Not So Kid Friendly

Gill returns to look at a topic we’ve covered before. This seems like a good example.

Have you ever been curious about the origins of those stories and rhymes we read, sang and chanted as children? They may leave you with nightmares. So from sleeping beauty being violated to some very racist songs, here are some childhood ruining things.

  1. The Sun, Moon, and Talia – Sleeping beauty in it’s more toned down form sees the prince kissing her awake after 100 years, but the original has a king who, taken by her beauty, violates her in her sleep. She only learns of the violation when one of her newborn twins sucks on her finger, breaking the curse.

  2. See Saw Margery Daw – I honestly don’t know much of this one, other than it basically details an impoverished family having to put their children into child labor and seems to be generally insulting to the poor, especially in the later verses.
  3. Pop goes the weasel – There are many different theories about where this song came from and what it means, one of which is that it tells the story of someone drinking away a family’s meager funds and having to sell his jacket.
  4. Turkey In The Straw – This one seems like a fun little ditty bluegrass bands would play to encourage square or round dancing at a barn dance and for the most part it is, but a version in 1916 was insulting to people of color stating “N word likes watermellon ha ha ha!” I know I will never look at this one the same way again.
  5. Ring Around The Rosie – If you went to nursery school or your parents had a book of nursery rhymes, that was probably a favorite. The truth is much darker and far less fun. It talks of the plague and a lack of germ knowledge, and at the end the death rights by a Catholic Priest.

    Note from Steve: I’ve heard this for years and had no reason not to believe it, but there are reasons to believe that it’s probably wrong.

  6. Here we go round the mulberry bush – Sounds like the recipe for good parents giving their youngsters instructions about how to do things. No such luck, it was actually a song prisoners in a British women’s prison sang to their children while in the exercise yard.

    Note from Steve: Or maybe it wasn’t. Nobody quite seems to know. Tracing things this old is hard sometimes, you guys.


  7. Jack And Jill – I don’t mean the one where they go up the hill with a buck and a quarter. I mean the mother goose version. Here are two possible versions of how it came to be. One involved two untrue spouses in early 17th century England who conceived an illegitimate child, while another later version talks about the French Revolution and the deaths of Louis the 16th and his wife.
  8. Peter Peter pumpkin eater- I thought little of this one as a child, but now in researching this it smacks more of Dateline or one of those crime scene shows. A theory is that Peter was fed up with his wife’s cheating ways and murdered her putting her remains in a pumpkin shell.

  9. The Blue Tale Fly – I, not fully understanding the meaning of it, had this particular ditty on a record when I was small. You know “Jimmy cracked corn and I don’t care?” Well, let’s just fast forward the clock thirty-five years when a grown me finds out the meaning. This is actually a mockery song performed by some white dudes in blackface pretending to be slaves in the pre-civil war southern US. In essence what it’s trying to convey is that sadistic master would have slave slap flies from him as he rode his horse, and one day master was knocked off his spooked horse and met his end. Oops.
  10. Peter Pan – Written by J. M. Barrie around the dawn of the 20th century, it talks of a boy who doesn’t age or grow up. My mother saw an incarnation on TV at her grandmother’s home in 1954, but what the Mary Martin classic left out was the fact that Peter saw Wendy as a mother figure, but Wendy had developed romantic feelings for him.
  11. Snow White – The 1937 Disney movie is a far cry from the original. In that version, the wicked queen successfully kills Snow by poisoning, and rather than a kiss the passing enchanted prince bargains with the dwarfs to let him take her body home. As the prince’s servants carry her coffin made of glass, they drop it, dislodging the apple from her throat and bringing her back to life. She then goes off to marry the prince and live happily ever after without even considering how weird it is that he tried to buy a dead body.
  12. Mary Mary quite contrary – It seems innocent enough. A poem filled with pretty things. But wait, I am about to ruin this for you. Mary is thought to be the devoutly Catholic queen of England, the garden talked about smacks more of a killing field, and the bells, shells, and maidens are all torture devices. A thumb screw, genital mutilator, and early beheading device.
  13. London Bridge – You probably played this with some friends or in a group with linked arms trying to trap people, but you may not want any youngster playing it now. One theory is that the song and actions refer to the tradition of sacrificing children by encasing them in structures to ensure their safety and stability. Yes, when you dropped your arms you didn’t know that you were symbolizing that, did you?
  14. Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your long hair – Where do I begin with this? Well, a witch kidnaps a young girl, locks her in a tower, a prince rides by, knocks her up, and she is banished. The prince is pushed from the tower, blinded, and forced to wander the desert. When he finds his beloved, her tears restore his sight.

  15. Goosey Goosey Gander – I was never read this one as a child, but in researching this it did come up. About 450 years ago in England there was a push to convert everyone from Catholicism to Protestantism, and Catholics were forced to take desperate measures to practice their faith. This meant hiding priests in priest holes. Catholics were referred to as Left Footers, but that’s not what it meant when it said “I grabbed him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.” The punishment was a gruesome form of death.

  16. Never Laugh when the hearse goes by – Often a little rhyme spoken at Halloween, this actually hearkens back to WW I and possibly even earlier. Its purpose is to remind children albeit in a gruesome way to respect the dead.

Questions

Do you know much of the dark or sordid origins of your favorite childhood song or rhyme? What was your favorite book as a child? Are there any cartoons, books, or movies from when you were a kid that probably would at the very least be frowned upon now?

Remember This Next Time You Forget Something You’ve Read

Steve sent me this article about why we forget most of the books we read, and said I might enjoy it. I jumped up and down!

Seriously, holy crap, this article explains all the things I’ve been noticing about myself and wondering if I’m having some kind of memory issue. I even asked the doctor about it, that’s how worried I had been. The doctor chuckled and, as gently as possible, said “I don’t believe we have a test sensitive enough to detect an issue.” I am known for my good memory, but I’m noticing that it is leaky. If I read lots of tweets or Facebook posts, I will forget them not long after I have read them. I noticed this years ago and called it “Twitter brain”. I will laugh uproariously at something, and not 30 seconds later when Steve asks me what I was laughing at, I can’t remember and have to go back and check. I thought maybe it was just the speed at which I’m reading things, and I guess I was right. But then I noticed I couldn’t memorize phone numbers as easily. When Brad got his new phone and I was trying to help input his contacts, I noticed I couldn’t just commit seven-digit strings of numbers to memory. I blamed technology for letting me get lazy. That may be true, but at least there’s a reason for it. Finally I noticed that I was completely forgetting that I wrote certain posts. Sometimes, I have to check to see if I actually wrote it, and then, on posts written in the old Blogger days, I have to go back to that copy of the blog to see if one of us accidentally misattributed it during the transfer. There are so many posts that I have no memory of, and reading them is like reading them for the first time, and that freaks me right the hell out.

This whole loss of ability to remember things reminds me of an old “Outer Limits” episode about our minds being directly connected to the internet.

Maybe they were on to something.

I have been thinking about what I should do when I finish a book. I have actually thought about writing notes down, because there are so many things I take in that I think I will *never* forget, and then before I know it, I have forgotten them.

I love the idea of a book of books, or Bob. Audible is unintentionally building me a Bob, and when I look at each title, I do think of when I read it, and the events that were going on around it.

This article’s descriptions of so many things are exactly as I experience them. If this article were being read as part of a presentation, I would be sitting there nodding my head vigorously in response. I am so relieved that I am not losing it, and that all of this is completely normal.

This Sounds Like It Bites…But Cesar Should Be Used To That

Steve sent me this article about Audible launching a service for dogs, and then sat back and waited for the response. It didn’t take long.

My first response was fascination. Could there actually be kinds of books a dog would like? We already had music, so could there be books? My hopes began to dwindle quickly when I realized a partnership with Cesar Millan was involved. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who aren’t Cesar Millan fans, and because of that, and watching his show, I don’t think too much of him.

Here’s another article on the same subject, which includes a description of what is going on in the video.

The dog in this video clip, named Holly, is a 2-year-old female Labrador Retriever. Holly appears to have moderate to severe food aggression or food resource guarding issues. This is a common behavioral problem with dogs (yes, even Labrador Retrievers) and there are standard behavioral training protocols used for treating it.
Please note, what you observe in this video are things that are not endorsed by dog behavior professionals (e.g., ACVB, IAABC, APDT and CCPDT). I do not recommend that you try the things that are found in this video as they are both dangerous and can exacerbate behavioral problems.
Let’s examine this video more critically.
The implied premise of most dog training television is that the dog’s issues will be remedied in one visit. Holly didn’t learn this behavior quickly nor is there a quick cure for most behavioral issues. Real and lasting animal behavior modification takes time and patience.
Note how Holly is eating her food with no issues at the beginning of the video. However, the cast and crew continue to move closer to her until she is forced to respond. It’s very important to note that this all occurs in a fairly small backyard with limited escape routes for the dog. Forcing oneself into a dog’s space like this is a recipe for aggression.
In my opinion, the dog appears to be deliberately taunted for the cameras. Continually confronting Holly, who is obviously stressed, is going to dramatically increase the probability of aggression. Shortly into the video we find that it’s no longer about food aggression any longer. Holly is obviously feeling threatened and is sending out multiple signals that she wants this to stop (e.g., she lies down). But they persist.
Remember that there are cameras and crew standing behind and to the side of Holly as this unfolds. This adds an additional level of stress to the dog.
I have no idea what Cesar Millan’s intentions are as he starts posturing as if he is going to attack Holly with Kung Fu. I sadly believe this is another attempt by the show to add some mystery and drama for the cameras.
I object to the silly pseudo-science used in this episode. What does “brain got stuck” mean?
And when Holly can’t deal with things any longer, she bites. It’s really hard to believe that anyone would put his or her hand on Holly’s muzzle after everything she has just been through. She is then kicked which may have actually extended the length of the bite (in the full length version of this episode you see the dog hit in the neck prior to the bite). After the bite, you hear Cesar Millan say, “I didn’t see that coming.” Would you have put your hand in Holly’s face? I wouldn’t have either.
Near the end of the video note how Holly’s jaw appears to chatter. This is an extreme indicator of anxiety for dogs – one that you rarely see. This dog is very afraid. I’m surprised she hasn’t aggressed more than what we see on the video considering all that she has just been through.
In the full episode, the off-camera commentary talks about Holly’s aggression getting worse after the episode was shot. I am not the least bit surprised by this information.

I am so glad he said the whole pseudoscience bit because whenever I watch the show, I can’t figure out what the hell he’s on about, but I always assumed I was missing some major visual piece of information. But what I can’t stand is the way the clients act as if he makes perfect sense and they worship him. This guy makes me squirm.

Anyway, back to Audible for Dogs because that’s what started this whole thing. There is nothing special about this service, which you would have to pay for.

Dog owners can play Cesar Millan’s new Guide to Audiobooks for Dogs—which is both written and narrated by Millan—for initiation purposes, along with a curated rotating selection of dog-focused audiobook titles including Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, performed by Trevor Noah; Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, performed by Rosamund Pike; and W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose, performed by William Dufris. Each title features a special video introduction by Millan, in which he explains why the book is suited for doggy ears. (Pro tip: According to Audible’s research, dogs prefer narrators of the same gender as their primary owners, and books played at normal volume on an in-home listening device.)

So, there is nothing special about these books that is actually suited for dogs. They have stories about dogs in them, I read the Trevor Noah one and it only had one dog story I can think of, and if you’re smart, you’ll pick narrators that sound like you, and that’s about as far as it goes.

At that point, why not save yourself the money, record yourself reading a story, put it on a loop and be done with it?

People really are dumb.

An Update On The Other Nephews

So, I posted a pretty big description of the one mephew in the holiday wrap-up. I went to see the two other ones about a month ago, and have been wanting to write things down ever since. Soon I’m going to have to come up with nicknames for these little grabbers so everyone can tell them apart.

I talked about the other nephew chucking stuff and then, thanks to me, going “oops!” Well, my sister’s little guy does things in reverse. Before he throws something, he says something that sounds like “Sukie jukie!” The sukie part sounds like sushi, and the jukie part sounds like Jupitor. Yes, he made up his own code word for “I’m going to chuck this!” We have no idea where he got it from. He doesn’t go to daycare yet, so it’s not from there. But it definitely means “get ready, this is so going airborn.” Sometimes, when he knows he shouldn’t throw something, he gets this mischievous grin on his face while he’s saying it. There’s a whole logic to it, because when Tans was eating and some food flew over the edge of the dish, he said “Sukie Doggie!” Which I think meant “That dog is throwing her food around!”

He has been a little slower to walk, mostly because he’s a very caughtious little guy. But when I saw him last, he was grabbing our fingers and going “Walk!” and walking around with us. At one point, he even grabbed my finger when I was with Tansy and got me to walk with him. Maybe, just maybe, Tansy is getting less scary to him.

He is really trying to speak, and it’s adorable. He points at anything he wants to have more of, and says “Open!” Either that, or he makes the sign for “more.” His favourite number is 2, and I don’t think he quite knows what it means, but most times, 2 is the right answer. “How many eyes do I have?” “2!” And how many ears do I have?” “2!” “And how many noses do I have?” “2!'” Um, uh-oh.

Most of us have funny names. I am “Carrot” to him. That makes sense. My mom is “Nanna.” That makes sense. My brother gets referred to as “Holy Moly” which makes sense if you know that the last time he saw him, he said “Holy moly!” to him a lot. But for reasons we don’t know, He calls my dad “Ducky!” He knows that the rest of us, when talking to him about my dad, call him Grandpa,” but he is “Ducky!” We will even say “Where is Grandpa?” and he will point at him and say “Ducky!” The things kids will come up with.

He is really listening, and to more than just the words we say directly to him. When we went to see him, my parents and I stayed in a hotel room so we wouldn’t be crashing at either my brother’s or sister’s place. After we left, my sister said that she heard him saying “Nana, Ducky, Carrot, hotel.” again and again. Yup, the boy is a sponge.

I knew that he loved to sing and dance, but we got to watch him do it, while I learned that I know precious little about the songs that play on “Thomas the Tank Engine.” He had this little book that had the words to the songs, with buttons that would play the various tunes. I don’t know how some of the songs worked at all. The words didn’t seem to fit into the melodies! But my mom started getting into one of the songs, and he responded. Next thing we knew, he was sort of singing along and wiggling back and forth in time to the music. I think we sang those songs for a good 45 minutes. My sister called it the song circle.

The older nephew, the one that’s almost 3, believe it or not, is full of crazy energy. It was hard to get him to sit down and eat his friggin dinner! If you let him, he would eat on the move!

Steve found out about this series of books by Chris Ferrie that are all about scientific concepts for babies. We both agreed that that was meant for my brother to read to this little guy. So, I went a little nuts and bought him 3 books from the series: one about quantum physics, one about Newtonian physics, and one about rocket science. Apparently, so far, the quantum physics one has been a hit! My brother says he gets asked to read it again and again and again. He even sent me a recording of him reading it, and the little guy getting all into it. He really loves “the green guys!” Those would be the electrons, apparently.

It’s funny to watch him play with the toys intended for my sister’s kid who is about a year and a half. Even though he’s much older, he can still find them fun to play with.

And now, for the biggest news. On Tuesday, I got another nephew. The little guy who is all into Quantum Physics has a little brother. I really have to come up with nicknames for the nephews or this is going to get super confusing and hard to follow. I don’t think the older one knows what the heck all of this means, even though we’ve been trying to prepare him by reading books about little brothers and little sisters and all that stuff. I thought it was funny that when they got out the smaller baby seat, the little guy tried to climb into it. No, you’re too big for that now. He must have been wondering if he got to choose which seat he should ride in.

You can tell he sort of gets what’s going on, because when he was at daycare, he started running around going “I’m a big brother!” along with his best buddy who also recently became a big brother. Man, he’s adorable.

I think that’s about it. The next time I will have updates, there will be a new little baby to write about.

I Don’t Read Books, I Devour Them!

Quick note: I’ve updated the section about Audible Canada.

Between last Christmas and my birthday, Steve created a monster; a book-devouring monster. Here’s how.

First, he bought me Aftershokz Bluez2S headphones. Those things, although not perfect, are pretty cool. I can walk around, still hear, and listen to stuff from my phone. This made me realize just how much time I spend on the bus and walking that I could be listening to things.

Then, for my birthday, he bought me a 3-month subscription to Audible.com and the monster was born.

Man, they have a lot of books on there, and they tell you right away if they are abridged or not. Yea, no more of the rip-off scenario of buying abridged books. And they have some very very cool narrators. There’s only one narrator I wasn’t so fond of, but funnily enough, she read another book and I liked her better.
And the prices aren’t bad either! I remember when I would buy a book and it would cost me 30 or 40 bucks! I remember getting a massive Stephen King book and it was highway robbery…and that book was freaking dumb. That’s when it hurts to have to pay that much for a book.

With this, I pay a subscription every month, and with each plan, you get a certain number of credits which you can use on the books in the catalogue. I have never seen a book take more than one credit, and I just finished reading one that was 43 hours long. If you go over your credits, you can buy more, and each one is at a discount if you’re a member, so they’re pretty decent prices. And they have lots and lots and lots of sales where you can buy two books with one credit, or you can buy books for suuuuper cheap, and then they have the daily deals. So, there are lots of options. And you can download them to your phone or an MP3 player or whatever! No more sitting there listening to CD’s. I know, I’m late to the party.

First, I discovered that one credit a month was not a big enough subscription for me, because of that whole ability to listen on the move from my phone thing. So after I blew through the subscription Steve bought me, I got my own where I get 2 credits a month, with the ability to roll them over if you don’t use them all, and that’s worked well. Because of sales and this system, since February, I think I have read 32 books, and some of them were not small. I have read books about brain research, and old phone hackers, and people who sailed around the world alone, and people’s experience with mental illness, and weird sci-fi books, pretty much anything you can imagine. I discovered there are a lot of cracks in my day where I can put a book. Riding the bus? Turn on a book! Doing laundry? Brighten it up with a book! Grooming the dog or taking her for a pee? Put the book on! Getting on the rowing machine? Take in some book! It’s crazy how many opportunities there are to listen.


Then, I joined a book club. I have always wanted to, but I said “Who has the time to sit down and just take in a book?” Me, apparently, if I do it right.

And now, they’ve started Audible Canada, so if all goes well, I won’t have to worry about my subscription fee going through the stratosphere if the dollar tanks. I’m just trying to make triple quadruple sure that switching to Canada won’t shut me out of the American catalogue. I know I won’t lose the stuff in my library, but I don’t want to lose any potential that I already can access. The help says that in one teeny weeny spot, but I want to make sure I understand it.

I’m having a little trouble switching over, namely, the link referenced in their help doesn’t seem to show up on my homepage, but the good folks at Audible Canada are offering to help me.
Edit: The reason I can’t find the link to switch is my membership level isn’t supported yet on the Canada side…so switching would be a downgrade. They say they are thinking about it but not yet. Ok, I’ll stay where I am.

At any rate, Audible is a very cool way to take in books if time to sit down and read is in short supply. If you’re like me and haven’t already figured it out, give it a try!

Please Don’t Nuke Us, North Korea

I wanted to post this song when all the fire and fury stuff started, but then life got away from me. With North Korea doing more missile tests, Now is as good a time as any.

Get your lyrics right here.

I’m not dragging them over here, because they actually have links explaining context of some words, which I think is so much more awesome. They do have an advertisement thwacked right in the middle of the lyrics, so boy oh boy was it ever tempting to copy and paste. But I’ll be good.

This little paragraph caught me, which I hadn’t even considered, and made it that much funnier.

About “The North Korea Polka (Please Don’t Nuke Us)” 1 contributor
In a stupider version of the Cold War, two ill-tempered overtly sensitive world leaders with nuclear arsenals are spewing threats at one another. But one side loves accordions, so Last Week Tonight tries to appease North Korea by calling in America’s best in that instrument, Weird Al!

Yes! It’s true! North Korea does love their accordions! I just read My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons, and there were certainly lots of accordions mentioned in there.

Because I just read that book, I had lots of weird thoughts about that song beyond the expected “ha ha ha you’re funny and weird” that I would have had anyway. I actually wondered, if people in North Korea heard that song, if it would even make sense to them at all, and if it would do the exact opposite of appease them.

So, from what I understand of North Korea, they’re pretty cut off from the rest of the world. I know there are media-smuggling operations trying to make it less so, so not everyone is in the dark, but the fact that smuggling of media is necessary tells you the information isn’t exactly free-flowing. They have their state news, and everything is super controled. So, would they know what fidget-spinning is, or Tinder, or heck, would they get any of the slang in there?

And as for my thought that it would actually piss them off more, here’s why I say that. From what I read in the book, which I admit is the view that people in North Korea want foreign tourists to have, everyone talked about Americans as “American impirialists” who destroyed their country and culture. So, I can’t imagine having an American Impirialist stand up there and basically say “You guys are totally insignificant to us” having a very good result. I’m picturing two kids wrestling and the big one says “Is that all you can do?” What does the little kid do?

I know, I know, it was supposed to be funny, and I’m not saying I actually think it is the only diplomacy avenue being used, and it’s not like it’s getting blasted into North Korea or anything. I just thought it was interesting to look at it from another angle, an angle I wouldn’t have even considered had I not read that book.

I Had No Idea That All This Stuff Was On Spotify

I’m a big Spotify fan, though sometimes I don’t use it as much as I’d like. It’s already more than worth the subscription price based on the huge selection of music and comedy, but it just got a little better now that I’ve discovered that you can also use it to stream classic novels, short stories, poetry, basic language lessons, classic speeches, meditation exercises and coolest of all for me personally, old radio shows.

Before TV, there was radio drama, and it was glorious. Fortunately, a lot of old radio shows have been saved and are still available for your listening pleasure. You can listen to some sci-fi greats like George Orwell’s radio version of 1984, multiple volumes of the Twilight Zone radio show, and some of Isaac Asimov’s best radio works, like Hostess and Pebble In the Sky. You can also find some great mystery shows like Dragnet, and some vintage superhero stories from the likes of the Blue Beetle. If you’re looking to laugh, I personally recommend the Baby Snooks show.

I wonder how much of that stuff you’d have to listen to before it starts messing with your Discover Weekly or if whatever magic is responsible for features like that filters it out.

A Graphic But Interesting Look At Tommy John Surgery

When you’re a baseball fan, you hear the words Tommy John surgery thrown around a lot. In some ways, you know how major it is. You know about the sometimes years long recovery time and how the success or failure of it quite literally means the world to a pitcher. You’ve seen how some guys are never the same when they come back while others return better than ever. But rarely do you see one described in this kind of detail. It’s completely riveting and full of insight on how difficult an operation it can be, but seriously, don’t read it while you’re eating. Just don’t.

He didn’t want a piece of the dead guy holding his elbow together. That’s all he asked.
Todd Coffey had resigned himself to spending the next year learning how to throw a baseball again. He had accepted the mind-numbing rehabilitation process after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament, the two-inch elastic band that had prevented the upper and lower bones of his right arm from flying apart when he pitched. He simply couldn’t stomach the new ligament coming from someplace other than his own body. “I think about it as a used car that has 40,000 miles on it,” Coffey said. “You don’t know what the previous 40,000 miles were like. I don’t know what it’s been through.”
He had spent his entire adulthood in baseball. Got married, had kids, fought his way to the major leagues, made his first million and a few more, played the hero and the goat. Now his elbow had popped, and it was fix it or be done. He was used to binary outcomes after spending nearly half his life as a relief pitcher. Ball or strike. Win or loss. Save the game or blow it. He knew nothing else. He didn’t want to know anything else. And here he was, at 31, with that career, that life, at risk, and the doctor wanted to reconstruct his elbow with a dead man’s tissue because Coffey’s own body didn’t have any to spare.

Author Of To Kill A Mockingbird Dies

I know this happened last week, but I still wanted to mention it. Hey, at least it was only last week, not last month, or months ago.

So Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, has died. I think everyone should read that book. I can’t remember all the smaller points of the plot, but I remember being devastated when Tom Robinson was convicted, and then shot 17 times when trying to escape from prison. I remember thinking, “This isn’t the way I thought this story was going to go.” Then I thought “Well that was back in the 1930’s. Things are better now.” Oh how wrong I was, how very very wrong.

I thought a similar thing about the whole Arthur Radley plot. Sadly, I don’t think we’re much further on that front either. It’s just not as obvious as that character.

Poor Steve, when I found out he hadn’t read that book, I was in shock. I hope he finds it somewhere and reads it.

I haven’t read the other book she put out recently, but maybe I should find it. Hopefully she knows that even though it doesn’t seem like it, her book made an impact on those willing to listen.

Happy Civilised Saturday

So you’ve survived Black Friday, but your shopping is still not done. What to do? You could always buy things online like you should have done yesterday because it’s 2015 for Christ’s sake, or you could do whatever it is you do to work up your nerves and then head back out to the stores to try your luck again. But should you decide to brave option two, this time you might find that the atmosphere around the shops is quite a bit different, at least if you live in England and enjoy books.

Over 100 independent bookstores around the country have gotten together to stage what they’re calling Civilised Saturday, an experience completely different from that of Black Friday, an occasion which Alan Staton of the Booksellers Association says is “antithetical” to everything that booksellers stand for. Leave it to a book guy to use a fancy word like antithetical. Let’s get him, fellas! And grab his DVD player while you’re at it.

So what can you expect should you choose to venture out into this strange new world? Food, drink, books and maybe even a wacky competition or two, say organizers.

Civilised Saturday events and offerings will vary from shop to shop, as each has interpreted the theme differently. At Book-ish Bookshop in Crickhowell, customers can sip prosecco and compete in a posture competition, walking down the street with books balanced on their heads.

The Bookshop Kibworth in Leicester is offering a day of relaxation-by-reading. “We’re going to invite people in the shop to take a seat in our specially delivered green velvet armchair, and get them to explain to us what they’re looking for and how they’re feeling,” owner Debbie James told The Guardian. “Then we’ll go about plucking titles off the shelf to bring back for them to look at in the chair. They’ll also be given tea and cakes, and a complimentary hand massage.”
Visitors to the Edinburgh Bookshop can enjoy “genteel” snacks and beverages. At Burway Books, they’ll find mince pies, mulled wine, art, and singing. Wenlock Books in Shropshire is serving afternoon tea.

As please shop in our store gimmicks go, this one’s certainly creative, so points for that. And it’s hard not to get behind something that doesn’t make the human race look like ancient cave people but without the manners, so maybe this just might be worth supporting if you’re in the area.