Saturday, December 16

Alan Bennett (Part I)

The Gnome has a habit of reading several books at once. This is not an attempt to portray himself as an intellectual, merely a function of a chaotic life. He may for instance find himself about to embark on a transatlantic flight and decide the remaining chapters of his current read insufficient to cover the journey. In the bookshop he may read an opening chapter so compelling the book must be completed before all others. He may just reprioritise his list of potential reads having purchased something new.

For whatever reason, he recently found himself languishing in the bath perusing the initial chapters of Alan Bennett's 'Untold Stories', rather than finishing David Nicholl's 'The Understudy'. Apologies to you Mr Nicholl... your work with 'Cold Feet' and 'Starter for 10' is admired, but even you would probably agree (albeit grudgingly) Mr Bennett can pull rank in literary terms.

An unusual possibility became apparent after a few pages. Mr Bennett discussed (as is his wont) family life and mentioned a grandfather called Peel, a successful mill owner outside of Halifax in the late 19th century. Now as chance would have it, Mrs Gnome's father lives outside Halifax, next door to several old mills, in a dwelling called 'Peel House Lodge'.

Could there be a connection...

Tuesday, December 12

Another Eavesdropping Experience

The previous post mentioned the subversive pleasure the Gnome gets out of overhearing the conversations of others, and writing it reminded him of his favourite example of the genre.

Walking through an airport he caught this snippet of conversation uttered by a young woman to her companion in a voice that can only be described as conspiratorial. Such was it's impact on the Gnome's psyche, he almost stopped in his tracks to overhear the denouement. Alas breeding came to the fore and he refrained, continuing on his way to board some dismal aircraft travelling to some dismal town for some dismal meeting. He does sometimes long to know just how the conversation ended though.

The phrase? Oh yes - almost forgot...

"Much to my husband's surprise, it was at that point he realised she was a dominatrix..."

Mirrored Lifts

A conversation overheard is always a source of pleasure to the Gnome. It creates a sense of impropriety, an illicit encounter with the minutiae of other peoples' lives, a secret glimpse into the world of another human being.

Such was the case last week whilst in a lift, the insides of which were mirrored to give the illusion of space. Two men entered the already crowded lift on the journey down to the ground floor and one, having looked in the mirror remarked, "I like mirrored lifts - they allow you to see the back of your head..."

An interesting observation, but one for which the Gnome could find no obvious reason. The gentleman in question was young enough to not have to worry about pattern baldness, and was in fact almost completely shorn of hair in what the Gnome believes to be known (rather unfortunately) as a 'number 2'.

So why the desire to see the back of one's head? The Gnome cannot provide an answer but can tell you this. As soon as the phrase was uttered, every other person in that lift, himself included, immediately turned to the mirror to check the back of their heads.

Thursday, December 7

You are the Weakest Link...

The Gnome is in Bristol at the moment, working hard in a city centre hotel where next door to his meeting the BBC are encamped. Although the exact schedule of events inside the room naturally remain unknown to the Gnome, it appears to be something to do with the long running medical soap opera that is 'Casualty'.

Well, the Gnome presumes this is the case, unless there is a new, as yet unbroadcast show called 'Casuality'... He says this because of a sign on the hotel reception notice board - a sign shared with you to the left.

Notice though that there is another BBC meeting ongoing in the hotel - one to audition contestants for the popular televisual question and answer show 'The Weakest Link'. One can only assume the Marriott proof reader would be first in the queue for Anne Robinson's scathing comments.

"Which contestant does not know their adverbs from their gerunds... over which is there a question mark... whose career must now come to a full stop? Marriott proof reader - you are the weakest link. Goodbye."

Tuesday, December 5

Back in Blighty

The Gnome has been remiss. He understands the anguish that must have been felt by his readers. Where has the Gnome been? Has he finally succumbed to a life of fishing by a garden pond, his red cap sat at a jaunty angle upon his head? Alas no, nothing quite so relaxing (not that fishing is relaxing – especially if you are a fish).

The Gnome has left the bright lights of Manhattan island for pastures (and you will see he uses the word in its true context) new. After a particularly traumatic time for Mrs Gnome (think US social security bureaucracy, deaths in the family and personal illness) the Gnome, Mrs Gnome, Gnome dog and Gnome cats 1 and 2 have decamped back to dear old Blighty to pursue a freelance life amongst the sheep in Cumbria.

For the Gnome’s international readers (he still gets excited at the little dots on the world map representing his visitors) Cumbria is a beautiful rural community in the north west of England. Most residents work hard at fleecing – either from sheep directly, or the multitude of tourists that flock (sorry, pun intended…) to the area during the summer months.

So what will become of his blog? Well, there will be little to say now about New York, but of course life continues and so will the blog. The Gnome has plenty of material up his sleeve – all he lacks is the time to write it up.

That was the good thing about working for a large company – plenty of time to waste knowing he was being paid whatever he did…