Archives for the month of: May, 2013

While I was in England, it rained and rained here. Rivers overflowed, there were floods. Now it’s incredibly green, and our meadow is like a hoarding from the Irish Tourist Board. But the colour doesn’t last long. It was stronger yesterday, I think. These pictures were taken at about 9:30 this evening.

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The other day I spent several hours trying to level our outdoor bathtub after the snow had sort of tipped it over during the winter.

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Isn’t this so-called Nick Clegg? Why is he flogging Norwegian beetroot? As if he weren’t in enough trouble.

(These pictures all need to be enlarged.)

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The Clapham Junction sign reminded me of Peter Sellers’s Bal-ham – Gateway To The South.

Here’s a photograph taken from my bedroom window this morning.  A few weeks ago, someone (I thought Sig, but I can’t find it) mentioned how difficult it was to imagine a green, living landscape emerging from the muddy browns and greys that the melting snow was revealing. I couldn’t agree more, but here it is once again.  In a couple of weeks time that row of twelve skeletal ash that follows a small stream down the hill will come into leaf.  Then it will divide this view, screening off the emerald-green profile of the hillside, but I won’t care because the trees themselves are so pretty.  Ash trees are the last to get leaves and the first to lose them, growing like mad in the meantime.

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This very tall man turned out to a birdwatcher – at least, he was carrying binoculars.  There may be good reasons to go bird watching in the fog.  By the time I’d thought to ask, it was too late.Panorama1

The island at the end of the lake. The squared-off smudge to the left of the trees is in fact just more trees that are hidden behind fog.

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This tiny cabin is I think owned by the local council, who rent it out during the summer.  The only time I see anyone here is at the weekend during the winter, when it’s the starting point for children who coast down the hill on their toboggans.  

I like the sharp contrast between the twigs in the foreground on the right and the tree branches in back of them – also the way that the space begins there and unwraps from right to left, before fading out at the bottom left.

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It’s slightly worrying that this reminds me more than anything of a foldout BMW ad from the front of the New Yorker, even though the car’s probably a something else.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty good picture.  I’ve got another one without the car, but I do actually like it with the car.  Oh, well.fog1842

These two pictures don’t really work unless they’re big, so blow them up to the size of your screen.

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From the Turkish grocers,  Ayran and Dough yoghurt drinks. Dough is fizzy.  Both are really good.  I actually bought it for Jack because they didn’t have buttermilk, but I’m having it.ayranyoghurt2113

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Here is a peculiar looking brown ram I saw today out in my neighbour’s little pasture.  They sort of rent the sheep, although I’m not sure who pays who, and then they’re returned for the winter to their other quarters a few miles away. If you click on the picture, they’re bigger.

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In the blurry background you can see the black sheep of the family and I think there’s a lamb there too.  Today they were silent, but last year they had very deep assertive voices.  None of your hesitant bleating, it was more like Paul Robeson singing Ol’ Man River.

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This is a tree stump nearby. I do wish they wouldn’t paint little blobs on the trees; they’re to stop you getting lost, two hundred yards from the car park, but if you’re that anxious you probably ought not to be outside at all.  The fence is to keep the sheep in.  I’m thinking of bringing the goats around tomorrow for a look at the sheep.

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Today a facebook friend of mine, Abu Faris, mentioned a blog: Look at my fucking red trousers!  It mostly concerns (this being England) a form of dress worn by men who want to be taken for upper-class.  The trousers are an extra shibboleth of twittedness just in case the brown trilby hats don’t get the message across. Here’s another example, some hostile-looking graduates of the British military college Sandhurst posing in their red-trouseredness as a group. Something that struck me is how confrontational some of the pictures are, mild-mannered photographers almost starting fistfights: I especially like this and this one (the three school prefect types in the second one look up to no good to me, though I couldn’t tell you why).  Elsewhere on the blog are pictures of hipsters in red trousers.  I’m guessing they’re following in the footsteps of punks on both sides of the Atlantic.  After black, and white, red was always the punk colour.  There’s a picture – it must be somewhere on the web, but I can’t find it – of Richard Hell in about 1978 wearing tight red trousers; for me at the time it represented some kind of extreme of coolness.

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Which brings me to Norwegian red trousers. The russefeiring is an elaborate and meticulously prepared drunken month-long celebration made by and for kids in their final year of high school.  My daughter is currently part of this.  Strictly speaking the red trousers are dungarees, but the upper portion is NEVER worn, I’m told.  It just isn’t. Your name and the name of your school are applied to the trouser legs in block letters and then you don’t remove them for a month except for the obvious reasons.  Later in May every russ person in Norway goes to Stavanger to do more celebrating.

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If I was dressing up like this I’d consider wearing red Italian pope shoes but maybe, like for the fat Englishmen, these outfits are about contrasts rather than matches.

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They wear the outfit every day now. Yesterday Alma rebelled and wore her canary-yellow drainpipe pants, but today I saw she’d come to her senses. There’s also a cap (you can see it on the Wikipedia page) but it’s not worn until 17 May, Norway’s July 4th, for some reason.  Some russe groups (not Alma’s) buy an old school bus off last year’s celebrants and drive around all night drinking beer. Every so often you’ll see a small band of them at the supermarket loading up on hotdogs and cases of beer. Things to be thankful for: it’s light until quite late by this time of the year and I’m quite sure, being Norway, the driver doesn’t touch a drop. Everything is so well planned. To me the most peculiar part of it is that when it’s over the boys & girls return to school, with terrible hangovers, to take their final exams.

I can’t figure out who’s responsible for Look at my fucking red trousers!  except that they’re using the pseudonym Henri de Pantalon-Rouge.  I do wish people would stand up and use their own names.

A.J.P. Crown.