On This Day: “I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you might nudge the world a little or make a poem that children will speak for you when you are dead.”
Tom Stoppard’s play, ‘The Real Thing’, premiered in London, 1982
Whispers from the Tardis
Doctor Who. It’s been going since 1963 and since it’s return in 2005 many of us have made watching the festive edition part of our Christmas Day celebrations. But now, for the first time since the Doctor’s comeback, the Christmas special is to be aired on New Year’s Day instead.
We’re all used to a bit of time travel but what will we watch on Christmas Day now? Fear not – it’s time to forget the Doctor and Call the Midwife, instead. With a refreshed cast including the addition of Miriam Margolyes as Sister Mildred (The Age of Innocence, Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows) we’re feverish with excitement.
‘A Duchy Original’
Charles reached ‘the biblical threshold of three score years and ten’ this week, ‘with all the scars that go with it’, he added in his Guest Edit of Country Life. So what would one buy the Prince of Wales for his birthday? One popular newspaper decided that some squirrel repellent would make the ideal gift; apparently the royal correspondents were worried that rodents might be pinching the food of the bird tables at Charles’s home in Scotland.
‘Where do you find these terrible things?’, said the bemused Prince upon receipt. Charles is famously a huge fan of red squirrels even inviting them into his home to play and giving Prince George a giant stuffed squirrel toy for his first birthday. The Queen didn’t get it wrong, of course. Comparing the Prince to one of his biscuits may seem a little flaky, but a packet of dark chocolate gingers would no doubt have gone down a heck of a lot better.
Old dogs, new tricks
While the smart phone can leave us all in a state of desperation – who hasn’t come close to defenestrating their device on occasion? – it seems chatty smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home are appealing even to the more technophobic amongst us.
Apparently, given that they don’t require fiddling with buttons or interacting with small screens, many of us are out-pacing the younger digital natives when it comes to using Alexa and Google Home; a study from the Reuters Institute has shown that while they are most popular with those aged 35 to 44, usage among the over 55s is higher than the 18-24 age group.
Up the Swannee?
And no, this isn’t our Brexit story. Rather the news that despite being under the prestigious ownership of HRH The Queen, our noble swans are feeling more than a little peckish.
According to the guard of the royal swans (or swan marker), David Barber, animal welfare campaigners behind the ‘Ban the Bread’ campaign are starving swans by asking people to stop feeding bread to aquatic birds. ‘Swans have been fed bread for many hundreds of years without causing any ill effects’, Mr Barber said to The Times this week. ‘Bread might not be the best dietary option for swans compared with their natural food such as river weed, but it has become a very important source of energy, helping them to survive the winter when vegetation is scarce.
Plainly, if there was ever a time to use your loaf, this is it.
Dead ringers: Brexit special
Feeling beleaguered by Brexit? Us too. But let’s fear not and remember that Radio 4’s Dead Ringers Brexit sketches are still available to listen to online. The spoof voicemails feature Teresa calling Trump (and giving away more than she bargained for… surprise, surprise) along with Nigel Farage berating David Davis (then Brexit Secretary) from the pub, pint in hand. No they’re not new, but if we don’t laugh now, we might just cry.