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Those of you who have in the past joined in with my attempts to find out names of childhood things in your area might like to pop along to [livejournal.com profile] ar_gemlad's journal today. She wants to know what you said to call a truce during playground games.
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Earlier in the week, I nearly sent someone an email entitled "Wembley", because I was asking about their plans for Wednesday. And then I changed my mind, because I wasn't sure how many people frequently substitute Wembley for Wednesday.

My family does, but that's due to a conversation overheard by my grandad. He was on a train through London in the 40s, in a carriage with two gentlemen who were cheerful as newts. One peered out into the darkness, and the following conversation ensued:

"Is this Wembley?"
"No, it's Thursday."
"So am I! Let's have a drink."

However, I was moved yesterday to wonder whether this conversation was, in fact, the sort of apocryphal exchange that everyone's grandfather heard on a train in the 40s.

The answer, rather disappointingly, turns out to be yes.

Even if it is a hoary old joke, it's probably far too late for me to remove from my brain the fundamental belief that the working week goes Monday, Tuesday, Wembley...
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Hmmm. You can take a girl out of the Scouts, but...

Today, as I walked along the corridor, I noticed that the work passcard that hangs around my neck was catching on my belt buckle and making an annoying noise. It doesn't usually do this. Maybe I have on a shorter t-shirt than usual today. I don't need to wear the passcard around my neck (it's not an ID badge, or anything) but it is the easiest way to ensure that I don't lose it.

I figured I'd tie a knot in some of the cord to shorten in, meaning it would no longer catch on my belt. As I ambled along my fingers, with no intervention from my brain, automatically tied the cord into a beautifully correct sheepshank.

Overkill, really.
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Following a brief conversation in my office about whether or not you could get to heaven in a biscuit tin, I have to ask....

[Poll #1853005]
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Some time ago, I reached the age where I realised I didn't know my age. If asked (which, let's face it, doesn't happen all that often) I'm forced to remember what year it is, subtract my birth year, and work out whether I've had a birthday or not recently in order to answer.

It seems such a far cry from the days when anyone was able, and even eager, to give their age; when the half-years and the quarter-years were jealously accrued. Six and three-quarters was babyish, but seven? Seven meant being allowed to walk to Pierremont Road shop by yourself[*].

When I was small, I'd be given my apples cored and cut up, sliced into pieces on a plate. And one day, presumably before I went to school, though I don't know exactly when, I was deemed to have the years, dexterity and teeth necessary to be given my apple whole. To just, like, bite into willy-nilly. I remember distinctly that this was a very grown up thing to do, and quite an achievement.

Accordingly, it's taken me over thirty years to admit that actually, I quite like my apples cored and cut up into pieces. And, if I'm dead honest, and if location, situation and cutlery allow, I would rather have them that way. I've been secretly slicing my apples up for some time. Today I boldly borrowed a knife from a colleague and chopped my lunchtime apple up at my desk. I reckon I'm big enough to eat my food like a baby if I choose.

Apples are much nicer like that, you know :)

[*] Actually, I have absolutely no idea at what age I was allowed to walk to Pierremont Road shop by myself, although I remember it was an exciting milestone. The shop isn't even there any more, bought up by a rival shop-owner and converted to a private house years ago.
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Hello. I've been on holiday, but I'm back now. More of that another day.

This morning, I read on the BBC that advertising cigarettes on TV was banned in the UK in 1965. Gosh, I thought, that's weird, I'm sure I remember seeing ads on TV when I was a kid.

So I thought about it a bit, and concluded that the only one I could actually remember was about the first "born smoker". And so I googled that, and it turns out it wasn't an ad, it was an anti-smoking government public information film.

However, much more excitingly it turns out I now know that there is a massive archive of public information films. Did you know that? You didn't tell me.

I've remembered I'm supposed to be at work, so apart from checking out the First Born Smoker and a couple of films featuring Charley, I have restrained myself. Oh, apart from the watching the extremely peculiar The Fatal Floor.

I had been going to comment that the period 1964-1979 boasts a whopping 38 films in the archive, while 1979-2006 fields a mere 16 for a timespan nearly twice as long. However, I think it's probably a good thing if the government no longer feels the need to make short films to warn us not to fall over rugs.

Are public information films still made? I barely ever watch TV, so wouldn't see them. I hope they are.

Also, does anyone remember a longer version of the First Born Smoker film? I'm sure there was a bit about how children "will be exposed to smoke from an early age, by people called 'friends'".
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Recently, I saw a display of cheap inflatables intended for swimming pools. A ring with a horse's head, a dolphin. The seams of the plastic stuck out, rather than being nicely taped flat.

And suddenly I remember standing in the North Sea on seaside holidays, and the feeling of such a seam scraping across legs made cold and goosebumped by the water (my inflatable ring was yellow with a horse's head, from memory, although given the colouring it might have been a giraffe). As sensations go it was actually quite painful, but very distinctive and something which - in a life which rarely involves swimming in bodies of cold water and even more rarely involves inflatables - I haven't felt in years.

I set myself to wondering what other sensations might have got lost in the last few decades. The one that immediately sprung to mind was grazed knees )
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This week's stack of library books included Arthur & George. On the train in to work this morning, the first chapter introduced me to both the gentlemen.

One of the things which came up in George's description is that he doesn't have a particular memory that he regards as "his first memory", and had never considered that he ought, or that it was normal, to have such a thing.

I don't either )

Do you have an earliest memory? If so, how old were you when it was formed? How can you be sure it's the earliest?
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Every so often - usually when cooking - I notice that I'm doing something exactly the same way the mother does it. Of course, it's possible that this is because there is one right and obvious way to do it, and everyone else on the planet does it the same way too.

Why custard made me sad )
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Goodness me. I've just worked out how the rest of the world feels.

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred when I quote some kind of proverb or childhood saying, people look at me funny. They claim that instead of repeating a perfectly sensible saying, I'm spouting utter nonsense.

But today a colleague has just assured me that any injury, when he was a child, was greeted by the not-at-all-consoling remark "don't worry, there'll be a pig's foot there in the morning".

Weirdo.

And contrary to telling children rubbish about trotters to terrify them (apparently it did), we also have the truths we try to conceal from children. No, don't worry, eating pips from fruit is fine. They won't grow inside you. It can't happen. Oh, except for that guy in the US who grew a pea plant in his lung.
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This is a question for anyone who has small children, hangs out with small children, or, I suppose, is a small child.

How do the youth of today decide who's 'it'? )
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One of the things most guaranteed to throw any sensible person into a flat spin is the discovery that a favourite book is being made into a film.

Sometime this year, a film version of The Eagle of the Ninth will be released.

Will it suck? Will it be great? Will it trample all over one of the best-loved books of my childhood[*]?

I'm waiting anxiously.

Oh, and yes I do know that the book is based on an entirely false premise - what was a reasonably valid historical theory in 1954 is now known to be untrue. Don't care.

[*] and adulthood, if we're strictly honest
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See previous post, wicked parents, attic, bah.

Does anyone know of any form of outlet for pre-owned, much-loved, non-CE-marked teddy bears and other furry creatures ? I can't possibly keep all mine, and the prospect of sending them to landfill is not to be borne. Quite apart from it being Plain Wrong, the wasting of perfectly lovable animals offends me.

The mother tells me that even charities which ship bears to children who have no bears are insistent on modern safety standards. (Not, of course, that think it's acceptable to kill children in poverty-stricken regions with toxic bears, but I regard the bears in question as perfectly safe, having failed to be killed by them myself. Many of them lack labels at all on account of being homemade.)
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Oy, steampunk live-action roleplayers!

I am being compelled by my wicked parents to tidy out 30+ years of accreted clobber in their attic. Expect a series of these does-anyone-want posts:

Can anyone find a use for 15+ (clean, unused) test tubes, lab flasks and petri dishes ? They come with a free vial of copper sulphate for making pretty blue potions... (and indeed several vials of various white and dull-looking-but-named compounds if required).

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