Friday, 14 January 2011

Friday randomness

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Brain still not at optimum levels, so forgive rambling, repetition or egregious grammatical errors.

Entirely random thoughts for the week.

1. Two odd things, from this morning:

‘The chairman of the Conservative party will speak for herself,’ said Simon Hughes on The Today Programme. Is there really something hysterically wrong with chairwoman? Would you call a female in business a businessman? And he is the most dully PC of Lib Dems. It’s not like it’s Simon Heffer. What is going on?

John Humphrys, on the same programme, introducing an item on how one should address people in emails, said that when people wrote letters they always started them ‘Dear Sir’. I waited in vain for the ‘or Madam.’ One of the things I have always cussedly done, as a good feminist, is to start letters to strangers (utility companies, insurance, etc etc) Dear Madam or Sir. Let us just pause for a moment to think how odd that sounds. Dear Sir or Madam is the default. Why? Patriarchal conspiracy, THAT'S why.

2.­­ Thing I was planning to ignore:

I really, really was not going to say anything about Sarah Palin’s most curious eight minute You Tube video. Every single commentator in print and in the blogosphere has rushed to judgement on it. Enough ink has been expended. But of course I cannot resist. I could write reams on the strangeness, the staginess, the bizarre locutions, but I shall not. I confine myself to one observation.

Rather unusually, in these days of blanket blogs and news, I actually saw the video before I read any of the commentary on it. At about four minutes in, I said, out loud, into my empty house: ‘Did she actually say blood libel?’ The dogs lifted their heads, unused to the sound of raised voices. I paused the clip, frowning in confusion. I found I could not bring myself to turn it back on.

I wondered for a while if that phrase was just a thing people said, these days, and I had somehow not noticed. Later, I roamed around the web, and discovered that others were as horrified as I. I could not decide which was worse: either she does not know what it means, in which case she has no sense of history, or she does, and she is comparing her own situation to the suffering of the Jewish people.  

(I'm not putting up a link. It's like having your eyeballs poked with sticks, and I don't want to do that to you on a sunny Friday afternoon.)

3. Most under-reported news story of the week:

The Bangladesh stock exchange crashed. It fell by 660 points in one hour. 5,000 people rioted in the streets when they found their savings had vanished. Most odd understatement was on the BBC news website, where a picture of a car being smashed up by one enraged protestor had the caption: ‘Investors were not pleased to find that shares could go down as well as up’. (I think someone on work experience must have been having a little joke.)

4. Oddest headline of the week:

Also from the BBC:

‘Rodent penis bite man may sue’.

Let us pause for a moment and let the full glory of that sink in. I did not dare click on the link, so I still have no idea what that story might be about.

5: Thing which, as a political geek, I should be fascinated by, but am not:

The Old and Sad by-election. As the Americans so expressively say, with heavy irony: big whoop.

6: My most inappropriate reaction of the week:

Yesterday, I called my mother. We discussed the awfulness of the floods in Queensland. At one point, she said: ‘And I saw on the news two horses, swimming in the water, trying to get onto a roof’.

‘Oh, no, Mum,’ I said. ‘Stop, stop. Don’t tell me. I can’t bear the thought of the horses.’

There was a pause.

‘I’m perfectly sure they got onto the roof, in the end,’ she said, in the kind of voice you would use to comfort a six-year-old. (Also in the kind of voice that made me certain the story did not in fact have a happy ending, and she was just fibbing so I would not be sad.)

I know I had the flu and was in a weakened state, but even so. Tens of thousands of people have lost homes and livelihoods, but somehow it was the horses that I could not stand. What is wrong with me? I hang my head in shame. I blame too much Black Beauty as a child.

7. Easily the most bizarre statement in a week of pretty bizarre statements:

The exhortation of the inexplicable Cindy Jacobs, who is apparently an actual prophet. I did not know that was still a job description. Anyway, she went on American television and said, with  conspiratorial certainty, that the birds mysteriously falling from the sky in Arkansas were God’s punishment on a country which repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I bet you were wondering what it was with all those crazy dead birds. Well, now you know. It was THE GAYS.

8. Man of the Week:

Daniel Hernandez, no question.

9. My own most delightful thing of the week:

I know this sounds rather sappy, but I got very excited this morning to find my little robin had returned to the garden. I had not seen him for a while, and worried that he might have wasted away with all the weather we have been having. But there he was, after breakfast, showboating along the wall as if he were Fred Astaire on a spree.

Do you think it is just crazy chic that he exactly matches his breast to the beech leaves?

14th Jan 12

14th Jan 15

Then I became mesmerised by some buds and hips and dew and stuff:

14th Jan 1

14th Jan 2

14th Jan 3

14th Jan 5

(Notice the outrageous morning light.)

There was some fine cloud action over the distant trees:



The ladyships did some earnest gazing into the middle distance, a pursuit at which they excel:

14th Jan 7

14th Jan 9

They can even do it in tandem:

14th Jan 10

And then there was today's hill:


(Do you think that anyone coming to the blog for the first time might be confused? TODAY'S hill? What? Is there a hill for each day of the week and two on Sundays? Too tired to explain. I hope the new dear readers will embrace the mystery.)


  1. thank you for this bit of sanity in an insane world

  2. All hail the hill!
    Loved this post
    Laughed so much at 'it's THE GAYS!'and I had *exactly* the same reaction about the horses.

  3. sjd69 - what a very, very nice thing to say. Thank you.

    Anne - SO glad I'm not alone about the horses. Actually had slight angst about admitting that. Feel much better after reading yr lovely comment.

  4. Don't read the rodent penis bite story please it is actually rather sad/grim.

    Thank you for your blog. And the lovely dogs.

  5. I was also v. sad about the horses but equally distressed by the lady in Brazil who got hauled to safety but couldn't keep hold of her dog :(

    The robin photos are spectacular. How lovely that he's returned.

    Thank you so much for the Daniel Hernandez link. I'd somehow entirely missed that part of the whole story.

  6. Woman of the week?

  7. Siobhan - thank you for rodent story advice. And v kind comment about the dear dogs.

    Alex - have too been thinking about Brazil. So pleased you liked the Daniel Hernandez story. 20 years old and he ran TOWARDS the sound of gunfire.

    Anon - such a good question. I was going to do a whole thing on Shehrbano Taseer, but felt I had gone on long enough. Google her January 11th article in The Guardian. Anyway, she and Congresswoman Giffords are my women of the week. (And also the English women's cricket team, who beat Australia, to rather less fanfare than their male counterparts.)

  8. Today's hill - I found myself wondering - are you ever tempted to post a random picture of the hill from another day but today? Could be last year's hill...would we ever know??! I double dog dare you...see if anyone notices, it's hardly possible that we can cross reference, I live in the most Southerly point of the country and you the North. You are the North. are a pleasure to read today Tania; and you would be hill or no hill! Lou x

  9. Wonderful round up, thank you. Palin: unbelievable. Dogs: beautiful.

  10. Lou - such an interesting and naughty question. Must admit while I was in the first throes of the bug I thought: oh sod the hill. And yet I stomped out crossly in my pyjamas to shoot it. Since I have decided to try and chart an entire year by the daily views of the hill, I now seem COMPELLED to do an actual picture each day. Not at all sure where this imperative came from, but while it is in me, I shall honour it to the letter. And thank you, as always, for most lovely supportive comment about the blog.

    Knackered Mother - love yr pithy juxtaposition of: beautiful dogs and unbelievable Palin. We should put that on a tee-shirt. (Also of course anyone who is kind about the dogs wins a place in my heart.)

  11. God, I hope the UK knows you are a national treasure. I read your blog when I need a healthy dose of sanity!

  12. I didn't know about the horses and just spent fifteen minutes scouring youtube and then weeping inconsolably. What is it about animals in these natural disasters that moves us so? I think your mamma sounds lovely, speaking to you as if you were six.
    Daniel Hernandez is definitely my hero.
    A most excellent round-up. Thank you.

  13. Deanna - how lovely and kind. Am blushing.

    Miss W - do have whole theory about the horse thing, on which I may expand in a further blog. Mostly to do with simplicity and trust. (Quite simliar to the dog love, I think.) Also, in my case, there is the thing of having been brought up in a racing stable. But you are so lovely to understand. I know you cherish your equines.

  14. I love this post and how you hop from subject to subject. It adds so much variety to everyday mundane living. I am still bogged down by such a lot of work and a death in the family (extended family) that this is saving my sanity. Now to go watch Sarah Palin and Cindy Jacob. I cant believe they both said what they did.

  15. Just so you know, the horses are champion racehores and thankfully were able to be saved, albeit with terrible cuts and bruises.

  16. Palin fills me with terrible fury. I choked on my coffee when I saw the blood libel statement. I hadn't heard of Cindy but clearly she is totally crazed too. Inevitable I suppose in a population that large that such madness exists. Pity it gets so much oxygen though.

    I find the animal pictures heartbreaking BUT every year you see stories about people drowning to save their dogs from rivers and the sea and my hard heart says why be so foolish, think of the people you may well be leaving behind.


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