In this blogposting…
*Pencil Sculptures
Now - get to it…

...took place as planned last Wednesday 26 January. I think it would probably be fair to say that the turn-out was modest but lively; what else would you expect from Hildie, Linda and me?

Of course, the rain didn’t help matters. Rather than lazily slurp our coffees outside in the sunshine that normally accompanies an AGM, we had to scrunch up inside Pret, balanced tightly and unsteadily on high stools. Eventually, the unaccustomed indignity got the better of us and we withdrew indoors (as they used to say) - to Grainger Market, in fact.

We found a nice open area with a few cafes and (and I very much regret having to say this) caused mayhem at one of them; Oliver’s, I think it was called. A childish indecision about which cake to have (or, in my case, which sauce to have on my sausage sandwich) quickly reduced any pretence we may have had to middle-class, middle-aged dignity to ashes. I blame Hildie and Linda, naturally. I reckon they put something in the lemon meringues at Oliver’s.

Or perhaps it’s in the HP sauce.

In any case, the paucity of numbers was made up for easily by the usual, unstoppable pleasure of the occasion. A splendid time was had by all three!

And a venue was found for the next AGM. The coffee and comestibles were satisfyingly good to eat - as well as inexpensive (an essential quality in these straitened times). For me, the clincher is the nearness of Newcastle’s best cheese shop just a matter of yards away.

As the AGM ended, I took the liberty of distributing samples of my all-time favourite French cheese. It’s called vacherin; so far, I’ve had no reaction from either Hildie or Linda. I’m not sure of that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Time will tell.

While I was in Newcastle last week, I noticed something that reminded me very strongly of my days at the BBC. It was a newspaper-seller’s placard…

In many ways, I suppose I was out of my depth by several fathoms when I worked at the Pink Palace. It had never been my ambition to be a radio presenter; I kind of ‘reversed’ into the job and realised almost at once that I was working amongst some extremely talented and unusually creative people, journalists to a man (or woman).

Of course, a journalist’s greatest gift and asset is his/her ‘way with words’; which words to use and which order to put them in. This gift of words is known as ‘journalese’ and is seen to the best effect in newspapers, whose hacks and editors have developed a language which is virtually unique to the trade.

I can remember a wonderful conversation I had with a BBC journalist at Radio Newcastle; he had worked on newspapers and we had great fun dissecting journalese…

A policeman is a ‘cop’. A robbery is a ‘heist’. An investigation is a ‘probe’. A suspect isn’t questioned, he’s ‘quizzed’. A sexual indiscretion is a ‘romp’. Celebrities are ‘slebs’ who never divorce; they have ‘breakups’, or ‘dump’ each other. Newspapers talk of ‘quakes’ that ‘rock’ cities and towns. Unexpected bad news is always a ‘bombshell’.

I’m sure you can think of many more.

But the placard I saw in Newcastle reminded me of a specialised journalistic skill which, although dying out generally, is still very much alive and well here in the north-east - the much admired art of the placard writer, who must encapsulate a headlining story as succinctly and as obviously as possible.

To do this, all inessentials must be omitted. And that means no verbs, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs or conjunctions. A really good placard consists entirely of nouns and nothing else. And at the Evening Chronicle, there seems to be an ongoing competition to ascertain how many nouns the placard writers can stack up and still make sense.

Four- or five-noun placards are not uncommon. ‘Saturday Football Timetable Reorganisation Shock’ or ‘Wappat Internet Identity Theft Probe’ are pretty good but I recently saw two six-noun placards that almost made me applaud in public.

‘City tycoon home raid gem outrage’ and, this week, the truly awesome ‘City club knife gang raid - pictures’.

Whoever wrote that deserves an award.

Get in touch with any you see - or try making one up. It’s not as easy as it looks.

In posting 248 I put up some amazing pictures of carvings made from whole eggshell or melons. In response, Kev has sent me the pictures you see above. Each one is sculpted from a perfectly ordinary pencil, as Kev’s accompanying note says...

Brazilian born, Connecticut based, Dalton Ghetti carefully crafts the tips of pencils into amazing micro sculptures. These miniature masterpieces are a side project for the professional carpenter, who has been perfecting this art for the last 25 years.

Dalton uses a razor blade, sewing needle, a sculpting knife, a steady hand and lots of patience to meticulously carve the graphite which can take anywhere between a few months to a few years.

Over time he has broken many works in progress and keeps them in what he calls the cemetery collection.

One of the most fascinating things about these tiny works of art is that he has never sold them, only given away to friends as gifts.

Thanks Kev. They are wonderful.

Please spare a thought over the next few days and weeks for Hildie and her neighbours in Dipton. Murder is thankfully extremely rare round here, which makes any occurrence particularly shocking. When it occurs in your own, closely-knit village - and to someone you knew personally - it must be truly devastating.

I saw Hildie on the day the news broke and she was understandably very shaken indeed. So please, truckshunters, keep a caring eye on her while I’m away in France next week. That's what the ‘friendly society’ of truckshunters is all about, after all.


Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com


Sid said...

Happy Monday...
Why today is the happiest day of the year.......apparently.
Psychologists say a combination of getting the first pay cheque of the year and booking your summer holiday make today the high point of the year.
They obviously haven't been to one of our agm's.

Hildie said...

Happy Groundhog Day!
I gather we are halfway through this awful winter! It's all to do with whether the weather is good or not, and whether the groundhog can see his shadow today.
If the weather is nice on February 2nd then winter will continue to wreak it's frozen mischief. However, if the weather is crummy today - spring will arrive early.
Keeping it simple ....
in Truckshunter terms ...
surely that means it's nearly time to go to Birkheads/ Tynemouth,
Tanfield Railway .......
or anywhere you may wish!

I had a little trip out of Dipton yesterday .... a large slice of carrot cake and a filter coffee at Lintzford Garden Centre ...
now which Truckshunter was I closest to? Was it Vivienne? Was it Sid? I had a feeling there was a Truckshunter in the vicinity.

Sid said...

I've never had the urge to try carrot cake Hildie.
Who had the idea of putting carrot in a cake for goodness sake, it doesn't make any sense to me at all.
A quick google tells me the cake has been around for hundreds of years, and there origins may have come from Carrot Puddings in Medieval Europe.
Groundhog day...Hmmm, either way I'm going to sow my early tomato seed this week, so it'll probably snow.

Hildie said...

You really should try it, Sid. To be honest, it's the buttercream filling that does it ... and the cake is nice an' moist ... I recommend it.
So - is Lintzford not near where you live then? It's just, when I was there, I had a strong feeling a Truckshunter lived nearby!
Peut etre I was near where Vivienne lives.

Sid said...

Oh dear me....not buttercream filling as well. Thats another good reason not to try it.
You really can't beat a good cheese scone, preferably a couple of days old, with butter of course.
Lintzford isn't near me, I wonder who it could be.

Vivienne said...

Hi Hildie & Sid,

You were closest to me Hildie, and I would have joined you for a chunk of carrot cake too if I'd known you were at Lintzford. Sid, it doesn't taste of carrots, and as Hildie said, it's really moist. Hildie & I could have shared your butter icing!

Now if it's cheese scones you are after, just head for the Tearoom at Gibside. They make the best scones in the North East, and they are freshly baked each day. You can access the tearoom from the car park, and don't need to pay National Trust entrance fees. If you're taking a wheelchair you access the Tearoom via the Gift Shop.

Sid said...

Thanks for that information Vivienne. I might just take you up on that idea, and it would definitely be a Tuesday.

Vivienne said...

Sid, I don't work in the Tearoom, I work in Renwicks, up in the Stable block - one mile away. I call in for supplies before heading up to the Stables, then call back into the Tearoom at the end of my duty. I sometimes take a cheese scone with me for my lunch!

Sid said...

No wonder you're fit Vivienne, I'll just get me scone and meet up with you, in fact I'll get two. If Hildie wants to come I'll get three.

Sid said...

Ok Ian, it's four.

Vivienne said...

Not that fit Sid, I usually drive up, or get a lift in the minibus. There was only one day I walked up & back. That was the day last winter my car got stuck on the hill in the snow, and I had to be rescued by two tractors! While waiting for help I carried the supplies to Renwicks, turned on the water boiler & lights, then headed back to my car. I was escorted down the hill, after difficulty dragging my car out of a ditch! I would have gone home at that point but I'd left the boiler on.

My adventures didn't end there, as I couldn't find one of the two remaining chickens, and learnt later that a fox had got her. I also slipped on the icy cobbles and fell flat on my front. I thought I was heading for another broken jaw, but the way the cobbles were positioned I only grazed my chin. Of course I had to trek back to the Tearoom through the deep snow at the end of my shift.

Sid said...

I think you're a bit of a Super Hero on the quiet Vivienne.

Linda South Shields said...

Hildie... as I am also an avid carrot caker can I tell you the very best slice of that delectable patisserie was on an East Coast railway express train... I know it sounds bizzare but nevertheless true. On the subject of scones, I feel those on offer at Hillheads Farm tearooms Whitburn take some beating particularly the cherry ones and the date and walnut... mmm. my mouth is watering!

Hildie I hope you are feeling a little more settled following the horrible events you've endured.

Ian, I tried the vash...vach... cheese and have to agree with your verdict. It was delice, superb. I will most certainly add it to my cheese treats list.

Do we think the Grainger Market has recovered from the mayhem that ensued last month!! If not, well they've another dose to look forward to!
I'm working on my placard... this could be a big mistake !!!

Linda x

Val said...

Add me to the list of carrot cake fans, although I do love a cheese scone too.
My sister worked in a couple of National Trust properties in Suffolk a couple of years ago. At the Guildhall in Lavenham, the village where she lives, she was told that her cheese scones were the best many customer's had ever tasted!

Did anyone go to the cafe in Newbiggin that was trying for the Guinness Book of Records with the biggest varieties of scones? Sadly it was closed when we visited last summer - seems they're concentrating on their online store as it's done so well.