EDitorial ± 29-May-2001

Lead Time

Obtained special dispensation from the Burghers of Ipswich (please apply at least four weeks in advance) to leave the town borders, and consequently spent a fun, relaxing and filling weekend in far-off Cumbria. Big thanks to the family Hopkins of Sedbergh for letting out their top storey to us. We went to college together way back in the 80s, doncha know. Very much like The Big Chill but without Kevin Costner and the funeral.

Drab & drizzly first thing Saturday, so headed off down the M6 to Keswick in search of indoor amusement. Where we soon found ourselves outside the Cumberland Pencil Museum. Oh yes.

Pencil factory

Now, possibly that doesn't sound like your idea of a good time. But I'd driven past on a previous visit, and I was intrigued. Once inside you head through the replica graphite mine, as you do, before entering the main part of the display.

Car from pencil factory

Here's a free tip. If you really want to digest a few key facts about an historic building or museum, ask for the children's activity sheet. NB This can be less awkward if you own a ready-made family. So, ready for some Rexel facts?

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else
Spectrum blue 3200, light violet 2600, imperial purple 2300:

  1. H=hard, B=black, but you already knew that, didn't you?
  2. quality (e.g. Cumberland) pencils are made of cedar wood
  3. the three main parts of a pencil are the core, wood case and finish
  4. oh, and the longest pencil in the world is 7 feet: actually they were going for a new world record on Bank Holiday Monday, i.e. yesterday, so it might well be a bit longer now

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 21-May-2001

Beside Myself With Glee

Weather couldn't make up its mind in big bad urban Ippo yesterday afternoon, so I irrationally decided that we should decamp to the coast for a couple of hours of the finest East Coast ozone. Kids weren't up for a leisurely amble along the front, until I sugared the pill by saying that they could take the scooter and bike-with-stabilisers. And so we set off in our nuclear family MPV for sunny Felixstowe!

Anonymous prom boy

Luckily enough the sun was beating down on the town that plays host to "Britain's Premier Port ®", and we obviously weren't the first people to have the bright idea of heading for the sea. In fact we had to briefly clarify the local parking regulations with a uniformed official before finding a spot near-ish the Pier. Then realised we hadn't got a sun hat for the boy: d'oh!

I do like to stroll along the prom, prom, prom
Where the brass band plays tiddly-om-pom-pom!
— I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

For once we didn't head for the doughnut stall but instead pointed our eleven wheels in the direction of the Spa Pavilion, away from the rabble (which usually includes us). If I remember my French, to go for a walk is "faire une promenade". And I do like the prom down at Felixstowe. It's wide, well-kept, adjacent to the admittedly stony beach, and every 100m or so there's someone selling 99s. What more could anyone want? Oh, and I know there's no cycling, but surely if your bike has stabilisers then it's OK?

On that subject, one last thing I must pass on. From a £1.50 booklet in Tourist Information entitled "The Cotman Walk, A Town Trail by The Felixstowe Society", I learned that in 1933, a Mr P. Harris of Ipswich cycled backwards up Bent Hill. Now that's entertainment.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 14-May-2001

On This Day In History

Today, Monday 14th May 2001, happens to be my 35th birthday (which apparently means, as my dad put it, that I'm halfway through my allotted three-score-and-ten, a sobering thought). I don't feel 35, however that feels. Here's a thing: I was filling in some questionnaire t'other day, and you know that they often have age groups? For the last time, as long as I remain honest, I squeezed into the 26-34 category. Ouch.
They say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too, yeah!
— The Beatles: Birthday

Card and present

Other notables who'll be buying cakes all round and excitedly waiting for Mr Postman today are:

  1. David Byrne - 49 years old
    Former lead singer of Talking Heads. Utterly barking, he used to video TV game shows, transcribe them, then read them aloud in cafes, as you do. Wore the big suit in Stop Making Sense, a fantastic concert film. I was lucky enough to see him play solo in Cambridge a few years back. Wrote "Pyscho Killer". Top man. All together now: This is not my beautiful wife!
  2. George Lucas - 57 years old
    Bearded chap who directed an odd sci-fi film called THX-1138, the name of which appears in all his later films. And who then made American Graffiti, which has a tremendous soundtrack including I Only Have Eyes For You by The Flamingos. After that he took his camera and crew to Death Valley, Tunisia and England, and out popped Star Wars. Enough said.
  3. Thomas Gainsborough - 274 years old!
    Granted, the posthumous don't get much post, but I had to mention Thomas, local lad made good. Born in Sudbury he studied in London, married, then in 1752 decided to settle in Ipswich, wherever that is. Perhaps the 18th century tractor boys didn't get his French Rococo style, since in 1759 he decamped to Bath in search of a wider audience. Still, the boy did well.

Bit of a bummer having a birthday on a Monday, I know, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I've just worked out that in 2006, when I'm 40, it'll be on a Sunday: hoorah!

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 8-May-2001

All Points North

To Portman Road last night for ITFC's final home game of the season, leaving it late to see my first Premiership game of 2000/01 (ta to Dean for the ticket, BTW). Visitors were Manchester City: on a really sunny day this time last year they'd pipped us for the second automatic promotion spot, darn them.

Somewhat different fortunes for us and them these past 10 months. The mighty blue boys were looking for a win to put the pressure back on Liverpool for that 3rd Champions League spot, whereas City needed to win just to stand a chance of staying up.

Ticket   Score   Stand

Course, it finished 2-1 to the Tractor Boys with most of the excitement coming in the final 20 minutes, condemning Man City down to the Nationwide. Amazing bunch of fans have City. They sang their hearts out, and were still going strong at the end in spite of the (unfortunate for them) events on the pitch. A few choice songs from the blue end of Manchester:

  • If the Nevilles play for England, so can I (fair point)
  • In church, it's just like being in church (when the ground went quiet)
  • If you all hate Man Utd clap your hands (all fans join in)
That was also the end of the North Stand as we know it. The traditional home of the town-fans-that-sing is being demolished and rebuilt, pretty much as from today. I had some good times in there, including a fine view of us beating the other Manchester team 3-2 a few seasons back. Don't know why, but I'm also reminded of us losing to Arsenal in a FA Cup quarter-final. Not so much fun.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else
Holland and Reuser:

  1. discuss: more fun supporting Man City than Man Utd?
  2. apparently City have already sold 16,000 season tickets for next year
  3. we're all going on a European tour!
Be seeing you!