Tuesday, 20 April 2010

In which I am entirely random

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I like the young people. I think they are far more interesting than they are portrayed in the media. I think they do more than just text all the time.

One of the things I like about them is their interesting use of language. (Although I do wish they would not punctuate all their sentences with the word 'like'; but I am old and what do I know?) One of my favourites is what the young people have done with the word random. It no longer has its rather dull meaning of without definite order or plan but has, in the hands of the young, embraced a myriad of subtleties and nuance.

It can have a slightly derogatory sense, in a woman of no importance way:

'Who was that?'

'Just some random guy.'

I am told that in America it can indicate sexual looseness:

'I'm not just some random chick, you know.'

It can mean startling and unexpected:

'Wow, that was random.'

The same reaction may greet a tremendous and amusing non-sequitur.

I have heard young people who do not quite fit in with the cool kids and the sports heroes at school refer to themselves as random with a certain sense of pride, as if owning their slight non-conformism. They might not be top of the class, or dressed in the latest trainers, or in the first eleven, but they have randomness as their secret weapon. Personally I would take the random kids over the cool kids any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Maybe that's because I was a little random myself, back in the day, although we did not have a word for it then.

Anyway, the point is that after yesterday's extended rant, which was greeted with astonishing tolerance by you dear readers, I am going to indulge in a little scattershot randomness of my own.

Here is what caught my interest today:

A religious gentleman in Iran proclaimed that scantily dressed women were directly responsible for earthquakes.

"Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes," he said.

Personally, I am thrilled. By his lights, I certainly qualify as a loose woman. When I was very young and naughty, I used to go out in skirts which people mistook for belts. Now I discover that I can literally make the earth move. I shall try and use my power for good instead of evil.

In other natural geological phenomenon news, the wonderful Rebecca Guoleitsdottir has been posting astonishing photographs of the Icelandic volcano over at her Flickr blog. This is her latest:

Icelandic volcano by Rebecca Guoleitsdottir

Observe the famous Icelandic horses in the foreground. As a breed, they date back to the 9th century, and are famous for their five gaits, the extra two being a lateral ambling movement called the tolt, and a flying pace called the skeio. I am secretly obsessed by Icelandic horses, which although mostly under fifteen hands are never called ponies, partly because there is no word in Icelandic for pony, I learn today. I would quite like to own one. If I ever write a real bestseller I should buy one. I should also like a Connemara pony:

Connemara pony from Wikicommons


And an Appaloosa:


And maybe a retired racehorse who needs a good home:

Dan de Man and Formeric in retirement from racing

I always rather yearned for a coloured horse, although I think my mother secretly considered them a bit infra dig (the furthest she would go was strawberry roan):

coloured foal

And I'd like a Suffolk Punch to gaze at, and because they must be SAVED:


And a lovely thoroughbred mare:

Mare and Foal

Then I could have a Dalmatian plantation, except with horses. So keep your fingers crossed for the book.


In other news: apparently nautical striped shirts are back:

Picasso by Rene Burri

(Picasso by Rene Burri.)

I have absolutely no idea what to do with this information. The last time I wore a fisherman's shirt was in 1988.

Talking of life on the ocean wave, I am vastly diverted by tales of plucky Britons virtually paddling back to Blighty with their bare hands. Everyone you hear interviewed is amazingly good-humoured and phlegmatic. Perhaps the famous British self-deprecation and stiff upper lip are going stronger than the newspapers like to think. Everyone is having a little competition to see who can mention Dunkirk the most. It reminds me of the great scene in Don't Tell Alfred, when a coachload of British tourists were stuck in the British Embassy, which they appeared to think was a genteel hotel. They settled down on the grass and got up a bit of a sing-song. (For those of you who know the book, my favourite part of all in that section is the bit with Northey and the badger sett. Dear old Mr Brock.)

Don't Tell Alfred

Finally: I LOVE these guys. I have never heard of them until today, when they were brought to my attention by the power of the internet. It was a perfect example of the stick insect theory, because they could not embody randomness more if they tried:



If that doesn't cheer you up during election fever, I don't know what will.


  1. Adultery increases earthquakes? Well I never!

    What delightful randomness today. I would very much like to win the lottery and then breed Suffolk Punches and Cleveland Bays and lots and lots of Dales ponies. Isn't there some truly horrifying statistic about there being more giant pandas than Suffolk Punches? It makes me sad.

  2. Easter brought chunder (a new one to me - ex naval husband raises eyebrows) chat. I'm not aware that any real (pronounced rell) chundered anywhere.
    My boys suggested http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKFjWR7X5dU
    for 'chunder' enlightment.

  3. I LOVE those young uses of the word 'random'. Thanks for bringing them to my attention. I don't hang out with enough random young people to have come across them.

  4. I completely loved the loose women and earthquakes news. I felt incredibly PROUD of myself - here I was thinking that these days it was just my slightly dusty professor in California who felt the earth move when I shook my money-maker at him, but NO! The angry anti-shag God has been storing all our naughty nookie up and is unleashing it in a great multiple orgasm.
    Or maybe that cleric got it wrong and I'm a bit overexcited.

  5. I saw that piece on our newfound ability to make the earth move and wondered why we hadn't noticed it before but it was good of him to bring it to our attention.

    And oh oh I had completely forgotten about my wish for an Appaloosa. I longed for one as a kid, or indeed a palomino (whichever) but it was not to be. Then I had a hankering for a piebald and a skewbald together because I thought they would be pretty and I was (and frankly still am) much taken with the Jill/Gymkhana series.

    And I think my favourite scene in Don't tell Alfred is when Northey and the French ambassador take the lobsters back to the ocean more in hope than in expectation. And did you see how the heroic Dan Snow got on with his brave ingenious flotilla of dinghies? After clearing his rescue mission with authorities on both sides, he duly jetted across only to be told by some rather obstructive and clearly jobsworthy French policeman that under no circs was he taking back these desparate stranded English people; mais non, they were to deal with them and not some 21st century Nelson wannabe, so he duly returned back to English shores, his flotilla quite empty apart from one boat stuffed to the gills with young beautiful women aged between 25 and 35 at a guess whom he clearly managed to sneak aboard before they could stop him. There's the Dunkirk spirit.

  6. I don't mind their randomness in using language - that's how the language grows and changes.

    I totally HATE young people's text-speak though. Yes, I am the person who sends grammatically correct texts in full. I am a fuddy-duddy ;-)

    More of the randomness. Dude. Very entertaining :-)

    Ali x

  7. So many lovely comments, thank you, thank you. Perhaps I shall do a randomness post each week and it shall become tradition. x

  8. I too love the randomness of this post. You've made me want horses again... although I don't know where I'd put them in Dalston. I do miss having animals, whenever I go to the pub dogs make a bee line for me. I wish you tons of luck with the book and very much look forward to reading it. And I'm sure you'll get your horses, which will be wonderful in Scotland xx


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