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And then there was the ’80s, luvvie…

Here, then, is my contribution to the My First Post Revisited feature, as nominated by Luccia Gray from Rereading Jane Eyre.
It was in fact my fourth ever post and documents the first leg of a youthful theatrical group’s trip to the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival.

Down the time tunnel we go…

Diary of an Internet Nobody.(Archive)

Back when the 21st century was still just a suffix in the title of Sci-fi novels and documentaries about robots doing the hoovering for you, an intrepid band of teenage drama nerds embarked on a mission to self-finance a trip to the world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

This is their story.

At the start of the decade that sartorial taste forgot, I was at a comprehensive school in Sussex studying (ha!) for exams.
Most of the few high points of my school days revolved around various theatrical activities, both in and out of school. Half a dozen friends in the year above me – studying drama properly for O’ level – had formed a comic mime group. This is the style of mime that allows props, sound effects and basic narration, still preformed on a blank set in whiteface makeup.

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I had managed to blag myself a…

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Travel n Ravel post: Barging in…

Here’s another repurposed post that I’ve tweaked for Ian Cochrane and his eclectic travel blog. (see link below)

There’s nothing like a nice country pub when you want to relax and unwind, especially when you can meet interesting people, explore the local history and hear a few amusing stories whilst sampling the delicacies of the region.

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But whatever you do, make sure you know the geography of the area, otherwise you might find yourself…

Barging in.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Guest spots., Humour, Personal anecdote, Travel

 

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Travel n Ravel post: Sting in the tale…

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Following last week’s Travel n Ravel story from the lazy, hazy days of continental childhood camping trips, I thought I’d round off the theme with two more small tales of happy holiday high jinx by reposting another re-jigged post that many of you may have missed previously.

Today’s flashback concerns my dad’s expulsion of an invading army and the misadventures of teenage wine connoisseurs on walkabout, which includes another of Ho’s bespoke blog toons. I have called this one;

Sting in the tale.

I hope you enjoy it.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2015 in Guest spots., Ho., Humour, Personal anecdote, Travel

 

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Travel n Ravel post: In continent weather…

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For the second of my posts for Ian Cochrane and his Travel n Ravel blog, I have decided to use an old story that I published on Diary of an Internet Nobody when I first started writing, one that many of you probably haven’t seen before.

Now that I have (I hope) a little more skill at writing, I’ve tidied up some of the clunky prose and re-edited the rather long original into two separate posts, the first of which you can read at the link below, with part two to follow next week.

So as the summer holidays of 2015 drizzle to a somewhat disappointing end, let’s go back and relive an equally damp but far more exciting summer, spent battling the elements on the other side of the channel, or as I like to call it;

In continent weather.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in Guest spots., Humour, Personal anecdote, Travel

 

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Unraveling Travel n Ravel…

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As a blogger, I consider myself very fortunate, in that I’ve had the opportunity to work with or write about such a wide variety of other writers, artists, musicians and photographers, either by collaborating on the same project or by contributing some writing to a completely different blog.

Travel n Ravel is a new site from Australian blogger, writer, editor and seasoned traveller, Ian Cochrane, who I first met on the pages of Blogcatalog.com a couple of years ago.
It collects the work of bloggers from all walks of life and from all over the world, writing “most things even vaguely related to travel”, which makes for an eclectic mix of personal journals, travelogues and general musings with even the most tenuous links to the theme of travel (given the minimal amount of travelling I’ve done recently, I think I’ll be mostly included in that last category).
If you have learned anything about me during your perusal of my meandering ramblings, you’ll know that if nothing else, I like a challenge and find it difficult to say no to an invitation.

So when Ian invited me to contribute to his new platform, I jumped at the chance before I even thought about what I might write for him.

As I racked my brain over the weekend, it occurred to me that I didn’t necessarily have to write about me travelling somewhere, just travelling generally, at which point I had a flash of inspiration.
If our recent battle with the massed ranks of immigration officials and inept government visa departments wouldn’t come loosely under the “travel” heading, then I don’t know what would.

So it is my pleasure to present to you a link to my very first (official) contribution to the world of travel writing, ladies and gentlemen;

The Day America Came To Me.

 

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Photo Sans Frontiers Showcase: Créma Alma…

I have to say, I’m delighted at how my Facebook photography page is growing into an international collective of photo enthusiasts and today I’d like to introduce you to one of its newest members.

image Créma Alma lives in Casablanca and her photos beautifully capture the exotic atmosphere that name conjures up.
From stunning landscapes and scenes of everyday life, to ancient architecture and colourful geometric patterns on traditional pottery, her pictures really evoke the blazing sunshine and fragrant Arabian nights of Morocco.

And of all the photography groups, on all the websites, in all the world, she walked into mine.
(Oh come on, you didn’t think I’d be able to resist that did you…?)

Ladies and gentlemen, the photography of Créma Alma.

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Picture this. A winter walk…

After the hailstorm we had last night, it was nice to see the watery winter sun trying to poke it’s feeble fingers through the clouds this morning. Perfect weather for a Sunday lunchtime walk.
I’ve joined various photography groups on Facebook in the last couple of weeks and, having plundered my gallery for introductory shots, I thought I’d better get some new material to post (but not before I post them here, obviously) so I took my trusty phone for a stroll along the riverbank and fields around Rock Park to see what I could see.

The lowering grey overcast was different from the usual backdrop of blue sky and fluffy clouds in my photos, giving the light an interesting tone which nicely evokes the season.

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One of the camera groups I’ve joined has bridges as a theme this week but despite the fact that one of my favourites, the old iron railway bridge is in the park, I thought I’d include pictures of the other two on this stretch of river for a change; the current rail bridge and the large concrete road bridge, both crossing the River Taw.

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Following the trails and footpaths around the park, through tunnels of trees and along the banks of the river, the bracing wind certainly blew away the Sunday cobwebs.

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I look forward to watching the countryside come back to life, it’s always fascinating to see what new images each season brings…

 
 

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Picture this. A break in Somerset…

Having taken a break from work for a few days, I thought I’d get away and visit somewhere I’d not really been before, the area round Bristol in Somerset.

I stayed on a very peaceful holiday park in Clevedon, complete with fishing lake to stroll around and a total lack of screaming children for company.

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As is my habit when I’m away, I went on a couple of excursions to take photos, first visiting the seaside town of Clevedon itself, with the “only fully intact, grade one listed pier in England”, built in 1869 and still in immaculate condition.

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A walk along the pier offers beautiful views of the Bristol channel, the entry toll house is imposing in its grandeur and the very structure of the elegant pier itself provides a wonderful counterpoint to the dusky sky when the lamps are lit in the evening…

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…and I saw this lovely tiled Victorian water fountain on the wall opposite the entrance.

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Another place I took a look at was the Lake Grounds in Portishead which, all in all, has a very pleasant, very English summer holiday feel to the area. Ducks and swans on the boating lake, blustery wind in my face and striking red rock formations, reminding me of the ploughed red earth of the Devon countryside.

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Further up the coast I discovered the Windmill Inn, a pub with not only a good selection of ciders, but gorgeous views from the terraced gardens of the Welsh coast and the rapidly scudding clouds and choppy waters of the Bristol channel.

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After a relaxing drink and a leisurely drive back towards my temporary home from home, I couldn’t resist stopping off at the particularly photogenic Church of All Saints in the Parish of East Clevedon, nestling in the lee of a wooded valley and looking like something trapped forever in the permanent dappled glow of an English summer afternoon.

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I carefully picked my way among the headstones…

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…until I came upon a resident who didn’t look like they appreciated my trespassing on their sunbathing spot..

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So I took this as my cue to leave for home, taking one last look as I walked back to the car…

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…and arriving in time to snap yet another glorious sunset over my holiday retreat.

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Thanks for joining me on my tour of this tiny corner of Somerset, I hope you enjoyed it.
I’ll leave you with a rather appropriate musical sign-off

Until next time…

 

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Two years, Pooh sticks and park life…

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY said the WordPress notification I received last week, surprising me with the realisation that Diary of an Internet Nobody has now been ranting and musing its way across the blogosphere for two whole years.

My initial reaction however – one of surprise that I’d been writing for so long, (since I only think of myself as a beginner, still getting to grips with the discipline, so to speak) – faded, as it occurred to me that writing stuff down feels so natural now, that I can’t really conceive of not always having done it.
Although you only have to read that last sentence; well look at it, hyphens, italics, parentheses, mangled tenses, commas all over the place, to see that I still have some work to do in the rambling tangent department.

Only the other day I was reading a post on Being Ron about how many bloggers change the look and feel of their blogs on a more or less regular basis, and that Ron liked to give his blog a makeover occasionally to keep it fresh.
This is something that I’d never considered before, having settled on the desk diary-themed look (because, well, it was obvious) after stumbling upon it when looking for something to replace the very dark, red-on-black theme I began with, and now I can’t bring myself to abandon it.

Do these things really matter to you, my lovely, intelligent, extremely talented and good looking readers?
Do any of you actually click on that e-mail notification, thinking; “Oh dear god, if I have to read another witty and erudite article, surrounded by that faux-leather and digital stitching, I’m going to leave a pithy comment” ?
Your feedback is, as ever welcomed and appreciated…

During my recent brief sabbatical from the blog, I visited family and friends in Sussex, where I managed to fit in; my first visit to my mum’s new house; a pleasant stay with my sister, (I was there when she received her presentation copy of Ho’s “Spacehopper incident” cartoon that he kindly sent her by post, which she will apparently frame and proudly display); a few days in the company of my old friend Trevor, and a trip to Brighton to see Ho himself.

Arriving in Crowborough on the Tuesday evening to the faultless hospitality of my sister – meal on the go, cider in the fridge – I briefly saw my niece and nephew the following morning before they were whisked off to school and then made my way out into Winnie the Pooh country, Ashdown Forest, to where Trev was staying in Hartfield.
Unfortunately this normally simple journey didn’t go quite according to plan, featuring as it did, me crashing into the back of someone’s car as they braked in the wet at a narrow bridge I’d completely forgotten existed, having not been out that way for nearly twenty years.

The gentleman whose car I damaged was very good about the accident, saying only that he “wished you’d done it a couple of months ago when I had my old car, I could have made a killing on the insurance” and when it also turned out that he worked for the company in whose building I’d shared a flat whilst living in Crowborough, well, we parted on amiable terms.

My stay with Trevor was a predictably laid back affair, involving a few visits to country pubs, tooling around the countryside in his open topped sports car and making a special nostalgic trip out onto the forest to visit A.A. Milne’s hundred acre wood, where the actual Pooh Bridge stands.
A game of Pooh sticks took place of course, in which I claimed victory, although it was a close run thing.

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Boys will be boys.

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Into Hundred Acre Wood.

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Eeyore’s house, possibly.

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Pooh Bridge.

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There was also a box of old photos to root through, yielding this gem from the turn of the millennium, when the pair of us were somewhat more hirsute.

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I took my leave of Trevor on Friday morning, suitably refreshed and relaxed, returning to Crowborough to do the familial rounds once more.
I dropped back in to see mum, then to Kerry’s for one final chat with her and Oly, (a truly top man who has the irrepressible enthusiasm of a teenager, the enviable upper body shape of a weightlifter and both legs missing below the knee. In some people I imagine this would put a bit of a crimp in their style, but to Oly it seems nothing more than an excuse for jokes about not having to worry about smelly feet and numerous amusing anecdotes concerning uncooperative prosthetics falling off at inopportune moments) before taking to the road again for the journey down to Brighton and a Friday night out with Ho.

Ho is very switched on when it comes to local events, working as he does for an entertainment promotions company, so he had already got us tickets to a gig at The Haunt, a converted cinema screening room, on the seafront near the famous Brighton Pier.

There were three bands playing, but three weeks have passed and I’m ashamed to say I’ve forgotten the name of one of the support acts, although I do remember Milk and Biscuits and you can sample their material HERE.

The headline act certainly were memorable though, there’s no doubt about that.
Fujiya & Miyagi put on a great show. With stuttering, glitching visuals projected behind them they provided a pounding, mesmerizing set of precision-tooled, clinical synths, enigmatic vocals (some improvised from audience suggestions) and a great live drummer.
To give you a feel for the show here are the obligatory fuzzy gig photos and a link to a particular favourite of mine, the video for Flaws.

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CLICK THE LINK TO PLAY Fujiya & Miyagi – Flaws.

So it was that, after breakfasting with Ho and saying my goodbyes, I left sunny Brighton on Saturday morning and made my way back west to Devon, arriving with only ten minutes to spare to pick up the keys to my new lodgings.
I am now located on the edge of a large park, one of my favourite parts of the town and, due to the smoking ban in the house, I have taken to strolling over the road in my slippers with a mug of coffee, to enjoy a smoke in the evening sunshine amongst the trees.
The park also provides me with free parking and the walk to the car in the early morning is equally pleasant.

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The first few weeks in my new home haven’t been without the odd minor incident however.
Earlier this week, one of my fellow housemates was “entertaining” downstairs in his room when some candles apparently set off the ear-splitting fire alarms that are fitted throughout the shared house, deafening the other residents until someone worked out how to turn it off.
Fortunately I was in my newly adopted garden across the road at the time, so I missed the aural assault, returning merely to an ominously red-lit and beeping alarm panel in the lobby and a houseful of people with headaches.

Someone not so fortunate was the bloke who was driving his brand new mini along the road, just round the corner from where I was coming out of our front door on Wednesday evening.
I heard the most horrendous CRASH, followed by the sound of constant car horns and ran round the corner to see the aforementioned mini, no driver visible, airbags deployed, stopped dead in its tracks by the small hatchback embedded in the side of it.
Now, given that this happened on a straight stretch of road in daylight, and that the driver I saw being helped out of the hatchback by the staff of a nearby hotel was a lady considerably advanced in years, I can only assume that she had failed to see the mini entirely and turned into the hotel car park as it drew level with her.

Whatever the cause of the accident, it looked quite serious and I called up to fellow resident Rebecca, who had come to her window to investigate, to call the police.
They evidently asked her to give a first hand account of proceedings, as she appeared on the street and approached the scene, staying on the phone until the first of many emergency vehicles arrived to take control of the situation.
Both drivers seemed to have escaped injury and, although a fire crew turned up to mop up the petrol on the road and untangle the ruined cars, that was the end to the evening’s excitement.

As a bonus, Rebecca managed to snap a rather dramatic-looking photo of the emergency services in action, so the credit for this one goes to her.

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That about catches me up to the present, but before I go, here are two great songs to play us out:

ONE YOU PROBABLY EXPECT…

…AND ONE YOU MAY NOT.

And I’ll leave you with this gorgeous sunset photo, taken in the park earlier this week.

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One gig, one wedding and two injuries…

We had been looking forward to this bank holiday weekend for a while, featuring as it did a friend’s wedding, to be held in a beautiful RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) garden that we’re lucky enough to have nearby, here in North Devon.

But that wasn’t to be until Sunday lunchtime and I hadn’t got anything else planned, other than a spot of payday weekend shopping for a wedding present and a smart pair of black jeans to go with my jacket for the wedding.
And Elaine needed shoes.

As it happened she didn’t find any, but while she was searching for them I retired to the pub to escape the hordes of grockles in the high street and while I was there I bumped into an old friend, one who had starred in a previous post, the one with the samurai sword.

I was sitting on the decking, enjoying the sunshine, when I heard a familiar voice loudly proclaiming that;
– “I don’t go looking for trouble you know”
I couldn’t resist;
– “No, it just comes looking for you doesn’t it Terry”
– “That’s right mate. See?”, he said to his unseen companion “I told you, it’s not my fault”
– “It just better not come looking for you when you’ve got a sword in your hand though, huh?”, I hazarded.
“Oh THAT’S RIGHT, bring THAT up again why don’t you!” he shouted in (I hoped) mock-outrage.

His displeasure vanished as quickly as it’d appeared however, leading him to regale us with another episode of DIY surgery-themed lunacy;
Whilst showing off his authentic, razor sharp, Japanese katana samurai sword to his girlfriend’s young daughter, Terry drew the lethal blade vertically out of its scabbard, holding it in front of him.
Unfortunately for him, he had neglected to check which way round the blade was facing before doing so and, as the weapon came free of its cover, the end of it sliced up the front of Terry’s stomach.

Now, far be it for me to cast aspersions on his character, but I suspect that he may have consumed a few beverages prior to his impromptu disembowelment exercise, rendering him mercifully anesthetized and, as his girlfriend put it when she arrived mid-way through the tale;
– “I said “For fuck’s sake Terry, you’ve cut your stomach open” he just looked at me and said he was fine. I said “look, you’ve cut right through your t-shirt and your stomach” but he was pissed and just told me not to be so bloody stupid”
Terry then returned to the conversational fray;
“Brand new bloody Animal t-shirt it was too. Anyway I went to bed, coz I’d had a few drinks, and when I woke up I couldn’t move. Couldn’t roll over. I’m lying there on my stomach going (shouting) “Kelly! Kelly, I can’t fucking move!””
Kelly interjected again at this point;
“And I said “That’s because you cut your stomach open last night and the blood’s stuck you to the sheets”

Nobody likes an I-told-you-so.

It turned out, when they finally reached the hospital, having peeled him off the bedsheets, that had he gone there the night before, they would probably have stitched him up. As it was, lying face down and unconscious for several hours on the clean cut inflicted by the deadly blade had effectively sealed the wound and he required merely to be taped up and sent on his way with, no doubt, weary shaking of heads and amusement from the hospital staff.

As we were there and she had our attention, Kelly also proceeded to tell us of the time Terry had thought it deeply amusing to push her out of bed in the morning, sending her sprawling naked on the floor.
Waiting until he had nodded off again, Kelly returned to bed and after a suitable period to lull him into a sufficient sense of security, turned side-on and used both feet to propel him bodily out of bed and onto the floor.
At least it would have been the floor, had Terry not left an empty pint glass next to the bed the night before.
As Kelly cheerfully explained;
“He was bent double in the corner of the bedroom for about half an hour going “Oooooph! Oooooph!”, it was hilarious. When we got him up the hospital the doctor said it was lucky it wasn’t a cheap, thin glass, it would have smashed and killed him instantly. But it’s ok, it was a good strong one, it broke three of his ribs instead”

Well, quite.

As if that wasn’t enough entertainment for one day, that same evening, as I was waiting for a takeaway, a rare payday treat, friend, ex- colleague and musician Steve Conway strolled past and asked if I fancied going to see a band in town that night.
So Friday night, I was in the upstairs room of a local Mexican restaurant called Jalapeño Peppers, listening to the angular and energetic indie rock of a band Steve had been a member of last time I’d seen them, CAPTAL.

It was a really good set, the evening having what Steve described as “an historic feel”, so if they suddenly hit the big time tomorrow, we can say we were there at their breakthrough gig.
Anyway, check them out at the link above and here are a few photos I took on the night.

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And so finally to the main event, Jon and Lisa’s wedding.
Sadly the weather let them down, as it veered between overcast and downright wet all day on Sunday, meaning the wedding photographs had to be cut short.
This was especially unfortunate given the setting, RHS Rosemoor, a large and beautifully maintained garden in Torrington.
They had chosen to have the ceremony in the thatched building in the English Cottage Garden and though the rain kept off just long enough for them to tie the knot, immediately afterwards the skies opened and we all made a dash for the extremely enjoyable reception, but not before I’d taken a quick, damp stroll around some of the grounds to take a few snaps.

So here’s a brief taste of Rosemoor in the rain, starting with the picturesque thatched hut where the ceremony took place..

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…which stands in amongst the lush planting of the cottage garden..

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..with its ornamental pond and pergola..

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…and as part of a Tolkien exhibit that is currently on show throughout the grounds, an unexpected guest watched from the roof of a gazebo.

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There are more formal parts of the garden too, bisected by imposing avenues of clipped hedging…

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..leading to distinct “garden rooms” such as the formal rose garden and the vivid and eclectic planting of the sunken garden.

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It was a pity the English bank holiday weekend weather made us cut our visit short, but I will return in the summer when the sun is out to give you a more extended view of Rosemoor. In the meantime, if you want to visit and see for yourself, click on THIS LINK or the one above and discover the other delights this beautiful place has to offer.

{The Tolkien exhibit runs until the end of August}

 

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