Saturday, November 7, 2015

Skeletons in and out of the cupboard

Friday 6 November 2015

24 degrees.  Glorious!

I have been reading, with interest, a book OH bought me for our anniversary.  Based on the diaries of 'ordinary' people and starting in 1945 when peace was about to be announced. 

The introduction of the book starts as follows;

'In 1936 the anthropologist Tom Harrisson arrived back in England from the South Pacific, where he had been studying cannibals.  Within weeks of his return he had arrived at a startling conclusion: remote tribes were all very interesting, but they were not more interesting than the inhabitants of Bolton, where Harrisson lived.'

If I hadn't read this book, I would never have realised that cheese could be used to start fires, that people have always had trouble with knowing what to do with Spam and how shockingly anti-Semitic was the average British diarist.  Or that Boots the chemist had over 500 lending libraries.  Or that small children used Victory loaves (at 2 lbs too big to eat in one day) as footballs.

From this insight and in collaboration with others, the Mass Observation project was born. By 1936 people were requested to write in free form monthly diaries.  Millions of words were written and collated and archived in the University of Sussex and the first project was drawn to a close in 1967.  The project opened again in 1981 and I read an extract from a Politics student who wrote about watching the news and eating Weetabix.  It was all very Adrian Mole....  Some of the letters are available online

One of the longest lasting diarists was Nella Last of Barrow in Furness who wrote so much about her everyday life and whose diary stretched to 12 million words.  This led me to thinking about Gogglebox.  What made it so interesting was the fact that the contributors were 'normal' people - until they started acting up for the camera.  I particularly liked the Indian family with their doilies and cups of tea.  And also the family with the German father, tattooed Goth mother and the boy friend who never said a word.  There was once an episode with 'celebrities' and they were really boring - especially Noel Gallagher who was with Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.  He kept grunting 'Oh yeah.  I did that'.  The girls ignored him and Naomi filed her nails and Kate was playing house.

I must have written thousands of words over this year but I really don't feel that I have put down anything for posterity.  All I seem to write about is OH, the dog and how my clients periodically (and in some cases, systematically) torture me.   If it puts some people off wanting to be estate agents then it will have served some purpose.  Other agents keep writing about how they love the job and how much fun it is.  I wonder who they are trying to convince?  Wrote to Sussex University and asked if they would like my two pennyworth on life, on a regular basis.

OH came back from picking up some insoles for his lamentably flat feet and said he had bumped into the same publican as last week and he had kept him talking for ages.  I said that was the hazard of going into his bar.  He had told him about a man whom we both know who spends a lot of time in the States.  The publican said he had killed someone whilst driving drunk and had subsequently committed suicide.  I was so shocked.  Firstly at the tragedy for everyone involved and secondly at how the publican was spreading this news about - and probably selling lots of drinks off the back of it.  At 4 euros a pint too.  What a horrible man he is.  His widow is back in a week to sort out their affairs in France. She will be just thrilled to hear about the gossip.  Poor woman.

After yesterday's fiasco with the soda crystals and the acer leaves which refused to skeletonise, I went out into the garden and found that nature had been beavering away on my behalf and had produced some wonderful little partially skeletonised leaves on the hydrangea.  Put them in bleach and they whitened into wonderful ghostly forms.  I am thinking earrings...

Went out and battled with the brambles in the main border.  Sky iridescent blue and tiny golden leaves high up on the tall trees.  Pampas grass plumes sparkled.  It may be that I no longer love gardening.  My self talk becomes very negative.