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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Tag Archives: tom lehrer


They don’t make ’em like that no more…

Last month I have been clearing out the stables of the small victorian farm behind the house.
Just a general rummage to get rid of general grot and grime, and to generally find out if there was really anything worth conserving.

While sorting through I found many things…
Canisters with strange names, spagettied wirls of leather tack (left behind by an old saddler who used to rent the cottage), old buckets with names of a different house, a tricycle… etc etc. I also found the most amazing old sickle. I decided to clean it up and look after it.
When digging through piles of stuff, finding old tools are like nuggets of gold. You can imagine someone using them, even making them to a clear end.

But one of the things I found, wondered at then left… was a spoon, tied to a long stick…


Here bunny, bunny, bunny…

As it was found amongst many things in a stable, so I imagined it to be a specially made tool to feed horses (?!) or to medicate something at a distance… Bah. I gave up and I moved on to shoveling out the grot on the floor.

Then yesterday, looking at some old country footage from UEA’s East Anglian Film Archive, I finally saw that spoon in action…
(sorry, can’t embed the video here)

It is a short documentary from 1961 about the old gamekeeper at Elveden. The good man is in his 90s… and as you see him gently totter about on the estate, his assistants go about their business, spreading out feed for the game…

…and poisoning rabbits with cyanide…



Only rabbits and rats?

So that’s what’s in that friendly looking yellow bucket called Cymag…

I doubt you would see anything like that in modern day video’s, eh?

(And yes, this is probably a response to my last post on rodents…)


Later addition:

… Off course… how could I forget to add:

Oh the good old days…

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Yes indeed, today has been my very first experience at a real American Football game.

Not soccer, but the kind with the strangely shaped ball, padding and cheerleading!
Like a proper tourist I entered the stadium with great anticipation, but something felt strange about the whole scene….

Sooo many people.
And they are all so polite and relaxed?!

This is not the kind of audience you would see at European Soccer…

Well, I guess I should add that this was no ordinary game, but a true blue (at least half) Ivy league game, between Harvard and Yale…

There is a lot of tradition surrounding this event.

I will just leave the hot apple cider (yum!) hotdogs and cheerleading for now, but instead I will try to describe some more New England oddities….
We were seated in the best seats in the house, on the 50 yard line… perfectly aligned to see the line-up before the ball is snapped back to the quarterback…

Handsome Dan XIV

My host and fellow guest told me all the stories:

1. The story of Handsome Dan, the Yale team mascot, the first American live animal mascot…. The first Dan originated from 1889, but the present day one wore a handsome Nike jersey with a large Y on his broad chest….
Bulldogs do have a funny gait, that makes you grin as he walks by all those beefed up men in tight shiny pants….

2. The story of the attire… Originally all spectators would come to this game suitably suited, in tweeds, flatcaps or if you the real deal… a ‘Coon coat. These days most students blaspheme with sweatshirts and baseball caps… Booooo.

December 1925, Harold 'Red' Grange.

At this year’s game there was only one young man I could find in a real fur coat… But I assure you, after around 2 hours of sitting on a concrete slab in the November winds, I could surely have used one!
It is probably hard to explain to my British friends, who are always so wonderfully dressed. There really is no other way to describe this style as ‘American Original’.

Please find some astonishing examples here:

3. The fighting songs… The Yale one is composed by Cole Porter off course. The words and melody are true genius.
Bulldog! Bulldog! Bow Wow Wow. Eli Yale!
At least this folklore has not been destroyed by the Vuvuzela… See article here:

Off course half-time yielded some very obscure skits on the other team and more Lady Gaga and Glee references…
I think that Yale tried to play on Avatar, producing a cardboard dragon, while Harvard stuck to Dorothy in Oz, being chased by some blue winged flying monkeys… They even went so far as to smash up a large papier mache image of poor old Handsome Dan….Ah well.

I guess it worked, because straight after the first Yale kick-off into the second half, Harvard stole the ball and made the decisive touchdown that broke their spirit and won them the game…

Yay for iPhone4, please see my video of this incredible moment below:

Still after all that ceremony and show, all I can think about is Tom Lehrer’s song…

How Peachy!

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