Ipsum Lorum and all that…

As I write this, the date is April 1st. Thinking back to my teenage years, April 1st was a day filled with trying to fool others and equally not to be seen to be fooled by them. I can’t really remember the details of the kind of pranks we did but I honestly recall them as being tame and innofensive.

In 2021 the challenges of home schooling, home working and in general not having any contact with any others has certainly contributed to an already diminishing tradition. If we are not in direct contact with others, a lot more effort is probably required, although social media posts I guess are an alternative…one could argue they are just one big continuous spoof and not to be believed, but that is perhaps a blog for another day.

Even TV and newspapers used to get in on the act. In the late 1950’s there was a BBC documentary all about the Spaghetti Trees in Switzerland complete with (faked) footage of farm labourers harvesting spaghetti from trees. As a trusted and serious broadcaster, many were indeed fooled by this. You also have to remember that pasta was not normally a part of the British diet in those days other than for those of Italian origin so people would really have no clue as to where it came from.

Fast forward to the 1970’s and the UK’s trusted broadsheet Guardian Newspaper did a whole pull out section of the paper about a new overseas holiday destination called San Serrife. There were actually lots of other printing related clues and puns embodied in the article. It was very well put together with articles on climate, entertainment, how to get there and so on. Many respected uk companies even had joined in on the article and had feature adverts on the pages. Again, bear in mind the period. People did not have home computers or word processors so there would be no familiarity with font names etc. that would give the game away. Back then you would have to be in the printing trade to have familiarity with San Serif, Arial, Times New Roman and so on.

But, these days we are all quite good about being chair side experts on so many matters…often to the immense frustration of the professionals who have worked tirelessly in their fields for a lifetime.

Crime detection and criminal investigation – CSI, Morse, Vera, Midsommer Murders, The Bill. Dramas and documentaries over the years have made us all well versed in the terminology, techniques and methods of police work. Cooking, and baking…well where do I even start on this.

But the icing on the cake, if you forgive the pun is house buying, selling and onward improving of them. Here in the UK we have several TV programmes that have turned us into experts on valuing property, the of marketing challenging houses that are difficult to sell…and how to turn the ugly duckling house that you have bought into a beautiful swan!

As someone who is just involved in this process at the moment, you might think this would be helpful and added armoury to guide me in the process. Well I am really not so sure…a little knowledge as they say, is dangerous. I now see hidden dangers everywhere….that pretty stream near the back garden…well that’s a flood risk; that nice outlook over the fields…well surely that will be built on; that quaint sloping ceiling from 1800…hmmm, is there subsidence; character property?…oh, it will be expensive to modernise; modern property…difficult to add character………and so on.

But these really are First world problems, and with good judgment and some paid for professional help we can clear our heads of the confusion and enjoy the next step of the process.

Going back to the world of printing, anyone who has ever had a mock up or outline of a document prepared by a printer or graphic designer will find it full of made up Latin Lookalike text called Ipsum Lorum text. It’s there really just to give an idea of the finished product once your own personal input is there.

A bit of a life message there I think!

Well that grabbed my attention!

I follow quite a few bloggers, and indeed there is no particular connection amongst these other than the posts they write amuse, entertain or educate me.

Occasionally they just confuse me! I am sure I too am guilty of the same on occasion of leading in one direction and sending to another.

Lost?

I know have quite an esoteric following in the world of dentists, veterinary staff, cooks, travel writers and a whole raft of people whose skills or interests have not been disclosed. I just hope at least some of what I write fills a void in their blog reading life.

So, back to the blogs I read. One I read at the beginning of the week was titled..How to get more Instagram followers without posting photographs. I was slightly puzzled by this as I thought Instagram was about where to show your photographs. I haven’t used Instagram for long but evidently I have been doing the wrong thing by actually publishing photos rather than creating brand ‘me’ and promoting me. This oversight explains why I have about 20 Instagram followers rather than 20,000!

The next day however I read a blog post simply titled ‘Finally a sofa’.

the story sofa…

That resonated far more with me, as like so many people, with more time on our hands we have been trying to put them to good use, but need the tools to do that.

Over the last weeks I could have done a blog called ‘Finally hedge clippers, deckchair covering, strimmer wire and printer toner’. All of these very First World requirements and never really the kind of items that would have pleased Robinson Crusoe too much if washed up on his desert island beach. But for me better than a lifeboat, outboard motor with fuel and a map that Robinson hoped for on each tide.

life is a beach?

On the subject of ‘how to….?’, in the UK we had a childrens TV programme in the 1970’s (..and I think it returned again in the early 2000’s) called How? It never did anything on how to big up your social media presence….and even if such things had been in existence today, they would not have gone there, but it was great in that it explained how things work and in many cases how to replicate them.

One of my favourites was how toothpaste comes out with stripes!

For the non experts in toothpaste manufacturing, it has dyes positioned in the tube neck that colours the outer edge of the paste just as it exits. The TV programme actually then gave you a toothpaste recipe and then showed you how to unseal a used tube of toothpaste, fill up with your own that would then squirt out stripey toothpaste.

How do they do that?

Happy Days

PS …told you this blog was liked by Dentists!!!!

As this is a blog, all comments welcome……..

New tricks for old dog….

You cannot teach an old dog new tricks is a well used idiom in the English language.

I am not sure if it exists in other languages but it probably translates quite well as compared with more confusing expressions such as ‘this is the exception that proves the rule’ , or even more confusingly ‘pardon my French’ uttered when people are indeed not speaking French, but speaking English, but with words you wouldn’t want your mother to hear!

The etymological origins of this are quite interesting in that way, way back some French was used in England and occasionally in error people would intersperse English with some random French phrases and then realise their error and apologise for it.

It is true that it takes longer for an old dog to learn new things, but it is not impossible, and the same for us humans. At one time there was almost an acceptance of once beyond a certain age, you really don’t do new things or make changes other than really radical things such as changing the day you go to Aldi from a Monday to a Tuesday!

If you think I am joking, I am aware of elderly couple who recently took this dramatic move and it was such a big thing they felt it merited being broadcast to all interested parties via a Whats App group message and then the services of a family member who happens to be trained counselor to assist them through their trauma!

But it seems we are as a nation and a generation getting better at doing new stuff.

Running clubs have new members joining in there 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in part helped by the popularity of Parkrun – if you are not familiar with the concept of Parkrun….Google it.

TV cookery programmes such as Masterchef and Bake off have inspired countless thousand to be more adventurous in (or even just find…) the kitchen.

And then there are the thousands or indeed tens of thousands of people writing – whether they are novelists or just simple bloggers…more than ever thoughts and ideas are being translated into the written word.

The opportunities to do new things are endless…ok, some of them are very expensive and costs and time exclude these for many people.

For me I would love to learn to fly and really hope that one day circumstance will allow this but that certainly is on the ‘one day, but not now list’, but meantime for all of us the chances to learn and enjoy unmeasurable new things are boundless and very accessible.

So, Carpe diem !

….and one day you will remember this blog as your starting point for learning Latin !

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It’s our other national food…

Growing up as a teenager in Scotland and influenced by both TV, cinema and bill board advertising I strongly remember adverts for Irn Bru stating ‘it’s your other national drink’…that first drink in question being Scotch Whisky.

The two drinks actually have a similar (ish) colour but not much else in common other than being produced in Scotland. One of the other advertising straplines for Irn Bru was ‘made from girders’.

They actually went on from that to have some clever and sometimes risque advertising…a quick Google search will enlighten and amuse you.

For those of you from outside the UK as a whole (as Irn Bru can be purchased in England and Wales and many other places worldwide where there is Scottish ex pat demand for it), it’s a very sugary soft drink that does have some iron content (albeit a tiny percentage) hence it’s name.

It was a bit of a dentist’s nightmare although sugar free versions now exist and the original has now had sugar content reduced to comply with UK sugar tax regulations.

However the title of this blog is about food not drink but there is a similar conumdrum. I was asked last week by an overseas colleague…what is the traditional British food eaten most often? The natural reaction to this question is Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.

Yorkshire pudding for those not in the know is not a dessert but a savoury dish served alongside beef.

Indeed for so long was this the stereotypical meal was that French people sometimes refer to English as ‘Le rosbifs’. But things have moved on…the traditional Sunday lunch of a roast has changed.

As a child I remember this almost religious event of sunday roast. Mother and Father cooking, Father carving..that had a rotating timetable..one week beef, then lamb, then pork, then chicken…and start again.

Interrupted really only by events such as Christmas when we had Turkey. Easter Sunday was always lamb…even if not a scheduled lamb Sunday! Things have changed…the cost of meat joints, the whole concept of family Sunday lunch and a host of other factors now mean these meals in many families are exceptional events, rather than normal certainly when at home. So what is traditional or commonplace food now…ignoring junk or fast food (that is probably top of league table for volume) in terms of popularity for a shared meal both at home and in restaurants one has to say curry..and probably even more specifically chicken tikka masala.

The widespread availability of ‘Indian’ food as take away from restaurants, ready meals in supermarkets and of course being actualy cooked from scratch at home combined with the huge number of ‘Indian’ restaurants means this is definitely our No. 1 food. I put ‘Indian’ in parenthesis as actually many of these restaurants and take aways are actually Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Nepalese or Sri Lanken. But the phrase shall we eat Indian food has stuck…rather than using the term Indian sub content style food!

Will Roast beef decline into oblivion…no, but certainly our choice of food get a ever wider and reflects the multi cultural world we live in. Ironically restaurants serving ‘roast dinner ‘ are probably now more prevalent on Spain’s Costa del Sol to feed the holidaying and ex pat Brits than on the average UK High Street!

Nothing on telly…

‘There’s nothing on telly’ was often the lament when I was a 1970’s teenager. TV back then in the UK was fairly limited…it had taken until 1967 for the UK to get to have have a 3rd TV channel (BBC2).

And not being a nation that rushes things, we had to wait 26 more years until 1993 for Channel 4 to arrive.

These days there really is everything on TV…reality TV has not only gone deep into the world of music with the X Factor and The Voice; Dancing has gone global and of course dating! Things taking quite a big leap from Blind Date to Love Island and even Naked Attraction.

If you don’t live in the UK you may not be familiar with all of these programmes, but they are mostly now fairly globalised!

But moving on, also now with every conceivable pastime from baking to sowing is having a competitive series making stars out of the boy or girl next door who can run up a dress or create a culinary masterpiece better than the pro’s.

Anyway, for anybody in the least bit concerned that the TV programme makers may have run out of ideas …fear not…. Tonight I saw a trailer for the latest reality show to hit our screens in the UK… Model Railways with teams vying with each other every week to create a railway layout with features such as dams, volcanos or mountains….or whatever the judges want the challenges to be!

Now no disrespect to people with such a hobby…but my limited experience of meeting such people is that they are unlikely to attract fame, adoration or even stalking from fans.

But we live in changing times…the ‘anorak’ might just be about to have its day!

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