Northern Radio

As I mentioned earlier, I spent some of the period between Christmas and New Year in Preston. And there, while taking a shower at my mother’s house, I had a strange experience.

My mother's shower is one of the new style of high-tech ones, with a dozen different washing functions as well as a built in light and radio. I gather that there are ones with built in phones, now, too.

One of the funky features of my mother’s shower cubicle is that it includes a fully working FM radio. Its controls are pretty limited and there’s no user interface to provide feedback about what frequency you’re tuned to already, so it’s hard to deliberately tune in to a specific station. Instead, the house policy seems to be that if you don’t like what you’re listening to, you press the “cycle to the next station” button until you hear something you like.

Listening to music is about the third or second most-enjoyable thing that one can possibly do in a shower, in my experience, so I gave it a go. Local station Radio Wave came on, and they were playing some fun tunes, so I sang along as I washed myself under the hot steamy “drench” setting on the shower.

Radio Wave (96.5FM), Blackpool, Lancashire

At the end of a couple of songs, there were some commercials and the show’s presenter shared a few words. And it occurred to me quite how very Northern he sounded.

Living and working in Oxford, I don’t in my day to day life come across people with that broad lanky dialect. Growing up in Preston, and going to school there, I came across it on a daily basis, but didn’t notice it. Now, in its absence, it’s starkly noticable, with its traditional short gutteral “t” instead of “the”, use of the archaic second-person “tha” (related to “thou”), and the ever-present pronunciation of words like “right” and “light” as “reet” and “leet”, and “cold” and “old” as “cowd” and “owd”.

It’s unfamiliar, but still “homely”. Like that smell that reminds you of where you grew up, this sound to my ears filled me with a strange nostalgia.

It’s funny, because I’m sure I carry a little bit of that accent with me. To the folks in my life around Oxford way, I perhaps sound as foreign as those people in Preston sound to me, now. I spoke on the phone the other week to a couple of people I used to hang out with, back in the day, and my immediate thought was that they’d become more Lanky than I remembered – as if they’d somehow overdosed on butter pie and barm cakes in the years since I last saw them.

But that’s clearly not the case: it’s not their voices that have changed, but my ears. Untouched by the North-Western tongue for so long, it sounds very strange to me now to hear it over the phone, on the radio, or even in person.

It’s a strange side-effect of moving around the country. I wonder what it’s like for my American friends, who have an even bigger gap (both geographically and linguistically) between their homes in the UK and their families in the US, to “phone home”.

Thursday Afternoon

Good progress at work today, easily catching up on the things I didn’t get done yesterday on account of having been at the Royal Welsh Show.

AbNib is proving itself popular, but I’m still not happy with it: there are a load of really cool features I’d like to add, yet. But that’s a job for another day. I’ll be up in Lancashire this weekend for Andy‘s party and to visit my folks, so I can’t do it then, either.

Claire’s gotten herself temporarily sterilized with a fantastic hyperdermic full of progesterone and with the aid of the nice people at Aberystwyth Family Planning Clinic. Woo and indeed hoo. She’s (theoretically) a lot less likely to forget to have an injection every three months than she is to forget to take the pill: something she’s demonstrated herself to be very proficient at.

I’ve been excessivley stressed for the last 48 or so hours. I think it’s mostly a result of having no money and my paycheque still being a week away, and having to live off my credit card in the meantime (which I don’t like doing). Also that my crisp-wound in my mouth from the other day has developed into a spot which would probably heal faster and hurt less if I could stop playing with it, but I can’t. And that I’m not making nearly as much coding progress on Three Rings as I should be.

I have a strange urge to go for a long walk in the rain this evening. I hope it rains.

The Return From Lancashire

Spent the last four days in Lancashire and elsewhere in the North of England, visiting my folks (among other things). Details follow…

Sunday 29th June 2003
Dan’s Mum’s House, Preston
Helped fix my mum’s fence, and enjoyed the challenge of removing a pigeon from her gutter. This stupid bird, it seems, on a collision course for the house (shitting on the window as it came), struck the roof with sufficient force to kill itself, and then rolled gracefully into the gutter, where it became lodged.

Using a clever combination of metal rods and string, Claire and I were able to lasso it’s foot from one of the upstairs windows and, a few pokes later, lob it’s rotting corpse down to my sister, waiting below.

My dad kindly let me take one of his bikes – Silver Machine – back to Aber with me, which’ll make getting to and from work a lot nicer. Must buy a lock for it.

Got back at about midnight. Claire spent most of the night tied to the bed, which was fun. Enough said.

Back From Lancashire, Continued

Spent the last four days in Lancashire and elsewhere in the North of England, visiting my folks (among other things). Details follow…

Saturday 28th June 2003
Dan’s Mum’s House, Preston
More video games. Yet again I won at Mario Party 4. Claire is starting to get really pissed-off with always coming second-place. I don’t think she’d mind being last or second-to-last all the time, but coming second-place time and time again really seems to annoy her. Particularly when I proceed to dance around the room chanting “I am the Party Star!” at the top of my voice. Ah well.

Horton Tower, Horton
Went with Claire and my family to see the annual symphony orchestra at Horton Tower. It wasn’t as good as last year, but it was still fun. Taught Claire to waltz.

More to follow…

Back From Lancashire, Continued

Spent the last four days in Lancashire and elsewhere in the North of England, visiting my folks (among other things). Details follow…

Friday 27th June 2003
Dan’s Mum’s House, Preston
Played on Claire’s Nintendo GameCube with Claire, my mum, and sisters. I won at Mario Party 4.
Went to meet the managing director who’ll be taking over from my dad upon his retirement. He didn’t seem remotely scared enough by the idea that if my dad fell under a bus (oh; the irony of a transport consultant being run over by a public transport vehicle), I’d be his majority shareholder, nor did he seem to believe all the stories the rest of the staff told about me. He’ll be taught to fear me, yet… <evil grin>

Later, met up with Andy, Dan’s AvAngel.com co-webmaster, and played more video games, before going out for KFC and to see Bruce Almighty at the cinema, which was a pretty damn cool film.

Finally, retired to my mum’s house for yet more video games. I won at Mario Party 4. Again.

More to follow…

Back From Lancashire

Spent the last four days in Lancashire and elsewhere in the North of England, visiting my folks (among other things). Details follow…

Thursday 26th June 2003
Linux Expo 2003, Birmingham
Sorted out Claire’s bank, packed bags, and set off for Birmingham to the last day of Linux Expo 2003 at the National Exhibition Centre, to meet up with Gareth and some other geeks to talk about a project on which my input could be valuable. Gareth is going to come over to Aberystwyth next weekend and we’ll knock together a prototype of the system we’ve suggested.

Claire got scared by the vast numbers of stereotypical geeks (and the distinct overdose of testosterone in the air – she was one of only three women in the whole place), and by the fact that, unlike normal, she couldn’t understand one in three words spoken. I smiled. She’s got a little way to go to earn her geek stripes, yet.

Bon Jovi, Manchester
Arrived late at Old Trafford – missed the support group, but in time to try to find standing room before Bon Jovi came on-stage. All-in-all, a good concert: Claire was a little short for standing on the pitch to have been a good idea, and the sound quality was a little below-par owing to a lack of adequate repeater speakers, and the only beer available was Budweiser and Boddingtons, but it was still a pretty good gig. Went to a Manchester pub afterwards before catching a really, really late train home. Got to bed sometime after 3am.

More to follow…