Sunday, October 30, 2005

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

The above quotation is from George Santayana (1863 - 1952), a Spanish philosopher. Many of you will know it, and I suspect, most of you disregard it as a glib truism. But I believe it. Without the knowing of our past, how can we know where we came from, who we are and where we are going?

Without knowing our history, how can we appreciate (and forgive and assimilate) those traits in our make-up as a people that are hopelessly out of kilter with modern society? Yet treasure our barbarous past, while retaining some remnant of that heroic spirit, should history present us with the need to depend on it again?

To know how we were moulded is to know where we are going. And to give us sign posts as to how to get to a better place.

"We can learn from history how past generations thought and acted, how they responded to the demands of their time and how they solved their problems. We can learn by analogy, not by example, for our circumstances will always be different than theirs were. The main thing history can teach us is that human actions have consequences and that certain choices, once made, cannot be undone. They foreclose the possibility of making other choices and thus they determine future events." Gerda Lerner (b. 1920)

So stop it with the gip you lot!

As Winston said, "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it!"

Friday, October 28, 2005

Humble Pie

I'm eating it! Ian here's to you, my son! Good luck with the blog. I am nothing to you! In fact I feel like a piece of shit really. Your courage is beyond me!

It wasn't always humble more umble. Umbles are the innards, the guts of the deer...the rubbish bits that the poor folk got. And by all the stars, I'm pretty much pond-life compared to you...

To trick or not to treat....

Halloween - the Day of the Dead - All Hallow's Eve - is coming up and the kids want to go trick or treating. It’s a bit of a poser for me really. I’ve tried explaining that we’re British and we don’t hold with nasty american practices. Although I don’t want to be a stick-in-the-mud, that’s just not the way we do things here! Scares the natives!

As a family we’re actually quite into Halloween because my younger son’s birhday is the 29th. So we have a ready-made party theme every year. The year the first Harry Potter film launched, we turned the whole house into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with canvas on all the walls spray-painted as castle stone, black webbing (you know the stuff for smothering weeds on your vegetable patch) was pinned to the ceiling, over-laid with white sparkly Christmas tree lights. A canvas of the Fat Lady guarded the kitchen and the guests had to push their way through further canvas over the porch painted as Station 59 and three quarters, to gain entry.

It may have been a little ambitious. When the guests arrived I was still covered in variant shades of ochre and the fumes created a significantly lighthearted atmosphere amongst the children. But hey ho! Quick wig. Instant Hagrid! ...Though the canvas was somewhat more porous than anticipated and we still have rather a fetching stonework effect in places…

I digress.

I’m all for tradition and pagan festivals as a rule, but this trick or treating thing just isn’t British.

The semi-Christianesque scare-fest that is Halloween was grafted onto Samhain (meaning "end of summer"). Just as sundown meant the start of a new day, shorter days signified the start of the new year; therefore the harvest festival began every year on the night of October 31. It generally involved the lighting of fires and the reinforcement of boundaries, across which malicious spirits might cross and threaten the community.

The custom of trick or treating is thought to have evolved from ‘souling’, similar to the wassailing customs associated with Yule. On 2nd November, All Souls' Day, beggars would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" - square pieces of bread with currants. Christians would promise to say prayers on behalf of dead relatives helping the soul's passage to heaven. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits at the Samhain.

But observance of Halloween faded in the South of England from the 17th century onwards, being replaced by the commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot on 5th November.

Frankly I’d rather celebrate Samhain or burn a few Catholics in memory of the Gun Powder Plot than go trick or treating. (Only kidding folks – I’m married to a lapsed Catholic).

But heck! The kids watch too much telly to just take that kind of nonsense from their ever-loving parent. I guess we’ll do it. I don’t want to be a killjoy. Let’s terrorise the neighbourhood!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Good for Boris!

Don't ya just love 'im?

Look what he's been up to now...

Following on from my "quaint" post below...

I thought you might like the full verses of the "Ode to those four-letter words" mentioned in my "Quaint" post below.

Banish the use of those four-letter words
Whose meanings are never obscure.
The Angles and Saxons, those bawdy old birds,
Were vulgar, obscene, and impure.
But cherish the use of the weak-kneed phrase
That never quite says what you mean;
Far better you stick to your hypocrite ways
Than be vulgar, or coarse, or obscene.

When Nature is calling, plain speaking is out,
When ladies, God bless 'em, are milling about,
You make water, wee-wee, or empty the glass;
You can powder your nose; "Excuse me" may pass;
Shake the dew off the lily; see a man 'bout a dog;
Or when everyone's soused, it's condensing the fog,
But be pleased to consider and remember just this -
That only in Shakespeare do characters piss!

You may speak of a movement, or sit on a seat,
Have a passage, or stool, or simply excrete;
Or say to the others, "I'm going out back,"
Then groan in pure joy in that smelly old shack.
You can go lay a cable, or do number two,
Or sit on the toidy and make a do-do,
But ladies and men who are socially fit
Under no provocation will go take a shit!

When your dinners are hearty with onions and beans,
With garlic and claret and bacon and greens;
Your bowels get so busy distilling a gas
That Nature insists you permit it to pass.
You are very polite, and you try to exhale
Without noise or odour - you frequently fail -
Expecting a zephyr, you carefully start,
But even a deaf one would call it a fart!

A woman has bosoms, a bust or a breast.
Those lily-white swellings that bulge 'neath her vest;
They are towers of ivory, sheaves of new wheat;
In a moment of passion, ripe apples to eat.
You may speak of her nipples as small rings of fire
With hardly a question of raising her ire;
But by Rabelais's beard, she'll throw fifteen fits
If you speak of them roundly as good honest tits!

It's a cavern of joy you are thinking of now,
A warm, tender field just awaiting the plough
It's a quivering pigeon caressing your hand,
Or that sweet little pussy that makes a man stand.
Or perhaps it's a flower, a grotto, a well,
The hope of the world, or a velvety hell.
But, friend, heed this warning, beware the affront
Of aping a Saxon: don't call it a cunt!

Though a lady repel your advance, she'll be kind
Just as long as you intimate what's on your mind.
You may tell her you're hungry, you need to be swung,
You may ask her to see how your etchings are hung.
You may mention the ashes that need to be hauled;
Put the lid on her sauce-pan, but don't be to bold;
For the moment you're forthright, get ready to duck -
The girl isn't born yet who'll stand for "Let's fuck!"

Banish the use of those four-letter words
Whose meanings are never obscure.
The Angles and Saxons, those bawdy old birds,
Were vulgar, obscene, and impure.
But cherish the use of the weak-kneed phrase
That never quite says what you mean;
Far better you stick to your hypocrite ways
Than be vulgar, or coarse, or obscene.

Category: English Language_

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cutting Edge News

For those who might be just surfing on through. I knifed my son! Got your attention? Read on...

What’s the progress on the Violent Crime Reduction Bill? You know the one, which amongst other things, proposes to ban the sale of knives to young people. Well, I’ve had a shufti round and it seems it had its first and second readings in the Commons in June and has its 5th (and last?) Standing Committee sitting today.

There’s nothing yet about it in the news, but it’s something I take a particular interest in. There have been some shocking tragedies - Anthony Walker, Richard Whelan, Abigail Whitchell, Damilola Taylor to name a few – and everyone is agreed that knife crime is on the rise. And it's evil.

But do the headlines tell the whole story? You wouldn’t know it from the press but knife crime is not widespread throughout the UK and some of the research is deeply flawed. Headlines scream, “a third of teenage boys carry weapons”. The University of Glasgow research actually found that a third have once - at some time in their lives - carried a weapon. My sons would have ticked that “yes” box, but I don’t consider them a menace to society. Far from it.

Last Christmas, when he was 17, I bought my elder son a baselard. What's one of those, I hear you ask? No? Oh well, I'll tell you anyway.

This is a baselard made by the same armourer who made my son's. With a fourteen inch blade it's more than a knife, nearly a short sword, definitely a dagger. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the baselard was perhaps the most widely carried weapon of all.

People from all walks of life carried them from the late 13th century. In the 14th century it was a knightly weapon, frequently worn when fully armed for the field. Civilians of many stations also carried the baselard to such an extent that the anonymous English writer of a satirical song of the period of Henry V declared that:

There is no man worth a leke,
Be he sturdy, be he meke,
But he bear a basilard.

In the fifteenth century, mounted knights generally ceased to carry the baselard and it became primarily the dagger of civilians and foot soldiers - often archers. It is primarily a stabbing weapon which came to such ubiquity with the development of plate armour (itself a defense against the longbow). Its long narrow blade was designed to seek the weaker points, under the arms, of dismounted knights while being highly effective at close quarters where a long sword would be an encumbrance.

I could go on, but I won't. For further reading I recommend Daggers & Fighting Knives of the Western World by Harold L. Peterson. It has been reprinted recently in the US, although my boy got a first edition in his stocking with the blade!

The baselard starred alongside the boy in a mafiosi styled adaptation of The Revenger's Tragedy at the school to no little critical acclaim. I believe it went to the cast party. It certainly was worn home. And I am absolutely confident it has never drawn blood.

That's why I await the outcome of the deliberations of the Commons. Keenly.

Anything available should come here

Category: History_ Violent Crime Reduction Bill_

Monday, October 24, 2005

When will the hoolie hype begin?

With the World Cup just over the horizon and a World Cup in Germany at that, we should be expecting a hyperventilated media frenzy of Anglophobia and dire hooligan predictions any time now.

As ever, we’ll get hype about the host police forces’ preparations centring on measures for preventing, and also dealing with, outbreaks of unrest. Just as before, these will more often than not exaggerate the potential problems with alarmist prophesies, rather than playing down any prospect of public disorder.

As a result, if and when violence does occur, the media’s predictions are ‘proven to be true’ and consequently become self-fulfilling prophesies, with incidents often reported in a ‘told-you-so’ tone.

Spoke too soon! And they're off!

Urban myth

A beautiful urban myth from tardy cadet at his first chapel parade forgets to remove his beret as he enters the hallowed memorial chapel, to be corrected by his CSM, at several hundred decibels..."TAKE YOUR HAT OFF IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, YOU CUNT!"

Sunday, October 23, 2005

How disappointing was that?

Apparently it should be purple. Oh well!

Your Blog Should Be Purple

You're an expressive, offbeat blogger who tends to write about anything and everything.
You tend to set blogging trends, and you're the most likely to write your own meme or survey.
You are a bit distant though. Your blog is all about you - not what anyone else has to say.

A Spaniard's Perspective

It wouldn't let me put all this in my profile so I'll put it here.

From Friar Antonio Agapida’s “Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada”:

This cavalier was from the island of England and brought with him a train of his vassals, men who had been hardened in certain civil wars, which had raged in their country. They were a comely race but far too fair and fresh [for the appearance] of warriors. They were huge feeders also and deep carousers and could not accommodate themselves to the sober diet of our troops, but fain eat and drink after the manner of their own country. They were often noisy and unruly, also, in their wassail, and their quarter of the camp was prone to be a scene of loud revel and sudden brawl.

They were withal of great pride, yet it was not like our Spanish pride…their pride was silent and contumelious. Though from a remote and somewhat barbarous island, they yet believed themselves the most perfect men on earth… With all this, it must be said of them that they were marvellous good men in the field, dextrous archers and powerful with the battleaxe. In their great pride and self will, they always sought to press in their advantage and take the post of danger… They did not rush forward fiercely, or make a brilliant onset, like the Moorish or Spanish troops but went into the fight deliberately, and persisted obstinately and were slow to find out they were beaten.

He was followed by a body of his yeomen armed in a like manner and by a band of archers with bows made of the tough English yew tree. The Earl turned to his troops and addressed them bluntly according to the manner of his country.

“Remember my merry men all” he said, “the eyes of strangers are upon you. You are in a foreign land, fighting for the glory of God and the honour of Merry Old England!” A loud shout was the reply. The earl waved his battle axe over his head. “St George for England!” he cried. They soon made their way into the midst of the enemy but when engaged in the hottest fight they made no shouts or outcries. They pressed steadily forward dealing blows right and left, hewing down Moors, and cutting their way with their battle axes like woodmen in a forest, while the archers, pressing into the opening they made, plied their bows vigorously and spread death on every side.

Quaint am I?

Since I've been called quaint, and because I'm a clever bastard who knows this kind of shit, I thought you might like to know that quaint once meant cunt.

The word quaint, possibly from the Latin for 'known', has also been used in historical times in much the same way as cunt and probably had a similar pronunciation. A notable early use of quaint was from Chaucer in his Miller's Tale "Pryvely he caught hir by the queynte".

Did you know Grape Street in London was once called Grope Cunt Street for obvious reasons?

Good word cunt. Very little has been written about it. The longest account so far published is an entry in Hugh Rawson's Dictionary Of Invective, in which he calls 'cunt' "The most heavily tabooed of all English words" (1989).

'Cunt', while essentially a gynaecological term, is now more often uttered as a swearword; it is rarely employed in its literal, anatomical sense, and is instead found in abusive ('fucking cunt'), misogynist ('you cunt!'), and pornographic ( contexts.

'Cunt' is a short, monosyllabic word, though its brevity is deceptive. Like many swearwords, it has been incorrectly dismissed as merely Anglo-Saxon slang, as the anonymous Ode To Those Four-Letter Words cautions:

"friend, heed this warning, beware the affront
Of aping a Saxon: don't call it a cunt!"

'Cunt' is not strictly a slang term; like other 'four-letter words', it was originally standard English and was deliberately marginalised in favour of polysyllabic alternatives. Thus, 'cunt' was replaced with 'vagina' and 'pudendum', 'crap' gave way to 'excrement', and 'piss' was surpassed by 'urine'.

The prefix 'cu' is one of the oldest word-sounds in recorded language. It is an expression quintessentially associated with femininity, and is the basis of 'cow' ('female animal'), 'queen' ('female monarch'), and, of course, 'cunt' ('female genital'). The word's second most significant influence is the Latin term 'cuneus', meaning 'wedge', from which comes 'cunnus' ('vagina').

A 1972 supplement (edited by RW Burchfield) to the Oxford English Dictionary, the foremost authority on English etymology, clarifies the word's commonest contexts as the two-fold "female external genital organs" and "term of vulgar abuse". At the heart of this incongruity is our culture's negative attitude towards femininity. 'Cunt' is a primary example of the multitude of tabooed words and phrases relating to female sexuality, and of the misogyny inherent in sexual discourse.

So now you know.

But if you want the complete low down, go here.

Category: English Language_

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Insane love

Well Span seems to have cornered the market in orgasms and onanism so I thought I’d raise the tone and consider the scientific insanity of love. Not being the kind of expert that Span obviously is I had to do some research courtesy of the BBC and it seems a lot of chemicals kick in when you fall in love.

It seems there are three stages of love.

Stage 1: LUST
Lust is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen. Testosterone is not confined only to men. It has also been shown to play a major role in the sex drive of women.

This is the truly love-struck phase. When people fall in love they can think of nothing else. They might even lose their appetite and need less sleep, preferring to spend hours at a time daydreaming about their new lover.
In the attraction stage, a group of neuro-transmitters called 'monoamines' play an important role:
· Dopamine - Also activated by cocaine and nicotine
· Norepinephrine - Otherwise known as adrenalin. Starts us sweating and gets the heart racing
· Serotonin - One of love's most important chemicals and one that may actually send us temporarily insane

This is what takes over after the attraction stage, if a relationship is going to last. People couldn't possibly stay in the attraction stage forever, otherwise they'd never get any work done!

Attachment is a longer lasting commitment and is the bond that keeps couples together when they go on to have children. Important in this stage are two hormones released by the nervous system, which are thought to play a role in social attachments:
· Oxytocin - This is released by the hypothalamus gland during child birth and also helps the breast express milk. It helps cement the strong bond between mother and child. It is also released by both sexes during orgasm and it is thought that it promotes bonding when adults are intimate. The theory goes that the more sex a couple has, the deeper their bond becomes
· Vasopressin - Another important chemical in the long-term commitment stage

Does Love Drive You Mad?

In 1990, a study in Italy indicated that people who have recently fallen in love have some of the symptoms of 'Obsessive Compulsive Disorder' or OCD. People with OCD behave obsessively about certain things. They might be constantly washing their hands, or need to continually check to see if the door is closed.

Does love make you sad?

Rather than making you happy, love could actually make you depressed. One symptom of OCD appears to be unusually low levels of the neuro-transmitter 'serotonin'. Low levels of serotonin have been associated with anxiety and depression. Italian students who claimed they had recently fallen in love were found to have serotonin levels 40% lower than their peers.

However, the biochemical effect of falling in love didn't last forever. When the same students were tested after their relationship was a year old, their levels had returned to normal. One author of the study has suggested that we require this chemical response for relationships to survive. After all, we'd have to be mad to fall in love wouldn't we?


Another interesting finding is that people with low serotonin levels tend to have a lot of sex. If men have a particular version of a gene known as the 'serotonin transporter', they will have lower levels of serotonin in their brains. They tend to be more anxious than other men and also more sexually active.

Love on the brain

Brain imaging techniques have been put to use in the name of love. Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki at University College London used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to take pictures of the lover's brain.

Whilst inside the scanner, loved-up students were shown pictures of their new flame. They were also shown images of platonic friends of the opposite sex. Zeki and Bartels were struck by how clear cut the pattern of brain activity was when students were looking at their new love.

Four areas of the brain became active, and one area noticeably inactive, when the students had love on their mind. The active areas include one responsible for 'gut' feelings and one that is known to respond to euphoria-inducing drugs. The lights go off however, in the prefrontal cortex, an area that is overactive in depressed patients.

My Little Pikey

I really don't have a problem with our travelling brethren, but I thought this was funny. And cushti divvus to all my Romany readers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stamping out the pedestrian menace

Now I've sorted the attribution thing out. There's a great post at by Brian Micklethwait that's gagging to be shared.

A friend of mine alerted me today to this story, of 34-year-old property developer Sally Cameron:

She was walking from her office in Dundee to her home in the suburb of Broughty Ferry when she was arrested under new anti-terrorist legislation and held for four hours.

She said:
"I've been walking to work every morning for months and months to keep fit. One day, I was told by a guard on the gate that I couldn't use the route any more because it was solely a cycle path and he said, if I was caught doing it again, I'd be arrested.

“The next thing I knew, the harbour master had driven up behind me with a megaphone, saying, 'You're trespassing, please turn back'. It was totally ridiculous. I started laughing and kept on walking. Cyclists going past were also laughing.

"But then two police cars roared up beside me and cut me off, like a scene from Starsky and Hutch, and officers told me I was being arrested under the Terrorism Act. The harbour master was waffling on and (saying that), because of September 11, I would be arrested and charged."

My friend was trying to imply that the police were somehow overdoing it here. But this seems like a perfectly reasonable set of circumstances to me. After all, you do not want swarthy looking young men in anoraks hanging around harbour installations. But, you cannot pass a law called the Anti-Swarthy-Looking-Young-Men-In-Anoraks Act. It has to be anyone doing anything suspicious, like, you know, walking about.

But, cyclists are obviously not a problem. Cyclists are good. This is a well known fact. So, whereas public footpaths in the vicinity of harbours are an obvious problem and need to be shut down, there is clearly no need to involve cyclists in this prohibition. Cyclists are, I repeat, good. So, these footpaths can simply stay as they are, but be cycle tracks. But, that means that pedestrians must now be told to steer clear of these ex-footpaths, despite the fact that they still exist.

At which point, since this is the Anti-Terrorism Act that is being imposed here rather than merely some exercise in traffic control, any insubordinate pedestrian who causes trouble, by – I don't know – laughing when you tell him, or her, about the new arrangements, must clearly be treated as the terrorist that he, or she, may well be. I mean, better safe than sorry. This is the survival of our very way of life that we are talking about, the preservation of our ancient liberties against the forces of barbarism.

I cannot see why the Times Online is making such a fuss about this utterly routine matter.

Some Rights Reserved

I've been learning about Creative Commons Licensing. There's a whole spectrum of rights possibilities, from full copyright - all rights reserved - to the public domain where no rights are reserved.

When you create a work it's automatically protected by full copyright whether you file for protection or not, and whether you display the copyright symbol © or not. This is fine for people who want to control every last use of their work. I for one, however, would be delighted if people wanted to quote my blatherings. I'm also vain enough to like the idea of having the quote attributed to me! I also think that innovation and new ideas come from building off existing ones.

So in the interests of sharing, I am permitting the world to display copy and webcast my work, provided they attribute it properly and don't flog it commercially. If anybody makes any money out of this, it should be me! So I hereby award this blog a Creative Commons license.

Gavin Corder (which is in fact a nom de plume - but I know who I am!)

Monday, October 17, 2005

One post too far...

Well today's little quip in middle english on the 5Live message boards sent me to pre-mod purgatory. All I said was that I was moving on to middle english since the mods couldn't cope with Old English.

Mine wanges (pronounced 'wanguhs') werken me full wo and, for to drynken, strong wyn, reed as blood.

Scarely rocket science! This is the language of Chaucer and Langland! Nope to announce that I have rather a bad toothache and I think I'll have a glass of red wine was a post too far - tipped the Mods over the edge!

So back to the Anglo Saxon and for the time being Beowulf is min nama.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Today in Old English


Anno mmv. Todæg is se xvi dæg þæs monþes þe mon nemneð October, þæt is on ure geþeode winterfylleð. Hit is sunnandæg.

Wilcume. Ic grete þe freondlice.

Hear me!

2005. Today is the 16th day of the month that is called October, that is in our tongue October. It is Sunday.

Welcome. I greet you in friendship.

Hwæt! is the first word of Beowulf, where translators render it variously as Lo, Listen, Hear me, and Yes. There is in fact no translation equivalent in Modern English, and using a dictionary isn't much help. I had to do a compulsory Anglo Saxon module when I was at university and I really wish I'd paid more attention when I had the opportunity. I don't regret many things, but I regret that.

I've been thinking about this while I've been off-line. I think Hwæt! translates better as "Hey!" My kids don't greet each other with Hi or Hello, Listen up, or Yo (except in jest). So Hwæt! Hey!

And wasn't it such fun to wind up the thicko moderators on the 5Live message boards by posting in old English!

Category: English Language_

Saturday, October 15, 2005

So am I a Viking?

I’m English and I look like a storybook Viking or Saxon. (OK Span! I admit it!) Remember those old Ladybird histories? Great illustrations. Well I’m like one of those. But without the horns on the hat.

Yeah and? OK being blonde is not so unusual given our Viking heritage as a nation. Lots of English people have Norse genes as well as Saxon, Angle, Jute - whatever - there’s lots of tall blondeness in our national make-up. But the trouble lies in my understanding of genetics.

My mum and dad have brown eyes and dark hair. I have blonde hair and bluey grey eyes. I did O’level biology and it all seemed very clear then. Brown eyes, dominant. Blue eyes, recessive. But it does lead to talk when one looks so unlike one’s parents. Especially one’s dad.

So why are people so censorious when blue eyes show up in children of brown-eyed people? Clearly it ‘s because genes for blue eyes are lurkers - recessive genes staying in the background until a certain combination of genetic material occurs - a contribution of a recessive blue-eyed gene from each brown-eyed parent.
So even though genes producing brown eyes are dominant, it’s more common for brown-eyed parents to have blue-eyed children than for blue-eyed parents to have brown-eyed children.

Blood groups are fun too. If I look like a Viking, what would you expect my blood group to be?

I’m A+ as it happens.

According to the National Blood Service, the O group is the oldest of the blood groups. Back in the Stone Age, everyone would have been O and today it's still the most common group in the UK, especially in the North of England. Over in Central and South America and the USA most people are O too. The fact that anyone can receive O blood reflects the fact that all other blood groups are derived from it.

Group A is the second oldest blood group, appearing around 25,000 - 15,000BC, when larger human settlements first appeared as farming developed. You'll find a lot of A in Central and Eastern Europe. It's the commonest group in Norway, Denmark, Austria and Armenia.

If you're looking for group B, then try the Chinese or Asian communities, where around a quarter of all people share this blood group. It emerged between 15,000 and 10,000BC as tribes migrated from Africa to Europe, Asia and the Americas and mingled with other populations.

The newest and rarest group, AB, only appeared between 1000 and 500 years ago, and is believed to have occurred as a response to the mixing of existing blood groups on a major scale. In Japan, China and Pakistan around 10% of the population boast this rarest of blood groups.

So yup! Ladybird had me right! I am a throw back. Officially. Anyone for a spot of pillage and plunder? Span?

Friday, October 14, 2005

To the citizens of the United States of America

In the light of your failure to elect a proper President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy.

Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium". Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how incorrect your pronunciation has been. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour', skipping the letter 'U" is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters.

You will end your love affair with the letter 'Z' (pronounced 'zed' not 'zee') and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise". You will learn that the suffix ”burgh” is pronounced “burra”, as in Edinburgh. You are welcome to re-spell Pittsburgh as 'Pittsberg' if you can't cope with correct pronunciation.

Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary". Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up "interspersed". There will be no more 'bleeps' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won't have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as "US English". We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of "-ize".

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to Cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier).

You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents - Scottish dramas such as "Taggart" will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is "Devon". If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become "shires" e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire etc..

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters.

British sit-coms such as "Men Behaving Badly" or "Red Dwarf" will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can't cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American "football". There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game.

The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays "American" football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nonces). We are hoping to get together at least a US rugby sevens side by 2005.

You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game called "rounders" which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

7. You should declare war on Quebec and France, using nuclear weapons if they give you any merde. The 97.85% of you who were not aware that there is a world outside your borders should count yourselves lucky. The Russians have never been the bad guys. "Merde" is French for "****".

You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don’t believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called "Indecisive Day".

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren't even French; they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium.

Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps". Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer", and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager".

The substances formerly known as "American Beer" will henceforth be referred to as "Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine", with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as "Weak Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine". This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen, Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

13. From December 1st the UK will harmonise petrol (or "Gasoline" as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2006) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon - get used to it).

14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

Thank you for your cooperation.

Category: Jokes_

Ejaculated on by the bratwurst

That got your attention!

Last night I was preparing a bean casserole of which the key ingredient (apart from the beans of course) is frankfurters or bratwurst. They come in jars. (Oh dear this is really going downhill...) Anyway I opened the lid and no word of a lie, the brine leapt out of the jar, spurted right up to my chin, down my chest, and splashed my feet. It positively ejaculated all over me. Then the cat comes and starts licking my toes like a demented nympomaniac. Except he's a chap cat. He was possessed! Mad for it!

So there you have it, gentlemen (or ladies, equal opps and all that, whatever cooks your goose...) if you want to attract pussy, douse yourself liberally in bratwurst brine. Splash it all over!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Storm Damage

I'm starting to think there really is something to all this global warming stuff. Hurricane, floods, all kinds of carry on. It really is unseasonably warm. It's the Michaelmas Fair this week. We always go. Most years it's icy but this year it's still sort of Summer. And the rain! Just look at the storm damage in Berkshire....

Dementia test

Exercise of the brain is as important as exercise of the muscles. As we grow older, it's important that we keep mentally alert. The saying; "If you don't use it, you will lose it," also applies to the brain, so..... Below is a very private way to gauge your loss or non-loss of intelligence. Take the following test and determine if you are losing it or are still "with it." OK, relax, clear your mind and.... begin:

Question 1. What do you put in a toaster?

Answer: "bread." If you said "toast," then give up now and go do something else. Try not to hurt yourself. If you said: "bread," go to the next question.

Question 2. Say "silk" five times. Now spell "silk." What do cows drink?

Answer: Cows drink water. If you said "milk," please do not attempt the next question. Your brain is obviously over stressed and may even overheat. It may be that you need to content yourself with reading something more appropriate, such as Children's World." If you said: "water," proceed to the next question.

Question 3. If a red house is made from red bricks, and a blue house is made from blue bricks, and a pink house is made from pink bricks and a black house is made from black bricks, what is a green house made from?

Answer: Greenhouses are made from glass. If you said, "green bricks," what the devil are you still doing reading these questions? If you said: "glass,", then go on to the next question.

Question 4. Twenty years ago, a plane was flying at 20,000 feet over Germany. If you recall, Germany at the time was politically divided into West Germany and East Germany. Anyway, during the flight, TWO of the engines failed. The pilot, realising that the last remaining engine is also failing, decides on a crash landing procedure. Unfortunately the third engine fails before he has time to attempt an emergency landing, and the plane crashes smack in the middle of "no man's land" between East Germany and West Germany. Where would you bury the survivors? In East Germany or West Germany or in "no man's land"?

Answer: You don't, of course, bury survivors. If you said ANYTHING else, you are a real dunce and you must NEVER try to rescue anyone from a plane crash. Your efforts would not be appreciated. If you said: "Don't bury the survivors," proceed to Question 5.

Question 5. If the hour hand on a clock moves 1/60 of a degree every minute how many degrees will the hour hand move in one hour?

Answer: One degree! If you said, "360 degrees" or anything other than "one degree," you are to be congratulated on getting this far, but you are obviously out of your league. Turn in your pencil, and exit the room. Everyone else proceed to the final question.

6. Without using a calculator -- You are driving a bus from London to Milford Haven in Wales. In London, 17 people get on the bus. In Reading, six people get off the bus, and nine people get on. In Swindon, two people get off and four get on. In Cardiff, 11 people get off and 16 people get on. In Swansea, three people get off and five people get on. In Carmarthen, six people get off and three get on. You then arrive at Milford Haven. What was the name of the bus driver?

Answer: Oh, for crying out loud! Don't you remember? It was YOU!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Just a little helpful proscription in the interests of tolerance and acceptance.

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council has announced that, following a complaint by a Muslim employee, all work pictures and knick-knacks of novelty pigs and 'pig-related items' will be banned. Among the items is one employee's box of tissues, because it features a representation on Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.

"Councillor Mahbubur Rahman is in favour of the blanket pig crackdown. 'It is a good thing, it is tolerance' he said.

Is it really a victory for "tolerance" to say that a council worker cannot have a Piglet coffee mug on her desk? And isn't an ability to turn a blind eye to animated piglets the very least the West is entitled to expect from its Muslim citizens? If Islam cannot "co-exist" even with Pooh or the abstract swirl on a Burger King ice-cream, how likely is it that it can co-exist with the more basic principles of a pluralist society? As A A Milne almost said: "They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace/ Her Majesty's Law is replaced by Allah's."

From The Telegraph: Making a pig's ear of defending democracy by Mark Steyn.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

How bizarre!

Now it's miraculously appeared! Oh, well! Enjoy the big wolf in all his glory.


Why doesn't my little loping wolf show up unless you view my profile? I thought it would be visible from the front page... I suppose I'll have to dicker with the html in the template. In the meantime, here he is.
On 26th August 2005, the 659th aniversary of the Battle of Crecy, we visited my battlefield. Johnny is shooting from roughly the position of the front rank of the Prince of Wales' division. Incidentally, Prince Edward was not known as the Black Prince until after his death (not a lot of people know that).

We smuggled our 'weapon of mass destruction' into France and home again, cunningly disguised as a stick.

Category: History_

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pimp my Party

I just got sent this link! Politics at it's best!

Monday, October 03, 2005


Two American tourists were driving through Wales. At Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, they stopped for lunch and one of them asks the waitress, "Before we order, could you please settle an argument for us? Would you please pronounce where we are... very slowly?"

The blonde waitress leaned over and enunciated beautifully: "Burrr-gurrr Kinngg..."

Thought for the Day

If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started.

Henry of Grosmont (Derby) (c.1310-1361)

My favourite knight Henry of Gosmont, Earl of Derby, cousin and friend of Edward III and his lieutenant in Aquitaine, known to the Gasons as 'Erbi' who became the first Duke of Lancaster.

According to his own memoir, the Livre de seyntz medicines (1354), Henry of Grosmont was in his youth tall, blond, and lean, strong in the arts of the chase and at the lists, though weaker in bookish matters: he claimed that he learned to write only later in life, and remained ill at ease with French. His possession of two gold statues, one of Tristan and Isolde and the other of the god of love, suggests that he took an interest in the romance literature of courtly love. Henry reveals his taste for courtly pastimes in youth and his middle-aged predilection for good food and wine: the Livre indicates that he was suffering from gout when he wrote it.

He was so successful in his Bererac campaign (1345 - 1346) that t was rumoured that the ransoms collected by the English after Auberoche amounted to £50,000 and more, and it is hardly surprising that Lancaster's great palace of the Savoy in London, begun in the late 1340s, was said to have been constructed on the profits of this campaign.

He was a founder member of the Order of the Garter at its inception in 1348 and At the next available parliament, held early in 1351, Edward affirmed this personal bond by raising Lancaster to the rank of duke and granting his county of Lancaster the status of a palatinate for the term of his life. Only one duke had been created in England before this date (Edward the Black Prince, had been made duke of Cornwall in 1337), and the grant of palatine powers was without parallel in recent history, establishing the county on the same privileged basis as the ancient palatinates of Cheshire and Durham.

What a great guy!

Picture © British Library

Category: History_


As Span's musing on chivalry over on his blog. I thought I'd muse along with him...

Chivalry as a set of ideals and duties changed throughout the Middle Ages to meet new socio-economic realities. Somewhat ironically, our most 'chivalrous king' Edward III supported the trappings of chivalry, and during his reign the rise of heraldry, tournaments and banquets, courtly love and the writing of epic romances flourished.

But on the field of battle, mounted knights and feudal obligation were becoming an anachronism. This was the rise of the age of the hired soldier, and in particular the use of that devastating English weapon of mass destruction, the longbow and the archers 'gens de nul value' who wielded it with such effect.

Although there is no 'authentic' code, discussions of knightly virtues can be found in the writings of knights and bards throughout history; Chrètien de Troyes, Ramon Lull, Geoffrey de Charny, Honoret Bonet, and others.

However a French literary historian Leon Gautier (Emile Theodore Leon Gautier, 1832–1897) decided to try and codify 'Chivalry':

The Ten Commandments of the Code of Chivalry
I. Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches, and shalt observe all its directions.
II. Thou shalt defend the Church.
III. Thou shalt repect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
IV. Thou shalt love the country in the which thou wast born.
V. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
VI. Thou shalt make war against the Infidel without cessation, and without mercy.
VII. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
VIII. Thou shalt never lie, and shall remain faithful to thy pledged word.
IX. Thou shalt be generous, and give largess to everyone.
X. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.

I'm not convinced by I and II and Number VI. seems a little dodgy in the 21st century...but the rest is good stuff!

Category: History_