402In this blogposting…
* The Talking Dog
* AGM XXXVII
Get ready, get set…..GO
Today - October 12 - is Maureen’s birthday.
Maureen has been a member of our Honourable Company since before it was even thought of and has been a very welcome presence at many of our AGMs. - and will be at many more in the future, we hope. She’s lovely!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAUREEN!!!!
THE TALKING DOG
This is a charming, and apparently true, story sent to me a few weeks ago by Martin, from Houghton-le-Spring, who - I’m glad to say - still dips his toes in truckshunter waters now and again.
A bloke is driving around the countryside and sees a sign in front of a house:
Talking Dog For Sale
He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the back garden. The bloke goes into the garden and sees a labrador sitting there.
‘Do you talk?’ he asks. ‘I certainly do’, says the labrador.
‘So what's your story?’ the bloke asks.
The dog looks up and says ‘Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was quite young. I decided that I wanted to help the government, so I told MI5 about my gift.
In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders - after all, no-one would reckon that a dog would be eavesdropping.
I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running.’
But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger. So I decided to settle down.
I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security - wandering near
suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded several medals.
I got married, had loads of puppies, and now I'm just retired.’
The bloke is amazed.
He goes back in and asks the owner how much he wants for the dog.
‘Ten quid’, the guy says.
‘Ten quid? But that dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?’
‘Because he's a liar. He never did any of that shit’
Our next AGM will take place at 1100 on Saturday 27 October - yes, a Saturday for a change.
And, to make an even greater change, it’s going to be held at Bede’s World in Jarrow - a venue new to us.
There’s lots to see and do there, but don’t let that put you off. Come along anyway!
After all, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s no surprise that the people of the world are at permanent loggerheads when, even just in western Europe, we can’t all agree on how to measure things or do the same things the same way.
Most of us in Britain still use yards, inches, feet, pounds, stones, pints, quarts, acres - and even furlongs and links, for heaven’s sake. (If you want to know what a link is, see blogposting 396.)
If I was drafting this posting anywhere else in western Europe except Portugal, I’d be doing it one hour later and my charger wouldn’t fit their electrical sockets (even in Portugal); I’d need an adaptor.
All of which means that I’m taking very great comfort from a lovely book I’m reading at the moment. It’s called The Time-Traveller’s Guide to Mediaeval England. It’s a kind of Lonely Planet guide to daily life in the 14th century and it’s fascinating.
Measuring things in those days was fraught with inconsistencies and pitfalls. Most measurements, for example, were inexplicably different in Devon than everywhere else. There were 16lbs (not 14) to the Devonian stone, but only when you were weighing cheese and butter. And each lb weighed 18 ounces, not 16. There were 10 gallons in a Devon bushel and not 8. And so on…
But when the author (Ian Mortimer) writes about the measurement of time, he takes us to a level of truly other-worldly complications. We're not just talking about telling what time of the day it was, either. Even deciding what year it was could depend on factors of rococo complexity.
It’s worth quoting some of what he says in full…
‘The day on which New Year’s Day gifts are exchanged in England for the historical year 1367 falls in 1366 in Florence and Venice but in 1367 in the Italian port of Pisa, where the year begins on the previous 25 March.
If you sail from England on 1 January 1366 and land in Pisa in mid-February, it will be 1367 there already. Travel on to Venice and arrive before the end of February and you will be back in 1366. Leave after the 1 March and it will be 1367.
Ride into Florence and you will be back in 1366 again. Return to your boat at Pisa after the 25 March and it will be 1368. Sail to Provence and you’ll be back in 1367. Stop in Portugal (good old Portugal) on your way home and it will be 1405! That’s because they still count their years as dating from the arrival of the Romans in 38BC…’
So at least some things have changed for the better since 1366. Er...1367. Hmmm...1368. Er...1405.
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