Older blog entries for marnanel (starting at number 1004)

The buyer of bargains

Samuel Johnson in 1758, describing someone fictional we've all met. Worth the read.
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I am the unfortunate husband of a "buyer of bargains". My wife has somewhere heard, that a good housewife "never" has any thing to "purchase when it is wanted". This maxim is often in her mouth, and always in her head. She is not one of those philosophical talkers that speculate without practice; and learn sentences of wisdom only to repeat them: she is always making additions to her stores; she never looks into a broker's shop, but she spies something that may be wanted some time; and it is impossible to make her pass the door of a house where she hears "goods selling by auction".

Whatever she thinks cheap, she holds it the duty of an economist to buy; in consequence of this maxim, we are encumbered on every side with useless lumber. The servants can scarcely creep to their beds through the chests and boxes that surround them. The carpenter is employed once a week in building closets, fixing cupboards, and fastening shelves; and my house has the appearance of a ship stored for a voyage to the colonies.

I had often observed that advertisements set her on fire; and therefore, pretending to emulate her laudable frugality, I forbade the newspaper to be taken any longer; but my precaution is vain; I know not by what fatality, or by what confederacy, every catalogue of "genuine furniture" comes to her hand, every advertisement of a warehouse newly opened, is in her pocketbook, and she knows before any of her neighbours when the stock of any man "leaving off trade" is to be "sold cheap for ready money".

Such intelligence is to my dear-one the Syren's song. No engagement, no duty, no interest, can withhold her from a sale, from which she always returns congratulating herself upon her dexterity at a bargain; the porter lays down his burden in the hall; she displays her new acquisitions, and spends the rest of the day in contriving where they shall be put.

As she cannot bear to have any thing uncomplete, one purchase necessitates another; she has twenty feather-beds more than she can use, and a late sale has supplied her with a proportionable number of Witney blankets, a large roll of linen for sheets, and five quilts for every bed, which she bought because the seller told her, that if she would clear his hands he would let her have a bargain.

Thus by hourly encroachments my habitation is made narrower and narrower; the dining-room is so crowded with tables, that dinner scarcely can be served; the parlour is decorated with so many piles of china, that I dare not step within the door; at every turn of the stairs I have a clock, and half the windows of the upper floors are darkened, that shelves may be set before them.

This, however, might be borne, if she would gratify her own inclinations without opposing mine. But I, who am idle, am luxurious, and she condemns me to live upon salt provisions. She knows the loss of buying in small quantities, we have, therefore, whole hogs and quarters of oxen. Part of our meat is tainted before it is eaten, and part is thrown away because it is spoiled; but she persists in her system, and will never buy any thing by single penny-worths.

The common vice of those who are still grasping at more, is to neglect that which they already possess; but from this failing my charmer is free. It is the great care of her life that the pieces of beef should be boiled in the order in which they are bought; that the second bag of pease should not be opened till the first be eaten; that every feather-bed should be lain on in its turn; that the carpets should be taken out of the chests once a month and brushed, and the rolls of linen opened now and then before the fire. She is daily inquiring after the best traps for mice, and keeps the rooms always scented by fumigations to destroy the moths. She employs workmen, from time to time, to adjust six clocks that never go, and clean five jacks that rust in the garret; and a woman in the next alley lives by scouring the brass and pewter, which are only laid up to tarnish again.

She is always imagining some distant time, in which she shall use whatever she accumulates: she has four looking-glasses which she cannot hang up in her house, but which will be handsome in more lofty rooms; and pays rent for the place of a vast copper in some warehouse, because, when we live in the country, we shall brew our own beer.

Of this life I have long been weary, but know not how to change it: all the married men whom I consult advise me to have patience; but some old bachelors are of opinion that, since she loves sales so well, she should have a sale of her own; and I have, I think, resolved to open her hoards, and advertise an auction.

I am, Sir,

Your very humble servant,

PETER PLENTY.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/272656.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-23 15:04:12 from Monument

The stick's day off

I'd left the Staff Hrothgar in the car today, because we went out last night and today I was busy. This evening I walked into town to get Chinese and for once didn't take Hrothgar. On the way:

GROUP OF LOCAL YOUTHS: Where's the stick?
ME: It's his day off.

When I came back the same way ten minutes later they were still talking about it. "Hey, ask him where the stick is and he'll say it's the stick's day off!" one of them said. I think the last time I had to listen to comparable levels of inanity I was at school.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/272364.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-08 21:30:51 (Updated 2013-03-08 21:31:55) from Monument

Memory

I can't sleep. But I was just remembering being six years old and made to sit in the hallway outside my classroom, the desk being put there specially so that everyone who passed by would see it and remark on it, and being told to write out "I am a baby" a hundred times. And I am remembering defiantly writing "I am not a baby" and being made to do it all again.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/271950.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-07 00:08:42 from Monument

South Country

Today I am thinking about Hilaire Belloc's love-song to Sussex.

When I am living in the Midlands
That are sodden and unkind,
I light my lamp in the evening:
My work is left behind;
And the great hills of the South Country
Come back into my mind.

The great hills of the South Country
They stand along the sea;
And it's there walking in the high woods
That I could wish to be,
And the men that were boys when I was a boy
Walking along with me.

The men that live in North England
I saw them for a day:
Their hearts are set upon the waste fells,
Their skies are fast and grey;
From their castle-walls a man may see
The mountains far away.

The men that live in West England
They see the Severn strong,
A-rolling on rough water brown
Light aspen leaves along.
They have the secret of the Rocks,
And the oldest kind of song.

But the men that live in the South Country
Are the kindest and most wise,
They get their laughter from the loud surf,
And the faith in their happy eyes
Comes surely from our Sister the Spring
When over the sea she flies;
The violets suddenly bloom at her feet,
She blesses us with surprise.

I never get between the pines
But I smell the Sussex air;
Nor I never come on a belt of sand
But my home is there.
And along the sky the line of the Downs
So noble and so bare.

A lost thing could I never find,
Nor a broken thing mend:
And I fear I shall be all alone
When I get towards the end.
Who will there be to comfort me
Or who will be my friend?


I will gather and carefully make my friends
Of the men of the Sussex Weald;
They watch the stars from silent folds,
They stiffly plough the field.
By them and the God of the South Country
My poor soul shall be healed.

If I ever become a rich man,
Or if ever I grow to be old,
I will build a house with deep thatch
To shelter me from the cold,
And there shall the Sussex songs be sung
And the story of Sussex told.

I will hold my house in the high wood
Within a walk of the sea,
And the men that were boys when I was a boy
Shall sit and drink with me.

This entry was originally posted at
http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/271796.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-06 14:17:51 from Monument

Swan

Kit and my dad and I were talking about a swan who was injured on the Cam.

My dad: So what happened to the swan?

Marn: I heard the RSPB took him to a rehabilitation place in Norfolk until he was better, but he's back in Cambridge now. They said they hoped he'd find his wife again and settle down-- you know they mate for life. I was just imagining the conversation, though. "Where have you BEEN all this time?" "Er, Norfolk." "A likely story!"

My dad: "I can smell birdseed on your breath!"

Kit: "And is that a feather on your shoulder?"

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/271436.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-06 13:37:23 (Updated 2013-03-06 13:48:20) from Monument

The Anglia Television Lottery

In my dream last night I went home to my parents' house and turned on the TV. Anglia Television was running their answer to the National Lottery. This being Anglia, it was a bit cut-price and the prizes weren't actually monetary. Most of them involved chocolate bars, but I remember there was also a year's free travel on the Milton Keynes tram system and a book of tickets allowing free entry to the women's toilets in Welwyn.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/271345.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-04 10:33:26 from Monument

EDM 1104

Much as I'm sure the NHS needs prayer at the moment, Miliband's EDM does not call upon MPs to pray for the NHS. But the EDM is worth supporting nevertheless; go and look at it and ask your MP to support it.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/270925.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-02 13:41:24 from Monument

Spam

Somehow this slipped through my spam filter. Possibly spamassassin decided it was stream-of-consciousness poetry?

Subject: Do you need a big ass Russian madam who are ready to talk on erotic themes?

You need Ukrainian with beautiful eyes that Madame is ready to talk about sex?They will tell you about their personal sexual experience, you might be interested!} They're so chic that you want to share your phone, and believe me, they will not mind =)

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/270758.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-03-02 13:21:52 from Monument

Florida Man

Florida Man, Florida Man,
running around without any plan,
scruffy old jeans and permanent tan,
Florida Man.
He can appear at the flick of a wrist,
when he gets pissed, someone gets missed,
you'll hear it all from a journalist,
average man,
Florida Man.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/270121.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-02-23 19:16:51 from Monument

Ducks

Scene: A shop in Woking, today.

Assistant: That'll be £5, please.
Me: I was wondering. You know you have some rubber ducks for sale?
Assistant: Yes?
Me: Well, I was wondering... why are rubber ducks always yellow? I mean, have you ever seen a yellow duck? Ducks are brown, or there are the ones with green heads, but I've never met a yellow one.
Assistant: Hm. I've seen yellow ducks on the Thames.
Me: Really? Kit, could we go and look at the Thames this afternoon?
Kit: Maybe!
Assistant: Yes-- fluffy yellow ones. You know, the ducklings.
Me: Wait! You're right! Baby ducks are yellow! I was thinking of the adults. So rubber ducks are supposed to be ducklings, even the big ones?
Assistant: I think so, yes.
Me: Thank you! You've solved a mystery for me. What a helpful person!

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/268821.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2013-02-16 20:15:09 from Monument

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