Tuesday 27 June 2023

Reinventions 10

Let's reinvent:

sailing ships
luggage vans
breakfast nooks
ceiling fans

chairs in Post Offices
sinks you can wash up at
bright lighting in exhibitions
Louis heels
public toilets
china cabinets

unified Ireland – and Korea
slow dating
(We could call it – courtship.)
cafés in supermarkets and cinemas 
Barbara Cartland’s wartime wedding dress swap scheme

Nurses bursaries, and nurses’ hostels onsite
single-sex toilets and changing rooms
the Sinclair C5 – and let them use bike lanes
the horse and cart
electric milk floats

Roman concrete
Victorian drinking fountains
solid-sail ships 
glass bottles
paper bags

housing reformers like Octavia Hill
eye-level grills 
Women’s Studies departments
Atria with water features and huge plants
filters in washing machines
Coffee stalls made out of an old caravan

Pay child benefit to all mothers, for all children. 
Use soap operas to spread socially useful messages.

Aircon and fly screens for British homes. Plus we should copy the American habit of building cottages on the flat roofs of tall buildings.

SNP hopes to emulate Spain’s lucrative paradores in a drive to boost jobs, tourism and heritage preservation.

In Germany, each occupant of a double bed has their own duvet. They also have large, square pillows.

External window shutters
for regulating heat

Teaching children practical skills: sewing, cooking, carpentry, reading.

Small wine glasses (or “wine glasses” as we used to call them). Now known as “Paris goblets”.

Covers for sinks so you can use the sink and draining board as a worktop.

– so cool in the 60s and 70s. And rooms with different floor levels.

Theatre and concert intervals
– and more of them.

Businesses and venues give away fans printed with advertising.

Monastic agriculture: dovecotes, rabbit warrens, fish ponds.

Aristocratic animal husbandry: Shoot your own in our deer park! Bow and arrows provided.

Boutique cinemas showing old movies and foreign movies.

Tables and chairs in cafés of the right height to work at and eat off. 

Sleeper buses, overnight trains (happening with trains).

Music for schools radio programmes. Or how about a TV programme?

Pseudo-Tudor wood panelling – good insulation.

Internal windows, and transoms above doors for light and air.

Flocks of low-emission sheep or herds of cows to keep down the grass in parks and cemeteries. And around McMansions.

Cafés where you can sit down, especially at railway stations. You are meant to take your lunch away in a paper bag, and sit and eat it on a bench – nowhere to put anything down, and you have to juggle coffee in a "sippy cup". Shelves with high stools are not disabled friendly, neither is the lack of tables.

Double-glazed Crittall-Hope windows (pictured). Originally designed to withstand termites in tropical climates and far-flung parts of Empire. 

Smaller cars, like what we used to have, suggests @caoimhinof.

World War Two-style poster campaigns (TAKE YOUR RUBBISH HOME, SPIT GUM IN BIN)

A button that would switch between Radio 3 and Radio 4 (or stations of your choice). On modern radios it’s far to fiddly to change stations. I couldn’t possibly do that in the middle of the night when half asleep. If there was just a wheel you could turn...

Women’s trousers with a zip at the side or back. The trousers would go out at the hips and in at the waist, with a waistband (plus belt loops) ON the waist. (Young hipsters are wearing Katharine Hepburn trousers this summer. They have the right idea.)

Repurpose convents and monasteries. Co-living, with communal meals and shared kitchens. Warm rooms. Hall for lectures, concerts, craft sessions, exercise classes. Chapels for various religions. Garden. Home-grown vegetables. (This plan is mixed, but some could be single-sex if desired.)

Convents could supply all the single-sex services that are being obliterated by misbegotten modern ideas: women's refuges, spas, hostels, hotels, swimming pools, even toilets.

Radiators that turn on and off (and up and down) individually so that the heating is not either ON or OFF, or HOT/COLD.

Bring back the outside toilet at the bottom of the garden: natural aircon, privacy, natural deodorants in the form of roses, honeysuckle, lavender. And, if sufficiently isolated, a view. Privacy, dignity, ventilation – and it’s gender-neutral!

Boarding houses, hostels, YMCAs and YWCAs, apartment hotels as seen in American film noir – you got a room with a shower/loo, a kitchen in a corner behind a curtain, everything in miniature – and a neon sign blinking outside the window. The furniture was Victorian, the carpet was worn – but you had a roof over your head and a private space. See Stage Door, All About Eve for ladies’ clubs that were really hostels. (I remember some in central London that were quite plushy.)

Having children earlier (25-30). Do the sums and work out how long you’ll be in your children’s lives – and your grandchildren’s lives. And they'll be in yours.

Immigrants: they come ready made and someone else has paid for the medical care, upbringing and education.

Since The Netherlands adopted a small deposit on plastic bottles the number of thrown-away bottles on the streets immediately dropped 70%. It took much civil action energy and many years to convince government to take this super simple measure. (2022, @MauritsGroen)
Want to attract people back to shopping streets? Provide public toilets, seats and drinking fountains. (Caitlin Moran, 2021, Times)

@HereforHereford points out that if you want to “level up” you need to provide adequate bus services so that people can get to work.

TV programmes in bish-bash-bosh style: here's a building, and here's the person who knows about it, and here's why it's interesting. And here's the next one. No "trailer for itself". No mash-up of "great moments". No pointless interviews with people with nothing to say (or who are reciting a script). No "clever editing", just two people talking to each other. 

In continental European cities, it is taken for granted that every street will be lined by large purpose-built mansion blocks, in which people live in large apartments (large by British standards) close to shops and other amenities. The British have a fixation with living in small houses, far away from shops and amenities. The British then wonder why their massively inefficient usage of land means that their children cannot afford their own homes. (Donal Savage)

Sit-up-and-beg bikes. I shall never forget the woman in the Dalston bike shop 30s years ago who sneered at me for wanting “the kind of bike a District Nurse might ride”. Everyone then rode bike-courier racing cycles, bending over low handlebars and manipulating about 30 gears. Look at the rented bikes of the 2020s, and the bikes hipsters ride – all sit-up-and-beg with few gears!  

Pulpits in churches with a sounding board – the preacher is above the congregation and we can see and hear him/her.

Tall stools in shops for customers. Especially in Post Offices – at least give us a chair near the counter. Shoe shops never lost the “You sit down while I fetch the things” model. While retail dies, perhaps other shops could revive it? Men who served in shops like this were known as "counter-jumpers".

Singaporean air wells: buildings erected round a courtyard with a pond and trees in the middle.

In dense Roman cities most houses were built around the atrium, with an impluvium, a shallow pool, in the center, and the corresponding compluvium, an opening in the pitched roof, above. (A system of pitched roofs directed rainwater to the compluvium.) The compluvium would concentrate all rainwater into the impluvium, as well as letting valuable sunlight into the often long and windowless Roman domus. As the water in the impluvium evaporates it creates a cooler indoor climate and generates a breeze. Underneath the impluvium were cisterns, where the household could draw fresh and continuously chilled water. The best impluvia also came with an inbuilt filtration system, as the porous bottom would allow water to filter through sand and gravel into the cistern below. The many impluvia in the Roman city drew a substantial amount of water which would otherwise have overwhelmed the sewers and urban water run-off in storms. It also made the city far less dependent on fresh water from communal wells or aqueducts, allowing for denser populations. The richer Roman domus would use grondaia — predecessors of medieval gargoyles, water sprouts that controlled and directed the rainwater into an attractive water feature. These would be built into the corbels and make the atrium a bit less messy in case of hard rain. (@wrathofgnon)

Saturday 24 June 2023

Punctuation: Hope's Stultitude

I'm posting this poem here because I Googled it but could only find a mention in my Amazon review of a compilation of Burgess's work. Commas can make your meaning clearer but some feel that you can do without them altogether.



The dismal day with dreary pace hath dragged its tortuous length along the gravestones black and funeral vase cast horrid shadows long.

Oh let me die and never mourn upon the joys of long ago with cankering thoughts the world's forlorn – a wilderness of woe!

For in the grave's dark bed to be though grim and dismal it appears is sadder not it seems to me than harrowing nights of tears.

His other works include The Maxims of Methusaleh being advice to girls on how to get married yes that's right pretend there's nothing farther from your thoughts same old same old and Are You a Bromide? which tells you what to say in any situation in order not to stick out from the crowd and upset people you don't want to do that and you'll certainly never get married that way.