Thursday, October 02, 2014

"And Your Point Is..?"

I'm writing this in the relative safety of our loft, while downstairs, our new kittens are tearing the house apart. Losing their testes hasn't made any discernible difference to their urge to destroy, so I'm not quite sure what to do. Perhaps a giant wheel is the answer.

There's no theme to this post. It's just a hotchpotch of things I've noticed during the last few days.

First, another candidate for my gallery of bad art, courtesy of the Lewes branch of Pizza Express:

I remember creating doodles like this in the Paint programme of Windows 3.1, if I was feeling particularly bored.

It must have taken all of five minutes to do the curved lines, then click and fill the gaps with different colours.

It's a pity, as the Pizza Express itself is lovely. They deserve better than this:

Next, a rather uncomfortable choice of bookmarks for a title about African tribes:

UK readers will recognise the Golly branding from Robinson's marmalade. I was surprised to learn that it wasn't ditched until 2002. According to Wikipiedia, the "brand director" at Robinson's insisted that:

"We are retiring Golly because we found families with kids no longer necessarily knew about him. We are not bowing to political correctness, but like with any great brand we have to move with the times."

On the subject of moving with the times, I've noticed that in the 1960s, it was the Panther imprint that took the lead in spicing up innocuous novels with saucy covers:

When the once-popular Howard Spring's sales started to dip, someone in Pather's sister company, Fontana, decided that a little more sauce needed to be added. This cover, for a novel that was originally published in 1934, promised more than it delivered:

Next, a wonderful advert from a novel published in the 1890s:

As you can see, Queen Victoria herself described the hats as "extremely becoming", which is is almost indecently effusive by her standards.

(*NB - I have now been informed that this endorsement would have been from 'The Queen' magazine. Another dream shattered.)

Sadly, Mr Heath's business didn't survive the hatless postwar years, but you still see the beaver statues that graced the top of his premises. There is also an interesting piece about Henry Heath's hats here.

Next, one of my favourite bookmarks so far: a menu from the RMS Ascania, for Friday November 27th, 1925:

The Corn on Cob au Beurre  and Ice Cream and Wafers aren't terribly exciting. Was this for the 2nd Class passengers?

I haven't been on a cruise, as I abhor any holiday in which one is forced to socialise with other tourists, particularly when the only means of escape is overboard. I don't go abroad to make friends with someone from Leatherhead.

The one time my wife and I went on a group holiday, it was a disaster. The trip turned out to be mainly composed of Daily Mail readers (I think it was a special offer in the paper) and I spent the entire week hiding from people.

I started off with good intentions. However,  an agonising group lunch, during which a woman boasted that her husband was "big in concrete" exposed the gaping void between our worlds. I was later caught hiding from everyone in a vineyard, while my wife explained that I was "shy".

The trick is to travel with a small group of like-minded people. I once shared a villa with some people who worked at the House of Commons, via a tenuous connection with someone I knew in my teens. We met at Gatwick Airport and by the time our plane had landed, we were laughing and trading good-humoured insults like old friends. Every day was a real laugh.

At the end of the holiday we swapped names and addresses and agreed to meet up in London, but naturally none of us bothered.

It can be quite comforting to let your hair down with complete strangers without the messy business of maintaining a friendship, which leads to my final bookmark: an agenda for the British Association for Behavioural Psychology's annual conference at Exeter, in 1976.

The agenda for Saturday 24th is a punishing schedule of symposiums and lectures, including the following:
  • Group relaxation with agoraphobics
  • Marital group therap
  • Group relaxation with stammerers
  • Training the compulsive gambler
  • Imaginal exposure with dental phobics
  • Cost effectiveness of behavioural psychology
  • The aetiology and treatment of sex disorders
The list goes on, but I'm sure you'll be as pleased as I was to learn that in the evening, between 8.00 and midnight, they had a disco. The thought of a hall full of behavioural psychologists bopping away to "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" makes me wish I was there:

"Oooh-hoo, Nobody knows it. When I was down. I was your clown. Oooh-hoo..."


Rog said...

Most entertaining Pot Pourri Steerforth. I'm going to save "big in concrete" for my first cruise.

MaconLeary said...

Yep, "big in concrete" propelled me to the comments too. Marvellous.

David Gouldstone said...

A very entertaining post which made me smile several times. But surely the comment about the hats is from a magazine called 'The Queen', not from Her Maj herself?

Rob Scovell said...

I once took a taxi from Worthing to Heathrow with my children as it was cheaper than our combined rail fairs.

I started chatting with the driver and we got talking about holidays. I said that I liked to visit places with a Cold War or WW2 connection.

He said that he lived for his annual two weeks in Las Vegas.

The rest of the trip was quiet.

Steerforth said...

Rog - With any luck, it will sound like a veiled, Mafia-style threat.

MaconLeary - The same woman also pronounced pasta as pahsta, in an atempt to seem more genteel.

David - Ah yes, the penny has dropped: Harpers and Queen. What a shame. I loved the idea of endorsements from Queen Victoria.

Rob - I'm very familiar with the look that confirms that I've said the wrong thing. Usually, it starts with someone asking me if I'm following the golf/cricket/football etc.

Canadian Chickadee said...

You're so right about cruises. A friend once described a cruise to me as "a dental convention that goes to sea." I don't think he's ever been on another one.

Do love the hats, though. However, in this day and age, I can't think of anything that dates a woman more than a hat -- unless one is on the way to ascot or being presented to the Queen of course!

lyn said...

I was fascinated by the Garfield Potatoes on the menu so looked them up. Chips cut into cubes & sprinkled with diced ham & chopped parsley. I wonder who Garfield was?

Steerforth said...

And yet if there's a wedding, women jump at the chance to wear a hat.

I used to be a big fan of hats in my youth and once bought a black felt trilby, which unfortunately made me look more like an Orthodox Jew than the Left Bank intellectual I was aiming for.

Steerforth said...

Lyn - It could be the US President Garfield, who was assassinated while in office. Perhaps the dish was a potato-based tribute.

George said...

To be fair, I doubt the Ascania was puttering about from port to port in the Caribbean or even the Baltic. They were crossing the Atlantic (I suppose), and not doing so on a ship because they disliked airliners.

Corn on the cob is a fine dish, and I have known persons of thoroughly epicurean taste and figure who think of it as a delicacy. Now, the fellow I have most in mind had a patch planted behind his office, for the moment you pick corn, the sugars begin to turn to starch.

Pizza Express was misled by the decorator. The painting would have made a fine trompe-l'oeil stained-glass window if properly framed and equipped with a curtain for the dark hours. Perhaps you should suggest that.

lyn said...

It's as good a theory as any other! Maybe it was his favourite dish? Or did he come from somewhere known for their potatoes like Idaho? Must look it up. Did you know there was a potato museum in Idaho?

Steerforth said...

George - I'm trying to imagine people in evening dress tackling corn on the cob with butter. I agree that it's a lovely dish, but one that's best eaten alone.

I agree about the stained glass idea - much better. I suppose that we should at least be grateful that they avoided the usual cliches of Italian eateries - large b&w photos of Sicilian back streets, wrinkled widows' faces and glamorous women.

MikeP said...

Knowing the way companies like Panther used to work, I wouldn't be at all surprised if those covers feature people from the office dragooned into getting their kit off for a bit of extra money. It was the 60s, after all..

Steerforth said...

Mike - I'm told that it still goes on, but with less gratuitous nudity, sadly.

mahlerman said...

A very diplomatic explanation from the Brand Director at Robinsons - and it reminded me that no such explanation was needed as recently as the 'swinging sixties'(an explosion of youth I am still searching for) by the publishers of the august Record Guide, who confidently called the F major quartet by Dvorak 'The Nigger', later changed to the now-familiar 'American'.

Steerforth said...

I remember it well. Wasn't it also the name of the dog in the Dambusters?

Little Nell said...

I have no desire to go on a cruise; it would mean losing sight of dry land. The woman whose husband was ‘big in concrete’ could have been making a veiled reference to her disposal of his dead body.

Steerforth said...

Nell - That's a good idea for a short story.

The husband who was big in concrete was sitting next to his wife, but didn't utter a word throughout the meal. Perhaps, if one of us had switched the conversation to the merits of reinforced concrete, he might have livened up a bit. I'll never know.

Lucy R. Fisher said...

"We are NOT bowing to political correctness" = We are bowing to political correctness AND NOT BEFORE TIME.

Love it.

Steerforth said...

Lucy - I couldn't agree more.

As far as I remember, the whole political correctness phenomenon (i.e. people complaining about it) began with the tabloid story about "loony left" councillors/teachers banning "Baa Baa Black Sheep". That was at least a decade before Golly was retired.