Saturday 26 March 2011

First swear in this blog ever, I think. But it's worth it.

Overheard yesterday:

A woman is serving a customer at her flower stall outside a tube station. She greets a friend, a man in his early forties. They both have proper cockney accents - not just estuary, but full on cockney. Yes, I know this is now a story about a cockney flower seller, but I can't help it - that's what she sounded like, and that was her job. Anyway:

Her: Hiya! You alright?
Him: Yeah, yeah, alright. But my Grandad died. 
Her: Oh, love! I'm sorry!
Him: No, he's alright, he's alright. Well, he's not alright. He's dead. 

She breaks off to finish with her customer, then goes back to him, and gives him a hug. 

Her: I'm really sorry.
Him: No, he's alright, he's alright, he's alright. (Pause). Nah, he's fucked. 

Monday 21 March 2011

Bing Bong

MJN Air would like to apologise for the late arrival of Series Three of Cabin Pressure. However, we have now loaded all the baggage; taken delivery of a fresh supply of lemon-scented paper napkins; retrieved the steward from the baggage carousel he'd got his tie caught in; and are ready to depart from the Drill Hall, London, on the 11th and 13th of April. Tickets are available here:  

Our estimated time of arrival to BBC Radio Four is 11:30, July 1st. 

We wish you a pleasant and comfortable radio show. We will now go back to finishing writing it. 

Saturday 12 March 2011

But not least.

This is Cuthbert Lempriere Holthouse. Doubtless you've always wondered what Cuthbert Lempriere Holthouse looked like - well, he looked like this.

The object he is holding is the last ever of the original Wooden Spoons, in the sense of a mocking award for finishing last. It began as a tradition amongst the Mathematics faculty at Cambridge University, from at least 1803 until 1909, of awarding a wooden spoon to the student who graduated with the lowest passing mark. The spoons got bigger and more elaborate over time, culminating in this one, which was converted from a rowing blade, as it was apparently Cuthbert's devotion to the college boat which cost him greater academic success. 

(Were you surprised a maths student named Cuthbert turned out to be such a jock? Me too. Shame on us for our lazy preconceptions.)

The reason the tradition ended in 1909 is apparently because 'the system was changed so that the results were announced in alphabetical order rather than by exam mark.' Though really, if that little manoeuvre successfully rendered an entire graduating class of Cambridge mathematicians unable to work out who had come bottom, I can’t help but think wooden spoons were due all round. 

Saturday 5 March 2011

I should probably have said...

...I was on the Now Show again today, being all cross about Prince Andrew. You've missed it now, but it'll be on Listen Again for the next week.

Here, in fact.