Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why do these things always involve horses?

Flat 7, Gordonstoun Court, Suffolk Street, Oulton Broad, Suffolk is the subject of an interesting law, enacted in 1537 by Henry VIII and still in effect today. The law requires two living horses to be within the flat at all times, failure to adhere to this law carrying a minimum twenty-year prison sentence for the owner, occupants and any visitors to the property in the previous seven weeks. The last time anyone was prosecuted under this law was in 1987, when building works forced the then resident Humphrey Dalmas to briefly move one of the horses out into the corridor in order to access a leaking gas pipe. The team of twelve police officers who constantly monitor the flat sprang quickly into action and had Dalmas taken into immediate custody.

The current owner, hippopotamus breeder Hugo Bugeleisen, has made sure to keep at least four horses in the flat, so as to avoid prosecution should one or two of them spontaneously drop dead, and describes himself as "happy" with the situation, "although not as happy as those whose flats contain no horses at all, obviously."

The law was introduced at the request of Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, whose cousin, Derek Tunstall, lived in Pakefield and kept a mistress in Camps Heath. Oulton Broad being roughly half way between the two locations, the law enabled Derek to ride as quickly as possible to his mistress's house every Saturday afternoon, changing his tired horse for a fresh one at Oulton, steal a quick kiss and return home again before his wife had finished her weekly bath. The law originally applied to a large country house with attached stables; this was destroyed in the war and a block of flats built in its place in the early fifties, when it was ruled that for the purposes of the Living Horse Law, Flat 7 should be considered the successor of the original property. A small, one-bedroom, three-kitchen flat, the presence of two or more horses leaves no room to swing a cat, let alone breed a hippopotamus.

The law serves no practical purpose today - Derek Tunstall lived to a surprisingly ripe old age but was eventually executed in 1667 on the posthumous orders of Oliver Cromwell for treason and unlicensed dispensing of rat poison - but an attempt to pass a bill through parliament invalidating the law was unanimously defeated in 1992, with even the MP who introduced the motion deciding to vote against it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fun fun fun

I feel bad about devoting a whole blog to a TV review, because I like to be a bit more unconventional than that. But I feel that I should mention the comeback of Red Dwarf that was on tonight, seeing as I loved the original series (with the obvious exception of the last couple of seasons). It was fun, better than most resurrections of sitcoms that passed their best long ago, but nothing too special. What really surprised me is that while the cast haven't physically aged too much, Rimmer's voice in particular has put on a few years. And Chris Barrie's a voice actor, I would expect him to be pitch-perfect (Frank Welker still nails the voice of Freddy on Scooby-Doo, and he's ancient now...)

See, now I've got that out of my system I won't be able to devote tomorrow to talking about Doctor Who, and I'll be able to go back to my usual inane witterings...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Maundy Thursday is here at last!

Ahh, a four-day weekend. Exactly what I need to do all that Cambridge Memory Championship preparation I was meaning to do last weekend! It really was very clever of me to arrange the championship for a few weeks after Easter, wasn't it? I take full credit for that decision, even though it was nothing to do with me.

Meanwhile, if you want some fun, type my name into Google blog search and sort it by date. It seems there are fake blogs out there that take popular news stories or posts from genuine blogs, run the words through a thesaurus to make it look at first glance like a different post and use the resulting text to lure unsuspecting searchers into their site, for nefarious purposes of their own (probably involving selling stuff, but maybe spreading viruses or other mischief - either way, clicking on the link is likely to be a bad thing, so don't.)

This procedure has turned that BBC article into phrases like "It attacks less than 30 approves for the reigning World Remembrance Protector to recall the sequence of a pack of hovering cards." and "I ignore the unscathed shebang" and "I prowl into a abide and ignore what I am doing there, arguable the fridge and theorize why I am looking in there."

From now on, please call me the World Remembrance Protector! And remember that I'm splendidly putrescent at remembering people's names.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

An important footnote to tonight's post

There's an advert on TV that sings the line "Don't be afraid to be young and free", which I misheard as "Don't be afraid to be onion-free", and wondered whether there were onion-fans out there who would ostracise those who chose not to have onions with their hamburgers. Because I prefer not to have onions, and it does make people look at me strangely, sometimes.

Doctor Whooooooooo!

Yay, it's been too long since the last time the Doctor was on our screens, so I'm looking forward to the Easter special on Saturday. Despite the interview with Russell T Davies in the Radio Times in which he promises "a bunch of ordinary commuters stranded on an alien world". Because the concept of an isolated bunch of ordinary humans facing an alien menace just hasn't been done enough in modern Doctor Who, has it? I think there was one episode in the first season that DIDN'T feature a bunch of ordinary people under siege by weird aliens! Gosh, maybe this latest episode will feature some kind of everyday item turning against humanity and the whole world's population being attacked by monsters that the Doctor is able to defeat by pressing the right button in Cardiff!

But still, I'm just being mean for no reason. I'm sure it's really going to be great!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I'm better now

Thanks to everyone for the messages of sympathy, and sorry for not even mustering a word of bloggery last night, but I decided to just go to bed early instead. Still, I'm well on the road to recovery now, and as if to celebrate the fact, that long-ago BBC website interview has finally made it online!

Sheesh, I'm typing this while watching Man Utd's should-be-easy game against Porto, and they've just gone a goal down after three and a half minutes! Probably because they've got a player called Hulk.

Anyway, back to the subject of memory, and I was at one point at number 8 on the most-read-right-now list, and number THREE on the most-watched/listened-right-now! Right after Kim Jong-Il and an extremely small puppy. To be fair, the puppy's quite a lot cuter than me, so I'd recommend that you watch it instead. For that matter, Kim Jong-Il's probably cuter than me, too. And with less of a silly voice. But still, why should he get all the attention? I've been ill too, and nobody's speculating whether or not I'm still alive. These blogs could be being ghostwritten by my minions, you know, and there's no way to independently verify the date of the footage of me on the BBC. Someone start a conspiracy theory, or I'll have to do it myself!

Well, must go and watch how the football turns out. I might turn down the commentary if they make one more Hulk-joke, though. I can't cope with another hour-and-a-half of "Don't make him angry". Still, it's impressively nerdy of a football commentator to admit that he knows "Lou Ferrigno played Dr David Banner in the TV series", even if he's not entirely right about that...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Cough, hack, snort, sniffle

I'll resume regular blog output when I'm feeling better. For now, I'm going to bed. Get-well-soons would be gratefully received.