Monday, August 27, 2012

Cider With Rosie: Remembering Laurie Lee

" 'It's cider,' she said. 'You ain't to drink it though. Not much of it, any rate.' Huge and squat, the jar lay on the grass like an unexploded bomb. We lifted it up, unscrewed the stopper, and smelt the whiff of fermented apples. I held the jar to my mouth and rolled my eyes sideways, like a beast at a water-hole. 'Go on,' said Rosie. I took a deep breath...

"Never to be forgotten, that first long secret drink of golden fire, juice of those valleys and of that time, wine of the old orchards, of russet summer, of plump red apples, and Rosie's burning cheeks. Never to be forgotten, or tasted ever again..."

(Cider with Rosie, 1959)


"... the death of Hannah and Joseph Brown, grown feeble and infirm, separated by well-meaning authorities in the Workhouse because they can no longer take care of themselves, and who quickly die of old age and fright, because they have never been apart before."


Laurence Edward Alan "Laurie" Lee, MBE, 1914 - 1997, English poet, novelist, screenwriter.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sticking to it

Wikipedia speaks of ironclads and armor.

The first ironclads to have all-steel armor were the Italian "Dulio" and "Dandolo". Though the ships were laid down in 1873 their armor was not purchased from France until 1877. The French navy decided in 1880 to adopt compound armor for its fleet, but found it limited in supply, so from 1884 the French navy was using steel armor. Britain stuck to compound armor until 1889.

(When someone pulled them free?)

About Ironclad Warships

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Amazing BritishSpeak

Remember when I first started this blog (some of you do) I used to ask you to tell me examples of British words and phrases that Americans don't use, and tell me what they meant? Was that stupid, or what? After a couple of weeks I realized what an impossible request that was, and I stopped doing it. After all, how would you know what common words Americans didn't use? Duh. Of course you tried. You always try. And so I started out with a list of words you gave me that the whole world knows we use differently. Petrol. Boot. Bloody. Bonnet. Those words usually meant SOMETHING to Americans, just not what they meant in the UK.

I finally ended up buying boxes of books on the subject from Amazon, and then another box of Enid Blighton's books. On the subject of translating British into American, I recommend this one. Of course.

Later I learned there were nuances and variations WITHIN the UK as well. The Welsh have some words. Irish have special words. Scots? Never mind Scots. The Aussies and South Africans have their own weird lists. I found out why you are called Poms by those people. I thought "kak" was Afrikaans. (Turns out it's just your "cack".) I know what a stunned mullet is now, but I don't hang around Aussies much anymore.

But soon I realized you couldn't just make a list for me because, except for the obvious, you really didn't know you were using words and phrases that were "special" to an American. Basically, I stopped asking you and started reading. If I came across something I couldn't figure out on my own, I asked you what it meant and when it was supposed to be used. I don't know why. It was just fun.

My list grew and grew. Some words on it now are pretty absurd. Mainly I get words and phrases from you by reading blogs and newspaper posts and their comments. Outraged comments to newspaper posts, mostly political, are a very good source of British specialized profanity too, by the way.

I haven't shared any with you in a long time. This blog has long since branched out from learning only your words to learning about your country, history, habits. I basically live a life of analysis, and you are a never-ending source. "Fodder" I would call it if you weren't reading this right now.

From time to time I try to make a post on this blog which is germane to the reason it was started. This is one of those posts. Here are some new ones added to my list within the past week or so, along with some old friends.

holy joe
keep (in a store (shop), instead of "stock")
directed/redirected (mail: addressed/forwarded)
bottle (courage, gumption)
go off the boil
cuddy (this is probably Scotish. A kind of horse)
turn up (not "turnip") :)
streets ahead
ends in tears
bung (not a keg plug)
choc tops
silencers (not used for guns)
tarting it up
nap hand
tricky trev

Old friends: Candy floss, film wrap, pillar box, pants, dog's bollocks, carriageway, roundabout, tube. If you know all these, then you are either a long-time reader or... one of THEM. :) :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Speaking of Ceremonies

The Olympics are over. I watched the closing ceremonies last night (or as much as NBC would let me watch between commercial breaks and editing) and, as always, I was sad for them being over so quickly.

For those who watched the closing ceremonies, weren't they just super? No complaints here. All the athletes seemed to be happy, all the right rock stars and performers were chosen to bedazzle, and even Prince Harry was whistling to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and singing along with The Walrus song. Me too. Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo.

I've seen a few Olympics come and go now, and I can't remember any that were  better than these.

Bravo, London.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

London Olympics: Epitome of Athletic Purity

It must be tempting for organizers of an event as large as the Olympics to introduce a political agenda into the mix. After all, what a huge advertising opportunity, right? That's why it was so refreshing to watch the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, though greatly edited and greatly delayed for those of the American persuasion. Not one speck of crass political propaganda was evident during the delightful pageantry of the opening.

For starters, the opening ceremony was placed under the direction of politically neutral Danny Boyle. The non-slumdog millionaire Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire knew he was taking a chance, risking his prestigious Slumdog reputation on directing the opening ceremony. Well, by gosh, his reputation is untarnished; he pulled it off without a hitch and without any political overtones whatsoever.

When asked if he were trying to make a political point by including a LENGTHY tribute to the NHS, Boyle, with a straight face, replied, "We had no agenda other than the values WE feel are true."

But, why promote a clearly political institution on the world stage of the Olympics? To make Sudan feel bad that they have no national health care program? How does the NHS tie in with world sports?

Boyle, his nose beginning to grow noticeably, continued with the class and grace befitting a rich man representing a great nation: "There's no bullshit in it and there's no point-making either."

Mr. Boyle DID allow that while the Industrial Revolution played a small part, perhaps, in the rise of the United Kingdom to prominence on the world stage of history, it was not that big of a deal and it was not until the establishment of "free" health care for "all" that the UK could finally hold it's head high with the humanitarian pride it enjoys today. He continued by telling how, anyway, it is China who now sets the standard for the world, whether it be in putting on an opening ceremony or being at the top of the heap of great nations. That's how I took it, anyway.

One assumes it was a nod to the Industrial Revolution that Boyle stuck in some chimneys before rolling out the hospital beds. I sort of get it.

Here is a synopsis of the totally non-political opening ceremonies, written by some dastardly anti-liberal unbeliever. I was amazed at the lies about the NHS presented in the hate piece that follows:

(Excerpted from The National Review)

"The Boyle ceremony got underway with images of a bucolic Britain being swept away by a cigar-chomping elite that builds satanic mills filled with oppressed workers as steeplejacks hang from the towering chimneys. Later, 600 doctors and patients recruited from National Health Service hospitals were featured in a bizarre tribute to socialized medicine, with children bouncing up and down on 320 hospital beds arrayed in front of a giant Franken-baby wrapped in bandages. Villains from British children’s literature, ranging from Cruella de Vil to Lord Voldemort, sweep in on the children, in an apparent reference to conservative forces seeking to reform the tottering NHS. The 15-minute sequence ended with a series of red lights triumphantly spelling out “NHS.” Left-wingers were thrilled. “Brilliant that we got a socialist to do the opening ceremony,” tweeted Alastair Campbell, former communications chief for the Labour party. Boyle denied he was promoting a political agenda."

Link to full article.

Well, HOLY MACARONI! What do you think of that? What baldfaced lies. What a right-wing hatchet job! Can you imagine anyone criticizing something as grand and benevolent as the NHS?

And they even continued with more libelous nonsense:

"Care Rationing Cited in 90% of NHS Providers."

"Two-thirds of Britons earning more than $78,700 a year have taken out private health insurance because they don't trust the NHS."

"Horror stories about the NHS abound."

Rick Dewsbury of the Daily Mail was aghast at the worship of the NHS during Friday’s Olympic ceremony. Dewsbury recounted the 2009 case of Kane Gorny, a 22-year-old NHS patient. Gorny was admitted to the hospital for a hip replacement. A series of hospital employees refused his request for a glass of water and failed to give him diabetes medication. He went so far as to call the emergency operator for help. When the police arrived, nurses assured them that Gorny was confused and needed no outside help. A day later, he was dead of dehydration. The official inquest into his death was published this month. It found that neglect by hospital staff — “a cascade of individual failures” — contributed to his death.

I am shocked and amazed at the lengths the wild-eyed radical right opponents of anything good will go to smear the efforts of those who obviously care for the well-being of the common citizens. It is nothing short of a disgrace.

In the UK, citizens don't have to pay for medical care. It is free for all. GPs abound. In the UK, nobody sues doctors, which would cause them to prescribe unneeded "cover my ass" lab tests. Let me tell you, the USA could learn a lot from the NHS.

God willing, the U.S. is not far behind. We can only hope.

Here's link to help you understand how heath care in the UK can be provided for free.

Crocodiles Rocked

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy Women's Day South Africa

August 9, 1956: Apartheid is challenged.

I started this blog gathering wondrous special words from all over the former British Empire. It was fun. I don't blog about those countries much anymore, and the followers from those countries, even Canada, have fallen away. But today is special in South Africa.

I want to say Happy Women's Day. Seek out a special woman in your life and do something special for her, in honor of the 20,000 women who marched on Pretoria on this day and stood like rocks against apartheid.

wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo

"You strike a woman, you strike a rock, You have loosed a boulder. You will be crushed by it."

Read more about the background of Women's Day in South Africa.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Knights of the Round Table

Galahad, Launcelot, Gawain, Percivale, Lional, Tristram, Gareth, Bedivere, Bleoberis, Brunor, Lucan, Palomides, Lamorak, Bors, Safir, Pellas, Kay, Ector, Dagonet, Tegyr, Lybyus, Alymere, Mordred. Several other spelling variations.

Together with King Arthur, they numbered 24 around the Round Table. (There are 25 places around the Round Table of King Edward I, displayed at Winchester, pictured above, but Sir La Cote Male Taile was simply a nickname of Sir Brunor*, already listed, not two people/characters.) The Winchester Round Table is by far the coolest round table in existence today, and one of the most interesting artifacts to be seen in all of the U.K.

In the Winchester Round Table, King Arthur sits between his son/nephew Sir Mordred and Lancelot's son Sir Galahad.

Each has his own story and lineage and legend. The characters in the Arthurian legends are very complex and intertwined. These legends were gathered into one work - and fictionally added to by the author, like all the authors before him - into the one work considered as most comprehensive: "Le Morte d'Arthur."

Was there a real historical character around whom King Arthur was patterned? Probably. Legends and folk stories generally begin with some kernel of truth, some historical exploit, before they begin snowballing out of hand.

*A nickname given to Sir Brunor by Sir Kay.


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