Friday, 6 June 2008

Friday Grab Bag: BritNews RoundUp

As different as England and America may be--right-hand drive vs. left-hand drive, "colour" vs. "color," Robbie Williams vs. Robin Williams--it's nice to know that we share some basic traits. One of those is the genetic makeup of the women who ladle out school food. In the States we call them "cafeteria ladies." Here they're known as "dinner ladies." Whatever you call them, they appear to be hewn from the same rock: tough, hatchet-faced, hairnetted broads who don't take any guff. Just look at the picture accompanying this story from the Oxford Mail: "Dinner Ladies Hurt in Brawl." I'm sure I recognize them from Rockville High School. Oh, and do read the story. My favorite quote: "There was quite a lot of blood, it has ruined my coat, T-shirt and underwear."

Well, what do you expect? The Britons are a warlike people. Violence burbles under the surface everywhere here, occasionally surfacing in societally-approved ways, like soccer hooliganism and shin kicking. What's shin kicking? A sport that dates back to the 17th century and was celebrated recently in Gloucestershire at the British Shin Kicking Championship. It makes the rituals I saw yesterday in the 1973 movie "The Wicker Man" seem downright quaint.

It used to be that you knew you were at a good wedding if it had shrimp and an open bar. Rolling Stone Ron Wood is upping the ante. According to the Daily Telegraph, he wants dwarfs at his daughter Leah's nuptials: "The rock star, 61, wants actors dressed as 'mischievous, giggling little imps' to play pranks on guests such as snatching the women's hats." If Ron Wood wants a mischievous, giggling little imp why doesn't he just get Charlie Watts?

This just in, courtesy of the Daily Mail: Catherine Zeta-Jones has lost her curves. Says the Mail: "She's a poster-girl for gorgeous curves, but Catherine Zeta-Jones appears to be in danger of losing her bombshell status." It's unclear what organization bestows "bombshell status." It may be English Heritage or the National Trust. It's probably a process akin to getting a historic building "listed." Once a starlet achieves Grade II Listed bombshell status the owner must have permission before making any alterations.

It was only last month that the Daily Mail's eagle-eyed photographers noticed that quiz show hostess Anne Robinson didn't shave her armpits. Robinson's defiant act has started us on the slippery--well, not slippery, I guess--slope towards hirsute underarms. How else to explain former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, who, to quote the Mail, "gave onlookers more than they bargained for as she flashed her hairy armpits after a night out at Cipriani."

One wonders what exactly it is that onlookers "bargain for" as they stand outside a club late at night. A bit of chive on a celebrity's teeth? Some toilet paper stuck to a heel? Nice, yes, but not as memorable--and remunerative, if you're a paparazzo--as an unshaven pit. I suppose the jackpot is a lack of underwear, a tumble getting in the limo, and a sudden loss of bladder control.

Video Gargoyle of the Week
That's right, this week we have a special treat: Gargoyles captured on tape, doing their jobs in their native habitat. On Tuesday we toured the Hook Norton Brewery (details next week) and afterwards walked into the village for lunch. St. Peter's Church is adorned with several of our lithic friends. Here they are in action:

My paper's finished so I should be back next week with a full serving of pent-up blogitude. Until then, thanks for reading and have a great weekend.


Anonymous said...

Mrs. Douglas ain't lost a thing!


Candadai Tirumalai said...

"Pent-up blogitude": positively Miltonic or Henry Jamesian.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

What are we going to do without the Brit News RoundUp?

Maybe the Guardian will give you a gig doing a weekly American news round-up for them once you come back.

Sarah Laurence Blog said...

Live action gargoyles - now that's a great spin for days of rain. Fun footage, but now I do kind of get why gargoyles don't star in action block busters.

Congratulations on finishing, John!

Professor Laurence said...


In England, bombshell status is determined by an ad-hoc working group of the Royal Society, who are also responsible for judging who has taken it to the next level. In America the Senate Sub-Committee On Determining Who Your Daddy Is has jurisdiction, but requirements vary from state to state.

I am not sure whether I am more disturbed by the shin-kicking contest, the dinner-lady smackdown, or that guy who wanted his 'nads kicked in that you told us about last week. Not what you get on Masterpiece Theater, eh?

Most importantly, congratulations on finishing. Sorted!

Anonymous said...

I really wish Americans wouldn't keep harking back to the bad old days of football hooliganism. We've moved on from then - why can't you move on from dated stereotypes?

John Kelly said...

@SC: I think I'll have to continue the BritNews RoundUp from DC, perusing the British gutter press via the web.

@SL: thanks. now I just have to finish the PowerPoint AND tackle a rewrite.

Prof. L: Yes, a lot of kicking going on here. I blame Morris dancing.

Anon: Re the hooligans. YEs, it's not as bad as it once was, but it still seems to crop up regularly. Witness the Rangers fans going on the rampage in Manchester last month. Two years ago 250 England fans were arrested in Stuttgart. I think a lot of European countries sort of gird themselves for the worst when England fans come to town. (Though it seems to have been pretty peaceful in Moscow for the Euro cup.)

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