In this blogposting…
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.
KEV: PENCIL SCULPTURES
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.
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