Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Social Experiments in a House Coat and Big Slipper

Film free this one, and not through lack of effort. Several attempts to gain coverage of sub surface life have resulted in four hours of footage featuring flotsam and jetsam hurrying away downstream. The river is stuffed with fish but as soon as my underwater camera is introduced to the margins they scarper. It’s fairly discrete and slightly larger than a box of matches having initially been designed to ride on top of a skateboarders helmet, so it may be problems over image rights, in which case I need an aquatic agent.
Plans are afoot for a fantasy epic “The Life of Pike”, in which our hero, a ten pound pike, is trapped in a spring ditch by falling floodwater with only a shoal of Roach for company. After a 227 day journey up and down the ditch to seek their escape, the two species bond, enlightenment is attained and the pike plumps for a diet of bugs and beetles while the roach promise to nibble each others fins from time to time.
An 18+ rated feature, in which "The lady of the stream" gets jiggy in the sunshine and preliminary titled "Grayling Gravel Grinders" is also in the pipeline.
Unlike my land based camera this one is obviously not “idiot proof” It’s a dark place underwater, and while chalkstreams may look clear from the surface, they are far murkier when viewed from side on, and time definitely does not fly by when searching through four hours of film for the briefest glimpses of fish: I seem to have lost a week to underwater footage, March only started yesterday and now the ides are only two days away, making today the twenty fifth anniversary of the internet, which I am sure only started around eighteen months ago.

The invention of the internet coincided with the onset of my fringe going into retreat and withdrawing over the horizon that is my forehead,


“does the internet cause hair loss”

confirms that this is purely coincidental

The inventor of the internet was “outed” recently during round two of Pointless (In this house anyway). The chap, whose name I forget, came up with the idea while working at SERN (Self Employed Resource Network) and managed to couple the task of promoting and developing the expansion of self employment with the invention of the internet, so well done Sir!

Mdme and myself have taken to spending the winter teatime slot shod in comedy big slippers with accompanying house coats while taking tea on padded trays on our knees (the trays are on our knees, we are not kneeling down) taking in all things Pointless and Egghead. The round two revelation on the internet’s invention, led to a discussion as to what life was like before it entered our lives.

I wouldn’t be doing this for one.

Previous rails against authority, were conducted over the phone, by letter or in person. In a filing cabinet somewhere at Command Centre Central, is a handwritten letter from myself highlighting concerns about over exuberant gravel jetting that would prove to be too aggressive an action for some spawning gravels, they promised to keep it on file.

We used to go to the bank with forms and pieces of paper, visit garages in order to replace our car, use cefax, brochures or a travel agent to find somewhere to go on holiday, walk aimlessly around shops, visit car boot sales (something currently being revived by our local town society as “EBay Live!”) look things up in books, buy encyclopaedias. I was recently asked to pitch five hundred words for a website on the delights of visiting Melbourne. Best times to visit, things to do, places to see, recommended restaurants, hotels and the best means of getting about. No plane ticket was proffered, Melbourne would be experienced at our kitchen table, where Wikipedia and the internet would be my guide and provide me with all the information I need. If you ever read a travel review on the internet, have at the back of your mind that the writer may not have actually visited the destination in question and the piece may have been written from the other side of the world.
Born fifty years later Alan Wicker’s life may well have been very different and he could currently have been on the cusp of thirty years service and a commemorative headboard from Bensons for Beds.

Our list of ways that the internet has changed our lives extended all the way through to the “head to head” round of Pointless at which we point we decided to try twenty four hours without the internet, a “No Download” day; not quite the alcohol equivalent of “Dry January” but a small social experiment to which many households are becoming increasingly prone.

Drumming our fingers through Eggheads, I was picked up on my personal appearance so I repaired to the bathroom for some non digital ablutions, with a simple book and wine served in a plain glass,

this wasn’t the time for cut glass or goblets.

On returning to the lounge, sans internet, we took in another social experiment whereby people have resorted to making their own clothes.

Titled “The National Sewing Bee” it is remarkably addictive.

Hard times, funny ideas or Amish influence, has given rise to a new movement who furtively pass patterns and speak a language that can only be uttered while pinching pins between the lips. For many years sages have predicted that psychological damage caused by home-made clothes worn during the nineteen seventies will be the next scandal to rock today’s society. Many of my own ancestors were/are particularly proficient with patterns and pins, and I remain convinced that my younger brother’s experience of being clad in a range of unusually checked trousers (Rupert the Bear was quite the thing then) twinned with loosely knitted tank tops in horizontal pastel stripes has directly led to him residing for all of his adult life in urban conurbations.

Where there are shops.

He recently featured in the TV programme “Mind the Gap” about all things Metropolitan and, as Evan Davis quizzed him on the capital’s “Crossroads” project, (I think that’s right, although no mention was made of a motel) he exuded a confidence that can only be derived from “store bought trousers”

Although I should add that “Child A” who, throughout her formative years regularly donned dresses created by the same seamstress, remains unaffected, principally because the designs were quite good, well made and “Child A” genuinely wanted to wear them.

The Internet free experiment extended up to the ten o’clock news, when my phone pinged with a text reminder that an item I was watching on eBay was about to end. The social experiment was curtailed, and conclusions drawn that life is very different with the internet, we live in super fast changing times and home-made checked trousers made from flammable man-made fibres is a phase in fashion that need not be revisited.

Social Science Experiment, Done!

Earlier this week we listened to a BBC Radio 5 live reporter interviewing a remarkable young man who had trodden on an IED and subsequently lost both legs and his genitals. His marital relationship had failed and yet he bravely campaigned for soldiers sent to the front line to be given free deposit accounts at a sperm bank, in the event of anyone else incurring a repeat of his injuries. Truly an inspirational young man,

The opening gambit from the inane reporter:

“So, how did it feel to lose your legs?”

An Interview by rote,

brainless and insensitive, the young man merited much more.

If you come across the young man’s campaign I urge you to give him some support, if you come across the Radio 5 live reporter, slap him several times across the face with a fillet of fish , fresh or otherwise (he will be aware of the significance), and then ask him how he feels.

Away from the media and all things internet, the river is slowly fining down, silt and sediment lie across much of the banks and thousands of footprints betray all manner of creatures that have coped with the recent flooding. Plenty of voles the obligatory otter, lots of little egrets, masses of moorhens and coot and the odd waterail on steeper banks below the middle bends. On the water meadow above, many puddles remain and finally the geese have turned up. Not in the numbers that we have experienced in recent winters and far later than normal but a smattering of greylags and canadas nonetheless. There are many duck in the valley mostly mallard along with a reasonable flush of wigeon who have taken up residence on some flooded meadow. I had expected to see more snipe than we have, although temperatures may not have fallen far enough to push them this way and they have an extensive choice of suitable sites at which to poke and prod for dainties.

Oak is on order to replace bridges that are currently nudging their way around the Needles. Constructed of French oak they may well be making their way back to the place of their birth. I don’t follow the “timber index” but green oak does seem to be remarkably good value at the moment when purchased direct from the sawmill.

The sturgeon that escaped from Romsey’s World of Water has been repatriated after a several week sojourn on the flooded forecourt of a nearby garage; other escapees remain at large although reports of large shoals of neon tetras on the middle river remain unconfirmed.

In line with resolutions made around the New Year I have again made efforts to keep this a little lighter, but now that floodwater is subsiding, how long before we see a chap clad in the finest fleece and cutting edge walking shoes with clipboard in hand pop up to state “Gosh those floods were great” and tush tush to management of waterways. In three months the problems that beset the river valleys of the South and South West of England will be forgotten and the goons who have been conspicuously quiet this winter but whose policies were partly responsible for events of recent times will walk among us once more spouting further guff on the best way to manage river systems.

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