Friday, September 30, 2016

More than just one hit wonders? T'Pau and A-ha

I half-formed so many reflective, pondersome posts during and after our trip to the England. Musings on nature, and the importance of brambling and learning about nettles. And family, and time, and distance. Episodes of discovery to share, of Lady P's adventures in the city where she was born. Just lovely stuff like that.

But then work got in the way.

And now I find myself with a far more burning topic to blog about: the terrible under appreciation of T'Pau and a-Ha in the US. Now I'm not huge fan of either band. But I was. And I had their albums. Which might raise a snicker now, but among Brits that's a snicker of 'gosh you're old' and 'what cheesy taste you had'.

In the US the snicker is because no-one realizes these were bands with many hits. Really! Over here they all think a-ha only had one hit (Take On Me, if you're interested). And the same goes for T'Pau - that their oeuvre starts and ends with Heart and Soul. Many Americans have no idea that a-Ha had ten studio albums, at least two of which charted in the top 10. And T'Pau, ah, T'Pau. Okay, they only had a couple of albums worth mentioning - but still, three top ten singles in 1987 says this was a band whose cassette it was not embarrassing to have next to your your hi-fi.

I guess they never really 'broke' America. Probably like a bunch of other artists I like a lot more. But for some reason these are the ones which pained me. You never really know, even after years of living here, what's going to pull the rug from under you. T'Pau and a-Ha, of all things.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Lost in translation

When we visit England it is my time to chortle as TLOML says silly things. (As opposed to me being the one with the funny accent and strange sayings).

Two incidents prompted snickers and guffaws.

First, a conversation about the Rosedale show, which is a classic English country show with prizes for livestock, produce and handicrafts, and the like. Including sticks (8 classes), and many baked goods. A friend's mum took first prize in the fruit loaf category, which we thought might have put a few noses out of joint as she is relatively new to the village. We had a good long chat about it and at the end TLOML asked 'what is a fruit glove anyway?'.

We set him straight. This is a fruit loaf:
And so far as we know there is no such thing as a fruit glove. Although given the eccentricities of English country shows - which he and I saw at Danby years ago -  I think TLOML can be forgiven for thinking there might be such a category.

Secondly, he came back from watching Birmingham City beat Fulham FC chuckling at how lame the Fulham FC supporters' chants were, compared to those of Birmingham City. 'We're going to shit in the river' was one he particularly remarked on. I think most Brits would be able to make out the words 'We're going to shit on the Villa' from even the slurriest, most incoherent Birmingham FC fans.

TLOML loves England, and has spent plenty of time there over the years. But I think it's safe to say he's not ready to blend in as a local just yet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

England, compressed

I really want, on these trips back to the UK, for P to soak up some Englishness. I want her to develop an easy familiarity with English manners and customs, food, and just the general vibe. A big part of it is understanding the way things used to be. So she can read - as I did - a Milly Molly Mandy book, or a Secret Seven, and fully understand what a blacksmith is or why someone might be beating their carpets.

What better way to achieve this than a quick tour around a model village? So we headed to Bekonscot. All of English life is there, and much of it still as it was when the village was built in 1929. A blacksmith, a town square, a race course, a little harbor, lots of trains (pre-Beeching, of course) and just lots of English scenes. It was the perfect opportunity for me to explain the ways of our people.

'Look, there are some people playing cricket', I said. 'Where is the cricket?' she said, looking, I think, for a chirruping insect.
'I don't see any cricket'

Brownies around a maypole
A town cryer.
 'He's telling everybody the news,' I explained. 'But why?' came the inevitable answer. Is now a good time to explain that there was a time without TV and internets? No, onward to the 1930s zoo, complete with a chimps tea party.
Anyone who loves Curious George is perfectly comfortable with the idea of dressing up chimps to put on a show. So P had no questions about this bit.
The only thing I couldn't explain was the ring of people dressed in yellow and brown, bending over. P said they were doing their exercises. I'm not sure but didn't have a better answer. Suggestions welcome...

All in all it was a very efficient way to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time. Now her education is complete we can relax and enjoy the rest of the trip rather more aimlessly.