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Zoe Mulford: Postcards (Blog)

Egghead Radio

Posted on March 18, 2010 with 0 comments
Some of the offerings on BBC Radio 4 make me wonder if there’s a room somewhere in the bowels of Broadcasting House where producers generate joke titles for programs and dare each other to make them.At the moment, Radio 4 is running, in daily 15-minute segments, “A Brief History of Double-Entry Bookkeeping”. And I, so help me, am listening to it.

For St. Patrick's day, here's a link to The Henry Girls, who I opened for Friday at the Manchester Irish Festival and enjoyed hearing.
The woman next to me in the crowd sighed "Ah, to be young, with long black hair."
What I was thinking was "Ah, to play the accordion."

Americans use “pants” as a synonym for “trousers”. Don’t do that in England, where “pants” equals “underwear”. Where the American press wrote about the Underwear Bomber, the British headlines were all about the Pants Bomber.Like many mildly rude words, it has a grammatical life of its own. I find it rather charming.As an adjective, it is one of a family of words that denote varying degrees of badness, as in:“I’m pants at maths.”(“Rubbish”, “crap”, and “shite” can also be used in this way.)The badness can have an additional aspect of nonsense:“The first half was pants but I stayed until the end and it was actually a great film.” (Example from a very handy online dictionary of British slang.)
It can be used by itself as an expletive. It can also be used to express disdain and defiance:“Pants to that!”Hence the Fairtrade cotton underwear company Pants to Poverty.

Our flat is outfitted with a single front-loading machine which washes, spins, and dries. Sadly, it does not do any of these things very well. The drier cycle is built to save energy, so it takes several hours and leaves the laundry damp. I’ve opted to save energy by turning it off and hanging the laundry on a rack instead.It’s a Euro-machine, so all the controls are in pictures. Even with the manual, I’m not sure what some of them mean.A healthy spin cycle shakes the floor and knocks over small lamps. If the machine is overloaded or the load gets off-balance, the machine commences what B calls “the march of death”, sitting there humming with the cycle control clicking impotently from one setting to the next. It will do this for hours if you don’t stop it.You fix this by turning it off and waiting for the door to unseal. You can then open it up (the water level is usually low enough that it doesn’t pour out on the floor...usually...almost always) [...]
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Our apartment is in Hulme (pronounced “Hyoom”), a neighborhood of Manchester near the University. We are on the cusp of urban renewal. Hulme’s recent history includes dire high-rise council housing, neglect, and gang violence. A good deal of the neighborhood was simply bulldozed to put up cute little modern units like the one we live in, and the new neighborhood is described as “up and coming”. What you see now is recently built low-rise housing, a good bit of foot traffic, a smattering of convenience stores, schools, churches, and take-away restaurants. A number of open, weedy lots are slated for development by Manchester Metropolitan University. It is not trendy or charming; it’s just a place to live. Our neighbors include students, pensioners, Afro-Caribbeans, Polish immigrants, gay people, Jehova’s Witnesses, community gardeners, young professionals, and a remarkable number of musicians. We see lots of parents and kids out taking the air - [...]
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