As I prepared to leave for the states, everybody on the mews was preparing summer planting! Pots and tubs are full of growing things, and the greenery and flowers alongside the doorways is wonderful to see! Lilacs and rhododendrons color the parks now, and flowering trees. We went to Clifton St. nursery to buy tomatoes and bedding flowers Sunday morning for the roof. Beth and Bob have three new pots to replace the stolen ones, and Kathy started us some sweet peas to run up poles we put in. I can hardly wait to return to see them.
Have you seen BBC’s Father Ted? It’s an irreverent comedy about a tall graying priest on a craggy Irish island. His remote parish is punishment for misusing donations to a sick child for a Vegas holiday. He’s saddled with a bug-eyed clueless assistant Dougal and vicious Father Jack, the pastor, often snarling “Drink!” from his armchair: he swilled furniture polish after the liquor cabinet ran dry. The fathers are cared for by devoted housekeeper Mrs. Doyle. Their accents and asides, peppered with “feck” and “fur th’ luvva Chroist” when they mess up or are caught in silly fibs amazes us -- but it plays without causing riots! In one scene, the bishop slips into a bubble bath tub with a sweet young thing but I read that it’s a favorite of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
London’s election for mayor is on, and the colorful “Red Ken” Livingston will win. With past communist leanings, he was part of the London council that Maggie Thatcher abolished. This city, banking capitol of Europe yet run by a mayor outspoken on the evils of capitalism, should be interesting. (This is different from the Lord Mayor, chief executive of The City of London, run by the corporation and guilds. Even the Queen must ask permission before entering the City.) Livingston broke from his party over Tony Blair’s choice of another Laborite, who has awakened only electorate yawns, and who last week married his roommate of 5 years. Much of England today eschews marriage.
Quaint Victorian London doesn’t exist: a quarter of the city is black or Asian, political correctness is de rigueur, and TV programming leaves little to the imagination. One C of E minister is heading for a sex change operation, supported by his bishop, parish, and two past wives. Another change: London’s pea soup fogs have lifted, thanks to the demise of coal fires and leaded petrol. Air is cleaner and buildings are no longer veiled in black grime. However, open the windows and immediately everything inside is covered with a fine layer of sooty grit.
I have mentioned it’s difficult to establish newspaper delivery or phone service. Newcomers need yellow pages to help arrange all the moving in. We got yellow pages the last week of June, promised for April, which for new residents (i.e. us) annoys. We were told they’d run out, and new ones weren’t yet printed. When I called BT, April being past, I was told they didn’t actually send the books; call another number. Since it was a bank holiday, no one answered, nor was there an answering machine. Everyone’s phone number is changed systemwide anyway, the third time in ten years for London, so numbers in guidebooks and brochures are no longer useable.
Our garbage disposal was on order for 2 weeks. The TV cable broke after we played a tape, and I was told they’d send a new remote. When I inquired about the delay, I learned they were awaiting a shipment of remotes. We got two remotes, finally, but the repairman came anyway to fix the cable, since remotes weren’t the problem after all. I’m now refusing to pay the cable people. AOL here are also a headache: tech aid is in Dublin, and their web pages and methods of doing business are ponderous. I marvel that the empire has lasted this long and have new respect for muddling through.
What’s your favorite term for money? The Scots use dough and everyone here recognizes bread or readies, but the favorite is dosh. (Doss was the cost of a bed at night.) There is wonga, lolly, brass, or wad. Quid, used like buck, came from Latin “what one needs” over 400 years ago. A pony is £25 and a grand £1000. Bookies and punters call a pound a bleeder, as in losing cash or blood. Cockneys use rhyming slang, as “trouble and strife” for “wife” so a fivah (fiver) is a Lady Godiva, and dosh becomes “orange squash” which some of you know as a summer drink. We say orange soda.
Pub songs, best lubricated with a pint of ale before voicing:
*Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner
That I love London so,
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner
That I think of her wherever I go.
I get a funny feelin’ inside of me
When I walk up and down.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner that I love London town!
Hitler, he only had one ball!
Rommel had two, but very small.
Himmler had something sim’ler
But poor old Goebbels had no balls at all!
My Old Man Said Follow the Van
*We 'ad to move away, the rent we couldn't pay
The movin' van came 'round just after dark
Just me and my old man, loadin' things into the van
Which we'd often done before, let me remark!
We packed all that we could pack in the vanand that's a fact
We put inside all that we could put inside
Then we packed all that we could pack on the tailfin on the back
Till there wasn't any room for me to ride!
My old man said follow the van,
An' don't dilly dally o the way!
Off went the van with me 'ome packed in it
I walked behind with my old cock linnet
I dillied and dallied, dallied and I dillied,
Lost me way and don't know where to roam!
Oh you can't trust the Specials like the old time coppers
When you can't find your way home!
The last is one of my favorites but there are many many more!
Painting students started from my dining room table and we covered the town!
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