Friday, August 31, 2012

How To Keep Dry In The Rain

Click to enlarge if you feel the need.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why I Love The National Trust

I’ve been a member of the National Trust since its creation in 357A.D.  Over the years I’ve witnessed many changes, and picnicked among gnat, midge and wasp ‘pon more tartan than has graced the combined commandotronics of Scotland’s bravest hearts.  No UK cross dressers’ paragliding and puppet making adventure holiday would be complete without the moments of sconecrumb-speckled relief provided by the Trust’s numerous properties — and so it was during the final week of the Olympics, when my airborne Sooty-inspired thigh length boot exploits led me to two of the country’s best preserved family membership friendly homunculi of historic twaddle.

It’s not quite so easy to assume the mantle of pretend tour guide on Trust soil as it is in Bruges (“...and across these humble Belgian rooftops, David Bowie chased a naked Marc Bolan while teams of police frogmen looked on, helpless, from their inflatable rafts...”) but I’ll do my best to fill you in on the facts in relation to two of the East coast’s more notable offerings.

Blickling Hall

Originally built by Anne Boleyn on her days off from writing Pride & Prejudice, this spectacular Norfolk pile boasts the world’s flattest lawn, Britain’s lukewarmest orangery, and a display of hand carved feta cheese Mike Tyson miniatures hailed by locals as “really, really like him (albeit a tad on the smelly side)”.

My favourite part of my visit to Blickling was this statue in the garden, located on the path leading to the orangery-cum-arboretum-cum-mystery vestibule.

Experts disagree over whom or what it depicts.  Some think it’s Boadicea, others reckon it’s a mermaid victim of the Roman fish ‘n’ chip trade, while acclaimed historian Professor Pablo “Da Man” Visconti of Caracas University proposes a ‘Chariots of the Gods’ hypothesis with enthusiastic milkmen pranksters assuming the role of von Daniken’s celestial beings.  Whatever the origin of this remarkable statue, it’s almost certain that photographs taken of the shoulders in 1961 informed the blueprints for versions 1 and 7 of the international singing sensation known by adults and children alike as Brigitte Nielsen.

Felbrigg Hall

North of Blickling Hall on the B1436 lies Felbrigg Hall, a purpose built 15th Century mollusc specimen library which later provided the backdrop for the film adaptation of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids.  Now home to the Norwich Moderately Interesting Restored Ford Anglia Club, its multitude of PVC turrets and crenellations stands prouder on the flatlands than Ruud van Nistlerooy’s stroboscopic codpiece when he stilt walked from the Hague to Amsterdam to raise money for Fucking Stupidly Named Footballers Unanonymous.

Like most National Trust properties, Felbrigg plays host to large numbers of nails and lengths of chain, all arranged in doilies of terror to deter would-be antique vendors from making off with the silverware.  Even some of the venerable volunteers I encountered were nailed to the floorboards to prevent them from being stolen.  In the Hall’s basement I found a display of old photographs dating back to when cameras were made of peat and powered by the flesh of incinerated voles.  Here’s one that took my fancy, mainly because it’s a terrific example of what preoccupied the idle rich while the plebs boiled up maggots to feed their offspring (you might have to click to enlarge the caption).

(The lampshade you see reflected in the photo frame was worn by Mrs Geraldine Battersby on lap thirty of the Illuminated Half Marathon she eventually lost to a family from Nagasaki desperate not to miss the bus back to Norwich).

As for this specimen, the people at Blickling obviously saw my innuendo receptors firing up from the moment I pulled into the car park...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Jessica Ennis Split My Difference

It’s hard not to be swept away by Olympic fever at the moment.

Everywhere I go, people are grinning like lovestruck idiots as they hail another rowing success or sighting of Sir Paul McCartney in the stadium crowd.

On the social media hotspots, the quasi-orgasmic glee has reached fever pitch and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the gazilliotrilliomilliobytes of information stored on the planet’s servers and data bunkers are variations on the theme of #olympics.

Rippling aquatic heroes aside, my favourite moment came last night.  I’m no great sports buff, and up until Friday morning I’d never heard of Jessica Ennis.  If you’d mentioned her name at the start of the week, I’d have taken a pop at her being a member of N-Dubz or a multi-millionaire bra magnate tipped to replace Duncan Bannatyne on Dragons’ Den.

When she burst from the blocks for the final 800m event, all she needed to do to win gold was to finish the race.  With sixteen seconds of slack to spare she could have posed for photos along the way, stroked dogs and disabled Chelsea pensioners, possibly even had her nails done.

But she didn’t.

The last time I ripped my trousers leaping from my seat watching a major sporting event was when Teddy Sheringham scored the winner for Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League final.

Call me momentarily spectacularly patriotic, but I’m proud to have trashed another pair of underpants watching one of Britain’s sporting greats.