Tag Archives: foundspeech

Not quite Colemanballs on a bus

Wonderfully strained turn of phrase overheard from a thirty-something bloke talking to his mobile. I think the subject of the conversation might have been Notts County football club. They certainly mentioned someone called Sven. Not quite Colemanballs on a bus, but getting there.

“For every Jack Walker there are probably a hundred non-Jack-Walkers so the odds are not in favour of him being Jack Walker”

“getting past the inheritance is the whole present priotity. You need a windfall to get out of debt.

“It’s football – this isn’t rtrade union stuff – its what you do on a Saturday. Its not about putting bread and jam on the table”

“… its what the Arabs are doing now – well nobody knows what they are doing but there is a striking similarity…”

“…lets just say our confidence in banks is not what it was”

“The Chairman of the club calls it ‘Disneyland””

“Time will tell.”

“Cynicism rules”

“There’s nothing like a good sex scandal to attract media attention. Its like the cherry on top of a really passionate cake”

“To change football culture you’re up against a hundred years of bad behaviour on the part of managers, players, AND fans”.

Not pretentious at all

Overheard on a train:

Someone who works with films was talking to someone who works with TV. Odd lines stuck out:

“He calls himself ‘Ironik’ spelled with a “K” but he takes himself more seriously than anyone I’ve ever met”

“You can guess the pitch – a cross between Flashdance and Fame but set in London”

“Only one person who has ever been in a film before”

“There are some theatre people involved – and that’s FATAL!”

“Charlotte Rampling has signed up for it, and that’s good”

“My credibility depends on this”

Late free lunch in Deptford

A meeting of the school governors of Lewisham Bridge school at 4.45 (its usually at six). And Lewisham Bridge is in a mess (Google it). The mess got worse. The kids are being bussed to the Mornington school near New Cross station, because our school is to be demolished and rebuilt as a 3-16 all-through school on the old site. Except it isn’t, because the Council didn’t apply for planning permission before the kids were “decanted” (as they say). And then English Heritage listed the building. And protestors occupied the school. And now the council is planning to move the school back for one year and move it out again and move back again a year after that (or maybe two). And its all a mess.

Because we started so early there was a two-hour gap between thay meetin and the next one I needed to go to and I used it to walk round Deptford High Street and in and out of the railway arches. Photos when I get the chance to upload some.

And yes, Deptford in the evening can be wonderful. I bought some little coloured glass jars
for a pound each. And saw lots of people of all sorts walking up and down, including a black bloke on a bicycle who stopped a friend on another bicycle outside a cheap Asian knick-knack shop (I ought to go back and buy a big cooking pan) and asked him out for a drink and said “I sold a Volvo today – three thousand quid”. Where else do people who sell cars ride bicycles? And I met J and H and N on Edward Street on their way from a quiet afternoon drink at the Dog and Bell (the Deptford pub that really isn’t like most people’s idea of Deptford – real ale, Belgian beer, all the day’s newspapers, and art exhibitions) and off to Brockley to buy some weed and go home and watch Dr Who videos.

And (not for the first time) I wondered why I always stay at work or in town so late. It might be good to spend more time in Deptford in daylight.

Then a Labour party meeting at 8pm (it would usually be 7.30 or 7.45) round the corner. And Steve Bullock (sorry, Sir Steve Bullock) the Mayor talking about Trust Schools and the proposals of “hard” federations and “soft” federations, and the proposed relationship between Goldsmith’s College and Deptford Green School and Addey’s School and Crossways (whatever that is) – which to be honest sounds like a good idea to me though the meeting was mostly against it – and another one between Colfe’s School and Catford High School and listened to the rest of us trying to tell him that all that means nothing to most people (the best contribution was from Laura Seabright who I think actually is a teacher at Deptford Green) and certainly isn’t going to win us the next election, either locally or nationally.

Actually in other ways it was a good meeting and we heard some really good stuff from Joan Ruddock, our MP, about a possible new railway station on Surrey Canal Road, and the upcoming Copenhagen talks on the environment, and some stuff they did in Greenland – but like the man said, all politics is local, and our schools are as local as you can get and we are fucking them up. Well, Lewisham Bridge, anyway.

So after two meetings and lots of walking and photos (& the last walk a very nice stroll to the bus-stop talking to a rather pleasant and intelligent House of Commons assistant I don’t think I’ve met before) I was feeling hungry and thirsty and possibly in need of a cigarette so into a pub at about 10.30pm and yes there is a darts match on and its the trophy competition at the end of the season and so I get a few pints of good beer and free burgers and salad off the barbecue and talk to G and K who aren’t even twenty yet and are running a door-to-door sales business in Gravesend and have bumped into their first cash-flow crisis and are having trouble paying their staff. And M who is more or less homeless and has been put into sheltered accomadation by the council and dislikes it hugely because she isn’t old enough for that yet and would rather live almost anywhere else but can’t so comes to the pub all evening instead of sitting around watching Big Brother on the TV and talking to the old folk waiting to die. And R & M talking about how nothern chips with gravy are better than our poncey southern chips. And T whose wife died from a heart attack a few years ago and is thinking about suing the doctors who had failed to diagnose a heart problem only a few days before. And TD talking about about – no, but this is a family-friendly blog

But if there is something better than free barbecue in a pub garden after two stressful meetings in one evening I don’t know what it is.

And it was all too much and I went home – and THEN they showed the fourth part of the current Torchwood story on TV. Which you really need to see. And is sort-of kind-of almost relevant.

And THEN they showed a repeat of the BBC TV coverage of the Apollo missions from forty years ago which I saw live at the time and you really need to see that as well… James Burke (remember him?) … Cliff Michelmore chewing his fingers for Apollo 13.

And tomorrow: to Bromsgrove – and beyond!

More listening to London

Seen from a bus:

There were police in the act of arresting someone at the bus-stop in front of Lewisham Station this morning. Or at least it looked as if they were from where I was sitting on the 321, they had the back of their van open and it looked as if they were bundling someone in. Of course I don’t know for sure if it was an arrest. Maybe they had just stopped for a cup of tea and a chat, but if they had it was a funny place and time to do it.

The bus stopped right next to them and we passengers all got off the bus and went up to catch our trains. I think there are cities in the world where a bus driver would not stop at an arrest scene however many passengers wanted to get off. I think there are cities in the world where the passengers would insist loudly that the bus drove on as quickly as possible.

OK this was the BTP, and if they had arrested someone it was as probably for getting on the DLR without a ticket. But you cant tell that from the other side of the road. Two vans and half a dozen uniformed police, and at least one plain-clothes (I assume since she opened the door of a police van herself and got into the front) Anything could be happening. But the bus stopped and we walked right past them. No-one here expects the police, or those they are chasing, to have guns. So no-one is scared to be near them.

Overheard on a bus:

29 bus last night, packed with standers, only two empty seats . Young women walks up to them, turns round without sitting down, comes back again. I take my chance and sit down and find myself next to the reason she didn’t.

Dirty, drunk, bad-smelling tall twenty-something man, feet on the seat opposite, talking to himself or his can of K cider. Or maybe talking to me. Mumbling as if I wasn’t meant to hear. “That’s right. You sit next to me, Get your fat arse into the seat” Northern Irish accent I think, the sort that sounds almost Glasgow.

Then off on a mumbling rant about the state of the world and the nation. “Twenty-two pounds a week Army pension. Its a joke.” It seems that he has an unfeasibly large number of stitches and no job. And the fat cats screw you whatever you do.

Then he sat up straight, seemed to take notice of his surroundings, and asked my how my day had been, before apologising to the women opposite and getting off the bus. Though he turned round on the pavement and made a throat-chopping gesture at someone. I hope it wasn’t meant for me.

The song remains the same:

Tube strike has caused a flurry of political conversation around the office. Best line so far:

Ms. X [defending the strikers]: “Maybe they should get 5%. Why shouldn’t workers get the same money as their bosses?”

Mr Y [horrified]: “But.. but.. that’s Communist!”

X: “Well, I am a Communist”

People are actually talking about politics, the fash are getting pelted in the streets, a Labour government is groping its way to ignominious defeat, there is a Tube strike, its raining, and I’m listening to Deep Purple…

Bloody hell, its the 1970s!

But fings ain’t wot they used to be:

Overheard in a pub:

“… eighteen of them and they were all Romanians and they were all pregnant. And the Lewisham Council gave them every floor of a whole block of flats, the whole building just for them. AND their partners. No English people could get that. We have to work for everything we get in this country… [blah-blah]…politically-correct…[ [blah-blah] …soft…[blah-blah]…that’s the trouble with this country…[blah-blah]…so liberal…[blah-blah]…the Englishman is a foreigner in his own country…[blah-blah]…politically-correct…”

Nothing remarkable about that, you can hear similar nonsense any day if you hang around in the wrong bars. Except that the young black man who said it was wearing a hoodie, combats, and a baseball cap.

London truly is a multicultural society 🙂

Bed leg city

Overheard in a pub:

“Journalists aren’t like us. They all live in a fantasy land. And TV is a fantasy land”

“Especially when Queen’s Park Rangers are on match of the Day”

“QPR? QPR are all about Stan Bowles”

“Tell me about it!”

“I just bloody did!”

In the aftermath of the Millwall/Leeds match last Saturday. Which was a Big Deal at our local pub. The place exploded when Millwall scored – it was almost enough to make me a fan. Looking forward to the second leg on Thursday. We are promised pie & mash.

Millwall fans, of course, aren’t like they used to be. As the small Millwall fan in the blue shirt explained to us while he was describing how he spent two months in Armley jail in Leeds for assaulting a police officer (“I should have got more”). But apparently they are all diamonds up there and the looked after him even though he was the only Londoner in the nick, and so got called “Cockney”. Unlike Durham jail, “bed leg city”, where he feared for both his life and his honour. Not that he put it that way.

I’m not any kind of a football fan of course. Though I more or less made my peace with football a few years back when Millwall was in the FA cup – it was a fun day.

I used to hate football when I was a boy. I was bad at it, skinny and asthmatic and slow, and we were forced to play at school whether we liked it or not. From my point of view sport was what games get turned into when they become compulsory. Secondary school was worse than primary

Sport on TV – which is not really sport at all of course, because its just something you watch, not something they make you do – is more fun if you care who wins. Just as horse racing is more fun if you have a bet on. So if I’m in the pub watching football perhaps I ought to have a horse in the race

So if I was a football fan, which would my team be? You can’t just pick one, you need to care. It would be pointless just looking around for a team that seems to be winning a lot and deciding to be a fan. Though that seems to be what some people do, with all these Manchester United and Chelsea fans you find around the place. Pointless. There needs to be some local connection.

Well, I’m from Brighton, and I live in an area that supports Millwall, and I have some distant family connections with Newcastle supporters, so that gives me three candidate teams. How are they doing?

I took look a few weeks back and it seemed that Brighton and Newcastle were almost certain to get relegated from their leagues. And I didn’t want that to happen. I did care, a little. Especially about Brighton. Not that I really care very much for the football team, but I do care, very much, for the city. I want the team to stay up for the same reason I want the new stadium at Falmer to be built. Its my home town.

And mysteriously, all of a sudden, they started winning. And now they are completely safe from relegation this year. So a result already!

And then I watched Saturday’s Millwall/Leeds match in the pub, and realised that I did in fact want them to win. And was genuinely excited when they did. And am looking forward to the replay (at Leeds – a lot harder job to win there). And, on Monday, feeling in an odd mood after a very frustrating school governor’s meeting (Our little school has been on the national news, and not in a good way) i popped into the pub and saw Newcastle thrash Middlesbrough 3:1. I was thrilled. 3:1! A sort of local Derby (though not as big as a Sunderland match would be) and both in the relegation zone so if there was a draw it was likely that both would go down. And now Newcastle is in with a chance!

So there we go. Maybe not one but three horses in the race. And possibly in different races as well, if Millwall go up (which is at least possible) and Newcastle stay up (which is now almost likely). So three bloody good results so far.

The only trouble is, that’s probably as good as it gets…

More things people said:

Overheard on a station platform:

“Are you allowed to stop and search me? I can tell my boss its the reason I was late for work?”

(A young man, that the tabloid press would probably call a “chav” talking back to a policeman with a clipboard who seemed to be writing notes about him. From the rather jolly tone of voice it sounded more as if he was asking to be searched than protesting against being searched)

Overheard in a pub when a customer who had gone outside was trapped between the inner and the outer door which had been locked while he was outside:

“How’d he get in there anyway?”

“Must be black magic!”

“You can’t keep a black man out of any hole he wants to get into”

(The last from the man himself, who is black)

And no, I don’t know how he got into the space between two locked doors.

If I was a sneaky little spy…

If I was a sneaky little spy…

… I’d thank my God for letting me lie

No, I mean I’d ride around London on trains and busses listening to what people say into their mobile phones.

OK, so I do ride around London on trains and busses listening to what people say into their mobile phones (as you can see from the last few years of this blog by looking at the “foundspeech” tag). But I’m not a spy.  I just can’t help it, they are so LOUD. And busses are so boring when there is a delay. Like this morning. And people use such weird language.  And they talk about ANYTHING.

Over the years I’ve heard intimate details of people’s lives, learned who was about to be sacked, overheard at least two apparent dope deals (& quite a few more with some reading between the lines) and loads and loads of phone numbers and computer passwords. And those silly details banks ask you when they want you to pretend to be the person you are pretending to be when you do things to your account , even though they get all cross when you ask them to prove who they are. Even when it was them that phoned you and they claim they don’t know your account number so you have to tell them which of course I won’t because I wasn’t born yesterday.  (Actually it wasn’t the bank, it was the phone company that did that – Virgin/NTL/CableandWireless/Videotron or whatever they are rebranding themselves this week. Or maybe it was some other lying phone company trying to poach their customers. Just offer me support via real email instead of the phone and I’m yours… as long as you don’t charge any more than the other lot and I get cable TV and Internet as well…)

But anyway, if I was a spy – well, if I was a spy I’d probably be picking on targets rather than hearing what randomly comes up. Though if those targets are as stupid as some people all I would have to do is arrange to commute on the same train as they do and keep my ears open. (Or maybe the kinds ofg people spies are interested in always drive.

But if I was a criminal, or even a slightly dodgy geezer, I could have come up with lots of random business opportunities. He hates her does he? And they are about to be sacked? And this is the admin password on the SQL server that keeps the company accounts? And that is the name of the customer database? And the Maidstone office is losing money and will be downsized if things don’t pick up soon? No new mortgages in how long? And this is your target rate on the contract?  And you really think THAT about your client’s chances of winning the case? And it is all online at that IP address?  Thank you very much.

And overheard on the 188 bus today:

“This is A from X College […] Oh it will be worth your while coming down – even if you are late for  the meeting. We’re going to  Y College at 4pm for the protest – Tony Benn will be speaking, we’re going to meet him at Z”

Phone down, bleep-bleep-bleep, business voice on:

“Hi, this is A from X – could you give me George Galloway’s office number.  I need to tell him about the Gaza protest at Z.  Right, 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…  sorry could you repeat that, was that last bit 1234 or 4321? 1234. Thanks!”

No you don’t exactly have to be Mossad to work out what was going on there.  And while mild-mannered British academics protesting alongside ex-Labour MPs and Labour ex-MPs is hardly going to have anyone quivering in their fur-lined boots there are probably a few journalists in London who might have tried blagging their way into Z to see what was happening.

It cost HOW much?

Overheard on the 9.59 from Lewisham to Waterloo (of which much more later)

Middle-aged bloke, presumably a plumber or builder, in a sort of monotone South London/Suburban Kent accent:

“Can you bring fifteen hundred pounds? I can start getting some of the materials. If its more than that I think I can cover it. Where I go, I get thirty days free credit so I don’t have to pay up front. I don’t like shopping around. You might get a boiler a bit cheaper here, and something else a bit cheaper there, but in the end…

Oh and I bought an aeroplane.

And I’m thinking of buying a football team.

Still there?”

Afghanistan is very popular

Overheard on a train:

“Your country is very remote. Is disappear. England is very famous, all people know where is England, 90% of all peoples. Iran, 60% know where is. Afghanistan before the war is very disappear, but now Afghanistan is very popular”

(An Iranian man talking to a Mongolian man)

Bonfire 2008, Lewes

Here are a few pictures of Bonfire at Lewes last week:

bonfire_6879 bonfire_6881
bonfire_6883 bonfire_6876
bonfire_6882 bonfire_6894

Now we have new shiny tags on this site there is no real point in pontificating about the wonder Bonfire – in the unlikely event that anyone wants to see last years rambling wibble, just follow the tags! As usual, click on the pictures to see more.

I didn’t get to any firesites this year because the people I usually stay with weren’t around 🙁 Next year perhaps I ought to organise something rather than just go down on the train at the last minute. So no actual bonfire and no fireworks – well, no large aerial displays anyway 🙂 I hung round Western Road for most of the time I was there, in and out of the Black Horse (lovely St Austell ale!) and the Meridian (Shepherd Neame, but they were running out)

bonfire_6884 bonfire_6888a bonfire_6873

I avoided the nightmare of overpoliced stations coming down by going to Cooksbridge and walking in from there. A very pleasant stroll on an early evening, apart from the traffic. And a nice pint of Harvey’s in the Chalkpit Inn on the way – though two of the other pubs I passed were closed. Getting out was hassle though,. The western end of town was relatively relaxed – the police were happily joining in and I got the feeling that there were slightly fewer spectators and more marchers than the last couple of years – which makes the atmosphere better (he says, possibly rather hypocritcally, as I am a spectator myself). But at the east end of town near the station there was a lot more intrusive policing and some very silly barriers that forced people to go a long way round into the station and missed me a train. Hence the pictures from the platform.

You can see where Cooksbridge is on the railway on this map:


The pink bit shows where the nice railway kindly withdrew their cheap tickets scheme for the day. Actually, it is a pretty good indicator of the areas of East Sussex where Bonfire is still kept properly. It goes a bit beyond that – there are big Bonfires at Battle and small ones into Kent, and there are even a few in West Sussex, all the way to Littlehampton (in these high matters West Sussex is in many ways less like East Sussex than Kent is). But that pink blob is a good indicator of the heart of the festival.


Overheard at Bonfire

Still getting to grips with this shiny bloggy thing.   Like a lot of websites it seems to take some tweaking to get it to realise that Opera does in fact allow Cookies if you ask it nicely.

Overheard in the street at Lewes:

A to B: “You  wouldn’t recognise a straight line if one was walking in front of you!”

B to A: “I’ve seen you ploughing!”

(two blokes with Sussex accents wearing rather strange costumes)

Overheard on a train:

“I was at the Democrats Abroad party in London”
“How did you get invited to that?”
“I’m a member of Democrats Abroad”
“But you aren’t an American!”
“They didn’t ask me why I wanted to join”.

More on the Way we Speak Now

Overheard in a pub toilet:

“Daddy, what does that word say?”
“It says ‘Lavatories'”
“Why does it say ‘Lavatories’?”
“Its another word fro ‘toilets'”

(Middle-english middle-class RP accents all round)

Heard at a talk about Welshness at Greenbelt:

“[such-and-such a federation of united chapels] have recently employed a youth officer, and that would be me”

[No idea if it is a very Welsh way of saying “I am the youth officer” but it struck me as a very odd way of saying it]

Got the Lambeth?

Overheard in a pub:

“Got any Lambeth?”

No, nothign to do with bishops. Members of the pool team seeking chalk for queues. Lambeth Walk Chalk.

I think they make it up as they go along. Actually I think they really do sometimes. “Cockney rhyming slang” actually does exist but its not so much a local language as a kind of word game.

Culturally its perhaps the London equivalent of Glasgow’s deep-fried Mars bars. Yes they exist, yes people do eat them occasionally, but its not exactly traditional folk culture, more a sort of long-running joke.

Kids on a train:

Overheard on a train passing Southwark Cathedral:

Girl: “Look at that church!”
Boy: “That ain’t a church, its got a flag on it.”

Bother and sister aged about seven or eight being taken on day trip to London.

Two slightly older children previously overheard on the same train line at about the same place going the other way. They had seen the film of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. The boy had a theory that a “faun” was called that because like a rose with thorns they were beautiful above but ugly below. For him the words “faun” and “thorn” were homophones, exactly alike, identical sounds. From their parents conversation they seem to be from well-educated prosperous middle-class Jewish families.

Non-rhoticism really has arrived. For us south-eastern English, “R” is a vowel 🙂