Sunday, July 30, 2006

You're not wearing nylon underwear, are you? It disintegrates at high speeds.

I had a long meeting today with the chap writing the social history of women's swimming during Edwardian times. Sitting on the edge of Richmond Green, he said that when the great Thames swims of that time were held (beginning near Richmond Bridge), enormous crowds would assemble to watch the competitors working their way along the river for miles. Crowds larger than the combined sizes of modern football finals, Wimbledon and other such sporting events. Crowds even larger than those who assembled to watch Bondi take a cooling plunge in the river later that afternoon.

I found the above photo of my great grandmother online this morning, and then an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. If I can get access to the trunk of her personal journals, clippings etc when i get back to Sydney, we should be able to expand the historical record significantly. There are many fascinating aspects to the story of these pioneering women, not least in the positive role they had for demonstrating their physical equality with men (whom they often competed against successfully) in the lead up to English women's suffrage.

I've just been half-watching the original version of Bedazzled (1967), with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Towards the end there are some scenes where Peter Cook ("I'm the Horned One. The Devil. Let me give you my card.") is visiting God, who appears to live in the Palm House at Kew Gardens, just across the river from me. God is voiced by Valentine Dyall, who seemed to have had a thing for posing as powerful entities in his later career, serving as both the Black Guardian in the Doctor Who Key to Time series, and as Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Dudley Moore's love interest is played by Eleanor Bron, who suitably played Patsy's mother in Absolutely Fabulous, and had some Doctor Who roles.

I had an idle thought that if Comic Relief were to ever do another Doctor Who spoof, akin to their wonderful Curse of the Fatal Death, I'd like to see Vicky Pollard as the Doctor's assistant. A Dalek face-off would be essential.

This explanation of data compression using Vicky-speak is nearly as interesting as the sofa constant, which I hope is couched in terms that you'll find comfortable.

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