I never thought I'd say this but I wish I had lice.
Or ringworm. Or hemorrhagic fever. Some nasty contagion. Lice would probably be best since that would be the ideal way to pay back the thieving ne'er-do-well against whom I want revenge. You see, a couple of weeks ago we visited Oxford's Museum of Natural History. We rode our bicycles in a pouring rain and rather than lock my helmet to the bike, as I normally do, I left it sitting on a bench in the museum's entry way. The room was encrusted with the cast-off accouterments of wet visitors: dozens of umbrellas and coats, strollers dripping and steaming in the radiator heat. My Lovely Wife and I cleared a space and put our helmets down.
When we emerged 90 minutes later hers was there and mine wasn't. It had been stolen, nicked, pinched. As I rode home I entertained dark fantasies of retribution....
Let Us Give Thanks
A reader asked how our Thanksgiving was. Lovely. We held it last Sunday, rather than on the 22nd itself, the British rather sniffily refusing to celebrate Thanksgiving. We invited some Actual English People over and told them all about the history of the holiday (Jamestown vs. Plymouth, Pilgrims vs. Indians, Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers, real cranberry jelly versus the stuff in cans that has those little ridges in it). My Lovely Wife made a wonderful feast, the centerpiece of which was a free-range, organic turkey. Guess how much it cost. Go on, guess. No, higher. Higher. Yup, 45 pounds Sterling for a 13-pound turkey. That's $90. We sucked the meat off every bone.
Another week, another Daily Mail story about women's breasts. I've written in this space before about that paper's fascination with female chestal regions (any my fascination with their fascination). Sometimes I think they write about bosoms just so I'll have something to include in my BritNews Roundup every Friday. This week's story involves an Oxford writer (!) named Clover Stroud who had a special effects artists craft her a set of lifelike silicon boobs that she could parade around town in. The ostensible purpose was to take an incisive sociological look at the commodification of big-breasted women. But regular readers of the BritNews Roundup know it was just an excuse to run saucy photos of a woman's cups runnething over.
The result of her experiment? The postman seems "much cheerier" than normal. (I can just imagine him thinking to himself: "I 'ardly earn any money, I 'ave to deliver the post in the rain, my missus is a fishwife, but that big-bosomed lady's made my day, she 'as.") Drivers do a double-take, one swerving violently to avoid a collision. (If someone had been killed, would the Daily Mail have been responsible?) Ms. Stroud concludes "large breasts really do work as a man magnet at at least a hundred yards."
But there's a dark side to the decollotage: Men ogle, some make saucy remarks. "I realised that a whole lifetime of being checked out, and commented on, like some prize heifer, would drive me quite mad." Or maybe she could just dress a little less trashily.
Emma Clarke, the voice-over artist who provided the recordings for the London Underground, has been fired for being quoted as saying she never rode the Tube any more because the service was dreadful. It probably didn't help that she also recorded gag announcements for her Web site, including one that went: "We would like to remind our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loud."
Hey, at least our breasts are real. Unless we're from California.
File under "yuck": An auction house in Yorkshire is selling an "anthropodermic" bound book. That's one covered in human skin. It just might be bound in the skin of the person the book is about, a Jesuit priest executed for his role in the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The Daily Mail (of course) has a story about how the priest's face is visible on the front of the book, like some ghostly Shroud of Turin image.
Here is where I would normally have a story about some British person attempting to have sex with an inanimate object (a bicycle, a fence, a backyard compost bin....) but that doesn't make news anymore. No, what's truly newsworthy is when someone has sex with a woman, especially if that someone is a "top England" soccer star. "Another Blow for England" is the suitably cheeky headline on the story in the News of the World about a birthday party at which a senior player, um, scored in public. "It's incredible that this should be going on so close to England becoming the laughing stock of Europe by not qualifying" for the European cup, said an onlooker. "If the players put as much effort into playing as this one did into boozing and shagging they might have got somewhere."
My favorite part of the story is one of the subheds, just a single evocative word: "Groin."
Stone Carving of the Week
This is the Fettiplace Monument, a wall tomb snapped by My Lovely Wife on a tour of St. Mary's Church in Swinbrook. Not dead, it seems to say. Just resting. They look like three guys on the sleeper train to Vienna.
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.