Finally a week’s holiday arrives at school, with parents’ evening bringing a long day at the end of a long week closing out an interminable half term.

Yet the busyness was actually a boon, and we seemed to end for the break all feeling a positivity at odds with the stresses of the preceding days. Time can seem to go quicker when it’s packed with tasks. On top of the inspection that took up three days, I had the good fortune to be able to participate in some Continuing Professional Development (CPD): two days of training on mental health and well-being issues facing children and young people, alongside intervention strategies.

The training provided some personal insights as well, with several useful reminders of processes, situations and responses from my past that seemed directly relevant now. It was a week in which I found myself having a fair few mirror conversations about drink, anxiety, motivation. Taking private moments to talk through feelings and frustrations, signs and symptoms.

Had a good word with myself today, the executive washroom summary of which is that I am feeling resolute.

Resolute in the face of a familiar triad of exhaustion, release, and relief, all of which had by the end of the day nudged forward an oasis mirage of a refreshing trio of beers. I was in the washroom taking a few minutes out from talking through exam grades and chances and personalised targets. I was thinking about beers. Beers that would probably have acted as a prelude to a continuance of drinking, lasting probably all weekend and – given the onset of half term – probably into the middle of the next week.

It would not have been hard partying but, if past practice is any guide, a determined slow chug from each mid-afternoon and on. For days. Each new day an accumulation reinforcing an old and tested pattern.

Dear reader, it is the pattern this set of writings is intended to chart! A pattern I have resolved to explore, trace out, colour in…

Reflecting on this resolution, the urge to give in, to allow myself that reward, to get home, kick back, have just a few and then applaud some kind of strength in so doing… was easier to overcome. Yes, I damn well amn’t, I thought, washing hands and inspecting my face. The beer bottles dissolved in the blast from the hand dryer.

Yet… I know the booze is just one of a number of factors here. Overcoming the sneery interior voice critiquing this positive affirmation as a tad self-congratulatory, a bit simplistic, was on this occasion a matter of pistol fingers and a silly face before leaving the washroom. But it was interesting to hear that tone make a slight return.

Pew-pew-pew!

Shit, they might have got away.

With some sort of family meal being a feature of Sundays, the presence of a bottle of some description to accompany the food on the table has always seemed to add a certain civilised something.

Depending on the season, or the point in the drinking calendar, it might be something as basic as a bottle of beer, or cider. Really, though, that kind of ‘sensible’ drinking does not happen.

If it’s been a “long weekend” (see Thursdays), then a couple of beers might be considered essential maintenance, coasting towards Monday off because work, but needing the smoothing off of the edges.

If an especially special occasion – this being any one of a rolling sequence of arbitrary  justifications – it’d be a couple of beers for starters, plus wine. Stopping off at the garage on the way home to get supplies, even after deciding not to. Perhaps because of that. The starters might for variety be any leftover gins, or the pre-mixed cans of G&T as mentioned in previous posts. Maybe cava if it’s someone’s birthday.

Wine: generally red, generally two bottles, because one would get opened during food prep and then finished over food. A second bottle, depending on what time this was all happening, would likely as not be supplemented later, with a wander back up to the garage for more wine. The supermarkets may close at 4pm on a Sunday, but the Tesco garage is open until midnight, and sells drink.

As I type out this Sunday litany, it’s an odd mix of feelings. I mean, I am not horrified, amused, proud, ashamed… Maybe a cocktail of all those things, but putting it down on the page, it just kind of… is.

Well, was. I sat down to write this after a busy day doing things – work, family, leisure – and it honestly hadn’t occurred to me. The urge is still in abeyance, meaning the urge to have anything at all, never mind set off determinedly, after a bottle and a half of wine and several beers, to get more.

Yet abeyance means a pause, a temporary cessation, and I am aware of this, as I enjoy a surge of energy and enthusiasm. I am aware that the same strength and determination was behind that unavoidable swerve into the garage forecourt, an impulse equally thrilling, equally compelling.

It comes and goes. It’s in there, possible.

(Standard English version below…)

aɪ seɪəʊld bɔɪˈʤɒli gʊd ʃəʊwɒt

ˈtraɪɪŋ tuː ˈkæpʧər ˈækjʊrɪtli ðə weɪ ˈpiːpl spiːk ɪz frɔːt wɪð ˈɛrə. təˈdeɪz pəʊst ɪz ɔːl əˈbaʊt aɪ-piː-eɪbaɪ wɪʧ aɪ miːn ə səˈluːt tuː ði ˌɪntə(ː)ˈnæʃənl fəʊˈnɛtɪk ˈælfəbɪt ˈrɑːðə ðæn ˈɪndɪə peɪl eɪlðə dɪˈlɪʃəsˈhɒpɪ vəˈraɪəti ɒvbɪəðɪs ʧɔɪs ɪz ˈprɒbəbli ɪnˈtaɪəli ˈgɪmɪkɪbʌt ɪn ˈrɑːðə ðə seɪm weɪ æz ðə dəʊnt dɪkˈteɪt pəʊst ɒn trænsˈkrɪpʃən tuːlz, wɒt ˈstɑːtɪd æz ə bɪt ɒv ə ʤəʊk fɔː maɪˈsɛlf tɜːnd ˈɪntuː ə ˈfæsɪneɪtɪŋ ˈprəʊsɛs æt liːst æz ˈɪntrɪstɪŋ æz ði ˈækʧʊəl ˈfɪnɪʃtˈdɒkjʊmənt.

aɪ-piː-eɪ ɪz juːzd tuː ˈɪndɪkeɪt pronounciation, ænd aɪ hæv lɛft ðæt dɪˈlɪbərət ˈɔːdɪˌəʊ gæg typo ɪn tuː ʃəʊ haʊ ðə ˈsɒftweə ˈbiːɪŋjuːzd (https://tophonetics.kɒm/) kəʊpt wɪð ˈlɪtl ˈvɜːbəl tɪks pʊt ɪn baɪ ə ˈwɪmzɪkəl ˈtaɪpɪst. “prəˌnaʊnsɪˈeɪʃən” ɪz wʌn ɒv maɪˈfeɪvərɪt nɒt-ə-wɜːd wɜːdz, əˈlɒŋ wɪð “ˌɪrɪˈgɑːdləs”, frɒm wɪʧ kʌmz ðæt dɑːft wɜːd ɪn ðə ˈtaɪtl ɒv ðɪs pəʊst.

æz juː kæn siː, tophonetics – tuː ɪts greɪt ˈkrɛdɪt – ʤʌst liːvz wɜːdz ðæt duː nɒt ɪgˈzɪst æz ðeɪ ɑː taɪpt. aɪ dɪˈlaɪtɪd ɪn ðə ˈnəʊʃən ɒv əˈsʌmwɒt ˈsnɪfi kəmˈpjuːtər rɪsˈpɒns. “deɪv, jʊə ʤʌst ˈbiːɪŋ ˈsɪli, naʊ, ɑːnt juː?” tuː gɛt ðə wɜːd aɪ ˈwɒntɪd, aɪ hæd tuː raɪtɪn “prəˌnʌnsɪˈeɪʃən” ænd ðɛn “naʊ” tuː gɛt ðə raɪt ˌkɒmbɪˈneɪʃən ɒv ˈvaʊəl saʊndz. ðə wɜːd “typo” wɒz ˈklɪəli ən ˈɪʃuː æzwɛl, səʊ aɪ juːzd “taɪp əʊ”. siː, ˈɔːlsəʊ, maɪ prəˌnʌnsɪˈeɪʃən ɒv “ˈtrɒlɪŋ” laɪk “ˈdɒl-ɪŋ”, nɒt “ˈbəʊlɪŋ”, ɪn ə ˈpærəgrɑːf ɔː səʊ.

əʊ! haʊ wiː larfed! (ænd naʊ aɪ æm ɪˈmæʤɪnɪŋ ə ˈslaɪtli ʌpˈtaɪtnɒt-ˈgɛtɪŋ-ɪt kəmˈpjuːtə təʊn ˈkriːpɪŋ ɪn: “ɑːjɛsðə juːz ɒv ə ˈkɒkni ˈfəʊniːm ˈɪndɪkeɪtsˈhjuːmə.” pɜːˌsɒnɪfɪˈkeɪʃənfɔː miːɪz pəˈhæps ðə ˈgreɪtɪst ɒv ɔːl ˈɪfiˈkeɪʃənz.)

haʊ dɪd ɪt kʌm tuː ðɪs? ə grəʊn ˈpɜːsn, ˈtrɒlɪŋ kəmˈpjuːtə ˈsɒftweə wɪð lɪŋˈgwɪstɪk ɪn-ʤəʊks. ˈjuːzɪŋ tɛkˈnɒləʤi tuː rɪf ænd teɪk ðə pɪs. ɪn ə breɪv njuː wɜːld ɒv eɪ-aɪ / məˈʃiːn ɪnˈtɛlɪʤəns, pəˈhæps ðæt ɪz ðə bɛst wiː kæn həʊp fɔːr .

ˈsɒrihællʊks laɪk juː gɒt ðæt rɒŋ əˈgɛn!” 

deɪvjʊər ə pjʊə ˈbæstədsəʊ juː ɑː.” 

naʊˈmeɪkɪŋ məˈʃiːn ɪnˈtɛlɪʤəns kəʊp wɪð rɪˈsiːvd prəˌnʌnsɪˈeɪʃən bæk-trænsˈleɪʃənz ɒv glæzˈwiːʤən ˈɪdɪəmz… 

wɒt kʊd ˈpɒsəbli gəʊ rɒŋ?

My Lachrymoid 3000 plug-in has been activated, Dave, I hope you are happy now.

maɪ ˈlækrɪmɔɪd 3000 plʌg-ɪn hæz biːn ˈæktɪveɪtɪd, deɪv, aɪ həʊp juː ɑː ˈhæpi naʊ.

 

I say, old boy! Jolly good show, what?

Trying to capture accurately the way people speak is fraught with error. Today’s post is all about IPA, by which I mean a salute to the International Phonetic Alphabet rather than India Pale Ale, the delicious, hoppy variety of beer. This choice is probably entirely gimmicky, but, in rather the same way as the Don’t Dictate post on transcription tools, what started as a bit of a joke for myself turned into a fascinating process at least as interesting as the actual finished document.

IPA is used to indicate pronounciation, and I have left that deliberate audio gag typo in to show how the software being used (https://tophonetics.com/) coped with little verbal tics put in by a whimsical typist. “Pronounciation” is one of my favourite not-a-word words, along with “irregardless”, from which comes that daft word in the title of this post.

As you can see, tophonetics – to its great credit – just leaves words that DO NOT EXIST as they are typed. I delighted in the notion of a somewhat sniffy computer response. “Dave, you’re just being silly, now, aren’t you?” To get the word I wanted, I had to write in “pronunciation” and then “now” to get the right combination of vowel sounds. The word “typo” was clearly an issue as well, so I used “type oh”. See, also, my pronunciation of “trolling” like “doll-ing”, not “bowling”, in a paragraph or so.

Oh! How we larfed! (And now I am imagining a slightly uptight, not-getting-it computer tone creeping in: “Ah, yes: The use of a Cockney phoneme indicates humour.” Personification, for me, is perhaps the greatest of all ifications.)

How did it come to this? A grown person, trolling computer software with linguistic in-jokes. Using technology to riff, and take the piss.

Perhaps that is the best we can hope for in a brave new world of AI/machine intelligence.

“Sorry, HAL! Looks like you got that wrong again!”

“Dave, you’re a pure bastard, so you are.”

Now, making machine intelligence cope with received pronunciation back-translations of Glaswegian idioms…

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

 

One of the many positive aspects associated with my new job is the commute. I spent five years approaching the same spot in the centre of London (Fetter Lane, just off Fleet Street) from different boroughs, using different tube and bus lines and cycling combis, and can’t say I ever really enjoyed it, a year and a bit of giggling on the District Line with J aside. All things considered, a 20-minute drive through Yorkshire is quite an improvement.

(This is all relative to ‘not having to commute at all’, of course, but we’ll gloss on over that, as well as the fact that the A1079 is not the winding up and down glee suggested in the opening credits of ‘All Creatures Great And Small’ but a frustrating not enough dual carriageway split into speed-restricted sections to avoid the massive pile-ups when cars stop to take sharp rights down Storking Lane to Fangfoss or whatever. Without wishing to get all Jeremy Clarkson about it, there can be too much prescription. In the last few days I seem to keep getting stuck behind the driver who has misinterpreted the national speed limit on A roads (60mph) as being ‘about 48mph’, which makes sense seeing as they think ’40mph’ means ’32mph’, and given that they just left a 40mph zone and there’s a 50mph zone coming up in 100 yards and 48 is the mean of these… My apologies to Europeans for the imperial measurements, and mathematicians for a possibly erroneous use of ‘mean’ and the other numeracy issues.)

Among the great thingery of this commute is the actually having to have a car, something it has taken me 19 years of being able to drive to arrive at. Even then I swithered. One doesn’t need a car in central London, where we was, not really. York is pretty notorious for the snarl-ups on its inner ring road. If school were nearer, in the same city, I’d get the bus, or walk. However, for where I work, walking would be a step too far. A bus ride would mean being up, out of the house and on the bus at 06.37 to get to work for 7.10 (simply, no), or getting to work at 08.45 (a capital ‘L’, underlined three times, in the register). There is no train – up yours, Dr Beeching! – so car it is.

The car is not just a necessary evil for commuting, of course. A comment J and I have made frequently in the short while since we got it is the classic new car owner observation that while it was not something we had particularly missed having previously, now we’ve got it… why, its a whole new world! A hundred thousand things to see. Etc.

Brimham Rocks, for example

Another great thing about the vehicle is the capacity to listen to CDs, which never seemed to get played in the house any more. Last year, or jings, it might have been the year before, anyway, recentlyish, some friends and I did a compilation club, where themed CDs were lovingly put together, covers made, distribution to contributors, lovely lovely lovely. I’ve been enjoying those immensely, driving along at 44mph, periodically flicking on the wipers and generally mulling whatever morning mull issues, to a diverse and occasionally deranged set of sets.

Today I re-found a completely classic City Slang promo compilation, a freebie picked up in a record shop in 1995. I’ll scan the cover, which has the band names transliterated into Cyrillic. This reminds me of being about 11 and making a sign for my bedroom door reading ‘No entry!’ in six languages, including a heroic and entirely nonsensical HO EиTPY. The sign must have lasted at least five minutes ’til my dad took it down for my cheek, as well as the inaccurate Russian. I think I’d just seen a documentary about Berlin or something.

Anyway, this CD was a great drive home tonight, so hurrah for City Slang. In the spirit of sharing, and there only being seven tracks, here is that 50 Years City Slang Tuesday night play list for your edification and entertainment:

Built to Spill – Reasons

I think always preferred the track ‘Girl’, and ‘Car’ would of course be appropriate, but this is good Spillage,, with a single still image ‘video’ that just made me start giggling.

Superchunk – Hyper Enough

YASSSSS! Su-per-chunk! Su-per-chunk!

Seam – Tuff Luck

It’s not much of a vid on the ViewTube, a mellow tune though, which does call to mind slippers and sheep, now I come to think of it.

Guided by Voices – Motor Away

QUADRUPLE YASSSS! One of my actual all time top ten desert island back of neck tingling life changers. A nice video tribute here too.

Freakwater – White Rose

Simply cannot find this anywhere, so here’s ‘Drunk Friend’ instead. Let me know if there’s a vid I’ve missed…

Lambchop – The man who loved beer

Drily heart-breaking sentiments, only to be improved by getting full of beer.

Tortoise – Along the banks of rivers

A lovely tune to close. Particularly effective at 44mph with the windscreen wipers on, evening sun trying to get out over recently-ploughed fields, seagulls rising and falling.

Ladies and gentlemen: цитъi cланг!