31 August 2009

Crawling along

The light-hearted topic on this morning's Today programme
(that's on Radio 4, for any philistines among you) was the origins
of pub names, and very interesting it was too.
Lucky old author Albert Jack has the joyous job of examining and explaining such titles as The Pickled Parson, The Bucket of Blood
and The Swan With Two Necks.
Here's a link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8230000/8230024.stm

This is a rundown of the pubs in my, if you like, home town.
If you know where that is, do share, but don't be expecting
a prize or anything.

Bear's Paw
Bellemonte, The
Bull's Head
Cheshire Cheese
Cholomondeley Arms
Golden Lion (known locally as The Cornerhouse,
but nothing like the place of the same name in Manchester)
Helter Skelter (which used to be The Gaping Gander, and painted pink,
from what I remember)
Netherton Arms (formerly, I think, The Whalebone,
which is far more intriguing)
Queen's Head
Red Lion
Ring of Bells
Traveller's Rest
(I have not included Kydd's Bar, as it is just too awful, or The Aston Arms, which I believe these days may be trendy flats or some such.)

More on names, and lists, soon.

30 August 2009

Time for tee

One of the side projects that keeps Words & Fixtures busy in any downtime is the loose cataloguing of slogan T-shirts, of which there are tons of totally tasteless ones worn mainly by unsuspecting foreigners. Presumably these poor, misguided individuals believe it's cool to wear clothes bearing English words yet don't actually speak much in the way of English themselves. Perhaps they should think about calling on the services of a translator other than the fast-talking London stall-holder who duped them into making the inappropriate purchase in the first place.

Here are the worst examples I've seen recently:
- a rather misinformed football presenter on French TV with "I love porn" emblazoned across his chest
- an inoffensive-looking young man at a filling station in Prague wearing a wholly offensive number printed with the disability logo and the word "spastic"
- a man in his thirties, walking down the street holding hands with his smiling, straight-laced wife in the very twee town of Potsdam in Germany, proudly sporting a tee bearing a man icon, a woman in a wedding dress icon and the maxim "game over"

29 August 2009

Holy strawberries, Batman - we're in a jam!

Taken in traffic en France: proof Batman was really European - he drives a batmeuble.

Wonderful Batman-Robin conversation, found in a Google trawl (other search engines are available):

Robin: "You can't get away from Batman that easy!"
Batman: "Easily."
Robin: "Easily."
Batman: "Good grammar is essential, Robin."
Robin: "Thank you."
Batman: "You're welcome."

28 August 2009

A winning style

The glittering 2009 Manchester Blog Awards are now clear on the horizon, "celebrating the best of the city's online writing". There will be a right proper knees-up on October 21 at the all-new Band On The Wall and gongs will be awarded in no less than six categories.
Nominations for your favourite blogs are open until September 18.
Words & Fixtures? Just a thought...

Follow @mcrblogawards on Twitter (there's even a hashtag, folks - #mcrblogawards) or visit the website at http://www.manchesterblogawards.com

27 August 2009

Totally foxed

Here's a great sign that was posted on the noticeboard of the campsite we stayed at in Berlin. It reads: "Do not let stand your shoes outside! We have a fox, he robs the shoes!"
Apart from it being a lovely example of literal translation, it also taught us that the German word for fox is "Fuchs". Tee hee!
The other foxy pictures are of a German bottletop and one of my knockers. I just thought I'd include them for your delectation.

26 August 2009

Half-baked idea?

I mentioned last week that one of my friends was soon to be embarrassing herself in our fair capital's Trafalgar Square. Well, she climbed aloft the fourth plinth on Sunday as part of One & Other (see http://www.oneandother.co.uk/), and your trusty reporter was there to witness the momentous occasion.
Nik's appearance happened to coincide with National Sponge Cake Day, so she decided to take baking as her theme and promptly spent much of the hour-long slot lobbing muffins into the audience, drawing quite a crowd in the process. The finale was to be a tribute to the artist behind the project, Antony Gormley, but unfortunately the Angel Cake Of The North never quite came to fruition.

Prior to the event, I was called upon for a possible loan of cake-baking paraphernalia as props, and this is the inventory I forwarded (I am a big fan of lists; more list action will follow on W&F some time in the future):

1 rolling pin
2 large glass mixing bowls, what you mix cake batter in
1 cake-baking tin with push-up bottom
1 fairy-cake/muffin-baking tin (I think)
1 loaf tin
a number of wooden spoons
a selection of white plastic pastry cutters (eg for scones/mince pies, bleurgh)
1 pastry brush, slightly manky
2 small cartons of fairy cake paper holder thingies
a number of birthday cake candles and holders
1 half-used packet birthday cake sparklers
1 cake tin, popular blue and white 1970s (Hornsea?) pattern
1 cake plate (one of those ones for fairy cakes, not a stand for sponges)
1 blue and white striped pinny (in need of a good wash)
plain and self-raising flour
caster sugar
baking powder
cooking chocolate
2 eggs

25 August 2009

Meet and greet

Today's Fry's English Delight, in which Stephen Fry "explores the highways and byways of the English language", was all about the roots of the word "hallo".
And very interesting it was, too, drawing links with "holler", "hola", "hello" and various other phrases, exclamations and utterances. Even my maiden name namesake Davy Crockett was attributed as being one of the first users of the word, what ho.
For those of you existing without the luxury of being able to listen to the radio at nine in the morning, you have a week in which you can still catch the programme on iPlayer. Simply go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lv1k1

24 August 2009

The Galaxy of Transylvania

While on my recent mammoth road trip across Europe, I drove through Transylvania in Romania.
Contrary to popular belief, there weren't any vampires, sweet transsexuals or Sylvanian Families (not that I remember encountering, anyway), but I will acknowledge that there are a number of noteworthy places in the region.
One such example is Turda, which definitely lives up to its name and looks like a really shitty little town.
At one point, I also fancied taking a detour, but having realised that leaving the pot-holed single-carriageway main route would probably add an extra day to the trek east, I had to make do with childishly giggling at the two signs, one above the other, indicating the way to both Cunta and Spring.

21 August 2009

Going Dutch

As often happens when I go abroad, I am in a near constant state of ecstasy thanks to foreign words and their similarity in sound or spelling to rude phrases in English. I know it's quite teenage of me, but there you go. Swearing is cool; I don't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut if you say otherwise.
I've decided, therefore, to share some of my childish humour with the readers of Words & Fixtures, just because I can. I'm a blogger, see.
"Slagroom" (click on the pic to see it in hyper detail) was advertised for breakfast at the Glastonbury-like campsite we stayed on in Amsterdam. My brain immediately brought up images of a space filled with girls sporting nasty earrings, scraped-back hair and Rochdale bellies sticking out over the top of too-small jeans. Shudder.

20 August 2009

Gateau fabulous

A propos cakes, I never used to see what all the fuss was about. Now, however, I'm something of a fan, although not in a "Must. Eat. Cake." kind of way. No, I'm not obsessive, but a nice piece of Victoria sponge, lemon drizzle or coffee and walnut like my nan used to put together with her eyes closed is such a civilised treat on a slumping afternoon stuck in an office with cranky air con. I can also divulge that cake-baking works wonders in the world of the freelancer and as a result I have become quite the master baker; call it chow bribes, if you will.

Nonetheless, there are limits to kuchen-munching, and being forcefed cake from half nine in the morning is probably one example. This cake line-crossing happened at the wedding in Romania I've just got back from and wasn't helped by the accompanying quaffing of local schnapps/moonshine/paintstripper known as Tuica ("tweeker") and spinning around on the dancefloor to Europop. Thankfully, I was fine, but my friend Mark, who was also there, looked frighteningly pallid and sweaty even before sundown. Wedding over, we were handed an envelope and a little box, not unlike a McDonald's Happy Meal but with marriage-related graphics. The envelope contained a photo of the newly betrothed couple and the box? More cake!

Anyway, here's a joke about cakes, which I came across yesterday. Strangely, it was put on Twitter by the National Trust press office, of all things/places/people.

What's the fastest cake in the world?
Scone. (... s'gone)


And here's aother cake-related item:
My mate Nikki has been accepted to stand on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square on 23 August to provide a visual portrait of Britain. As her five minutes (well, one hour, actually) of fame happens to coincide with National Sponge Cake Day, La Nik will be rustling up some culinary delights, making like the domestic goddess she so isn't. I'm hoping to get some visual evidence of her "creations"...

19 August 2009

Rogue traders

Yes, Words & Fixtures is back on its original mission, bringing you all sorts of stuff and nonsense to do with words, and perhaps even fixtures. It's been a while, so let's get cracking.

To kick things off, W&F is proud to present a piece on punctuation.

One of my Twitter followers, a person I don't know called Russ Hirst, retweeted this. It's a good story, but whoever wrote the original Tweet managed to insert a rogue apostrophe. Duh. The irony.

RT @malcolmcoles: A man who paints proper punctuation on street sign's: http://bit.ly/tRSoN (via @michaelhogan)


Normal service will shortly be resumed...