never seen a gun up close in her life. Somehow it didn't jibe with the ad copy in the brochure describing 1200 acres of peaceful campus. It's fair to say she doesn’t miss that part of American culture.

Mr. Justified

One of the childhood friends I used to shoot and companionably be shot by grew up to become a lawyer and a very firm guns rights advocate. He took full advantage of the fact that Ohio is an open carry state, even bringing it along when shopping in places like Walmart.

I hesitate to add that he was also extremely religious, and Republican, lest I hit a trifecta. In his defense, by all accounts he was a very decent man, serving with distinction as a guardian ad litem and mitigating the wild west image I've just painted by running a gun safety course so people would at least develop a healthy respect for the shooty end. If you noted the past tense, it's because one evening he was digging in his yard, hit a live wire, and died with his boots on.
Posted by: sam
« on: February 11, 2021 »

For such a large country, why has the nfl only got 32 professional teams?

32 is the smallest number n with exactly 7 solutions to the equation φ(x) = n. It is also the sum of the totient function for the first ten integers. Which is my way of saying I believe it's a maths problem.

I don't know a thing about the NFL, despite years of having it on in the background in the house because my father spectates from his bleacher in the living room; it turns out you can't always pick up knowledge through osmosis.

There have been 32 teams since the 2002 season, when the Houston Texans joined, it being felt that too many people knew that the state capital is liberal oasis Austin and this should be supressed. A *lot* of people watch football. I mean, what is considered over there to be football. That should do the trick, right?

This move had the side benefit of evening things up, as the clubs were then realigned into eight divisions, four teams in each, and four divisions in each conference. In creating the new divisions, the league tried to maintain the historical rivalries from the old alignment, while at the same time attempting to organize the teams geographically. At this point I'm just reading from Wikipedia, which while not infallible like the pope, can generally be trusted on matters of global importance.

You can continue where I'm leaving off here, under the heading Expansion and realignment. Scrolling down I see that the league "also introduced a new eight-year scheduling rotation designed so that all teams will play each other at least twice during those eight years, and play in every other team's stadium at least once."

It's all terribly complicated for my little brain, but it seems to me that it isn't as easy as adding more teams. Because history and maths.

Is there a semi-professional/amatuer American football league?

As ian has suggested, the college teams fulfill that role. This part of your question had the benefit of jogging my memory: there is a movie called Semi-Pro, a Will Ferrell vehicle that I'd never screened. It's on Netflix! Though I don't watch much sports (tennis on rare occasions, the Tour de France only when it's passing reasonably close by), I do enjoy it as filmic entertainment, e.g. Kingpin, Tin Cup, The Natural, Friday Night Lights, etc.

Clear eyes full hearts can't lose

Semi-Pro is in the Kingpin mould (it also stars 'White Men Can't Jump' Woody Harrelson), and attracted mostly negative reviews when it came out in 2008. Ducking any rotten tomatoes, I think it's hilarious.