2007 — 27 June: Dirty Deeds: the saga continues

One of my hobbies, in the glorious twilight era of my working life, is toying gently (de temps en temps) with some of the High Street's financial institutions. To the point, it seems, where some of their awfully young (but strangely senior) officers are so uncertain as to my reactions that, when they phone me to tell me that they now have unearthed the Title Deeds (updates here and here) to our1 house they preface this nugget with the assertion "I'm not sure how you're going to react to this, Mr. Mounce, but...".

This was Mrs Old Bank. And since I haven't heard (for the sixth time) from Mr New Bank that their attempt to transfer my account has failed2 I suppose I'd better go in and pick up the (doubtless, dusty) Deeds before they tell me I can't have them because I'm no longer a customer there...

Hi there, Mr Postie

Thanks for:

Anne Fadiman essays

From the final paragraph of her essay Night Owl:

It is now 3.42 a.m. Everyone here has been asleep for hours except my daughter's hamster, the other nocturnal mammal in the family, who is busy carrying sunflower seeds from one end of his terrarium to the other. After Silkie completes this task, he will change his mind and bring the seeds back again. I will do more or less the same thing with several paragraphs.

Anne Fadiman

It's a strange sensation... department

Carrying your Title Deeds and a bundle of Land Registry papers and solicitors' letters round town in a department store's plastic bag is a little weird when you consider a) how much I paid out over the years for them and b) how much the house and land are now nominally "worth" after that same elapsed time. But it was interesting to discover that the builders managed to put up one more house than they had permission for, and that part of the land (a portion of a bungalow's back garden) was sold off in 1979 for £10,000 to the builders. Also interesting to discover that the builders were backed by an outfit in Hall Road, Wilmslow past which I regularly walked more than 45 years ago.

Buried in the bundle is a 1933 covenant requiring all subsequent land owners (that includes me, I suspect) To forthwith erect and for ever after maintain good and sufficient fences to keep out cattle sheep and pigs on the sides of the premises... That all dwellinghouses to be erected on the premises... shall be constructed of stone brick or concrete and roofed with tiles or slates and shall cost not less than £500 in prime cost of materials and labour. I will skip over the part touching on cesspools.

Of course, no trip to Southampton is complete without a FOPPish detour, and a quick skim through Forbidden Planet:

Reasons to be cheerful... department

With all the warnings about "not suitable3 for the kiddywinks" etc. And purely in the interests of artistic appreciation, of course.


Here she is in today's delicious front cover of the tabloid arts section.

Another class act... department

Clive James can generally make me smile and/or laugh whether I feel like doing so or not. He's in fine form in a BBC interview here, from which I filch a tiny extract:

Recently I published a large book whose name I won't mention here, and it has been reviewed in all the English-speaking countries, sometimes by reviewers whose names I won't mention here either, until my security staff have rounded them all up and consigned each of them individually to a glass tank full of small undernourished Siamese fighting fish.

Clive James



1  While looking for something else belonging to somebody else, of course.
2  I realise Karl Popper had a few things to say about the falsification of hypotheses; I choose to interpret not hearing promptly from them as a tentative success indicator now that (I hope) they are engaging with one another mano a mano rather than via (I suspect) their IBM computer systems.
3  Not that I believe that for a moment.