Paddling in the shallows of the news

Is it possible to dip a toe into the news these days and not drown in sorrow? It is. I’ve been exploring the shallows of the (mostly) British news. Come on in. The water’s silly.

One of our local papers, the Western Morning News, reports that a driver passed PC Mark Freshwater on Tavistock Road while eating pasta “off his lap with a fork.” PC Freshwater gave him “words of advice which he took on board.”

But what really matters here—and you can trust the Westie to focus right in on this—is that “the container appeared to be Tupperware.”

The Westie is a true model of local journalism. No article about a murder, explosion, or other form of violence is complete without a quote from a neighbor, who’s either shocked or horrified or both shocked and horrified. PC Freshwater doesn’t seem to have expressed either emotion, but then this wasn’t a violent crime, and he’s a professional, not a neighbor, so he was able to focus on what mattered, which was the Tupperware. And, I guess, the fork, although it was the Tupperware that sent me over the edge.

That’s the kind of training a cop gets here in Britain. By the time they’re turned loose on the street, they know what matters.

As an aside, I might as well say that I’m both shocked and horrified that the driver was using only a fork, not a knife and fork, as any proper British eater will. And no, anonymous driver, driving is no excuse for bad table manners. Neither is not being at a table. I may be American, and I may have bad table manners, but I do know that much.

I’d give you a link but I couldn’t find the article online. I read my newspapers in print. Screw it, I’m old. If I want to be old fashioned, I’ve earned the right. And if I read all my news online, I’d have missed this and we’d all have been the poorer. I did google “driver eating pasta” and was offered several articles about drivers eating cereal and one about a driver eating pasta, but that was in a different city and a different year. Plus the driver was a different sex. And wasn’t using Tupperware.

Irrelevant photo: This was in bloom in December.

Irrelevant photo: This was in bloom outside our bedroom window in December. December. Don’t let anyone kid you about the British having terrible weather. After 40 years in Minnesota, I’m prepared to swear that this is the tropics.

It is with regret that we now leave PC Freshwater and wade on over to see what’s happening in government security. In December, an article reported that least 1,000 government laptops, computers, and data sticks had been reported missing or stolen since the general election in May of 2015. From the Ministry of Defense alone, the average loss was one item a day. And that’s just from the departments that actually reported their losses. Many managed not to.

When Wild Thing and I first moved to Britain, we regularly saw news stories about secret government documents and computer disks being left on trains. Why did other countries waste their money on spies? we asked each other, when all they needed to do was have their people ride the trains and see what fell into their hands–free and legally.

Then at some point the articles stopped. We missed them but thought maybe the government had gotten better at this stuff. I’m heartened to know that the incompetence continues.

What’s the news from the war on drugs? Antwerp has overtaken London to become the cocaine capital of Europe. But only on weekends. On weekdays, London leads the list.

Go, London.

How does anyone know? You have to test the concentration of cocaine in the sewers. Then you account for how long cocaine takes to work its way through the system and you count backward.

Who’s using all that cocaine? A separate study identifies them as people with household incomes of £50,000 or more.

What’s happening in international relations? In December, in a live TV interview, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was asked to name France’s foreign minister and happily identified him as “mon ami” whatever his name is. Then he was asked to name South Korea’s foreign minister and stormed off in a huff. The game was more fun, apparently, when he knew the answers.

The huff was drawn by four milk-white steeds wearing bells.

Does it mean anything that this item follows the cocaine report? Absolutely not. But PC Pasta recommends Tupperware for all your storage needs.

But let’s move now to the U.S., where unnamed White House sources report that Trump believes female staffers should “dress like women.” Sounds simple, doesn’t i?

I am, or so I’ve been told all my life, a woman, and I’ve never had any reason to question that. As I type this, I’m wearing jeans, a turtleneck, a fuzzy pullover-type thing that probably has a name but I have fashion dyslexia and don’t know it. I’m also wearing slippers. And–forgive me if I shock you–a variety of undergarments and two socks, one on each foot.

Am I dressed like a woman? It’s not a trick question, but it’s not a simple one either.

Predictably, people of various sexes (but mostly women) have cut loose on Twitter, using the hashtag #DressLikeAWoman.

Enough confusion. Let’s check in on the religious front, because that’s where you find eternal truths, right? A theological college connected to the Church of England held a GLBT (that’s gay, lesbian, bacon, and tomato, in case you’re not in the know) service where people had entirely too much fun and everybody involved has had to explain that they’re very, very sorry and that when they referred to god as “the Duchess” it was–they really are so very sorry–a typo. And when Psalm 19’s line “Oh Lord, my strength” appeared as “O Duchess, my butchness,” it was an extended typo.

Guys, it could happen to any of us. And in case I haven’t mentioned it, they really are very, very sorry.

And finally, former British chancellor George Osborne has explained that yes, he did earn something in the neighborhood of £600,000 from speaking fees and work as an advisor to a fund management company while he was a Member of Parliament, but it was only because he was sure it would improve the country. By, um, well, you know. When money moves from one bank account to another, the GDP goes up. And computers are employed to make the transfers, which helps keep their little silicon families in fed and clothed.

Thanks, George. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we appreciate what you’re doing for us.

 

110 thoughts on “Paddling in the shallows of the news

  1. The whole pasta debacle is interesting. So that is news, eh? We have even pointed out the fork which I hope doesn’t send you over the edge again, Ellen! As for the whole Dress Like a Woman flap, I saw that trending on Twitter. I don’t even know what it means. Perhaps ignorance is bliss. Although I have theories. PLENTY of theories.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. is it the use of cocaine or the amount in the city? Does London ship some out to Antwerp on a Friday evening?
    It occurred to me as I wrote it that if it is used a lot it would run out by Friday and British cocaine carriers wouldn’t redeliver until Monday…so that makes sense…

    I frequently wear “men’s” hats which are in my opinion women’s hats because the belong to me…apart from the one time I borrowd Mark’s bowler…that was still a mans hat because it was his…

    I once got told in a place of work that I shouldn’t wear my doc marten boots as they were not ladylike enough…this was under trousers too…in retrospect i should have stuck the boot somewhere….thankfully people don’t tell me things like that now…

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I absolutely lost it at “The huff was drawn by four milk-white steeds wearing bells.” Luckily for my phone’s continued survival, that meant I I was in no condition to be drinking coffee by the time I hit “O Dutchess, my butchness.”

    My phone and I both thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Do you identify as a woman and are you currently donning clothing? Then you are dressed like a woman. Of all the things to get angry at Trump about, this is low on the list. There are more pressing concerns in his war on women. And his war on everyone else. But misogyny is now publicly acceptable it seems. Did you read about the ND senators arguing for shops to be closed on sundays so wives could cook their husbands breakfast and bring it to them in bed and have fewer hours on which to run up the credit card on shopping binges? And then there’s silencing Elizabeth Warren, of course. There may come a time when dressing like a woman means we all look like extras from Mad Max.

    Anyway, your post reminds me why local news can be a joy. It’s so gloriously mundane that it takes the edge off the stress caused by grim national and international news and reminds us that most people are going about their decent lives doing not much of note and it’s only a small minority who are intent on fomenting conflicts or controlling uteruses or stripping people of rights.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. At least your slippers are not made of Tupperware… I still have some yucky orange coloured ones that I bought in the eighties. Here in SA our State of the Nation address by the president, erupted into a circus last night with the opposition (dressed in red overalls), were forcibly removed after not giving the head banana a chance to deliver his speech. I switched off the telly after the fun and games were over.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I was stuck for quite a while on the pasta incident. How barbaric. No knife? and “Yes”, Trump did try to get one over on you with a trick question. Nothing gets past you. Now I have to go and figure out in advance what Trump will mean when he says something that he expects as guys to ‘Dress like men.” I guess that means no kilts.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sadly, I think it will mean no kilts. But I have to say, most of the Americans (male or female) I’ve seen wearing kilts just can’t pull them off anyway. And I say that as an American who when she was young and unable to defend herself got stuck in a kilt periodically. We didn’t do each other any favors, me and that kilt.

      I did wonder about that knife. But it wouldn’t have left him much to drive with if he’d used one, you have to admit that.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Ellen, you’re a woman (however you might be dressed, down to the slippers) after my own heart. My sons mock me for my preference for what they call ‘fringe’ info, but it’s the only bearable kind nowadays. As for British cops, I’m a big fan since a very handsome one noticed I was dazed and confused driving round a roundabout trying to decide which was the right exit, and took the trouble to follow me until he could stop me and very kindly lead me in the right direction.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m glad you put the bacon and tomato bit toward the end, because I fear people may take you seriously, but I also know the kind of people who would take it seriously would never make it that far into your writing.
    I seldom use Tupperware. I’m more a Pyrex person. I wonder what this says about me? If only I could be mentioned in an article and read what people write in response…
    It’s my understanding that women dressing like women means that women dress in a way that makes it impossible for anyone to mistake them for men, at any angle. (Apart from the tomatoes, anyway.) Take formal wear for instance: Women should be mostly uncovered, but carefully so, as too much uncovering is too much woman, but a woman’s got to be cold, her toes compressed, her bosoms hoisted, and it must be sincerely easy to imagine her entire undercarriage. A man, in contrast, should be a mere face and hands, always warm, and his neck should be choked. This will restrict the blood flow to his head and then he will be inspired to lend his jacket to a cold woman of his choosing, where we can then imagine they’re both ideally comfortable which will induce mating?
    — Only then is it obvious who is man and who is woman, which is very important because …

    Liked by 2 people

    • I didn’t think I’d find much to add to this until I reached the last line: This is important because otherwise humanity would stop reproducing, the population would shrink back to–oh, roughly the point where small bands were making their way out of Africa and out into the rest of the earth. Once they reach that level, however, even though eveningwear will no long be available it will become obvious who’s male and who’s female, so mating may (or may not–who knows without the impetus provided by eveningwear) begin again.

      Liked by 2 people

      • When the population of the earth has again reduced to Bronze Age levels (whether due to widespread adoption of strictly unisex wardrobes or a nuclear winter triggered by someone with very, VERY smalls hands — I know which my money’s on), at that point the importance of Pyrex will become apparent. Desire, uncoupled from the visual cues of eveningware, will attach itself to kitchenware, and a new axiom will appear: Always schtup the dude with the most Pryex preserved through the apocalypse, for he has proven competent to be a good provider for your future children.

        All of whom will eat an excessive amount of casserole, on account of the double-head mutations from radiation.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I love local news…when I was young the annual arrival of the flasher in the public baths was almost headline material. Later in France it was wild boar roaming the suburbs and alarming homing drunks and now – but unfortunately only online – it is men who attempt to entice teenagers into untoward sexual displays by bribing them with a mobile phone and who, when the kid runs off with the phone before the performance, go to the police to complain of theft, outlining the circumstances…

    We took visitors on the long distance bus to Nicaragua….they were seated behind the driver so had ample opportunity to admire the skill with which he ate his lunch from the plate on his lap while driving the bus with one finger on the wheel. No excuse for the man…he was using a spoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. About the Tupperware – was the driver able to produce a receipt for it? I checked online,where my suspicion was confirmed; Tupperware is an expensive commodity. There are plenty of far cheaper and perfectly efficient alternative products on the market. I myself use indian takeaway and icecream containers, which cost nothing, apart from the price of the consumerables that they originally contained).
    Did the policeman check the man’s annual income? It seems unlikely that the Tupperware was purchased legally. Nobody in the South West of England can afford to buy it. It was probably stolen in the US, and smuggled across. I expect some poor family in Nantucket is starving to death after discovering their terrible loss, and having to throw away their leftovers. All this so that some brute of a man can eat his pasta in a car, WITHOT A KNIFE.
    The police are trained to watch keenly for stolen Tupperware.
    I suspect corruption. There needs to be an enquiry into this.
    I only hope those people in Nantucket have caring neighbours.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I have been following the side-tracks that the comments took with much interest, from fashion to food containers, smuggling to starvation, but that business of not using a knife while eating, still bothers me. I think we need to have Scotland Yard investigate, in case he had more sinister reasons than just merely being wary of a slip of the knife. He was not wearing armour to protect his manhood, was he?

        Liked by 1 person

        • No, no (I assume), no. Eating with a knife and fork in Britain means eating with a butter knife and folk–a blunt knife that you use to pack food onto your fork so it doesn’t run all over the plate while you’re trying to capture it. If you have very good manners, you’ll hold the fork upside down (more or less–that’s with the hump facing up and the hollow facing down) and pack your food on the back so it defies gravity. If you have less impressive manners, you hold it hollow up. If you have no manners at all (which is to say, if you’re me or almost any other American), you eat with the fork only.

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          • Ah! Thanks for clarifying that. I was getting concerned for the poor man. The South African descendants of the British Empire eat the same, but like you and most Americans (I’ll take your word for it), I now know where to classify myself as an eater – no manners at all. Which is much more practical in any case.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I could argue both sides of the eating debate, with almost equal passion. Using the knife keeps you from having to chase those last couple of green peas around the plate, which is great. Unfortunately, having eaten with a fork in my hand and the knife on the table for roughly seven decades now, I find I can’t switch–or not for long.

              The upside-down-fork thing, though? That’s just strange.

              Liked by 1 person

  11. Bacon Tomato, what a hoot! Now if only that tupperware could be put to a better use. Perhaps the Brits might learn to put aside a little of their cocaine, safely locking it into a small, plastic tupper, they might not be so outdone.

    Tupper, by the way, was one of the names I considered for my Chance (my labradorable retriever) but in end, I thought it was too darling, suited to something more like a cocker spaniel.

    As far as dressing like a woman, I’m wearing croc like slippers with a fuzzy fake shearling lining, which I wear most of the day unless I’m going out, although sometimes I forget I’m wearing them and wear them out, too. Also a pair of elastic waist black adidas sweat pants with white stripes I stole from my son in an act of retaliation for years of him swiping my jackets, hats, scarves, gloves and the odd bit of clothing here and there. They’re much too large and pull up nearly to my boobs when they aren’t half falling off, but they’re comfy. I particularly like them because they have pockets which are always filled with treats and odd and ends and small items I remove from Chance’s mouth on a seemingly endless ongoing basis. Today, in my pocket, I have a small lid from a pop bottle, half of a chewed up dog toy missing the stuffing, a miniature plastic figurine from my Dad’s train table, a plastic piece that Chance managed to chew off the bottom of the bed frame and several small pieces of a stick he dragged into the house.

    Why so many women’s clothing lack pockets, or pockets of a useful size is beyond me. I would be a total fail at the White House. At least I have in my pearl earrings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, yes, no sweat pants outfit is complete without pearl earrings.

      I’m with you about women’s clothes and pockets. When I discovered that men’s jeans had real pockets, I was converted, although I’ll buy a women’s pair if the pockets are usable. That conversion experience came just after I discovered that no law of physics kept women from buying and wearing men’s jeans. The fifties were such a locked-in decade that I swear it had never crossed my mind, even though as a kid I wore my brother’s hand-me-downs. Why that didn’t translate when I was older I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think girls in particular were and still are taught not to question. I think there’s many women who still don’t… Hearing that story makes me wonder what “conversion experiences” I have yet to come across in myself!

        And yes, the pearls, lol! I put them in and wear them for months. They class up my pj pants, too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • As I look back, I’m amazed at the things I didn’t question–and probably still can’t see the things I’m not questioning now. Like why I don’t wear pearl earrings with my pjs.

          Oh. Wait. It’s because I don’t own pearl earrings. And would look kind of funny in them if I did.

          Liked by 1 person

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