Saturday 4 July

The so-called Super Saturday, in that hairdressers, pubs and restaurants have re-opened after lockdown, albeit in a restricted manner, and it remains to be seen how this will be received. Today should have been a special day for us, a Commitment Celebration by Emma and Mark, arranged with family and friends, but sadly now postponed till next year. However, hopefully the circumstances will be much better, and we will all celebrate in style in 2021. To combat their disappointment they have gone away for the weekend, being the first Airbnb guests since lockdown began.

It has been cool and windy, and I engaged with indoor tasks for a considerable time, then finally got out into the garden and chopped away at the hedge. I was about to pick more raspberries but it started to rain, so being a fair weather gardener, I gave up and came in again. The change in temperature is severe, I am wearing winter clothes.

As we finished a bottle of wine this evening and I lined it up for recycling, I thought of my grandmother’s phrase, “There goes another dead marine!” She would say this about any empty bottle, most likely lemonade in her case as wine was not widely consumed at the time. And then I wondered if it was a family expression or more widely known. I discovered that it is naval slang, no doubt alluding to the fact that the marines would drink till they keeled over. I also recollected another word of hers, “jipper,” meaning the juice or sauce with a piece of meat, as in, “would you like some more jipper on the potatoes?” And lo and behold it is also naval slang. My great grandfather had been in the Royal Marines: my grandmother was born in the naval hospital at Netley, and the family subsequently spent time in Gibraltar and Cairo. Eventually they settled in Portsmouth, and she married a dockyard worker. Both my grandfathers were Portsmouth dockyard workers, so I suppose naval slang was heard every day. I was born in Portsmouth but we moved away when I was four years old: however we visited the grandparents twice a year and I was particularly close to my maternal grandmother, who is the source of these phrases. I must see if I can remember more.

Nothing much on TV, but I do recommend Talking Heads by Alan Bennett. All the episodes are on iplayer, BBC1. There are some great actors, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tamsin Greig and others. Apparently they learned their monologues at home, searched out as much costume as they could and consulted over Zoom, went into the studios for one day taking their own packed lunch with them, and filmed on disused bits of soap opera sets. Alan Bennett’s dialogue is unmistakably quirky, and although there is dark humour, there is always a sad if not sinister side. I have just watched this one:

But they are all good, all around 35 minutes long.

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