20 March 2017

Lay-by


Please don't judge me but sometimes I like to drive out into the nearby countryside to find a quiet spot. There I will simply sit in my car for an hour or two and read which ever book I am on. I need silence and good light for reading - with no distraction. 


Yesterday afternoon, I was parked up in a remote lay-by under Stanage Edge reading "Shakespeare" by Bill Bryson. Finally, I finished it! Hurrah!  It was, after all, a fascinating, readable and well-informed look at The Bard's life, claims that have been  made about him and the very small amount of evidence for his existence that remains four hundred years after his death at the age of fifty two.

Bryson scorns ridiculous notions that Shakespeare was in fact someone else like Francis Bacon or Ben Jonson or even Queen Elizabeth I, pulling these self-indulgent and spurious arguments apart, like dandelion seeds. The book finishes with this sentence: "Only one man had the circumstances and gifts to give us such incomparable works, and William Shakespeare of Stratford was unquestionably that man - whoever he was."

As I as sitting in my lay-by, another car pulled up behind me. I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed that the front seat passenger had a huge red ball on his lap - either that or he was heavily pregnant. 

The occupants of the car - three men and a woman - clambered out with bags and coats etc.. Soon they were walking off along the drizzly country lane. It was then that I realised the red thing was actually a huge Angry Bird mask - you may have seen images of that popular computer game character.

They proceeded through a gateway and trudged three hundred yards or so across rough pasture to some rocks beneath Stanage Edge. As I had now finished "Shakespeare", I got out of my car and went over to the boundary wall with my camera. Using it's full zoom facility I snapped several pictures, including the two that follow this paragraph. What the hell was going on? Have you any idea?
P.S. I have at long last  made an appointment at the local health centre to see a doctor about my gammy knee and have stopped putting artificial sweeteners in my tea and coffee after reading that there may be a link between regular use of aspartame and the development of arthritic conditions.

31 comments:

  1. Reading in the car makes sense. I have no idea what was going on with the angry bird but would guess at some kind of elaborate joke or photo.
    I'm so glad you stopped the aspartame, it's poison and I will look forward to updates on the knee

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    1. Now I know there are many serious concerns about aspartame, I wish that I hadn't switched from sugar to my artificial sweeteners about two years ago. I just imagined that anything like that would have passed through official channels and would be fine to use. Damn my innocence!

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  2. Mmmm, strange people live up north.

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    1. Co-incidentally, there was a sticker in the back of their car saying "I Love Sheppey" but in place of "Love" there was a heart shape. I guess they do live up north - north of Kent.

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    2. Wouldn't surprise me, we're just as weird down here in the south, don't forget we have a load of people dressed in white robes who dance round a circle of large stones every Longest Day.

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    3. Do you know David Icke? He lives down south. And there's that other southern weirdo - Norman Tebbit. On yer bike ye daft 'apporth!

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  3. No idea about the angry bird folk YP but I'm glad you are going to have the knee checked out. I love sitting in my car, and can understand completely wanting to stay in it and read instead of getting out and getting on with things...solitude, good light, a comfortable seat, a view that you wouldn't get at home...sounds lovely.

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    1. And it wasn't a dogging lay-by either - if that's what you are secretly imagining!

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  4. How bizarre! Looks like someone's student film project.

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    1. I spied on them from afar. They did use a still camera once or twic.

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  5. Why would any of us judge you for sitting in your car and reading? I don't have a car, so that option is not available to me, but I do appreciate good lighting more and more the older I get. As I nearly always read on public transport, I am used to distracting sights and sounds and have learned to handle them.
    As for the young people with the Angry Bird head - at least they were out in the fresh air!

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    1. PS: I have been drinking my coffee with artificial sweetener as well as diet coke since 1986 or so. That makes 30+ years of using sweeteners instead of sugar, on a daily basis. I am nearly 50; wouldn't I feel ill effects if the stuff really was so poisonous? I am healthy and reasonably fit.

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    2. Do your sweeteners include aspartame? Not all sweeteners do. A lot has been written about aspartame but I never knew this until this weekend.

      P.S. I just hobbled down to the post office and said goodbye to the first Fred!

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  6. I recently switched from sugar sweetened sodas to diet versions, but since I keep hearing how bad artificial sweeteners are supposed to be I try to strictly limit them to those times that I really want a Coke. I mostly drink water these days and I feel better for it. I did find a stevia - sweetened diet lemonade powder that I love to add to water occasionally. Stevia is supposed to be okay since it's a natural herb.

    I'm glad you're seeing a doctor about your knee.

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    1. I never knew about all these issues with sweeteners. Some of it is crazy scaremongering but in spite of that I think there are some serious concerns.

      I just had a few laser prints of the last Fred made at a specialist print shop. The quality is very good They are on card. Do you want one? I will send it to you for free. I'm also having some top quality prints made. I will pick them up in a week's time but one of those would not be free.

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    2. I do indeed want one!! I would love that! Shall I email you my address?

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  7. I like reading Bill Bryson so I'll get this book. Now the walkers. they appear to be just plain weird.

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    1. They sounded like Canadians.

      By the way, "Shakespeare" is very different from Bryson's travel books. I have read them all and they gave me tremendous pleasure.

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    2. I can handle that.

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  8. Such a coincidence that you should write about Shakespeare and Stratford. To my shame I have never been there and have just been planning a few days break to go with my daughter next week! As for the funny costumes, I haven't the foggiest what those people were up to.

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    1. Enjoy your trip to Stratford Jenny. I hope you get to see Anne Hathaway's cottage. Are you going to see a play? "Julius Caesar" and "Antony and Cleopatra" are on at the moment.

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  9. I was going to leave this comment: "I'd love to sit in my car and read but I'd need a loo as I tend to read for hours at a time" but then I thought the better of it ...

    I wonder where they got the Angry Bird head?

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    1. I presume that the Angry Bird head was ripped from the torso of an Angry Bird. To solve your problem when reading in the car you could take a bucket or perhaps a mixing bowl.

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  10. Glad you're going to have the knee seen to, YP. Hopefully you won't need surgery.
    I'm glad to say that I gave up sugar many years ago, and just went "cold turkey" - straight from two spoonsful to nothing ! For a week or two I couldn't enjoy tea or coffee with sugar or without, it was revolting either way. Now if someone accidentally gives me sugar, I can't drink it - I think I'm being poisoned !

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    1. I will have to wean myself off sugar. Cold turkey only appeals to me on Boxing Day!

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  11. Good luck with the knee. One of the best things I did was to have a half knee replacement. Nearly 6 yrs ago now. I had private health insurance through work at the time and it was less than 2 months between seeing the doc and the op.

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    1. You are giving me the willies Frances! Surgery? Suddenly I am in a cold sweat.

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  12. Angry Bird and Shakespeare in a single blog? I love Bill Bryson's travel books but I'm not sure about a whole book dedicated to the Bard. Ooh, what do you call an irate Will Shakespeare? An Angry Bard!

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    1. Ha-ha! Nice one Sue! You might be the next Sarah Millican!

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  13. The aspartame issue is a very vexed one. I gave up sugar in tea and coffee over 30 years ago and discovered that sweeteners made me nauseous and have never used them since. I rather tend to the opinion that natural products like sugar and butter are better in moderation that doctored and artificial alternatives.

    I used to drive out into the countryside and sit either in the car or just on the grass and study when I was at Uni. It's good for the mind and the body.

    Knees are strange things. My arthritis was caused by my time as a fencer and fencing coach when it took a hammering. Having it replaced last year was a practical and very successful action. Good luck.

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  14. Perhaps it was Elvis, not Shakespeare who wrote the plays. Elvis did, after all, leave the building without telling anyone what he was going to do...just a thought!

    Why would we judge you for your choices re reading? Whatever suits you...that's fine with me. I choose to read at home...and that's fine with me, too. :)

    I've heard of Angry Bird, but I've not played the game...or any computer games similar to it. I didn't know he was a Yorkshire bird! :)

    I have a few angry birds around here in the afternoons if I'm late in giving them their daily meat scraps! They don't hold back in letting me know of my tardiness!

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