(james benedict brown) on the road

Castle Acre bookshop discoveries #2

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 23 January, 2009

Back in the summer I made a habit of spending a few hours a week helping out at the Friends of Castle Acre Church Charity Bookshop, not far from my rural hideaway (every unemployed architect needs a rural hideaway, that’s where we go to when the drudgery of unemployment gets too much).

As with previous sessions helping out with the largely jumbled and unordered collection of books, the most rewarding discoveries aren’t always books (sometimes they’re Danish promotional material about cheese). This time was no exception, with the discovery of a full colour leaflet produced by the long-forgotten Decimal Currency Board.

Monday 15 February 1971 was D (for Decimal) Day, when Britain’s archaic currency of pounds, shillings, pence, crowns, farthings and ha’pennies were replaced by the decimalised pounds and pence. This 22 page leaflet (and its pull out Shoppers’ Table was distributed, perhaps in six figure quantities, to help people make the transition without confusion or the lingering doubt that they might be being ripped off by dishonest tradesmen.

Not withstanding the obvious advances in new media and technology, the message is pretty much the same as that given to European citizens who have seen their currencies superseded by the Euro.

Perhaps a modernised equivalent of this leaflet will one day be distributed on the streets of Britain (or via text message, internet and interactive television) in the event of a conversion to the Euro? If nothing else, this little discovery has finally helped me comprehend the hierarchy of Britain’s “old money” designations.

The Friends of Castle Acre Church Charity Bookshop is open (subject to volunteers being available) 10:00 – 16:00 every Saturday and public holiday, and is found at the eastern end of Castle Acre’s high street in west Norfolk. Thousands of paperbacks and hardbacks already in stock, with no small number containing similarly delightful little historic documents between their pages.


Express solidarity, don’t get free car hire: Hertz pulls out of El Al Israel promotion

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 17 January, 2009

Further to my post earlier this week, you might be interested in this article published in this morning’s Independent.

Hertz withdraws from Israeli airline deal

By Stina Backer Saturday, 17 January 2009

The world’s largest car hire firm last night called on the Israeli airline EL AL to withdraw an internet advert which offered free Hertz rental to British passengers who flew to to Israel to show their “solidarity” with the country, The Independent has learnt.

A Hertz Corporation spokeswoman said it had not been aware of the promotion being run by EL AL and their Israeli franchise operator who trades under the Hertz brand. He added that the offer was designed, run and managed by EL AL.

“We regret if any individuals were offended by the language that EL AL used to promote this offer,” said Hertz’s spokesperson.

Full article: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/hertz-withdraws-from-israeli-airline-deal-1418248.html

WTF? Express solidarity, get free car hire

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 13 January, 2009

I don’t blog about my political thoughts, sentiments or allegiences. But this was too bizarre to overlook. Three panes from an animated column advertisement on an online frequent flyer forum, seen this afternoon.

01 02a 03a

Starting as I mean to go on

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 1 January, 2009

A handful of the short term jobs that I have never gone to the trouble of mentioning on my CV have involved night shifts. During one of my less enjoyable years at university, I worked from 22h00 – 06h00 in a petrol station in Sheffield. Then, shortly after graduation, an agency found for me by the Job Centre placed me with a specialist firm that oversaw the opening of new supermarkets. I worked an entire week of night shifts placing Waitrose merchandise on the shelves of a newly refurbished supermarket acquired from the defunct Safeway. This was done so that regular employees could go in on their first day as a Waitrose ‘partner’ and know how the place should look. You may not agree with me on this one, but I don’t believe that any job I have ever had has provided such simple job satisfaction as is found when employed to go through a supermarket aisle lining price tags to products, and turning packages so that bar codes are not visible until the item is taken from the shelf.

Nocturnal employment seems cathartic to me, although the Waitrose job was less so since the bright lights of the supermarket burned twenty-four hours a day. That felt more like being in a huge television set (Supermarket Sweep perhaps). I am not crippled by insomnia, but I do not sleep as peacefully as I would like. As many as six or seven hours can easily be achieved, but once I am awake, it is very difficult to return to sleep, regardless of what time it is.

I have, in recent weeks, blamed Lumpy (one of two cats that cohabits with us) for waking me in the early hours by climbing onto my pillow and then my head – usually around five or six in the morning. I’ve come to realise, however, that she only climbs onto me when she knows that I’m awake and therefore liable to give her a cuddle, scratch or stroke.

This morning, on the first morning of 2009, I was awake before the last reveller had returned home. I was quite content with a modest (a.k.a. “credit crunch”) New Year’s Eve at home, especially since it brought home made pizza, supermarket own-brand “bierre de France” and a modern classic film (“the sky’s beginning to bruise, night must fall and we shall be forced to camp.”) With a reluctancy that is getting ever weaker, I was upright to hear the pips of the six o’clock news and to start the chemistry required by a new bread making machine. The instruction manual that accompanies this device advices me that with the time delay feature, I can wake up to fresh bread. There hardly seems any point, since I will most likely be up early enough to set the machine going myself.

I have, since moving to Glasgow, revisited my nocturnal self. With a daily routine that is establishing itself, so too is an internal rhythm over which I have no control. The strangest thoughts creep into my mind when I wake in the dark early hours, and they can be quite enough to destroy any hope of returning to sleep. If there is a new year’s resolution to be made (and I detest them usually) it is that I will not fight my unforgiving awakeness in the early hours. Making bread, writing letters or reading books will substitute for tossing and turning. I hope.

Must be good with children

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 18 December, 2008

There’s quite a queue down at the Job Centre when I make my fortnightly visits. With any luck someone with a bit more of a paunch will find this advert (produced by the touch screen job point) just in time for Christmas. Nice to see that pension contributions are included, but I always thought this fella had already been working long past the national retirement age…