Leaving Liverpool's famous Lime Street station this evening, we were welcomed aboard the train with the announcement that we'd be "stopping at such exotic locations as Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Piccadilly, Dewsbury and Leeds". I would've said it was a good example of Scouse humour but the accent was wrong.
Today was my mother's 87th birthday so there was a bit of a family gathering in her flat. Initially to the sound of hundreds of motor-bikes on their seasonal run to deliver Easter eggs to the patients of a large hospital on the Wirral peninsula. I showed both my mother and my sister yesterday's foto of me standing in front of the house we lived in for seventeen years. Neither of them recognised it, though their guesses were rather interesting. In consolation, at least they recognised me.
Over lunch, I asked my mother about life in the 30s and conversation inevitably turned to the war. Talking about my uncle's time in the merchant navy in the Atlantic, she told us his ship had been torpedoed and he'd spent three days in a life-raft. This was bad enough, of course, but things had turned really nasty when one of his colleagues had been dragged off the raft by a shark. I admit to being sceptical about this but, on balance, have opted to believe it. If only because it would be a pretty sick story to make up - by my uncle, not my mother - and would cover no one with even a sliver of glory.
Finally . . . According to The Economist, a 78 character text in English would require only 24 characters in Chinese. Japanese, too, is concise. Romance languages, on the other hand, 'tend to be more verbose'. I'll say. Spanish heads their little league table, requiring 40% more characters than English. Followed in the rankings by Hungarian and Italian. Who'd have thought it?