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Tim Brookes and the Reader

Brits living in San Diego, I-5 commuters, thinking man's plumber, Dale Akiki memory wars

Mike Femenella:  “I just would like recognition for being good at something rather than just average." - Image by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.
Mike Femenella: “I just would like recognition for being good at something rather than just average."

Tim Brookes, born and raised in England, living in Vermont, founded Writers Without Borders and the Endangered Alphabets Project. Brookes has been an essayist for NPR. He wrote for the Reader in the 1990s and 2000s.

Stories Brookes wrote for the Reader:

  • A Ben and Jerry's ice cream cake comes to mind

  • I've been married three times. My first and third were both happy, and startlingly alike. Both took place within a few miles of each other, on the same stretch of shoreline on Lake Champlain in Vermont. Both took place in summer, both had wonderful food, live music, strange in-laws, good friends. My second wedding was unhappy in its own way. (June 1, 2006)
“Some of them are a little...daunted...by the name Daughters of the British Empire, and they come in expecting to see Miss Jean Brodie sitting there all stiff and starched.
  • The English ex-pats living in San Diego

  • Wendy Campana, an American who is engaged to an English resident of San Diego, says, laughing, “They avoid each other. They live in fear of running into someone whose accent they can’t stand." Or, as Russell Baker recently put it during one of his introductions to Masterpiece Theatre, “Every time an Englishman opens his mouth, another Englishman despises him.” (April 22, 1999)
  • Guitar: An American Life

  • Take the story about the guitarist who played one of the very first gigs to be broadcast over the radio and was promptly tracked down by his wife (and a patrolman on nearby traffic duty) and arrested for abandonment and failure to pay child support. How could he not have known that he was doing something so stupid? (June 2, 2005)
San Diego Union, Feb. 6, 1992. District Attorney Miller had a private meeting with Jack and Mary Goodall. Jack Goodall, in addition to being CEO of Foodmaker, Inc., the parent company of Jack In The Box, and part owner of the San Diego Padres, was a member of the Faith Chapel congregation.
  • The memory wars

  • The child was now saying that her father did it, and the grand jury was able to go back and prove absolutely, conclusively, that the father did not do it. Even so, Child Protective Services didn’t want to give the child back, and the DA refused to lift the court order forbidding contact with her father. They said, ‘Now she’s accused her father, and even if he didn’t do it before, he’ll do it now. He’s going to have all this rage...’ etc., etc. (Aug. 20, 1998)
Steve Garber fixing a slab. If a building is to be sold, the toilet, installed in 1988, must be replaced with a 1.6-gallon model and the faucet in the bathtub must be above the floodline of the bath to prevent “gray” water being siphoned back into the potable water supply.
  • Sledd In the canyon of envy

  • “That’s the party we threw for Hammer when he came out of jail. I raised money for donations for his legal fund.” Nemesis also played at the annual Hell’s Angels party back at the end of March 1997, Dino says. “One of the guys in the band thought he saw Peter Fonda there.” (Feb. 19, 1998)
  • A thinking man's plumber

  • Steve is under the frog’s ass at the bottom of the coal mine. This is where the phrase “blue-collar job” came from; it was always the working stiff who got stuck with the dirty job that required tough clothing of a color that wouldn’t show dirt. This is a profession of getting dirty, wet, smelly, and sweaty, of skinning knuckles against hardware. (June 26, 1997)
  • The freeway is nobody's home

  • We pass the merge, the infamous junction of I-5 and 805, and paradoxically the traffic slows down even heading south, where four lanes become eight, as we all change lanes and get our bearings. Suddenly only six other vehicles are in sight. “There’s a zone in here where you don’t ever want to go more than five miles an hour over the speed limit, from here down to Pacific Beach. If you see someone going really fast through here, you’ll often see them pulled over just past Sea World.” (Sept. 12, 1996)
Lynn Devine: “You want to feel as if you have someone who can rescue you."
  • Breathless

  • Six months later she started attending yoga and meditation classes at the Vogel Institute in San Diego. “Almost immediately I noticed a difference. I could stop an attack in the middle.” While arguing with her daughter, “I’m fighting for air, and she got really scared, and she’s freaking out, which helps (the asthmaj escalate even more. Right in the middle of it I was able to relax and change my breathing," (May 16, 1996)
  • San Diego cricketers in exile

  • Practice begins at 5:30 SDCC time (that is, about 5:50) on Wednesday evening. Having arrived in my cricket whites, determined to do things properly, I find that (a) the other players practice in shorts or sweats of all colors and (b) it’s distinctly nippy. It’s warmer than this in Vermont. It’s warmer than this in England, dammit. I haven’t brought my white cable-knit sweater, and I put on a grey sweatshirt, feeling vaguely illegitimate. (Sept. 14, 1995)
Nigel Calcutt is shortish, cherrycheeked, still oddly schoolboyish, from the Black Country of the English Midlands, home of Staffordshire pottery and Burton-on-Trent beers.
  • Grief is like carbon monoxide

  • To some of the Pentecostal groups, Geoff said, a major illness would be a sign not of simple bad luck, overwork, or God testing one’s faith, but of the activity of Satan. What’s more, other members of the congregation might see the cancer as a sign of sin. He quoted me John 9, in which the disciples ask if the man blind from birth is being punished for the sins of his parents. (May 25, 1995)
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Mike Femenella:  “I just would like recognition for being good at something rather than just average." - Image by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.
Mike Femenella: “I just would like recognition for being good at something rather than just average."

Tim Brookes, born and raised in England, living in Vermont, founded Writers Without Borders and the Endangered Alphabets Project. Brookes has been an essayist for NPR. He wrote for the Reader in the 1990s and 2000s.

Stories Brookes wrote for the Reader:

  • A Ben and Jerry's ice cream cake comes to mind

  • I've been married three times. My first and third were both happy, and startlingly alike. Both took place within a few miles of each other, on the same stretch of shoreline on Lake Champlain in Vermont. Both took place in summer, both had wonderful food, live music, strange in-laws, good friends. My second wedding was unhappy in its own way. (June 1, 2006)
“Some of them are a little...daunted...by the name Daughters of the British Empire, and they come in expecting to see Miss Jean Brodie sitting there all stiff and starched.
  • The English ex-pats living in San Diego

  • Wendy Campana, an American who is engaged to an English resident of San Diego, says, laughing, “They avoid each other. They live in fear of running into someone whose accent they can’t stand." Or, as Russell Baker recently put it during one of his introductions to Masterpiece Theatre, “Every time an Englishman opens his mouth, another Englishman despises him.” (April 22, 1999)
  • Guitar: An American Life

  • Take the story about the guitarist who played one of the very first gigs to be broadcast over the radio and was promptly tracked down by his wife (and a patrolman on nearby traffic duty) and arrested for abandonment and failure to pay child support. How could he not have known that he was doing something so stupid? (June 2, 2005)
San Diego Union, Feb. 6, 1992. District Attorney Miller had a private meeting with Jack and Mary Goodall. Jack Goodall, in addition to being CEO of Foodmaker, Inc., the parent company of Jack In The Box, and part owner of the San Diego Padres, was a member of the Faith Chapel congregation.
  • The memory wars

  • The child was now saying that her father did it, and the grand jury was able to go back and prove absolutely, conclusively, that the father did not do it. Even so, Child Protective Services didn’t want to give the child back, and the DA refused to lift the court order forbidding contact with her father. They said, ‘Now she’s accused her father, and even if he didn’t do it before, he’ll do it now. He’s going to have all this rage...’ etc., etc. (Aug. 20, 1998)
Steve Garber fixing a slab. If a building is to be sold, the toilet, installed in 1988, must be replaced with a 1.6-gallon model and the faucet in the bathtub must be above the floodline of the bath to prevent “gray” water being siphoned back into the potable water supply.
  • Sledd In the canyon of envy

  • “That’s the party we threw for Hammer when he came out of jail. I raised money for donations for his legal fund.” Nemesis also played at the annual Hell’s Angels party back at the end of March 1997, Dino says. “One of the guys in the band thought he saw Peter Fonda there.” (Feb. 19, 1998)
  • A thinking man's plumber

  • Steve is under the frog’s ass at the bottom of the coal mine. This is where the phrase “blue-collar job” came from; it was always the working stiff who got stuck with the dirty job that required tough clothing of a color that wouldn’t show dirt. This is a profession of getting dirty, wet, smelly, and sweaty, of skinning knuckles against hardware. (June 26, 1997)
  • The freeway is nobody's home

  • We pass the merge, the infamous junction of I-5 and 805, and paradoxically the traffic slows down even heading south, where four lanes become eight, as we all change lanes and get our bearings. Suddenly only six other vehicles are in sight. “There’s a zone in here where you don’t ever want to go more than five miles an hour over the speed limit, from here down to Pacific Beach. If you see someone going really fast through here, you’ll often see them pulled over just past Sea World.” (Sept. 12, 1996)
Lynn Devine: “You want to feel as if you have someone who can rescue you."
  • Breathless

  • Six months later she started attending yoga and meditation classes at the Vogel Institute in San Diego. “Almost immediately I noticed a difference. I could stop an attack in the middle.” While arguing with her daughter, “I’m fighting for air, and she got really scared, and she’s freaking out, which helps (the asthmaj escalate even more. Right in the middle of it I was able to relax and change my breathing," (May 16, 1996)
  • San Diego cricketers in exile

  • Practice begins at 5:30 SDCC time (that is, about 5:50) on Wednesday evening. Having arrived in my cricket whites, determined to do things properly, I find that (a) the other players practice in shorts or sweats of all colors and (b) it’s distinctly nippy. It’s warmer than this in Vermont. It’s warmer than this in England, dammit. I haven’t brought my white cable-knit sweater, and I put on a grey sweatshirt, feeling vaguely illegitimate. (Sept. 14, 1995)
Nigel Calcutt is shortish, cherrycheeked, still oddly schoolboyish, from the Black Country of the English Midlands, home of Staffordshire pottery and Burton-on-Trent beers.
  • Grief is like carbon monoxide

  • To some of the Pentecostal groups, Geoff said, a major illness would be a sign not of simple bad luck, overwork, or God testing one’s faith, but of the activity of Satan. What’s more, other members of the congregation might see the cancer as a sign of sin. He quoted me John 9, in which the disciples ask if the man blind from birth is being punished for the sins of his parents. (May 25, 1995)
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