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Month: June 2021

Can you hear the words?

Welcome to my Blog


You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, a few thoughts on the voices in your head…


Audio books are a conundrum for me.

They are an attractively packaged way to absorb a book. The words are broadly the same as in a printed or downloaded version, often abridged.

Why cut down? They reduce listening time for a not-huge novel to 10-20 hours rather than 30 or 40. A working week for some. Therein lies the nub of the problem, it doesn’t matter if it’s Charles Dance or Benedict Cumberbatch reading the book out and providing a nuanced voice to differentiate between characters’ voices. The problem for me is that it is too slowly delivered. I process a word and race for the next one which I need to carry on the flow. So why not speed it up? Making it 1.5x speed or more just makes it sound like Mickey Mouse is providing the reading voice.

So it’s too slow or too fast.

Either way, it’s relentless.

I sometimes dwell over a paragraph or re-read it in a book. That’s not possible with an audiobook without a great deal of haphazard fiddling with the buttons.

Relentless, like the tapping of the Master’s fingers…

It will keep coming until the charge runs out, and you wake up at 3 am five chapters on. The Voice is still going and you’ve no idea where in the book you lost consciousness.

I don’t know whether it’s a scientific Thing, but the words don’t seem to stick with me as much when I’m listening to them being read. It’s much easier to be distracted because there’s nothing right in front of you drawing you in. I am more absorbed in the pages of a book, paper or otherwise. (Some people can learn how to speak Swahili while listening to a tutorial tape as they sleep, so perhaps it’s the way my brain is wired.)

Why have audiobooks? Why are they so popular?

They give the gift of time.

When driving a car or gardening or doing something else active, an audiobook nearly allows the luxury of multi-tasking which, from my perspective as a male, is an alluring and usually unattainable prospect. But it comes at a cost. Keeping up with the story. Driving a car and listening to an audiobook, especially at a gripping bit, has to be one of the most dangerous ways of getting from A to B, when you want the gripping bit to be the tyres on the road. That Voice requires concentration and focus, not things one typically wants to divert from pointing a couple of tons of metal and plastic along some tarmac.

It’s a compromise, then. But sitting in a hammock on a lazy afternoon in the blazing sunshine and floating away to the past or the future or simply somewhere else without squinting at dappled pages and battling a wasp for a good view of the next paragraph is a wonderful thing, while swaying in the breeze.

It’s like having a radio station follow you around dedicated to telling you stories. A kindly nanny reading you bedtime stories. Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime on tap. It shouldn’t replace a book but, like most things, at the right time and in the right place, it can be perfect.

I am currently listening to The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter (main picture above). It’s War of the Worlds 2 with more tooled-up ETs. Like Independence Day 2 but set in Surrey. Bertie Wooster fighting off Martians. More likely, Jeeves fighting them off, having invented a fiendish secret weapon while spit-and-polishing some brogues. Unlike Wodehouse, there is strictly no humour in MoM, which is a shame, and there’s precious little soul. A little too much stiff upper lip for me. The pace is – like the audiobook – relentless, but at the same time also rather sedate. Only five hours to go, and I’m sticking with it.

What ho!

Alan

Alan Camrose

Martians, pah! Meet Dogzilla…
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How much is that in EUROs?

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You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the trials of supporting England at international tournaments…


The first Euro tournament was held before I was born: 1960 in France. Only four teams; the Soviet Union won it. No England, so no problem with penalties.

Spain 1964. England participated. Didn’t get very far, even with still only four teams…

I was 2 years old, so I didn’t care.

All the heart-ache was to come, the main (so far) being Italia 90, and Euro 96 in England. So, Euro 96: All to play for. That epic, mesmerising goal by Gascoigne against the Scots, that sensational win 4-1 against the Dutch, that gut-wrenching miss from the squared ball against Germany.

And of course the penalties, by which time England had got into the groove to be world-ranked 1 in losing penalty shoot-outs, having limbered up with that loss against the Germans in the 1990 World Cup. Football so nearly came home in Euro 96. I remember hearing the Germans singing that it had – annoyingly funny…Time for payback, Mr Southgate.

As a means of recovering from that trauma which EVEN NOW HURTS, this should reset your equilibrium if you are suffering too:

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

The couple of blips to our record on crashing out in spot kick deciders has had a couple of blips but I still head for the back of the sofa with a bottle of Scotch when it slithers around once more

Still, did I mention Gazza’s awaesome moment when the world slowed on it axis to make sure he didn’t stumble?

Phil Foden needs to earn his hair-style tomorrow!

Bringing things up to date, I have just finished watching North Macedonia (I must confess that I wouldn’t be able to point to it on a map) against Ukraine. Loads of fun. How the tournament has expanded and how helpful that it is being played during a hot spell when there’s nothing else but to stay indoors with a cold beer. I’m happy to pitch in…

Scotland tomorrow, then. Let’s not mess it up after beating Croatia. Let’s play direct, fast-paced, one-touch attacking football with the most promising team that we have had since 96.

Thank God we won in 1966. No penalties.

So much better with the crowds partially back.

Their noise can hide the groans and whimpers.

Maybe not the screams.

But I live in hope.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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The Cheshire Riviera

Welcome to my Blog


You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the pleasures of a staycation…


We have just returned from our hols. An exotic Summer holiday, in Cheshire. At Knutsford, just inside the city limits.

We went for a week, stayed in a cottage which has a hot tub in the garden, so we were able to recreate Footballers’ Wives, without the naff haircuts or the whining. The cottage had everything that we needed, and three bonus alpacas, called Tom, Dick and Harry, who provided serene audience for our antics. Not that there were many antics.

Tom, Dick and Harry

A special place in my heart for Harry’s mullet, a sneaky homage to the Beatles?

Harry

There were also three chickens, mysteriously un-named: they were the Chickens With No Name. We called them Nugget, Dansak and Run. They were shaped like ambient tea cosies. We don’t have pictures of them, for data privacy reasons. They periodically and loudly trumpeted their displeasure to the alpacas about periodically being treated like the balls for alpaca polo. Those chickens were pretty chukka. The introduction of a grey cat called Mitzi made it like a strange petting zoo where none of the creatures were available for or in the cat’s case amenable to petting.

Our Offspring did their usual trick of surfacing at a brisk 1 or 2 pm, ready for a nourishing breakfast of sausage rolls and cider. In the meantime, we loafed on the outdoor furniture and vied with the alpacas for the glory of the Loafing Award. They still won as a group entry, which was a surprise since we had fielded the Offspring. Their teamwork was immaculate, like the England back three but with more positional awareness and better footwork. They followed up by proving to be very adept at Statues, too, so something to bear in mind when Creature Statues takes over from Breakdancing in the 2028 Olympics.

We patronised an ice cream shop, a honey emporium and Tatton Park (very flowery, which is as far as my knowledge of botany takes me).

  • Red flowers
  • Gunnera?
  • Tatton Park gardens

We visited friends just outside Liverpool and had a pub lunch with draft beer. And then went to a family get-together in Liverpool and drank more beer. I was not the designated driver, so all good.

This was all in the sunshine and over 20 degrees, all in a very pleasant episode of Being Somewhere Else Away From Our House.

Based on this, I’ve formed the view that staycations have a lot going for them. No jet lag, no exhausting twenty hour journeys for long haul, no PPE gear. A contrast to our previous hols to all sorts of places in foreign climes, but with much to commend it. I think we may have uncovered something…

I suspect that Ryanair will not be re-tweeting this.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Shadow puppetry for beginners
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