Posted on July 20, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay18 Comments »

Just look at it.

OK, English, like any other language, is a living, evolving thing, and maybe I’m just showing my age, but it pains me to see published work of the horribly low standard shown above.  It always makes me cringe when people (whose job it is, for goodness’ sake) throw words together in such a slapdash and incomprehensible way.  And by the way, yes, that is the whole quote.  There is no more of this particular headline.  That’s it.

I can just about remember a time when journalists took pride in writing, and writing well.  Typesetters would take great care not to leave ‘widows’, or to split words badly – particularly not in headlines – and the text would be written in a clear and easily understood manner.  Many journalists wrote excellent English, and most at least knew how to spell and use punctuation correctly.   There would even be semi-colons!

Those days seem to be gone.

My father was a typesetter for a London newspaper up until the early sixties when he was made redundant.  He took a great deal of pride in his work, as did all of his colleagues, and he always said two things:  1) as soon as a ‘broadsheet’ went ‘tabloid’ it was the kiss of death for good standards of journalism, and 2) when typesetting was computerised, it would be all downhill from there.

Heaven knows why either observation should necessarily be true, but time appears to have proved him right.  Sure, there are computer typesetters who produce excellent work, and there may possibly be tabloids out there which are great newspapers in the traditional sense … but I’ve never actually seen one.

In the case of both local and national newspapers, well, many of them ring both bells.  Mediocre puns and journalism of the execrable standard shown at the top of the page abound, and the abuse of English sometimes makes me want to weep.

I used to cherish a clipping from a local paper which related the story of a stolen doctors’ bag containing various medical instruments.  The journalist, in the space of just a few sentences, started out manfully trying to give everything its proper name, got caught up in multisyllabic words with latin roots, tripped over his own overheated mental dictionary and gave up on correct terminology in favour of the vernacular.  I’m sorry to tell you that I lost this particular clipping, because it was a real gem.

To be fair, our beloved leaders have, over the years, hacked away at a previously superb English teaching curriculum and seem to have left us with several generations of phonetic spellers who lack a thorough knowledge of grammar rules, and a succession of despairing teachers scrabbling for a toehold in the landslide of standards and constantly changing curriculum guidelines.

There are many young people who speak and write our language extremely well , and a lot of them do so better than I.  Then there are those for whom the written word isn’t that important, and that’s fine too, because we all have different strengths; let’s face it, I might be able to write a mean blog, but show me a broken down car and it’s likely to stay broken unless I can pay someone to fix it, because a beautifully constructed sentence (with or without semi-colons) isn’t going to mend a broken fan-belt*.  But if you don’t have a love of language, and can’t spell or handle grammar, why on earth would you want to be a professional writer?

And that, dear readers, begs two more questions:

Why are they being employed as writers?   And where the fuck are the proof-readers?



*Or whatever the heck cars have these days.

**I felt that I needed to add the word ‘professional’ in that last long paragraph because I don’t want anyone to feel I’m being hypercritical of fellow bloggers. I understand typos and the odd mistake as well as anyone, I really do!

Good morning, fellow ABC-ers!  Long time, no see.  Well, today I’ve decided to join in again, at least for a little while.

Now, some of you may possibly remember this picture of a rack of axes.  It was taken for a post about an amazing hardware store in a nearby town – Harrison & Dunn’s.   It’s amazing because it’s one of those places which seem antiquated now, sadly, because of the vast array of articles they sell, and not all of them in those airtight plastic packages they’re so attached to these days.


Today I have some pictures for you of the day when we had a tree removed from our garden.  I rather liked that tree, but it was rocking in the ground, which made us rather apprehensive, so it had to go.  We could have asked an arborist to come, but it was quite small, really, and our lovely gardener, J, agreed to do it for us.

Here she is!

Quite an attractive young lady, isn’t she?  At this point, she had already amputated the top of the tree with a chainsaw.  It didn’t put up much of a fight, poor thing.

She attacked the roots quite aggressively, throwing up earth around the base of the trunk, and into the air.

I tried to get better action shots, but she was chopping so fast!  No sooner had the axe ascended to the top of its arc than it was in the ground again!  The down-swing was … well, absent from all of my pictures!

All the same, I acquired a few good shots, don’t you think?  Quite an accomplishment, during this little adventure, I thought.

She’s certainly very fit, and what better way to tone those arms?   All that activity certainly appears to be adequate to the task, does it not?  It almost made me want to take up gardening, to take advantage of the work-out!

With no assistance at all, she soon had that tree out, chopped up and abstracted, all except a long piece of the trunk which I asked to keep.  It’s now lying alongside the fence, where it disguises the absence of grass by the wisteria roots, and will provide a home for many tiny animals as it rots.

Amble over to Mrs Nesbitt’s place, anon, and check out the other ABC blogs – there’s quite an assortment!


Posted on July 17, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Oddities by Jay20 Comments »

Okay. Now, I had two possible puzzles for this week’s Macro Monday puzzle, and I didn’t know which one to use, so I tested them out on OH.

The other one .. well, I’m not telling you what it was because I’ll probably use that one next week! But suffice it to say that OH thought it was fiendish! On the other hand, he said this one was … uh, no, no. I can’t tell you. Not yet, anyway, because it would give you A Clue.

So what can I tell you? Well, it wasn’t taken inside my house. It could have been, I suppose, but it wasn’t. This is a shot I found on my way back to the car park in Stamford one day, but don’t be misled into thinking this is an outdoor kind of thing, because it isn’t. It was inside a building and I saw it through the window and sneaked a shot.

You probably need more of a clue than that, don’t you?

Well, what you see here is something – or is it ‘some things’? Hmm, tricky. Anyway, you can find them in many places. Shops (obviously), homes, and certain types of businesses. It’s possible to find these outdoors, but it’s not their natural habitat, as it were.

Most get used for one thing and then they’re discarded, although some are kept lovingly for years, and some are transformed into other things, and some belong to things which are used over and over again.

Confused yet? Oh good! My job is done!

I’m going back to the original format this week. Take your best guess, and post it in the comments, and then come back on Tuesday evening (UK time) when you’ll find the answer here in the form of a picture link. It’ll be added to the bottom of this very post.

Thanks for playing, have fun – and don’t forget to check out the other Macro Monday blogs on Lisa’s Chaos!


My goodness, you are a clever lot, aren’t you?  I think that’s 100% success for you this week!  100 – 0 against me, if you like.  Well done, indeed!

Ron of Vent gets an honourable mention for being first to be right.  Big hand for Ron!  And here is the answer (not that you need it) in the form of a picture link, as promised.

I’m sorry I’m so late putting the answer up, but the site went down for a while there, and then I got involved with a conversation on Skype.   I’ll try to do better next week!

Posted on July 17, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Wildlife by Jay18 Comments »

Sunday Selections is a great meme, and I’ve been neglecting it. I thought I’d better do something about that!

Now. I dunno about you, but I’m pretty warm right now. The weather here in England is hot and humid, and I don’t like it. So, with apologies to those of you ‘Down Under’, who are experiencing winter right now, I bring you some nice cooling, snow and ice shots. Enjoy!

These were taken at various times and locations during 2010 and early 2011. This first one is from my mother’s garden and was taken last year.

Mum loved to feed the birds, but by December last year, she quite sensibly wouldn’t risk walking out in the snow and ice at ninety years old to clear the feeding stations. She’d wait until my brother or sister-in-law went round and ask them to do it for her. So for that day, the birds had to find their scraps on her doorstep and scrabble in the snow for them!

It was a very hard winter. This one was taken at a local wildlife and dog-walking area known as Cuckoo Hollow (even though someone in the council has put ‘Cuckoo’s Hollow’ on the noticeboard). The ducks, geese, moorhens and swans had a tough time.

A lot of the lakes froze over completely and stayed that way for a long time, so the wind whipped particles of snow and iced them up around the little birds’ footprints.

Here are some of the little darlings –

I took along some grain for them one day. Many people bring bread for them, but grain is better. I took a wild bird mix, and what they didn’t eat, I’m sure the little song birds and sparrows would have cleaned up later.

Because the snow and ice came early that year, it was a great opportunity to photograph some colourful leaves lying on top of the crust.

You can see how we had repeated thaw and freeze, too, with the drops from overhanging branches pitting the snow .. which then froze again.

And then of course, the catkins appeared in the spring and we had another light snowfall and plenty of ice.

Well, I hope you all feel cooler now. Quite refreshing from a distance, isn’t it?

Oh, and you people in the Southern Hemisphere, who might possibly be experiencing sub-zero temperatures of your own, console yourselves with how very grey our English snow pictures can be, compared to the bright, blue-shadowed, high contrast productions from kinder regions! Or perhaps you can simply refect on how, when you are enjoying the other kind of bright blue days, we’ll once again be wallowing in the grip of our grey and dismal winter!

Kim of Frog Ponds Rock has lots more Sunday Selections for you. Go take a look!