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16 Aug 2014 8:18 AM
Let me give you all a little back ground here. I went down to a little town called Trevignano Romano with my friend and my dog. The town is on a small lake called Lago di Bracciano, about 40km north of Rome. The lakes in this area of the region of Lazio all are of volcanic origin. So the lake is in an old crater and it's all uphill in any direction you go to get out of there. The whole area is volcanic and the mountains around are full of steep, winding, narrow roads in ill repair.
The only way to get up the roads out of town is to wind your car engine out in first gear, get into second and keep your foot down. There are plenty of curves and always a tight one where there's usually a large truck or tractor waiting on the other side, just to make you come to a complete halt. Then you must maneuver around them, or face death, rolling off the edge. So there' the truck, hogging the whole road, trying to get around this curve. You come to a full stop at a modest vertical angle of 85Â°. You pull up the hand brake and wait to see what opportunities this trucker will leave you to go ahead, rather than backing down to town again. When he leaves you a minimum of space, you shift into first gear, run the engine up to 4,000 rpms and slowly let the hand brake off as you slowly let the clutch come out. Don't worry about a little tire spin or flying rocks. Just ease the car around the bend and don't be alarmed if the clutch is smoking. My mom always said that clutches are like cats as they both have 9 lives. I think I used up about 3 of those lives on this vacation.
After cruising around the curves of the higher roads, dreaming of being a rally driver, you find the downhill part, to your next junction. The driving techniques needed here change a bit. Faced with an 85Â° descent, you cannot trust your brakes to do the whole job. You have to down shift into lower gears to let the back pressure from the engine help slow you down. Of course all you ladies knew that already. So you down shift into fourth, then third, the even to second gear. You let the car sort of roll on its own, while using your brakes to keep it all under control. You wonder if the gas you are saving, coming down the hill is equal to the gas you needed to get up there. You also notice your smoking brakes but try not to worry too much. I remember my mom used to say that brakes are like cats because they both have 9 lives. I never did understand though, why my mom was so interested in cats.
The other thing driving here is that you, being a careful, prudent driving tourist, always have a line of locals behind you who normally drive these local roads a whole lot faster and are wishing you would drive off an edge or somehow otherwise disappear. And beware of the ugly, nasty, passes they will attempt in the most dangerous places and situations. No matter how angry you are, always take your foot off the gas when someone tries to pass. Make it easier for them. It's just not worth the risk.
So why did we come here? Well, this was a last minute sort of booking. We had thought about France but Jenny didn't show any particular interest when I tried to talk to her about it. So we took the lake. Lago di Bracciano seemed like a quiet, tranquil place. The province has actually banned private boats with gas engines to keep it quiet. It seemed like a place where I could lay around and do nothing more strenuous than drink beer and read the sports page. But apparently my friend The Cook had other ideas. She likes to go see things. I felt obliged to be nice since it was the first time I would attempt to spend 10 whole days with a woman other than my daughters in about 25 years. I felt I should give it a try. Jenny was not terribly interested in going to see things either. But being polite as she is, didn't mention it.
The cook's idea of vacation meant driving around to see things. Anything that requires effort to see is worth looking at. But her big thing turned out to be archeological sites. She was hunting the Etruscans, who once rivaled the Romans but were finally absorbed and eliminated by Roman society. The Etruscans were very present in Lazio and there is an abundance of museums and burial tombs to be seen there. Unlike folks from the northern province of Bologna or central Illinois, where the biggest hill in town is often the railroad crossing, the Etruscans liked to live high up on the highest hills or volcanoes they could find. So we had to go out and climb up hills to see these wonders. Somehow we never managed to get anywhere before 11 in the morning. Someone always wants to sleep in. It gets really hot up there in these hilltop stone villages after mid day. But we must find these dead Etruscans.
So it seems the Etruscans are gone and the Catholics have moved in. There is always the biggest church or cathedral in town located at the top of the hill and we absolutely must go up there to see the dam thing. So you park the car at the first spot you can find as the old center of town is normally blocked to traffic, or at least non-locals. Put the car in reverse, turn the tires toward the curb like they taught us in Driver's Ed, pull up the hand brake and turn the engine off. And if you happen to have some wooden chocks used for parking aircraft, these could be helpful as well. Then get out of your car and begin to climb. I would climb up the main street towards the church at the top of the hill, wondering if I will find salvation and maybe a free ride up the next hill the cook finds for me. The only break I get is when she wants to go see a museum. Museums don't allow dogs and being the generous guy I am, I make the sacrifice and let her go to the museum alone while I take care of Jenny. I normally find a bar with shaded outdoor tables and a sports page. I've never found a bar yet that didn't have beer.
We had to go see:
Tarquinia is just north of here. We took the scenic route south, around the lake and managed to get to our destination in about 2 hours. When we got to town, we started to drive up to the old town. Just as we got to the walls, I found a roundabout that gave me the chance to come to a full stop and practice my first gear, wheel spinning maneuver. As I pulled into the main street, I found that the weekly town street market was in progress and was obliged to park at the lowest point. So we went through all the parking maneuvers and began to climb up the street on foot. We weaved our way through the street market finding nothing of particular interest and made it to the top, where the cathedral is located. There is also a small place with park benches where you can admire the view over the surrounding country side by day or sit at night and smooch with your own cook. We didn't stick around that long. We headed back down to the bottom towards the must-see museum and Jenny & I found a suitable place to sit and reflect on the joys of this vacation. After the cook finished with the museum, it was lunch time and the cook led us to a nice restaurant she'd noticed somewhere back up the hill (of course). The food sucked.
(A quick note on food. I was pretty disappointed in what we found to eat. I guess the quality of the food is not as good in high traffic tourist areas. It generally varied from boring to bad. We did have a couple of nice meals. The best one was the last one, in the last town we visited, Orvieto. This meal I guess was my consolation prize after so nearly meeting my maker there. (But more on that later.)
After lunch we went to see the burial grounds of the local Etruscans. The big tomb area was on the side of a hill nearby. There is not a tree or hint of shade in sight. This area is organized by the bigger Etruscans being buried higher up the hill I guess. I didn't bother to go down too far & see the poor folks. The tomb is normally buried in the hill side. Once it is found, they dig a hole to get in there, put up a little doorway and install steps. The walls of the tombs have been painted in all sorts of Etruscan art, featuring the trials and tribulations of their daily lives. But there were no dead Etruscans there. They all seemed to have gone away.
Cerveteri: Another hill town, organized like all others with church at the top and a museum. After another less than memorable lunch, we went to see the local tomb park. This one was quite big. The tombs resemble those of Cahokia Illinois but are often built with brick. They are covered with grass growing on top. This must be a higher rent area for tombs and many come equipped with tasteful carvings and paintings. We found no dead Etruscans there either and had to hike far too much to discover that.
We visited Sutri. This is a typical old medieval village, built with walls all around it. It had the standard church is at the top. There is the usual arched stone gate which all traffic, pedestrian or motorized must pass. There are no sidewalks as they had nothing bigger than donkey carts when the town was built. So as you pass through the gate to admire the charm and beauty of such a place, there is always a car or truck 3ft behind you, waiting for you to get out of the way. But the tombs were in a flat spot, down at the bottom. This was really the low rent district. At the bottom, there is a huge rock, sticking out of the ground. The Etruscans here had basically carved holes with appropriate shelving into the sides of this big rock & that's where the residents were placed. There was one underground tomb to see, which required a museum attendant to unlock & open the door for us. This tomb had more recently been transformed into a little chapel by French Catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome sometime around the seventh century. It was complete with ample shelving and frescos that looked like retouched Etruscan art. But there were none of the original residents around.
Caprarola, near Lago di Vico is the same sort of thing. At the top of the hill was a great palace once inhabited by the Farnese family, suppliers of popes & cardinals back in those days. The road up was the main drag right through the business district of town. Luckily there was no traffic at the time. As I gassed my lil vehicle up the hill, some dumb old lady stopped right out in the middle of the street to talk with someone. But after I laid on my horn for 10 seconds while flashing my lights, she noticed & decided to get out of the way. I did not want to stop. The cook was not impressed.
We went to see Viterbo. This is a very scenic medieval hill-top village with neighborhoods and architecture dating back to the eleventh century. I'm told the village has been used many times by various film producers for a location. I didn't see any Etruscans wandering around, but as usual, everything is built at the top. There is a free parking lot at the bottom of the hill and a pay parking lot, half way up. How generous.
At some point in one of these must-see little towns, the cook caused me to drive right through the town gate, looking for a shaded place to park. There was a maze of tight little streets and I realized that they should ban non-local traffic from going in there. I turned right on 1 street, followed it up to then and turned into a stone gate which was the back yard of the local church. After I got out of there I found another narrow passage that I couldn't get through and had to ask a bystander to help me back out. Outside of the walls (and downhill obviously) there was a perfectly good parking lot about as big as a football field but without a hint of shade to which she objected. At that point I lost my temper & told the cook what I think of medieval Italian towns or anything else parked up on the top of a hill. After that, she slowed the pace of all this Etruscan hunting, gave me a day off and took the bus to go see another such hill-top town situated nearby us on the lake.
Back in our town, there wasn't much to do, which was fine by me. We tried a few of the restaurants situated along the lake side. Most were crap. There was a very nice bar/ice cream parlor at the far end of the lake front. This place had a nice dock running out into the water with tables & lighting all along it. We did our obligatory hand holding while enjoying our ice cream and watching the moon come up over the town. And so our vacation came to an end.
So the last day came. We cleaned up the apartment that morning & handed the keys over to the owner. Then we headed north. As we worked our way north east up to the A1 highway, the cook gently whispered in my ear that she would like to see one last place, Orvieto. Who am I to say no? So I set it into the navigator and we headed towards our last cultural adventure. Such joy.
In Orvieto it seems they are very organized. They have a Funivia or cable car that starts at the bottom of the hill, just under the train station and runs all the way up to the old town. It's ok that there's 2 long flights of steps up to the actual stop and it only cost about a buck & half. And with free parking below! So we take the cable car about 150m up the hill. We admire all the roof tops and the trees on the way up. It was quite relaxing. We pass through the walls and come out at this lovely little station at the top, enjoy the breeze for a moment and then just start following the flow of tourists. We see a tree lined shady street to our left. There are flowers all around and it looks very pleasant. As we turn the corner I see.....a road leading up to the clouds. The shady part of the street ends in a mere 50m. Then the sun is baring down with all of its power. There's not a hint of shade anywhere & those bricks & cobble stones waiting to melt my shoes. But we've come here for a must-see church and you know where it is.
I take Jenny in hand. You'd be surprised at how much weight her lil 6kg of pure dog muscle can pull. She's been trained for this. And I begin the climb. With souvenir shops, bars and restaurants left and right, the road goes up & up. Higher up we find clothing shops and a hardware store and it's getting hotter and hotter. I find a particularly smooth & polished pavement stone and slip on my own sweat, dripping off my grumpy old body. I begin to swear quietly (in English of course. I wouldn't want to offend any of the locals). I continue my ascent while thinking about Mao Tse Tung and his Long March. Jenny is pulling like a plow horse while her tongue hangs down to her paws. Up and up we go, oh so slowly as I pass into delirium. I begin to sing an old country song by Buck Owens.
Oh it's cryin time again, I'm gonna leave you. You can see that far away look in my eyes, My heart won't make it to the top, my darling, Oh it's cryin time again, I'm gonna die.
I lumber up 10 more stones when, all of a sudden, I hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir "Hallelujah Hallelujah! I look up and a bright glitter of light shining above the buildings. A sudden burst of energy flows through my body. I am inspired and strengthened from this and continue my climb up the street. I'm even dragging Jenny behind me now. And as I make it to the top, there it is. The glowing gold mosaics, in classic Tuscan Gothic style, the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, in all her splendor, at the very top of the Duomo of Orvieto, the biggest and most important cathedral in all of Umbria, built by pope Urban IV in the 14th century and sitting there waiting to receive me. I stare at it a brief moment, look back at the cook, still coming up the hill and then remember that I can't take Jenny into a church. You can't imagine how disappointed I was.
So that's it. To hell with this vacation. I've had enough. I started back down the hill. As I passed, the cook gave me a rather puzzled look and I said, "Been there, done that. Knock yourself out Hun. Take all the time you want. I'll call you when I find a comfortable place to park." (in very eloquent, lovely, affectionate Italian of course.) Then I bought the sports page and found a restaurant with a shaded terrace about half way down. I ordered a bottle of water and a bottle of wine, both in an ice bucket and sat there until lunch time. The cook showed up, thrilled of course about the Duomo. We had a nice meal but I should have worried when the cook recognized the name of some famous Italian chef named Vissani. Damn. $130. I hadn't consulted Trip Advisor first. Maybe I should get a smart phone or maybe I should just quit goin on vacation.
Anyway, we drove back to Bologna, I dropped off the cook and went home. Jenny was thankful. So I shall wrap up my story here. One last thought though. If I ever see dead Estrucan wandering around my neighborhood here in the flat lands, I'm gonna shoot him & then call the cook & tell her to come over and look at him.
Ciao for now.
20 Jun 2014 8:48 AM
On the plains of northern Alberta, life goes on just about the same as it would anywhere else. The distances are greater and the population is less, but life is civilized and organized just as well as the rest of Canada or anywhere in else in North America. The schools work, the buses tend to run on time. City hall manages all public services and life goes on. The only difference might be that certain politeness that Canada is so well known for. Public protection is as one would expect. The police and fire department do their duty, but they are polite. Even the criminals are polite. 911 is always polite.
A typical call might go somewhat like this. Ring! 911: 911, Good evening. How may I help you? Caller: Yes. I’m terribly sorry to bother you but it seems my house has caught fire. I wonder if you could help me? 911: Well I’d be delighted to help you. Could you tell me your address please? Cr: Certainly, I live at 10805 102st street. 911: Oh yes, right near Avondale School. Such a lovely area. Cr: Yes it is. I’m sorry but I wonder if you could hurry just a bit. It seems the roof is about to fall in. 911: Certainly Ma’am. I’ll get right on it. And the call goes out to the fire department. FD: Fire department. 911: Oh hello. This is 911, we just had a call. FD: Yes ma’am, how can we help you? 911: Well it seems there is a house burning down at 10185 102st. If you’re not too busy, do you think you could maybe pop by there and see if you can lend a hand? FD: Happy to do it. Have a nice day. 911: You too and thank you! Aren’t those Canadians nice?
So our story is about one those modern day, unsung heroes of Canadian civil protection. This is not a story about radical, delusional nut cases like EMT Rambo, but about your normal, feet on the ground, polite, every day urban hero. And our hero’s name is Betty.
Betty’s real name was Gordania Kameron Robertson. But everyone just called her Betty. She was actually a first generation Canadian. About 100 years ago her parents had come over from Scotland because they had heard there was free land available for homesteaders and other nice people. So they had come to make a life in the new world.
Betty could remember all the stories they would tell about the old country, about their clan, about the beauty of their lovely village Pitlochry in the heart of the Perth Highlands, on the banks of the River Tay, just north of Edinburgh. They remembered the walks they would take across the River Tummel to the dam on Loch Faskally, to view the salmon ladder and the Hydro Station, on through the ancient hamlet of Port na Craig. They would watch the Red and Roe deer and the red squirrels in the forest. They would admire the Pine Martins, Golden Eagles or Osprey soaring high above Ben-y-Vrackie Mountain. They told stories of their history such as the Battle of Killiecrankie and the Soldier’s Leap. They talked about their beloved Edradour Distillery – the smallest distillery in Scotland. And they always dreamed that Betty might go back there one day to the home of their ancestors.
Betty had given 35 years of heroic service as a supervisor of the largest 911 dispatch area of Alberta covering 286,000 sq km, 43% of the provincial landmass with 66 departments and municipalities extending all the way to the border of the Northwest Territories. Her fondest memory was the time she organized and directed a mere 25 volunteer firemen in the defense of Slave Lake, a small town just north of there. In the face of a huge prairie fire backed by 100 mph winds and no fire bombers or helicopters available, only 1/3 of the town was destroyed and no one was injured. How proud she was of that. Her territory was a massive area requiring great diligence and dedication to which Betty gave generously and politely.
Betty’s parents had passed away, first her father and then her mother just a few years before she was coming upon her retirement. In their will she found that they had left her the title to an old family home known as Donnachaidh Manor, the spiritual home of the Donnachaidh Clan. They had also left her the sum of £12, the cost of a sailing ticket from Scotland to Canada. Betty’s father had always stayed in touch with his uncle Bothain back in Scotland. Bothain was still alive and about 120 years old now.
So Betty wrote to him with the news of his nephew’s passing and about his request that Betty move to Scotland. She told him she was thinking about coming and when she might arrive. She even included pictures of herself. Bothain wrote back that the family was eager to meet her and she should come to his house when she arrived to get the keys to the old place. At the station, just tell the cabbie to bring you to the Old Stone House and he will find us. He added: “Tis a wee cottage but s’a bit of cowp in it. I shall tidy it up a bit before ye come. Nae boer” “ A wee cottage?” Betty was thinking. I wonder if he understood that I’ll be moving into the manor house?
So in the evenings, old Bothain would sit next to the fireplace with his great grandson Ruadh and tell him about his Aunt Betty. “Ach Aye she coomes from Canada where she’s the boss of the fire brigade and she’s goot to keep er eye on boot haf o Canada, which is bigger than Scootland even. Her da always said she was a proper git, Aye. No muckin aboot“ And look at those pictures lad. Ain’t she a bonnie lass? “ Ruadh stared at the pictures of his Aunt Betty and admired her long red hair, the same color as his. “Gordania Kameron Robertson. What does her name mean Grandey?” Bo: Well laddie, the Robertsons are part of Clan Donnachaidh along with the Reids and Duncans. You were named after the famous Scottish warrior, Ruadh the Red, who’s where the Reids come from.” Ru: But what does Gordania Kameron mean?” Bo: Aye it’s a splendid name. Her Da could’n ave choosin better. Gordania means heroic and ye can see it in er laddie. “Ru: But what is Kameron?” Bo: S’a crookid nose lad. Well jis look at er, Aye???”
So the day came for Betty to leave. She had retired from 911 and picked up her last check. She had sold everything she owned and packed her bags. She took the £12 travel fare her parents had left her and added another £800 so she could fly from Edmonton to Edinburgh instead of taking an ocean liner. She just assumed her parents didn’t have £800 to spend when they first came over. The flight arrived in Scotland in the morning so she would be able to take the train from Edinburgh to Pitlochry, her new village.. She remembered her daughter and her grandchildren standing there at Edmonton International waving goodbye and crying out “Haste ye back Granma!” & Betty cried as she boarded the plane.
The flight from Canada arrived on time and Betty managed to find her train and get all her luggage aboard. She looked out the window as the train crossed the Firth of Forth. She thought out loud about what a cold, damp and miserable day it was. “Ach Aye tis a dreich day.” said the passenger next to her. The train headed north towards the Bridge of Earn and Perthshire. She stared out at the fog over Loch Leven and wondered if she had done the right thing leaving in search of her dream castle and family heritage. Just north of Perthshire they passed Scone Castle, the historic home of Scottish breakfast biscuits. It is said that residents of the area emigrated to Minnesota in the 1870s and started the Sconce Biscuit Company. The company was later taken over by a greedy English robber baron by the name of Charles Alfred Pillsbury and remains famous today.
When the train arrived in Pitlochry, Betty found a single taxi sitting in front of the train station. It had the blue & white flag of Scotland on it and there was written SAOR ALBA! She got in the cab with all her things and saw the driver’s permit posted on the back of the front seat. The driver’s name was William Daimh Wallace. His friends just called him Ox. Betty thought she would like to see Donnachaidh Manor first and asked the driver if he knew it. “Ach Aye!” he said, “It’s a lovely wee cottage over on the Cuilic Brae near the Cuilic.” Betty said “ I don’t understand everyone using this word cottage. Isn’t this a manor house we are going to?” And the driver replied: Well, it ain’t Blair Castel Ma’am but it’ll do in a pinch.”
When they got to the Brae she saw a lonely country road that ran alongside a small lake. At the end of the lake there were four small houses all in a row, where the driver stopped. “Is this it?” Betty asked. “Aye Ma’am.” “Well, are you sure?” “Aye Ma’am.” “Well which one is it?” she asked. “Tis the wee one Ma’am.”
She stood outside the cab looking at what appeared to be an old stone cabin. It had three tiny windows and an old wooden door that was barely attached to its hinges. There was ivy crawling up the wall with its roots anchored to the crumbling mortar in the stones. There was an old thatched roof which was in great disrepair. It was sliding down the house and hanging over the edges like an old woman with long bangs above her eyes. There was green vegetation growing out of parts of the roof. The place looked like it hadn’t been lived in since her parents left for America. The neighbor’s dwellings didn’t look much better. The neighbor’s children were running around the house. They were small and dirty. They were barefoot and had dirty tee shirts on with no underwear. They were playing with wooden sticks, pretending they were swords and they were beating on each other while screaming insults and obscenities about the English. “Who are those children?” Betty asked. “ Those wee waynes be Duncans Ma’am and they’re rights scunners they are. I believe they’re your kin Ma’am.” Betty was thinking, “Oh Lord, what have I done?” She then asked the driver to take her to the Old Stone House. “My uncle Bothain lives there and he has the keys.” “Aye Ma’am.”
As the driver was leaving for the Old Stone House as the call came in on the radio. “OX! The Atholl distillery is burnin. Git in here now!” so he turned the cab around and headed off for the fire station. “Where are you going?” Betty asked. Ox: “There’s a fire in town Ma’am & I’m a volunteer for the Fire Brigade” By: Well can’t you drop me off at….” Ox: no time Ma’am Ye’ll just have to come along.
They got to the fire station and Ox ran off to get ready. Betty walked into the office where an old man was pulling on his uniform and frantically screaming orders. Betty asked the man: “Can’t you call 999?” and he screamed: “This is bloody 999 & we need yer help. So git to it!” as he ran out the door. As soon as she heard the word git, Betty’s childhood came to mind and she remembered her experiences in the Canadian Girls in Training. She saw the old rotary telephone and the one walkie talkie on the desk and she knew what she had to do. As the reports were coming in on the radio she first called the police. “Police” By: Yes this is 999 and there appears to be a fire at the Blair Atholl establishment. Traffic is backing up on Atholl road and it is difficult for our first responders to get in there. We could also use some extra help if you don’t mind.” Po: Wat are ya on aboot Lassie?” Betty realized they had a failure to communicate. So she pulled out her laptop and typed her request into her Canadian – Scottish translator program: “Are ye a daft teuchter? The bloody distillery is burning down Numptie and we could use some fokin help here. So get yer fokin erses out and clear traffic on the Atholl rood so the bloody fire trucks can make it. And send a couple of ya buggas around to help the men put out the fokin fire.” Po: Ach Aye Lassie! She then called every fire brigade within a 100km radius to ask for help, using similar language. She even called the RAF to ask them to send the Canadairs but had to change her translator program.
Help came in droves. The men couldn’t believe it. There were fire trucks pulling up from as far away as Edinburg. Then the fire bombers showed up and started to dive and drop tremendous loads of water in the fire, refilling in the Tummel river. Soon the fire was put out and there was a tremendous uproar of joy! Someone asked: Who was the lassie in the office that got us all this help?” “She calls erself Betty”
So they got back to the fire brigade to put their gear away. The men were so happy that they pulled out the 10 cases of whiskey they saved from the fire and proceeded to have a party. Here’s tae us few, and they’re a’ deid. Saor Alba wha’s like us? Gey! Slàinte slawn-chuh Betty! Lang may yer lum reek Betty! And they were soon bladdered to the last man. Betty, so tired from her flight and the jet lag raised her glass one last time and keeled over, right where she stood. The men crowded around. “ “Gawd mates she’s boffing.” “Yeah and she’s drookit too. I think she’s pissed erself.” “Weren’t you spose to take er somewhere OX?” Ox: Aye mate but I ain’t gaunnae do it. I’m too bloody blootered.” “ Well git that barkit barre o’er there & take er home Bawheid.” So they rolled an old dirty wheelbarrow over and tried to load her in it. Eight drunken firemen were standin around trying to pick her up. “Whit part have ye got?” They finally got her lumped in there in an unrecognizable mass if her gown and red hair and a bit of barf. They wheeled her over to the Old Stone house and knocked on the door. Bothain came out with little Ruadh standing behind him who asked: “Who’s that Grandey?” And the old man replied:
“Well laddie, Aunt Betty’s coome hoome.”
23 May 2014 12:15 PM
(Disclaimer: The title of the book comes from an Austin powers film in which he says: "You may be a cunning linguist, but I'm a master debater." I actually heard it first from one of those in the room that have accused me of plagiarism. To set the record straight, my blogs quite often include jewels I have combed from the web. It is a normal procedure for me to copy pages and pages of useless information, sift through them slowly and then carelessly sew bits and pieces together in statements taken out of context and outrageous misquotes. I find my creativity and insight where ever I can. It reminds me of the time in the room when Buck referred to Stang as Muttsack. True inspiration.)
A double entendre is sort of a figure of speech, either written or spoken which could be understood in either of two ways. Normally one way to understand it is pretty obvious but the other may be more subtle. Often, the more subtle of the interpretations is sometimes sexually suggestive. The Oxford English Dictionary describes a double entendre as being used to "convey an indelicate meaning".
The expression comes from the French word double, same as English and entendre, to hear or also to understand. However, the English formulation is a corruption of the authentic French expression à double entente. Modern French uses double sens instead; the phrase double entendre has no real meaning to a native French speaker. The French though could say something about speech vs French kissing with “Je parle/connais bien la langue" or even "apprenez la langue"; with kissy lips. An Australian kiss is like a French kiss, but it’s down under.
Puns can offer a double entendre with an ambiguous second meaning. Sometimes a Homophone, or another word with the same sound or pronunciation can imply a double meaning. That’s why gay twins can have similar voices but differing opinions, In rhetoric, a play on words, either on different senses of the same word or on the similar sense or sound of different words is known as Paronomasi.
In other occasions, the double entendre can be created by the visible similarity of two different things. In America we might call them oysters or tacos. In Italy they talk about figs. Have you ever cut a fresh fig in half and looked at it? I’m sure you get my point.
The Italians have various other linguistically ambiguous terms for activities like sawing (male masturbation) or sweeping (intercourse).
Shakespeare often used innuendos in his plays. Sir Toby in Twelfth Night is seen saying, in reference to Sir Andrew's hair, that "it hangs like flax on a distaff; and I hope to see a housewife take thee between her legs and spin it off;" The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet says that her husband had told Juliet when she was learning to walk that "Yea, dost thou fall upon thy face? Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;", or is told the time by Mercutio: "for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon"; Remember when Hamlet torments Ophelia with a series of sexual puns, viz. "country" similar to the C. word? ( See how delicately I handled that?)
A triple entendre is a phrase that can be understood in any of three ways, but that is far too kinky for a Senior’s chat room.
The double entendre has become an established part of common culture. It can be seen in the arts such as theater or music. This tradition can be seen in the work of the great Marie Lloyd. Marie Lloyd was a prominent singer on the dance hall circuit of London in the late 1800s. Lloyd created her reputation while enduring the prudish attitudes of the Victorian era. This lead her to develop her art around the satirical disguise of the double entendre. She was best known for her performances of songs such as "The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery" or “She Sits Among the Cabbages and Peas”. By the mid-1890s, Lloyd was in frequent dispute with Britain's theater censors due to the risqué content of her songs. (For additional information about these classic English folkloristic songs, just ask PJ.)
Examples in modern music include Tush by ZZ Top, Cat Scratch Fever--Ted Nugent, Givin' The Dog A Bone'' AC/DC , 'Poundcake'' Van Halen and Kiss Me Where it Smells Funny by the Bloodhound Gang.
In any case, music has skin flutes and pianists who play with their organs as well.
Double entendres terms and jokes can be found in other aspects of daily life such as sport with Muff Diving or Bone Jumping. An Irish horse racing commentator once said "This is a very lovely mare. I once rode her mother." Regrettably, actor Michael Douglas credits his reason bout of throat cancer not to smoking and drinking but aquatic sport marathons. It is reported that before any tournament, Arnold Palmer’s wife used to kiss his balls to give him good luck. they say it really made his putter stand up.
In the food industry they talk about when Pamela Anderson walked out of a grocery store with 2 gallons of milk and someone said “Nice jugs”. In the culinary sense there are oysters and figs of course but also tacos, cucumbers, melons, bananas, 2 pieces of an orange and cherries. Fruit seems to offer limitless possibilities for innuendo but that just may be our collective oral fixation. There’s the famous Fur Burger on Thigh. Sausage never goes unnoticed and mature fish is often used to describe a fragrance. In London, a muff diver might be known as an English muffin. Adult ice cream manufacturers now offer genital slurpees. Dill pickles are an insult but red hot chili peppers are ambitious. The Japanese say the only difference between eating sushi and oysters is the rice.
The most famous story of course is about Colonel Angus (said with a southern accent) of Kentucky who went on to establish a chain of cult fast food restaurants offering, (you can guess) Marine Bivalve Molluscs and Anguilla Rostrata. They say that Colonel Angus is an acquired taste.
And remember the Irishman who goes to see his lovely red-headed girl friend and says “I came to get some... Ginger snap".
Computer nerds have their own obvious metonyms such as a guy’s Joystick or a woman’s Port. There’s the Interface which can lead to a Hard Drive. Disks and copies can also be hard but that’s just a hardware issue. Bytes are kinky and Tape Backups are kinkier. Megahertz is a form of sexual energy which can only be measured with some very strange instruments. Downloading and Uploading are questions of position and mouse pads are hygienic. SCSI is what she said before he blew her Motherboard. BIOS is sex with tree huggers and using a Parallel Port is against Islamic law. An Escape Key sounds more like my flight to Europe, 35 years ago.
In religion, Catholics like to tell the story about the two nuns riding their bikes down a country road when the first nun says, "I`ve never come this way before!" and the second nun says, "Oh, it must be the cobblestone!" Jews say that a cheap circumcision is a rip off and Muslims think actually getting 70 virgins would be Heaven.
Schools in Europe are full of misguided expressions and humor. In Serbian the verb svršiti has a slightly archaic meaning "to finish". In a school, a very old teacher might say “Da li ste svršili?” but to the students, the common use of the expression mean “Did you have an orgasm?” In Dutch a similar word is used Klaarkomen. So a teacher might (but usually won't) say 'Kom je er wel op tijd mee klaar?', “Will you finish is time?” but translates to “Will you have an orgasm in time?” So much for Dutch and Serbian education. Italian students study the poet Catullo. In one of his more noted poems he says “"my girl's bird has died". Now you should understand that bird or Uccello is Italian slang for a man’s organ. In fact a Passero is a sparrow and a woman’s Passera is her…..bird house? Students never fail to notice these things.
I’m not informed on the American education system although I have heard that the current Sesame Street joke is why does Miss Piggy douche with vinegar and honey? Because Kermit likes sweet and sour pork.
But I digress.
I know that having sex on an elevator is wrong on so many levels and I realize that this blog has gotten out of hand. I guess it says something about the derangement of the writer. I truly apologize to all the delicate sensibilities who may be reading it.
I think the French say it best with “Mon essai entier du sexe est une blague et si vous avez dérangé de le traduire, vous êtes muets. il n'y a aucun sens caché ici. La blague est sur vous.” Ahhh, a true classic.
One dear friend of mine actually told me I shouldn’t write this blog before her departure to the Yukon. I remember when she said:
Vagina jokes aren't funny. Period.
26 Apr 2014 9:47 PM
When Flaggard told the cook to report to the captain, he was visibly shaken. C.“What’s he want?” MH:” dunno. Just get up there” The cook hurried off and Flaggard was thinking “Cap’n prolly got the muddy squirts last night like I did & wants to discuss it with the cook. “
The cook knocked on the captain’s door and said “You called Captain Starryvere?” CS: “Come in Heisenberg”. The cook walks in and sees him standing there with a salad fork in his hand and is thinking . (Oh God what is it about now?). CS. “We have a little problem on the ship I wanted to talk to you about” “Yessir”. CS. I’m told there is a new man on board, a foretopman by the name of Budd. “Yessir” CS: “It seems he is creating considerable disturbance below.” “Yessir, he is.” CS:”I have seen this man before and know of him. I can assure you that he is of the lowest character and quality.” “Yessir” CS: “ I have decided to cut Master Flaggard’s ration in half for a month, for bringing the man on board. I trust you will carry this order out for me.” “Yessir” CS:” I also have it on good authority that this Budd was paying unwelcomed and inappropriate attentions to my daughter on shore.” (as the cook begins to squirm).CS: “I must make him pay for this” C: (Better him than me, poor bugger. God only knows that as long as he was workin with Woody, there wasn’t a woman in town that would come close to him, he smelled so badly. I saw women on the High Street cross the road when he walked by, even the pimply ones) CS;” I shall require your help in this matter Heisenberg” “Sir?”
So Captain Starryvere explained to the cook that he wanted to get Ben to do something he could be punished for. C:” And how should I do that Sir?” CS: “ I will tell you what to say and what to do. You simply follow out my instructions and repeat my words as I have explained to you” C: “Then what Sir?” CS: “I Want you to anger Budd, to provoke him into violence, to make him try to kill you.” C” well I dunno Sir” CS: Then I shall hang him for his crime” “Hang him Sir?” CS: “Are you afraid of such a skinny little wart as Budd, Mr Heisenberg?” “No Sir, but” CS:” I notice you’ve brought another young cabin boy on board Mr. Heisenberg. I’ve also noticed he is not listed on the ship’s roster” “Yessir” CS: “If I were even to suspect that there was something inappropriate about your choice of labor in the galley, you do realize what the punishment would be, don’t you Mr. Heisenberg?” “Yessir. I’ll take care of Budd Sir. Will there be anything else Sir? ” CS: “Yes, you left my salad fork up here last night and it didn’t get washed.” C: “sorry Sir” CS: “If that ever happens again, I will give you 40 lashes. Is that clear Mr. Heisenberg?” “Yessir” CS:”And if you ever mention our little discussion to anyone, I will give you 400 lashes. Is that also clear Mr. Heisenberg?” “Yessir”
CS: “That will be all, cook.” “Yessir”
Ben goes into the galley that night for mess. The cook has been waiting for him. He looks him in the eye and says: “The Episcopate is a fraud and there’s no history to it.” Ben:”What?” C: Thomas Cranmer was a bugger and your bishops prey on children. B:”How dare you?” C:”How dare I? sneers the cook as he slaps a blob of the yellow paste on Ben’s plate. Ben looks down, sees a dead mouse in the middle of it and turns his nose up. C: “What’s the matter me lord? Can’t eat like the common man, is it? Going Papist on us again? Shall we call you Elizabeth, me lord?” B:”Have you gone mad?” C:”Lex orandi, lex credenda me arse!” B: I won’t have an ecumenical conversation with a Presbyterian.” C: “Go sit on a three-legged stool !"
As the cook was getting angry and the two of them were yelling at each other, some men started to whisper at the back “ 10 articles weren’t really enough. 16 weren’t either.” “Yeah but 42 is too many.” “They’re down to 39 now” “Yeah?” “Yeah, they took out the ones about masturbation and napkin rings in the House of Deputies.” “Sort of makes it all sine qua non without those though.” “ I heard that the word "episcopal" is derived from a Greek term, "episkepes" which means Overseer." “Nahhh, Bud’s too short to see over anything.”
C: Your lot is just a bunch of bloody latitudinarians. You can’t make your minds up about anything. B: The Westminster Confession was a fascist document you anabaptist fool !” C:“ Tunstall and Stokesley were born foolish bastards.” B:“There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rags.” C:” and Hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals.” B:”We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.” C: Don’t drop your filioque clauses on me you devil!!” And with that, the cook grabbed a meat cleaver and ran at Ben “To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee.” Ben was trapped. All the doors were blocked with men eager to see a fight. There was little room to move. He glanced down and saw the captain’s salad fork sitting on a table. He knew it was a sign from God. He grabbed the fork as the cook tried to lunge at him but slipped on some fish guts on the floor (more guts?). He fell forward against Ben, knocking him to the ground. The cleaver was wedged tightly in the wall. The cook was laying on top of Ben, the salad fork stuck deep in his heart.
When the captain heard the news, he simply said: “Throw Budd in chains Master Flaggard and I will hang him for murder in the morning.” “Yessir”
As soon as the crew saw Flaggard putting Ben in chains, they knew his fate. The crew began to murmur and Flaggard quickly dispersed them to various tasks. Whistles blew and the ship returned to regular business. But during the night, the sailors engaged in various discussions concerning Birp’s fate and the captain’s mysterious sense of justice.
It was a dark North Atlantic morning. Gales of cold wind drove the sea into incredible waves. The ship bobbed around like a child’s toy in a bathtub. The men could hardly walk on the deck when the captain ordered them to assemble. The port side boom was swung around and a rope was hung to it. When the captain came out, he was still in a dark mood. He had no desire to stand there and gloat over the situation. He wanted Budd dead as soon as possible so he could bury both him and the cook at sea and close the matter forever. He read the accusations to Ben and the crew, pronounced sentence and recited a few words from the Book of Common Prayer.
When he closed the book, he heard Ben say:”God bless ye Capn” as he gave the signal to turn on the winch. Ben began to slowly rise towards the boom until his was very high up and dangling in the storm. At that point, the storm became a terrible tempest. The sea rocked back and forth. Then men feared for their lives when there was a break in the clouds and a brilliant beam of light came through and focused directly on Ben. The light become brighter and brighter until it blinded everyone. And when the great light dimmed and the clouds covered all again, Ben was gone. The water calmed, the storm died down and the crew stood staring at the empty noose as it swayed in the wind.
Our story has no happy ending for the young cabin boy that the cook had brought on board was now earning his keep as the new cook. He knew the whole story from listening to the men in the galley and he knew justice was not yet complete. The captain never spoke to him or even looked at him when the boy would bring his meals up to his cabin. Was he afraid of what he might see in that young boy’s heart? All we know is that one night, the captain became very ill. No one ever knew why or even seemed to care. They finally had to put him into a hospital in Gibraltar. His conditioned worsened and nothing could be done. He was dying and he knew it. They say he would lay there in bed with fever and delirium calling out in the night “Benji Budd, Benji Budd.”
Finally, the legend of Benji Budd became recorded and institutionalized in naval circles. A newspaper reports the incident from afar, implicating Budd as the villainous assailant of an innocent Heisenberg The sailors themselves, however, begin to revere Ben’s growing legend, treating the spar from his gallows as a holy object, and composing laudatory verse in his memory.
Back in Portland, Woody was saddened upon hearing the news of Ben’s demise. He had always liked Ben and he remembered with fondness when Ben would bring the Potent Belly’s garbage to dump off the pier under his boat. Then one night he thought about him and said: “Why not? I will do this for Ben.” So he threw his nets over, right there at the dock, without moving the boat. And when he had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and his nets were breaking.
Sileo in Pacis
25 Apr 2014 11:35 PM
It was a grey, misty Stephen King morning when the Colander pulled up to dock. Ben was just sweeping the rest of Portland’s finest off the deck, into the water. Woody always thought that if he left a little of his cargo at the end of the pier, lobsters might grow there one day and he wouldn’t have to go so far to get them. As Ben was lowering the ramp for one last time, he saw the Potent Belly steam into port.
It was a massive ship with great smokestacks bellowing clouds of black smoke into the air. It had giant booms with nets as big as the ship itself. The stern gantry was bigger than the boat Ben stood on. And at the tip of the bow, there was a harpoon gun as big as a cannon with at least a mile of cable coiled up below. There were men running all over the decks in a frenzy of activity. Others were cursing them and shouting orders to put their backs into whatever they were doing. Ben just stared at it and dreamed.
True to his word, Woody had sought out his friend Flaggard, who was the Master of Arms on the ship and asked him if they were looking for any men. He told him about Ben and his young man’s desire for travel and adventure. Flaggard told him he was looking for a new foretopman. It seems the last one had gotten his foot tangled in an anchor chain and had gone over the side. It wasn’t clear what a foretopman was doing working with the anchors. But then it wasn’t clear why a trawler with 10,000 hp engines needed a foretopman. In any case, Flaggard told Woody to send the man over and he would give him a try.
During their time in port, there was much coming and going about the Potent Belly. Men were leaving the ship to go home and visit their families, some taking an extended leave. Others were coming on board as their replacements. As Captain Starryvere was leaving the ship for a brief visit to his home there in Portland, he encountered the ship’s regular cook Walt Heisenberg who was coming back on board after 3 months on shore. The two men greeted each other and went on their ways. Flaggard, who the captain had left in charge during his absence was directing traffic and giving work orders to the new men on board. When Ben arrived, mentioning that Woody had sent him, Flaggard immediately sent him to clean the fish processing plant and holding tanks. Woody had already explained to him the duties of a foretopman, so Ben was puzzled with this. But he accepted his chores with enthusiasm as he looked forward to his new adventure.
Alas, his adventure was slow in coming. The boat was tied off in port for days and Ben spent his time cleaning and scrubbing in the lower decks of the great boat where all the fish was cut up and processed before freezing. There were blood and dead aquatic remains everywhere and it didn’t impress him. But as a favor to Woody, he would take bags of the crap he had picked up all day and carry them over in the evening, to dump off the pier where Colander was sitting.
His living conditions were dismal. He slept below water level in a room without ventilation and breathing was difficult. The room was lined with 50 iron bunks chained to a wall. His 49 sweating roommates cared not for cleanliness and the only shower in the head was over-grown with moss and mildew. The only water to be drawn was cold and straight from the bay. The galley was worse. There were bugs everywhere. On the back wall there was a small statue of John Knox and a picture of St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, put there by the cook. The cook picked his nose or scratched his armpits as he worked. The only meal was a yellowish porridge that stuck to everything it touched. Along with that, there was either overly mature fish or a leathery, salty substance they called meat, which only came boiled, on Sunday. They had a collection of rusty tin cups and plates to eat from and the silver wear was totally inadequate. The men wiped their mouths on their sleeves. It was Hell. The other men clearly saw Ben’s discomfort and abused him for being snotty and woman like. The cook stared and hated him from bringing discord and incongruity into his galley.
When Captain Starryvere returned to the ship a few days later, he was in a very dark mood. Things had not gone well at home. Flaggard could see something was wrong but the captain would not say a thing. Flaggard had seen that evil look in the captain’s eye before and wondered who would be the object of his wrath this time. The captain only said: I want to see the cook, Master Flaggard.“ “The cook is busy loading on 3 months food supply Captain. Should I send him up?” “As soon as you can” replied the captain.
Captain Starryvere was a deacon in the St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Portland. His family had their own pew there which he proudly occupied every time he was at home. Last Sunday while sitting and listening to The Revd. Samuel Moore Logan give an inspiring sermon on the virtues of chastity, he noticed his daughter, sitting next to him, quietly crying. When they returned home later, he asked her what was the problem and his daughter broke down in a flood of tears, sobbing and crying. It seems that during his absence, she had been taken advantage of by a man who had left her disgraced and in a family way. He demanded to know who the man was but she could not tell him. She said he had dragged her into an alley way and that she had never seen him before. She could only remember that he had a tattoo of an anchor on his wrist.
Captain Starryvere knew immediately who to look for. Heisenberg the cook had such a tattoo. He had seen it many times when Heisenberg had delivered his meals to his cabin. He would kill that cook when he saw him. But in the meantime, he had to begin making his rounds and attending their preparations for departure. He left his cabin and went to the bridge first. From there he was looking down on all of the scurrying men when he noticed Ben walk by. He knew him. He had seen him before. This was the infamous son of Rev Budd in Biddeford, the disgrace of their fine and noble family. He wondered why Flaggard would bring such a man on board. He noticed how small and gangly Ben was and wondered how they would ever get any work out of him. Then he noticed his wrist. An anchor? He’d never seen that before. That boy has an anchor tattooed on his wrist. Now what would he do? He had vowed to kill the man who had disgraced his daughter. How could he be assured of getting the right man now? Then he realized that he must kill both of them. But he needed to think first. “Master Flaggard!” he cried out, “Belay that order of seeking the cook. Let him continue his work. I shall attend to him later.” “Aye Aye Captain”.
Potent Belly sailed the next day in search of rare Dugong Mermaids hidden in the Khor Al Tha’aleb at the mouth of the Euphrates River. He also thought about the possibility of trawling up some Lessepsians migrating through the Suez Canal. As the ship pulled out of Portland harbor passed through Danforth Cove, the captain reflected on his situation and what he must do to send Ben and the cook to their so rightly deserved sentence of eternal damnation in Hell.
It came to him in a dream that night. The Captain could see the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela as clearly as if he were standing in front of it. And there was James, bigger than life, staring down at him and telling him: “You will see that your demon and your devil must work together, that your faith will be made complete by what you must do.” When he awoke he realized, They must kill each other. I must find a way to provoke them into great conflict such that they will be smitten and struck down. And should one survive the ordeal, I will hang him for murder. But I must press one of them into unwitting service and bring to bear my desires.”
Then he called for Flaggard to summon the cook.