Saturday, November 29, 2008

Writing Christmas cards with Frau Random Doubt

Picture the scene,
Tis November and all the fields and moors are darkened, the mist is rolling in and the wolves can be heard on yonder. None but the mad or the diseased wander the lanes at such an hour.

My good lady and I glug cheap white wine and write 42,348 Christmas cards.

I have addressed the envelopes and signed the insides with my first name.

The good Frau Random Doubt then goes through the cards and envelopes and writes delightful, thoughtful messages of good cheer which are directly expressed towards the intended recipient and their family/partner/live in sibling/civil partner/pet etc.
Occasionally she passes a card to me with the words "Your friend" or "My dad" or "Your aunt's ex girlfriend's new husband".

I inevitably get the intended message of good cheer mixed up.

To the horribly ill friend "here's to a brilliant 2009!"
To the sports hating elderly relative "You're scum and you know you are! yeah! you! you wanker!"
To the small child "we really must get shit faced really soon!"
To the old college chum "best wishes to all in the convent".

Friday, November 28, 2008

The English Civil War

I'm determined to find out more about this.
This is big.
This is a shift in my historical thinking.
The type of shift that happens once in every few years.

When I was 7 I was really into Vikings, reading all about them and really getting into Vikings led me nicely onto the Normans and by about the age of 10 I was, with a little help from Asterix the Gaul, into the Roman empire.

Then I got into Victorians and the British Empire and by the time I was 12 I was really obsessed with the Stuart family (but not the Civil War which is ironic when you ponder it).

By the age of 13 I was clinically obsessed with World War One. I remained so until about the age of 16 when I discovered America. American history has pretty much been my obsession ever since

My American journey began with JFK, Vietnam, LBJ and the sixties but soon moved into all sorts of other areas and in the last couple of years has led me into the USA as enlightenment utopia/modern reality. The Enlightenment end of the story has led me to backtrack to why people left Britain in the first place. I know it was as economic as it was cultural or religious, but I've recently been wondering what it was that prompted the move. So I begin to think about england in the first half of the seventeenth century and Voila! The English Civil War.

nu shooz

The gorgeous, lovely new running shoes arrived two weeks ago.

Due to a combination of factors (almost breaking myself on a super duper long run and then taking a well deserved week off, a crazy mid November blizzard which left us covered in 6 inches of snow last weekend-WHICH DIDN'T MELT BY 11am, just 11 am the next day- followed by some man flu and losing my voice COMPLETELY)

I have yet to wear them!

Monday, November 24, 2008

How are you coping?

It's a mad world isn't it?
Do you have any tips?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Another of the marvellous Tillerman's group writing projects has found itself resting in the inbox.
Perhaps it's the economic collapse, perhaps it's the demise of the Republican Party, perhaps it's just the weather but it's taken a few days to get this one on board, a few days to arrange the guest list, order the wine, buy the mussels, sort out the location.

Well, in true Mondale fashion, here goes.

As anyone reading this blog on a semi regular basis will know, the location, guest list and menu will mean little to anyone beyond the curiously shaped Mondale bubble. However, I should like to add that just as a place is set for Elijah, a place will be set for anyone of you who wishes to cross the threshold with a good bottle and good cheer.

The location will be outdoors, Summer Solstice, June 21st. it will be on the banks of the River Thurne in Norfolk, just upstream from Thurne Mouth. You 'll find us easily if you arrive by boat,We'll shout you down as you pass. You'll not stand a chance if you travel by car. We'll be the ones sitting at a table on the dock, the dock at the legendary and mystical Theta club.

We'll be eating Morston mussels, roast beef and apple crumble, with a variety of other delights served in the correct order. We'll be drinking Woodfordes Wherry beer and whatever else crosses the threshold with the guests. This is the Norfolk Broads al fresco, all good food and good company.

What of the company?

There will be Cumpstey the butcher's son. A dear old chum of many years who has shared some of the best and worst of Mondale's sailing moments.

Emily Fabpants my old Mirror crew between 1985 and 1989 would certainly need to be there as she could set anyone straight about my ability as a racing helm.

I'd quite like to have Lord Nelson there but cant help feeling that he'd be rather hard work as it's over 200 years since he died and I'm just not sure he'd fit in. I just think 'social climber'. I might be wrong.

I would quite like to have the Duke of Edinburgh there. Emily Fabpants and Cumpstey would keep him in check but more importantly he's an old navy man and an enthusiastic sailor.I know he'd enjoy himself and I've always secretly admired him for many curious reasons.

Mark, the man who has, at the age of 37, forgotten more about the Norfolk Broads and sailing upon them that any of the rest of us will ever know. He will amuse and educate the rest of us and still be fit to go for that midnight sail if there's enough wind. If the wind fails then we break out cigars and look at the stars.

Friday, November 14, 2008


He's been pointing to one of the several framed pictures of the 36th President that adorn our living room and saying "Daddy".

And I'm not kidding.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

book learning # 47

The boy in the striped pyjamas by John Boyne

This is exactly the type of book the 11 year old Mondale loved to read.

The 35 year old Mondale also loved it.

It was recommended to me about a year ago by the very last person (a professional associate) that I would have thought would even recommend books let alone anything worthwhile. Still, she is an important figure in my career so I graciously took her copy and it lived in my briefcase for a number of months. She then asked for it back, and was a bit put out that I had 'not got round to it yet but it's by my bed and I'll read it soon'. After returning it I heard a beguiling radio story about the movie that has been made, it didn't give anything away but made me reach for the copy in the school library. Did I read it differently because I'm now a parent? Was my sorrow greater? Was my fear real?

Whatever the answers to such questions this much I know.

I couldn't put it down.

I had to know what happened next.

I was captivated.

Such innocence.

Such darkness.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

This blog

A friend asked me the other day "what's your blog about? What's it like?"

It's always nice to stop and think about what you do (as opposed to blindly crashing through life which is often my preferred method of cultural navigation).

I thought for a moment.

"I guess it's a bit like a smalltown newspaper, I'm the editor and writer and reporter and tea boy. All the news is of interest to me and perhaps a dozen or so others who read regularly. In some respects I am living off the glories of a couple of older posts which still google well and draw in a crowd of passers by who might pick up a copy, use the small ads section and never bother to read any further. Alot of the news is about me".

book learning # 46

The life and times of the thunderbolt kid by Bill Bryson.

Can I just cut and paste every other review I've done on a Bill Bryson book?
why do I keep picking him up?
It's like the Sunday newspaper magazine article about the new Bond film.
You sit on the loo , you read and your life is not changed. It's not harmful but it's not enlightening.
It passed the time.

Having said all that I liked the stuff about the big fifties themes, communism, racism, consumerism etc.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My favourite BBC/election 08 moment.

I love Gore Vidal.
I love the BBC.
Put them both together and you have oodles of brilliant insanity and geriatric shoutiness.

Gore Vidal verses David Dimbleby


He's not the messiah.

Let's get that straight right now.

But I do feel hope.

I feel an overwhelming sense of rejection of the Bush doctrine. I love that sense of rejection. I love the fact that Bush is being replaced by an opposite figure, everything he seems not to be, everything he seems uncomfortable with.

I love the sense of seeing where things are going to settle.

I'm looking forward to my big run this evening and then a night watching analysis with Frau Random Doubt.

I love the fact that my little boy, the wee hen just left me a message on my phone.



Gotta love his voice coach.

And I love America.

I like to think I never doubted you, even in this far away, damp and often miserable political climate.

Right now, this just feels great. That's good enought to be going on with.

And I feel hope.

And I like that.

The speech

I'm huddled round my sony bravia wondering,

"Does Hometown count as a forgotten corner of the world?"

4am GMT

I just woke fro a bad dream (no, i'm not referring to the Bush years, although that's true).

The pundits were apologising for the incorrect polls, looking uncomfortable and attempting to explain how they had got it all wrong.

Then I really woke up.

Turned on the telly.

The BBC called it for Obama.

In theory I should now go to bed.

In reality there's those two hours of geekfest and toast.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My election night 3

I've decided.
I'll set my alarm for 4am.
I'll get 2 hours of geekfest before the wee hen wakes up.

I can't miss this, whatever happens.

My election night 2.

Today I talked to the class about the election.
I didn't take a poll but the room felt very Obama.
We looked at the NYTimes website and it's brilliantly geeky electoral map, they kids loved the interactive state by state analysis.

Then they saw images of Obama and McCain.

Poacher kid " Obama is the same kind of party as Gordon Brown except young and black and popular"

Girl with blu-tac stuck in her hair "And McCain is like David Cameron except old and nearly dead and not popular"

My election night.

It started five hours earlier than yours, that's pretty certain.

I ended my parents evening with two of my favourite parents, proper Norfolk folk, my own kind, simple, earthy, with big smiles and rough hands. They warned me about the outrageous and very scary fog creeping in over the fields. That was very nice of them.

They were nicer than the American parent who noticed my new tie filled with little donkeys.


After that he let his agreeable and not uneasy on the eyes wife do the talking while he looked through his daughter's books.

The fog was indeed outrageous and scary and it took me ages to drive home. I would have got home sooner but at the Hackford turn I got stuck behind somebody doing 12 (TWELVE) mph. The fog was bad but for f**** sake! This is Norfolk! LEARN TO EFFING WELL DRIVE DOWN TWISTY AND SHIT SCARY COUNTRY LANES IN FOG WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE YOUR WINDSCREEN WIPERS IN!! IT'S WHY YOU HAVE HEADLIGHTS!!

The fog seemed to bring out the crowds when it came to the chip shop. When I walked in there were 7 men and a lady waiting in silence. The boy Kenny sorted us all out pretty quickly. When the lady left all the men started chatting, the boy kenny asked me to add up some prices "Come on, you teach maths dontcha?"

Frau Random Doubt had gone to her American chum's house for an election drinkette and girly gossip so I popped into the off licence and the chip shop before getting home to release the babysitter (my mum).

I'm tempted to rise at 4am and follow events. I'm that excited.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Intensity and the prospect of victory.

It's going to be an unbelievable week, which ever way things turn out on Tuesday.

Due to the time difference I will find out the results as I rise on Wednesday morning. It's Sunday evening now, I've been on the go all day taking the toddler out to the beach and to lunch with grandparents and then noticing that toddler isn't himself (he's never not himself, this kid is a pro, he's the hardest working toddler in the business, which throws us through a big fiery loop when he's not himself.) We've put him to bed with some medicine, a lullaby and some hope.

Then it was the turn of the kitchen, long forgotten as we've eaten out and done other fun things these past few days as it's been half term which brings me onto getting my shit together for a big week back at school after a week off which coincides with the election which turns my political junkie head and reminds me that I must read the paper which is still in it's plastic bag since i bought it at 10am.

That's why there probably won't be an incisive post anytime soon about the election (because there have been so many up to now? Right?) You all know where I stand and will have a very good idea about how I will be feeling on Wednesday morning.

I'm going to sit down and read the paper.

Have a good week (as long as you're a Democrat, if any republicans read this, I hope your week sucks.)