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!

A very polite dog

A few weeks ago I was helping a younger  family member in a house move. As we all know, the more moves you do, the more stuff you accumulate each time.

I recall my early house moves where it literally all could be done with a few suitcases, some boxes and a hired taxi or minicab for one trip across town.

Then as time progressed this process morphed in to needing somebody with an estate car (that’s station wagon for my North American readers), then fast forward a few years and houses more  and then  it’s small vans, then larger vans and so on!



Anyway this move was at the large van stage…… plus some car loads.  So we did our first trip of about an estimated four more  for the day and soon discovered that parking  at the new house destination was best achieved by unloading at the adjacent leisure centre car park rather than squeezing in to a small parking space immediately outside the property.

So after a tiring day with  four trips done it was time for a quick meal break in the evening  with some  pizza before Ikea furniture re-building! We had soon discovered that Billy the bookcase was not keen on this concept of moving …anyway that’s a tale for another day.

Boxing day

So we just relaxed for this quick meal break and I used the opportunity to look at my phone and check for messages.

I was a little surprised that Google had become aware I was right next to a gym and wanted to know how I rated my visit!!

Thorough and efficient as ever,  she  asked me the same question, three  more times. Did I enjoy my visit and can I write a review? Dare I say it , a bit abrupt in its tone and approach with me…especially as this is just my phone in dialogue with me!

It reminded me though of the opposite situation…our dog in his letter years was becoming a regular visitor to the vet particularly in his latter years for various boosters, dental issues and so on. We had a very kindly, softly spoken a Scottish vet in our Yorkshire veterinary surgery thst we had attended (No, it wasn’t James Herriot, but it was that kind of place).

Tool kit ready

On lifting Geoffrey our dog onto the bench and sticking yet another needle in him and just getting compliance and tolerance from the dog…the vet was heard to comment ” you know, I am sure if Geoffrey could speak, he would be a very polite dog”. So Google….please do take note of how to behave and learn some manners!

Sleeping dog is a happy dog

A house, a car, a holiday and a very large bar of chocolate

Ask many people and it appears that quite surprisingly, well surprisingly to me anyway, is they have a ready prepared list of what they would buy if they had a substantial lottery or premium bond win.

For readers outside of the UK, I probably need to explain Premium bonds. Quite simply it’s state sponsored gambling where you might be a winner (and that’s a very, big extremely unlikely kind of might) or you will at least not be a loser. Why? You always get your money back when you exit. Even years later. Great Auntie Flo would buy you a one pound (and that’s money, not weight) Premium bond for your Christening and each month it goes in a draw for prizes ranging from 1 million pounds down to 50 pounds. Thirty years later, having not won a million pounds , or even more than 50 pounds very occasionally , you can then “cash in your chips” and get your original pound back. What’s not to like about that?

Unlike poker, you always keep your ‘stake’ with premium bonds

Anyway, people have these lists and often they start with something practical and fiscally prudent such as a house, then an item that is somewhat frivolous and is often a totally impractical car.

And then final item is usually disproportionately small, such as a bar of Cadburys Milk Chocolate or a multi pack of Tunnocks caramel wafers but hey, why not!!

I don’t have such a list, but if I did, my number one item would be a Beach Hut. It sort of gets itself in all three categories of being sort of practical, a bit frivolous and also rather small.

Beach huts are not completely unique to the UK, but they are a very British institution and often found in the more genteel seaside resorts of Aldeburgh, Southwold and Frinton-on-Sea. Beach Huts are in some ways very impractical.

You can’t sleep in them, they have no electricity, no toilet or washing facilities are very hard to insure and stand a high chance of being wasted out to sea, and turned into matchwood to be washed up at Blankenberg, Belgium one stormy January day. Oh , and did I mention they are hard to buy with long waiting lists and are very expensive, a bit like any true love!

And then having finally bought one, you then need a clever name for it. Sea view or Ocean gaze just don’t meet the standard. Creativity with names such as the Dog House, Cat Nap or Vitamin Sea is how you get yourself noticed!

I haven’t quite thought of a name yet for mine , but Late Again does appeal for obvious reasons. 😁