Looking like the Koh-i-Noor
Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Alexander Beetle, Alice in Wonderland, All Shall have Prizes, Christopher Robin, Cottleston Pie, Dr Giles Fraser, Eeyore, genealogy, Jesus, John Tyerman Williams, Malt extract, Pooh and the Philosophers, Popper, Prince Harry, Prince William, St Paul’s Cathedral, St Swithun's Day, The Prodigal Son, The Queen, Thought for the Day, Tractatus, Winnie-the-Pooh, Wittgenstein
Dr Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor to St Paul’s Cathedral was on Thought for the Day and he spoke about The Caucus Race in Alice in Wonderland and the Dodo’s ethos of All Shall have Prizes.
It is forty days after St Swithun’s Day and I must say that we have not had constant rain, so there is a level of truth in the old adage.
Anyway, the Rev Dr declared that rewarding everyone undermined a sense of achievement. However, success should not influence the degree of parental love. The Prodigal Son found that the Father’s love was not dependent on his performance. Dr Fraser spoke about the apparent unfairness of the parable of the workers in the vineyard all receiving the same wages, but explained it as how love behaves. You can imagine Wills being annoyed that Harry gets away with his signature behaviour while he, closer in line, is expected, as the Elder Brother, to keep his nose clean.
Talking of lines to the throne, isn’t the genealogy bug gripping more and more people? Apparently, if you go back 30 generations, then you would find that Jesus was related to King David, after all. But so was every other inhabitant of Israel.
Trees become ever more branched if one widens the search and includes friends and relations, such as Rabbit and Alexander Beetle. Very Small Beetle was obviously staying overnight at Christopher Robin’s at the time of a census, but he may have gone round a gorse bush the wrong way and so disappeared off ancestry.co.uk and the International Genealogical Index. That was why Rabbit couldn’t find him in subsequent records.
Too many amateur genealogists are not paying sufficient attention to Popper (Sir Karl, 1902-94) and his theory of falsifiability. He said that no accumulation of instances could prove a theory to be correct. However, one counter-instance could disprove it, at least partly. Got that?
You see, all swans might be white, but an instance of a black one would falsify the proposition.
We need a conceivable test for our propositions. So, if we place a Rover robot with a plutonium battery that lasts ten years in a Las Vegas hotel room, we can verify if all Royals are white sheep, or if one black sheep exists. That means that we can make a scientific judgement. (see Pooh and the Philosophers by John Tyerman Williams, p 103-4)
So, Harry must return to Grandmamma and hear what the Crustimoney Proseedcake is to be, for he is a bear of very little brain and long words probably bother him. When he is asked why he behaved so stupidly, he will in all likelihood reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken? I don’t know why.
Eeyore could explain the whole sorry activity as Bon-hommy.
The Palace could refer to Wittgenstein and his observation in the Tractatus that what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.
Eventually HM might find a form of words:
Hello, Harry, wasn’t that you?
No, says Harry in a different voice.
Harry, says HM kindly, You haven’t any brain.
I know, says the Prince, humbly and then sort of boffs nervously as he swallows a spoonful of Extract of Malt. It’s just that it’s bad enough, granny, being miserable, what with no presents and no cake and no crown and no proper notice taken of me at all…
Well, now you know how your father feels We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it
Can’t all what?
Gaiety..song-and-dance…bon-hommy.. There it is!
So what shall I do with this pole?
Give it back to the nice girl at the club, Harry. These friends – they are the wrong sort of friends..so I should think they would make the wrong sort of headlines.
So, what should I do now, Grandmamma?
Go on an expotition and keep out of trouble
It will rain tonight
Let it come down!
(Exit Harry, pursued but not bare.)
It is going to be squelching over the Bank Holiday Weekend.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012
The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity
Should I go to the pulpit side of the sanctuary for a gluten-free communion wafer, or should I just risk it?
It was so hot last evening that the husband and I collapsed on our sofas and watched The Best of Men on I-player. It was about the genesis of the Paralympics and the spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville. Attitudes have changed since 1943 and now headlines are screaming: Thanks for the Warm-Up as there are ten days to go till the events begin. Boris joined in with a declaration that the Olympics had just been the antipasto.
There was a warm-up today as it was hot in the cathedral and even hotter under the clerical collar for the Praecentor, who had to announce that the Close Vicar had not turned up for Mattins nor Eucharist and so he had been dropped in the proverbial at the last moment re/ the sermon. I thought that I might have been able to step up and entertain the congregation with some of my diary entries, but clergy professionalism kicked in and the gap was covered.
Imagine if Sebastian Coe had not shown up to give his closing speech, or The Queen had refused to jump out of the helicopter on cue. Mind you, it might have been preferable if one or two pop has-beens had slept in.
Timing and punctuality are the something beginning with p of princes. Is it politesse? Anyway, once at Midnight Mass in the cathedral a St John’s Ambulance team discreetly slipped a stretcher between the rows and extracted a dead body. Being in the sanctuary, singing in the choir, I observed this although most of the congregation did not. Later choristers were asking what had happened and the explanation went along the lines of: Oh, some old biddy popped her clogs just before the sermon. Nice timing.
I remember being slightly shocked at such an attitude, but you can sympathise, especially when things go on too long, as in opening and closing ceremonies. Just as well Philip took the night off.
Assange came out with perfect timing to give his balcony speech, a kind of drag queen Evita, as a journalist pointed out. I half-expected him to launch into Don’t Cry for Me, Helpful Quito. Andrew Lloyd Webber might have given him a lead role or an understudy part for an ageing Elaine Paige. He thanked the Ecuadorians- did anyone know the collective term before? – for offering him asylum. However, it is an offer he can neither take up nor refuse. There is no such thing as a free lunch, not even at an embassy. Perhaps he had been mistakenly advised that it was part of The Sanctuary Hotel which has a spa and all those little bottles of goo and towelling robes and mules. I do not think sleeping on the floor of a small office is what he might have expected. The mini bar is probably empty and freebie hair conditioners might not be forthcoming. As far as we know, no one is offering him a Swedish massage.
Scott MacKenzie who wrote If You’re Going to San Francisco has died. Well, Julian, if you’re ultimately going to Guantanemo, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012
Annie Lennox, Boris Johnson, Brave New World, Darcey Bussell, David Cameron, Duchess of Cambridge, Eric Idle, Fatboy Slim, Grayson Perry, husband, London 2012, Lord Coe, Olympics, Poor Clares, Prince Harry, Prince William, Ray Davies, Russell Brand, The Queen, The Tempest, Trinity, Vivienne Westwood
The Tenth Sunday after Trinity
Clare of Assisi, Founder of the Minoresses (Poor Clares), 1253.
Maybe she would have something pertinent to say about the economy?
A scorcher with threatening thunder which disappeared after 2pm.
9pm saw my hubby and myself on our starter sofas, ready for action viewing.
A strangely nasal singer commenced the proceedings and a bad Churchill impression did not light my Olympic flame. Same speech from The Tempest ; different hats.
Prince Harry appeared, instead of The Queen. A solitary Duchess of Cambridge was there. Probably Wills was hovering overhead in a helicopter, watching in case his brother became too flirty with his wife. If Harry got too fresh, Wills might have Kate sent to the Tower and could marry Pippa the following day. They can be like that.
Batman came out of a Robin, but he was American, wasn’t he? What’s he got to do with it?
There was too much Our House, or One’s House, as someone joked at the Jubilee. Probably the Royal version is One’s Hice.
The Ku Klux clan appeared to be cycling past, or was it a belated Semana Santa procession for the Spanish contingent? No, it was The Pet Shop Boys. One Direction had the crowd singing the annoying Na-na-na-na refrain, while the whole of London seemed bent on street sweeping, which isn’t a bad idea. Cameron wants 100% youth employment, so there’s your answer, Dave.
Ray Davies of The Kinks understood that the crowd were not completely thick and so gave them a variation to join in – namely, Sha-la-la-la, which made a change. At least it was a catchy tune and distracted you from the bankers committing suicide by hurling themselves out of the Gherkin, which some would have found the best bit.
Russell Brand did his I am the Walrus act and I was glad that that awful mate of his, who only gets him into trouble, wasn’t there, namely Mr Woss. Grayson Perry, as Clare seemed to be with him, but, then again, it all happened so quickly that I might have been mistaken.
Fatboy Slim – I recognised the oxymoron, was at the centre of a huge octopus, while Jesse J gave everyone their big chance to sing La la la la confidently, because by now most of them knew the words.
The fashion parade was interesting but the commentators did not elaborate on the designers. I thought that Annie Lennox was probably in Vivienne Westwood for her number, but I failed to recognise the Dracula connection.
The pixels and lighting were stunning throughout. Eric Idle’s skating nuns would not have been out of place on Duddingston Loch . Idle wasn’t shot out of the cannon, but Russell Brand, no, Russell Grant could have been. He had had plenty of practice on Strictly. Now that he has stopped dancing, he might have put on weight and got stuck, however. Sergei, the meerkat might have done it well, but he is anxious to maintain his dignity, so he might not have been too enthusiastic.
The rap did not appeal to me, even though the audience now had the opportunity to repeat, Ay-oh in response to Baby, let’s go. I thought that was Teletubbie lingo.
Harry was getting a bit bored and started chewing, even just after the big We will rock you number. I hoped that the Koreans or Iranians wouldn’t get any ideas for a We will nuke you number.
The Greek flag was raised and that would have been a good moment for a whip-round, I felt. The Mods on scooters could have whizzed around, collecting the bags.
From Greeks we fast-forwarded to Georgios Michael, who danced all over Damian’s sprayed flag, singing about Freedom and wearing a miniature For The Love of God skull on his belt buckle. Again, that song title could have suggested a panty pad advertising jingle. Maybe he was out on bail or had a new release coming soon. Wake me up before you go-go might have given the crowds a chance to vocalise the double syllables that they had been practising throughout the evening.
The London Eye becoming a baldacchino was a powerful symbol of immanence over a vacuum, I thought. Maybe Zeus or Boris was meant to bless the gathering, but there was no sense of the divine that I could detect. Lennon’s Imagine stated that there was no heaven nor hell, but only sky above us. It was moving, but a profound sense of spiritual emptiness swept over me. Were we meant to worship Man as Superman? After the exposure of the clay feet of the Tiger Woods of this world, I could only feel limitation, not exaltation.
Past gods materialised in the shape of Mercury- Freddy, to be precise. He raised the bar of audience participation by challenging the crowd to replicate fairly complex vowel sequences. The figures on the screens made me think of Brave New World and the feelies. Was I to become a pleb?
It must have been difficult to entertain everyone while 204 flags were being brought in and athletes were filling in the stripes, like painting by numbers. Indian drums created tension and suspense, but the white box set building was a natural point for nipping off to the loo, but not if you were in the crowd, obviously. I wondered about the facilities. Basically, it was going on too long for anyone’s bladder capacity. No wonder Philip had given it a miss.
Darcey Bussell’s Firebird section was dazzling, but then there were speeches and that French guy never seemed to smile, though he recognised that our hosting had been happy and glorious, to coin a phrase-not. Coe smiled, but then he has a job lined up for the next few years, which is more than the marvellous volunteers probably have. To continue The Tempest references, we might echo Antonio, the usurping King of Milan:
…methinks I see it in thy face,
What thou should’st be…
My strong imagination sees a crown
Dropping upon thy head..
I was relieved when the accident-prone Johnson managed to avoid setting himself alight, by furling his flag too close to the flames. Maybe that was why the Duke of Cambridge was hovering overhead, ready to unleash gallons of water from on high. Or was he on standby to douse Boris’ burning bush or to dampen Harry’s passion? Maybe he was trying to persuade his granny to jump. Coe addressed Your Majesties, so he clearly expected them to drop in. Perhaps they had missed their cue. As a fallback, the massed pipe bands could have played:
Oh ye cannae shove your granny oot a ‘copter-x2
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012
Andy Murray, Arctic Monkeys, Daniel Craig, Danny Boyle, Great Ormond Street, Helen Mirren, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Kenneth Branagh, Kirstie Allsopp, Minack Theatre, MRSA, Neil Oliver, Olympics, Paul McCartney, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Federer, Sean Connery, Sergeant Pepper, Sir Chris Hoy, The Queen, The Tempest
I decided to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. The only clouds over the stadium were Danny Boyle’s ingenious examples on sticks. I felt my brain was in candyfloss as I witnessed Kenneth Branagh in a stovepipe hat, spouting lines from The Tempest. I felt that Boyle could have saved some money by hiring Neil Oliver as he had recently been reciting the same speech at the Minack on Coast. I suppose he might have forgotten his lines by now.
But why was Isambard Kingdom Brunel – his middle name another possible question on Mastermind-ranting on Glastonbury Tor? Why were child patients, bouncing in Great Ormond Street beds? They can’t have been so ill, being subjected to the terror of huge spidery monsters. Maybe the long-legged spinners represented MRSA bugs and other virulent and difficult to cure infections which seem to swarm all over our wards.
Why were Sergeant Pepper and his entourage hot on the heels of men in the trenches? I felt rather confused.
Then I was stunned that Daniel Craig brought in HM, and I don’t mean Helen Mirren. I wondered if both ladies might not have preferred Sean Connery, or Pierce Brosnan as an escort. I know I would have.
At a crucial point, when Sir Chris Hoy was carrying our flag, the cameras scrolled to The Queen, who was examining her cuticles. She may have been wearing a fascinator, but fascinated she was not. She would probably have preferred watching it all on the telly. She didn’t even get to light the flame, and she was probably the most qualified to do so, as she was Corgi-registered, according to some wag.
The Czech team made me laugh with their preparation for our weather. Kirstie Allsopp was probably admiring their wellies with attitude.
Argentina marched past. I was hoping that they would be overwhelmed by British confidence and would give up all claims to the Malvinas.
Some athletes were chewing, or texting on their mobile phones. I thought of the minimum standard of behaviour that I had expected from my pupils and I bristled at the parade of bad manners.
There seemed to be an accompanying toga-ed young person who cradled a copper shell which looked like a begging bowl for contributions for the country being represented. There was one Indian woman volunteer who was not in a toga and who simply muscled in on all the attention. Later she did not seem at all apologetic. I supposed that she had had her fifteen minutes of fame. That Andy Warhol has a lot to answer for.
When Switzerland marched past I was disappointed that Roger was not carrying the flag. He had sensibly gone to bed early as he had a match the following day. He was very wise, as it meant that he avoided having to repetitively sing, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, at the instigation of a curiously puffy-faced Paul McCartney, who looked as if an early night and a healthy microwaveable Linda-meal would have done him good. He needn’t have felt threatened by the Arctic Monkeys, at any rate.
Rafa wasn’t there either, but half of Spain seemed to be in their parade, so no one missed him. I suppose that it gave Spaniards something to do, seeing as they don’t have any jobs.
There was a Hong Kong team and a mainland China one. No wonder they win so many medals. They cheat by entering twice.
The fireworks and pixel lighting were sensational and Heatherwick’s copper petals came together symbolically and formed a flaming cauldron, worthy of Andy Murray’s mother’s spell-inducing incantation:
Make Andy triumph over ditch-delivered drabs.
It was one thirty before I hit the sack: I knew I’d regret it over the weekend.
Maybe I’ve got it wrong, I considered. Maybe it is Ben Ainslie who is going to carry the torch. At least he won’t be fazed by a little water, since he is practically a Merman. I admired his full page b&w endorsement of sunglasses in the How To Spend It section of The Financial Times, with his sexy stubble.
I like cool shades as much as I like cool dudes. My optician advised me to wear sunglasses, even in the rain, as you could still be affected by glare. A medic had commented, however, that over-use of reactive lenses was positively linked to high levels of neuroticism and madness. Oh well, they are cheaper than a blepharoplasty and Jackie Kennedy carried them off. The only problem is that I fail to see much in the murky gloom of the present summer and so I fell to wondering how Posh Becks could keep an eye on what her husband was up to, if she continually resorted to those owlish lenses. They probably don’t prevent her from seeing well enough to put in his pin number, however.
You don’t see the Queen wearing sunglasses much. Not that she’d needed to for her Regatta thingy, when a soaking band of singers stood before the Royal party and Prince Philip had nearly burst his bladder trying not to wet himself, laughing at the state of them. The old boy had become extremely enervated at the hornpipe music, what with having been a naval officer. At least the rain had held off for most of the day, though you couldn’t have seen anything from the bank side, whether you were wearing sunglasses or not, I’d heard.
I also wondered if the Queen was a fan of Who Do You Think You Are? Clearly, she is fully aware of her own identity, but she might have been alarmed that she was related to Boris Johnson. Matthew Pinsent is less embarrassing. So long as there are no Germanic links to Boris Becker or Angela Merkel! As Pinsent rowed by, with his back between his knees, did she wonder if he had more of the seed of the Conqueror in him than she did? All that barge stuff and burnished throne imagery might not compensate if he had.
As for Philip, he was Greek and possibly partly responsible for their huge deficit and possible default. However, he has always shown a good example as to how to survive a rainy stint at Balmoral, or wherever. You’ve got to admire the man’s resilience: all those damp corgis and midge-infested puddles! Still, the water is soft in Scotland and gentle in a good malt. So there are compensations. But even a stalwart such as he had to be hospitalised after his thorough soaking. The medics didn’t tell him there was no such thing as a chill or invite him to phone NHS Direct. He’s probably got BUPA.
Water- there is so much of it about this summer, I concluded. People used to say when I was younger that I had so much enthusiasm that I could have bottled it. Now, with all the talk of water meters and reservoir repairs and Victorian pipework renovation there was a certainty that prices would rise. The fashionable thing was to dig a bore hole. I could produce my own label: Suttonford Soft – straight from Izaak Walton chalkstreams. In smaller print: culled from the countryside of the Compleat Angler. Maybe Alan Titchmarsh could launch it. He seemed to be everywhere. Raymond Blanc and Jamie Oliver might take a few bottles for their local eateries. It would be good to exploit the stuff that was ruining my life. Maybe I could light a candle to St Swithun in Winchester Cathedral, begging for financial success, and, as a back-up, apply to The Bank of Dave for a handout. If Theo is to be let down by his investment in Dyas, he may be interested in-say-a 40% stake for £100,000, reducing to 10% after three years of unmitigated success. The thought of Duncan Ballantyne and Peter Jones fighting it out for my attention gratifies me. Step back, Deborah Meaden.
Hello! I blinked. I’d wakened up and found that it was St Swithun’s Day. Perversely, it wasn’t raining-at the moment- I qualified. I was getting into the swing of Mark Tully’s aquatic compilation of watery readings on Something Understood on Radio 4 with the joys of The Raindrop Prelude. One had to admit that Tully compiles an interesting melange. He included Longfellow on the dreariness of rain, protesting that behind the clouds, the sun still shone. Yeah, right. Maybe through a Flybe porthole, but not this far down.
Ella Fitzgerald had sung:
Into each life some rain must fall
but too much is falling in mine.
Now I could identify with that.
It was all very well for Thoreau to say that rain made us feel at one with Nature or God, but he was referring to the Spring or Fall variety, not the unseasonable cascades we had been experiencing. Yet I seemed to recall an old part song called As torrents in summer, so all this perception of climate change might be old hat after all.
There might have been something Romantic about a full-blown orage, such as that portrayed in Debussy’s Jardins sous la Pluie and something very like special pleading in Sitwell’s positive focus on the rain at the Crucifixion. Apparently it could not dampen Christ’s love for us. Maybe it helped to wash away our sins.
Well tried, Mark. You must have had some kind of placatory response from the Rain God after your paeon of praise for the pluie. You seem to have held it off for one day, but let’s not get up our hopes too quickly.
In the couple of hours in which the drizzle desisted, I stepped out gingerly into my back garden, tripping over my Coltsfoot wellies, which I’d forgotten were sitting on the doormat and which were now waterlogged. Cascades of rotting rosebuds and blossoms required dead heading. However, the hostas were- as yet- ungnawed. The dispersal of coffee grounds from the trendy shop had caused the slugs to limbo under someone else’s fence, in a caffeine-induced high.
Every time I type wellies into my computer, it corrects me and produces willies. What is going on? I thought willies was an acronym for people who work in London yet live in Edinburgh. Somebody is having a laugh.
It had been announced by The National Trust that this year had been apocalyptic for birds and other wildlife, but slugs and mosquitos were lovin’ it. I congratulated myself for having given them a hard grind- literally-by emptying out the cafetiere straight into hostas at my back door. (Or is that hostae?)
I tried to harvest as many redcurrants and blackcurrants as I could, before the wood pigeons descended. They were not having any kind of Apocalypse now, as far as I could determine.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012