Archive for Narrative

Teenage Skinhead Geordie Cyclists

I keep seeing – not regularly or even frequently, but often enough – lone cyclists pedalling along the road with knees pumping away rather faster than their resulting progress seems to indicate. They’re sat much too low down and would benefit enormously from the increased power from their legs if only they’d raise their seats.

The riders are invariably helmetless, young, close-cropped-fair-haired and dressed in ordinary non-bikey daywear. I suppose it possible that maybe there aren’t as many of them as I think. Could be the same bloke every time. I wonder if he’s just wary of the ‘bum in the air look’ and thinks he’s too ‘hard’ for that.

All that effort going to waste. It pains me and I know it shouldn’t and it’s none of my business. But, sheesh.

How the B939 got its Spot

View Larger Map via maps.google.co.uk

Could it be that this Scottish Connection known as St Andrew’s Road, the B939 which connects St Andrews to Ceres (and beyond), was constructed at the behest of one Oliver Gourlay (1740-1819)? According to this snippet (of which there is more here) from “Memorials of the Scottish House of Gourlay“:

In acquiring these and other lands, Oliver Gourlay was led to believe that by a course of high farming he would attain opulence. Ardent in his enterprises, he in 1780 invited the Town Council of St Andrews to construct a superior road between their city and his estate, assuring them that thereby they “would eternize their names.” Impressed by his agricultural activities, capitalists extended to him a large credit, so that prior to 1803 he was enabled to purchase the estate of Kilmaron, near Cupar-Fife, of which the modern rental was upwards of £3000. But Mr Gourlay failed in his agricultural adventures, and disposing of his lands, he retired from public concerns. He died on the 10th October 1819 in his eightieth year.

Though the estate mentioned (Kilmaron) is not in Ceres but is a little north of Cupar, there’s no road from St Andrew’s to Kilmaron. And the road from St Andrew’s through Cupar is a fairly important A road which needs no excuse to be there anyway.

So who was Oliver Gourlay but a distant (and severally-removed) cousin of mine. His grandfather John Gourlay (1678-1723) was (take a breath) my mother’s father’s mother’s mother’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father. Oliver was also the father of Robert Fleming Gourlay – rather well known in Scotland, England and Canada.

Monumental Movies

Tyneside Cinema and Newcastle City are again showing free films, open air, at Grey’s Monument in the run up to christmas.

It’s a big outdoor screen with a bunch of deck chairs on the monument’s south facing (down Grey Street) steps, so if you think it’s gonna rain, bring your own protection. PGs and Us, only. No 15s or 18s of course – it’s in a public place.

If you have a google calendar, feel free to take advantage of my ical connection to get the event times into your own calendar by copying the (ical) link address.

Seems Like Old Times

A gentleman friend Photos from the summer of 1928, from my Great Aunt Lily’s album. She was born on the 20th August 1902 and so is nearly 26 in the four pictures in which she appears. Which are the one with the gentleman friend, the one on the beach with the young lady friend, the one in a quartet aseat on a wall and the one with a gentleman friend on what looks to be a rather dreary day in July,

Yore Gala

19280804tynemouthpoolgala

Here’s a picture – and we know the date it was taken because it helpfully says so in the album whence it was scanned – of a swimming gala held at Tynemouth Pool on the 4th of August 1928. It was probably taken by one of my great aunts or uncles. Maybe Ethel, maybe Lily. or maybe even by their brother Henry my grandfather. We just don’t know.

Soft sell

Introducing the LIBRE | PRO eBook Reader by Aluratek and the latest craze in the current digital revolution. … Also boasting superior battery life you can read up to 24hrs continuous use with an auto off feature if you just happen to fall asleep. Try the LIBRE | PRO eBook Reader and experience why the future of books has gone digital.

Not completely sure about the marketing approach here. First of all, I’m being told that this device is just part of a craze, so maybe I shouldn’t take it too seriously. Secondly, it’s hinting that the very act of reading is so boring I may fall asleep. And finally I’m being invited only to try – not to embrace with any kind of commitment – the new world of digital bookery.

We’re all goin’ …

1956-i-sampsonjanem-saltwellparkbankholiday

On the back of this photo is noted Saltwell Park, Bank Holiday 1956 – when the subject was four months old. From this scrap of information (assuming it’s correct) we discover – with a little help from google (date of aug bank holiday 1956) and a handy website, that it was August 6, 1956. If anything untoward happened on that day at least this kid has an alibi for part of it.

Here’s what the day was like (and I quote):

Notably cold, with severe thunderstorms for some.

The weather pattern was very disturbed. Bank Holiday Monday was a notably poor day – regarded at the time as ‘one of the worst on record’! The day was dominated by a cool northerly airflow (though it’s strength had eased from the previous days). There were some spectacular (& slow-moving) thunderstorms, with large hail and some 4ft (over 1m) of water causing flooding in Tunbridge Wells (Kent). The storm started mid-morning, with heavy rain and the hail started just before midday. At one point, the centre of the town was buried under a foot (~30cm) of hail-ice, with drifts of hailstones up to 4ft (~1m) deep. In other areas, 62mm of rain fell in one hour at Swanage (Dorset) & Arundel (Sussex); 80mm of rain at Faversham (Kent). The midday temperature in central London was just 13degC (c.f. the average day maximum of 22degC). On this measure, it was regarded as the coldest Bank Holiday Monday in the capital since 1880. [ This August was one of the coldest and wettest of the 20th century. ]

But meanwhile, up in the north, maybe the weather wasn’t quite so bad?

It’s also (moderately) interesting that the August Bank Holidays back then were at the beginning of the month rather than, as now, at the end.

Nay Survey

So this woman is standing with a clipboard inside the shop, which is Maplin’s, and I’m on my way out and I haven’t bought anything (but she wouldn’t necessarily know that) and she asks (yes she does), like, “Would you mind taking part in a survey?” and I say “It’s ninety pounds an hour” and she laughs and says “No thanks” and lets me go without further ado.

Yes Problem

Are you annoyed when somebody says “no problem” to you after you’ve responded with the lack of interest due to that unsolicited offer they’ve just made you? Do your eyes moisten with despair when your ordinary request – at premises specifically there to service that request – is greeted with “no problem”? Is your gast flabbered that anybody who says “no problem” to you under such circumstances does not know how rib-tighteningly inappropriate such a remark is?

Do you want to ask such people “Why would it be a problem for you to solicit my attention for something you provide in which I’ve …” either (a) no interest, or (b) an interest. Or – more briefly – “What the hell’s wrong with you?”.

If so, then you may want to calm down a bit. The phenomenon doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, and may even be growing.

Circles Good, Rings Bad

Why are circles wholesome and what makes rings nefarious? If you refer to your family circle as your family ring, then your family name might be Kray or Corleone. I presume that members of a Reading Ring will concentrate on works in the Index Expurgatorius. And I really don’t think I want to know you if you’re a member of a Knitting Ring. But it sounds quite cosy having the boss of a drugs circle over to dinner. I’d do it, but I don’t move in those social ri- sorry – circles. I’d openly introduce a circler instead of, sneakily, a ringer into my sports team. The Circle of Fire sounds quite relaxed, rather communal. I suppose it might be, at its scariest, a setting for tribal initiation rites, but certainly nothing volcanic.

Circling isn’t always good of course. It’s not good to be circling the drain.

But ringing it would be so much worse.