Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Dither of the Day - 7 October 2008

A View from the Bridge (Fatfield Bridge)

Well, it’s the first day I've got out of bed before lunchtime since Saturday! Been in bed for most of the past 3 days due to some kind of bug. Thought it was just a cold that was getting better but it turned into something else plus a severe face-ache, headache and feeling sick.

I'm feeling lots better so I ponder to myself, once I've dropped the kiddiwinks off at school and nursery, whether to:

1. Go straight back home to immerse myself in clearing up the devastation of the past 3 days in bed (husband has just ignored it).
or
2. Enjoy the fact it’s a glorious day, have a bit of a wander and take some nice photos in my 2 hours of freedom before I pick up my granddaughter from nursery.

Dither, dither, dither. On the one hand the house would be there when I wasn’t as my Mam used to say. So why not go and enjoy what might be the last brill’ day before winter really sets in. On the other hand, the house was a real tip, or to quote my Mam again “like Stageybank Fair”, (not that I ever knew where that was but I gather it must have been a real hole).

Well after a traumatic hour breakfasting and getting 2 grandchildren ready, by the time I dropped them off at school and nursery, the choice wasn’t a hard one to make. The fresh air won out.

In theory I should have left the car at home, but it’s quite a bank to walk up on the way back and not feeling particularly perky, I gave in and took the car.

I often think the place we live in isn’t particularly pretty. The town centre is an awful ‘sixties concrete design typical of UK New Towns. Like most towns we complain that the council doesn’t do enough to improve the environment and some of the residents don’t help. We get our fair share of idiots dumping supermarket trolleys, despite all the schemes they put in place to stop it.


However one of the places I really like to walk down to is the Riverside. It’s changed a lot over the years but it’s a fairly pretty place now with some nice views and although there’s not a lot there, it’s quite a nice place for a walk or to go to eat. So once I dropped the little ones off, I went.down to the Riverside.

I start from Fatfield Bridge looking towards Penshaw Monument. That's the view in the first picture at the top, You can just see the Monument, way off in the distance. My husband says when he's travelling and sees the Monument he knows he's home. Funny that because he was born in Northumberland, but he thinks Washington is home now we've lived here so long.

There's a street running along the north side of the river I have always liked. Wouldn't mind living there apart from the worry of flooding. My worry really, I don't think there have been any floods since we've lived in Washington, that's 38 years now.

I was just thinking about that when I noticed this Environmental Agency River Recorder box. Now I've walked down that street a few times but I've never noticed it before. Nice to know they're keeping an eye on things. Wonder if it's automatic or whether someone has to come out to measure it on the board. Maybe one of the residents does it.

Along the street outside one house, there's a nice little touch even though it's not real. It's an imitation George V1 postbox. Shame it's a modern house though.

Turning back and looking up the river the view is just as pretty, such a clear sunny day. To be honest it's much better than most of the summer days we had. Wonder how many of these we'll have left.

As you walk along the bank you pass the first pub, the Biddick. Not as nice as in spring when the place is full of cherry blossom, but still a pretty picture.

The last roses of summer are showing their faces too on the riverbank.

Next there's the little war memorial. One of the smallest but nicest I've seen. Soon be covered in poppy wreaths.Just next to it is a lovely little sunny seat, but it's empty today.

Next is the Italian restaurant and bar. Had a few nice meals in the restaurant as it's very child friendly and reasonably priced. Note the parasols and patio heaters, rain and cold doesn't stop the party! Also needed by the smokers now in the smoke free pubs and restaurants.
I hadn't noticed before but there's a plaque on the wall above the fascia which you can hardly read as they painted over it. Apparently this building was the Fatfield Branch of the Chester- le-street Co-operative/Industrial Society in 1909. Glad they left a few of the old buildings. Amazing what you see when you stand and stare instead of just walking by as I usually do. Felt like a tourist!


Just opposite on the south side is another street overlooking the river. Hard to believe that this whole area was a thriving village. Now it's just a couple of streets and a few pubs. All to make way for the Sir James Steele Park when the New Town was developed.

Next is the Havelock, another watering hole on sunny days. Mmm it's certainly a pink pub. It gets quite lively here at night and on fine sunny summer days. About as rare as a £5 note in a bank!

Well, I've enjoyed the walk, now it's time to go home and face the midden that's posing as my home!

Am I the Only One Who Can’t Take House Seriously?

Come on now, please tell me. There must be somebody else out there who looks at Hugh Laurie as he's barracking his medical colleagues and says the immortal words of John McEnroe:

“You can’t be serious man!”

How on earth did they think we could take him seriously? Well maybe they thought because it was set in America and he had a different accent we wouldn’t recognise him. Not a chance!

Could you ever forget seeing him prancing about as mad King George in Blackadder the Third? Not a cat in hell’s chance! King George .

Or what about the simpleton Lieutenant George’s drag act in Blackadder Goes Forth? Lieutenant George Well, maybe they thought we had short memories. Think again.

Then there was the slapstick and musical parodies in A Bit of Fry and Laurie They were just brilliant.

My favourite was Jeeves and Wooster where he played Bertie Wooster “the witless socialite”. Sheer bliss. Jeeves and Wooster

Now Stephen Fry's another story. Whilst his characters have been just as hilarious and anarchic somehow the character choices he’s made since then have been more believable. Take Kingdom for example. He’s absolutely believable as the lawyer whose good nature is sorely tried by his siblings and work colleagues. No problem. Kingdom

So what’s the problem with House then? Well I don’t think it’s Hugh Laurie to blame, well not really. Maybe I just can’t believe in the character. Yes, that’s the problem! House just isn't real. Never mind he got a £2 million Los Angeles mansion out of it so no problems there.

I haven't used any of the photos from the BBC or ITV's websites. I wouldn't dare, they're hot on copyright!so if you want to see for yourself I've put in the links BBC Comedy ITV Comedy Classics

To end with, if anyone remembers the Blackadder TV series each episode ended with a song, every episode had different lyrics. The words to one episode in series 2 seem very apt at the moment with the financial crisis some banks have led us into. They’re a little bit naughty but…..


“Take heed the moral of this tale,
Be not a borrower or lender,
And if your finances do fail,
Make sure your banker's not a bender.

Blackadder, Blackadder,
He trusted in the Church,
Blackadder, Blackadder,
It left him in the lurch.

Blackadder, Blackadder,
His life was almost done.
Blackadder, Blackadder,
Who gives a toss? No-one!”

Friday, 3 October 2008

Think I Need a Good Laugh!

I've been counting how long it is to our summer holidays. Saddo aren't I. It's just we've had no summer this year and gone straight to what feels like winter not autumn.

I need a good laugh and there hasn't been any good comedy on TV recently so I think it's time I read the David Niven autobiographies again. Each time I read them I laugh for ages at the antics he and his friends got up to. He was such a good writer.

Another author who makes me laugh is Bill Bryson. Well let's face it, he's got to have a good sense of humour hasn't he, he's chosen to live in England poor soul! They made him Chancellor of Durham University in 2005. Wonder if it was because he was so nice about Durham in Notes From a Small Island?


I remember reading one of his books in Malta's airport when we were standing in a massive long queue waiting to go through passport control. They officials seemed to have taken a very long coffee break. I was trying to keep my laugh in but eventually I started laughing out loud. It's always embarrassing when you do that, you feel such a loony. A German woman further up the queue smiled at me and gave me the thumbs up. Probably wished she had my book.

I have a friend who puts a long letter in with my Christmas card each year and when I read it I start laughing. She's brilliant, all she does it update us on their activities, nothing weird or outlandish, it's just her take on life. It's hilarious. The last one was about how they have bought a caravan to tow and her husband's obsession with buying an awning. She didn't want one as she's seen too many "awning antics" on their travels. Needless to say he got his way and the letter was full of the perils of awnings. I would never have believed anyone could write so humorously about this. She can literally write about anything and make you laugh.


I keep telling her she should write a book but she says she hasn't got time.

We met as mature students doing a degree at Sunderland in the 'eighties and she was great fun. We went on a field trip to what was then Yugoslavia in the Polytechnic's bus. Yes a bus, and we laughed all the way across Holland, Germany, Austria and into Yugoslavia. Our faces and stomachs ached from laughing all day and into the night. I think the young students thought they were travelling with a bunch of escapees from a lunatic asylum. We meet up on occasions and we always talk about the daft things that happened on that trip.


On the way across Germany we stayed at a strange hotel. Quite an ugly sixties concrete type of thing. The World Cup was on and I got fed up with watching it so I went to bed and missed all the fun. My friend stayed up chatting to some of the students at the bar. She had drunk quite a bit and was being chatted up by one of the male students on one side and on the other side of her was what she thought was a woman wearing a lot of make up. Suffice to say it was the "woman" who was eventually doing the chatting up and other things which I won't go into here. However my friend says due to the alcoholic haze she took ages to cotton on to it. The evils of drink!

My friend is convinced we were staying in a house of ill repute and it was full of transvestites and prostitutes. I have to say the women did look a very rough bunch the next morning at breakfast, I hadn't noticed that the night before.

Another time they decided to take us to view the fjord where The Vikings was filmed. Well it was supposed to be a geography trip after all. All went well until the driver, a German ex prisoner of war who never returned to Germany after the war (and that's another story), navigated the bus down a narrow road. He drove us into a campsite, a nudist campsite and couldn't reverse back out of it! The lecturers were shouting at the students and telling them not to laugh but it was hard not to. The funniest thing I saw was three nude men walking along carrying a canoe over their heads. I totally lost it at that point. We never got to see the fjord either!

I keep telling her we ought to get together and write a book about all these things before we forget them altogether.

I feel better already just thinking about that trip! Need to ring her to meet up soon for another laugh.

Remembrance Sunday

    By Special Collections Toronto Public Library from Toronto, Canada (In Flanders' Fields) In Flanders fields the poppies blo...