Since the 18th of June we have spent our weekends in: Genoa,
Genoa, Bristle (laundry), Madrid, London, London, Bristol (hosting
McMootses), Bristol (laundry), Umsterdum and Groningen. This evening
we're going to Derbyshire, where the Dowager Countess maintains her
country estate; next weekend is laundry again, and then we are
After a predictably bad mark in the OU assignment we did technically
under exam conditions but also travel weary and more than slightly
drunk, the last one was back to our usual mark, so apparently it
doesn't matter whether we're exhausted and barely coherent as long as
we keep coming up with cute theoretical twists. (Probably being
exhausted and barely coherent helps with coming up with cute
theoretical twists: we're currently yawning our head off and toying
with the idea of building our next essay around GK Chesterton's
Father Brown stories.)
§1. Abusing hippies
It is Gail Kelly, who
used to teach anthropology and then died!
This was the person, after all, who described hippyism in a lecture as
"hedonism if it had been invented by puritans" and who remarked to me
once that people spit in public "because they wanted to be disgusting
and were disgusting."
§2. Abusing foopball fans
It is the Grauniad's Sean Ingle:
As Stefan Szmanski and Tim Kuypers show in Winners & Losers, The
Business Strategy of Football, demand for football in the UK - like
cigarettes and booze - is price inelastic.
Arsenal charge 1,825 GBP for a season ticket; Réal Madrid charge 200
GBP. English foopball fans, Ingle argues, are idiots. We, for one,
can't afford to see our beloved bleus of Chelsea in person, for
sure. We probably could afford to see Genoa Cricket and Foopball Club
in Serie C1, though but - Ingle's suggested solution is to support a
sufficiently local side; ours is to globalise your support. (We are
an increasinly global foopball fan, for sure.)
§3. [Not abuse] Everyone loves Pingvins!
A surprise hit documentary about penguins has overtaken Amelie to
become the second most successful French film at the North American
box office [after The Fifth Element].
March of the Penguins made $6.8m (£3.7m) at the weekend, taking its
box office total to $37m (£20m).
There is no sign of this such film having a date for distribution in
Blighty, but the DVD of the French marche of the
Empereur is on its way to our mountain hideaway as we speak.
Minority rights in Seth Effrica are complicated by a perception that
some minorities are more
University of Pretoria students sang the
apartheid-era national anthem Die Stem during a protest on Thursday
against the alleged sidelining of Afrikaans at the institution.
Protesters sported a Freedom Front Plus banner, the university coat of
arms, placards and chanted slogans such as "Engels se gat [English's
arse]" and "Waar's demokrasie nou? [Where is democracy now?]".
We have in fact met more than one nice Seth Efrican, but there
is apparently still no shortage of the other sort:
"I don't have a problem with people expressing their opinion. It is
their democratic right," said bystander Ishmael Mohono, a member of
the Pan Africanist Students' Movement of Azania, the youth wing of the
Pan Africanist Congress.
"But statements worn on the T-shirts of these protesters, such as
'English Only is erger as Slegs Blankes [English Only is worse than
Whites Only]' or 'Praat Afrikaans of hou jou bek [Speak Afrikaans or
shut up]' are really insulting and disturbing."
We'll tactfully hou onse bek, then.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Denmark will not try to plant a new flag on a tiny island off
northwestern Greenland that is at the centre of a territorial spat
with Canada, Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said in a newspaper
column published Monday.
Mr. Moeller said he and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre
Pettigrew intend to discuss the dispute over Hans Island next month on
the sidelines of a foreign ministers gathering at the United Nations.
Boring smelly old negociations, bah! Fight! You could at least
arm-wrestle for it, surely?
§2. Why we hate New-Agers
We hate them because they are Dirty Smelly Hippies, of course, but we
can hardly put that in Our Glorious Essay. However,
New Agers tend to locate authority within the individual self.
"Knowledge and believing: religious knowledge", Ken Thompson and Kath
Woodward, in Goldblatt (Ed.) op cit, p.69
Which is an essay-friendly reason to hate them: the rampart
individualisme of New Age "spirituality" is obviously swiped from the
neo-liberalisme they pretend to reject. What could be more
capitaliste than their obsessive self-centredness and eclectic
Also, they are dirty and they smell.
§3. Colonel Pingvin!
Of the Norwegish
A king penguin has been promoted to colonel-in-chief in the Norwegian
army, after years of good service!
The bird, called Nils Olav, was made an honorary member of Royal
Norwegian Guard in 1972, and has been rising through the ranks ever
We can't find a Norwegish source for this most excellent story,
though. Does our Varied Reader have one?
If you're single and you know it, wear a ring (dring dring!)
If you're single and you know it, wear a ring (dring dring!)
If you're single and you know it and you really want to show it
If you're single and you know it, wear a ring (dring dring!)
[To the tune of "If you're happy and you know it", obviously]
En ring på fingret som talar om att du är ledig och öppen för
förslag. Den svenska singelringen har gjort succé på hemmamarknaden
och ska nu ut i världen.
A ring on the finger which says that you are free and open to offers.
The Swedish singlering has been a great success in the domestic market
and is now going global.
Notwithstanding the presumably fraught issue of at which stage of
dejtning it becomes appropriate to cease to wear such a ring, we are
mostly amused at the lengths Swedishes are willing to go to to avoid
the unspeakable horror of having to, like, talk to someone.
Aftonbladet neglects to link the perpetrators, oddly.
It is David Goldblatt!
When it snows I just see snow. If I think hard about it I might see
sleet. But an Inuit living in Northern Canada. whose language
includes over a dozen words for snow, will see a much more nuanced
snowstorm than I ever can.
"Introduction", Knowledge and the social sciences: theory, method,
practice, D. Goldblatt (Ed) pp.2-3
The claim is utterly false, of course. (See the title essay of
G. Pullum's The Great Eskimow Vocabulary Hoax for an
entertaining discussion, or his remarks
Also, the Inuit are the Greenlandic bunch and the Canananadians aren't
keen on the name; their habitat is technically an Arctic
desert, so they don't get as much snö as all that, and the
"than I ever can" is just plain icky - learn, you couldn't?
But most exasperating of all is that this necessarily unsourced
factoid stars in the introduction to the block on "knowledge and
knowing" where we get to be all epistemological for once. It'll star
in my essay, too, I think.
Oh it really is a wery pretty garden
And Chingford to the eastward could be seen;
Wiv a ladder and some glasses,
You could see to 'Ackney Marshes,
If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.
"If It Wasn't for the 'Ouses in Between", Gus Elen
You can listen
to (some of) it, too!
There are stringent EU regulations related to the production of cheese
from unpasteurised milk. The Directive in question dates from 1992,
and is of
What is also interesting is that the Directive was brought in on the
back of a real problem, the emergence of a strain of bacteria known as
Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) which, from the early 1980s through to the
early 1990s, caused a number of serious outbreaks of illness and a few
fatalities, as well as causing spontaneous abortion in a small number
Such was the atmosphere of the time, however - with first salmonella
and then BSE dominating the headlines - that Listeriosis (the
technical name for the illness) escalated from a discrete, small scale
problem to a major food scare in 1989. And, on the back of that scare
came Directive 92/46/EEC, rushed in to address the problem, imposing a
blanket ban on the presence of all Lm in milk, and milk products such
Follow the link to discover how wrong all this is: we, for one, are
tempted to start a single-issue European political movement to Save
Our Yummy Cheeses from meddling Eurocrats.
§1. Books, and the persons who don't read them
Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham has admitted she has never read a
book in her life - despite having apparently written her own 528-page
The 31-year-old wife of England captain David Beckham told a Spanish
magazine she does not have time to read.
We do not find this at all worrying, nor do we consider it evidence of
the Decline of Anything In Particular. We like our wimmins slightly
more wimmin-shaped and considerably better-read than Mrs Beckham,
for sure, but chacun a son gout and whyever not?
(One of our least favourite things is when persons who like, as we do,
to read books claim or insist, as we decline to, that this is decisive
evidence of their inherent and intrinsic superiority to various other
sorts of persons. It isn't, any more than skill at foopball is,
although the latter certainly pays better.)
§2. War! Huh! What is it good for?
Putting on yummy frites! Say it
Friet oorlog of patat(je) oorlog verschilt per regio, kan zijn:
- a) friet met pindasaus en mayonaise, naar keuze nog aangevuld
met rauwe (gesnipperde) uitjes.
- b) friet met mayonaise, ketchup, currysaus, pindasaus en uien.
Verklaring voor de naam "patatje oorlog" is dat het dan wel oorlog in
je maag is!
Since at least the dawn of time and probably earlier, war has raged
between the forces of peanut and the forces of egg. Since
neither is especially stable on slopes, the Netherlands and Belgium have formed
the natural battleground on which to contest their rival claims of
beige and shelled superiority. While the details of the battles and
campaigns that generations of scholarly investigation have uncovered
on the basis of enigmatic hints scattered through folk tales and
childrens' rhymes are beyond the scope of this note, it is remarkable
that throughout the region frites are often eaten with a
combination of peanutsauce and mayonnaise - a pairing aptly dubbed
oorlog ("war") because it is after all a war in your
mouth. It's very yummy, though.
§3. Men and childbirth
Among the many qualities required for childbirth and lacked by men, it
now turns out, is a strong stomach: Bjørn Backe, senior doctor and
professor in midwifery (or maybe obstretics) at St Olavs hospital in
Trondheim, remarks that many Caesarian deliveries are delivered thus
at the behest of squeamish menfolk:
Backe säger att det ofta är andragångspappor, som helt enkelt upplevde
den första, naturliga förlossningen som väldigt obehaglig, som vill ha
Backe says that it is often second-time fathers, who found the first,
natural, childbirth to be quite simply rilly rilly icky, who want a
We can see the gross-out factor, for sure, but what's the appeal of
fathers attending childbirthnings anyway? Aftonbladet's survey shows
nearly 90% of both men and women in favour of this, so we'll add this
to the extensive list of things in which we (very hypothetically) line
up with the minority.
I'm on the top of the world
Looking down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
"Top of the World", the
Is that I've moved office again, this time to the toppermost floor of
the buildning ("gebouw"). This means I've collected a complete set of
the non-administrative floors, hoorah!
Our Dutchy-Dutch 'bladet of preference (which is an eveningbladet)
planning a nice morning edition:
NRC Handelsblad begint op 6 februari met een aparte ochtendkrant die
gericht is op hoger opgeleiden die door internet nauwelijks meer een
betaalde krant lezen. De krant, die alleen op werkdagen zal
verschijnen, gaat nrc.next heten. Het wordt een krant op
NRC Handelsblad[et] is starting a separate morning edition on 6
Februari, which is aimed at highly educated persons who hardly read a
paybladet anymore as a result of the Interweb. The 'bladet, which
will only appear on schooldays, is going to be called nrc.next. It
becomes a 'bladet in tabloidformat.
Apart from location and langwidge we are firmly within their
target demographic, and we yearn to know what a post-Internet 'bladet
might be like, but the universe's track record at shipping
Dutchbladets to Blighty is Not Good. (The Dutch model of 'bladet
readning is largely subscription-based; retail is an afterthought.
The German model is similar, but this is of course one of those
bizarre coincidences that could happen to anyone. Anyone!)
brings us news of the Grauniad's uppcoming sizereform
Having last year decided to join the exodus from the broadsheet market
- led by The Independent, with The Times in hot pursuit - but plumping
for the hybrid Berliner size rather than a tabloid shape, The
Guardian's stately progress became a gallop when it brought forward
the date of its conversion. Much to the relief of many members of
staff, the new Guardian will now emerge next month.
It is claimed there and extensively elsewhere that Le Monde is
ein Berliner. We always thought it was a broadsheet, but an emergency
inspection showed that it is indeed slightly smaller. If that's Plan
A for stopping the rot hos Grauniad we look forward to Plan B, for
It is Jonathon
This is developing into a remarkable series, which has surely ignited
an unprecedented love affair with cricket.
The 1981 Ashes captivated the nation, but thanks in no small way to
modern communications and the internet, listeners from every corner of
the globe hung on to every word that crackled from their laptops, or
computers in internet cafes.
Toy shops have sold out of cricket sets as new followers discover that
for protracted drama and excitement, no other sport comes close.
Actually, we mostly had other things to do in the Netherlands last
week, but we were glued to the Grauniad's over-by-over coverage
yesterday, for sure.
They really need to make this one count, though, if cricket is to have
a future: the game is moribund in schools and in decline in villages
and local leagues, and as of next year it will be the exclusive
property of MurdochCo, and their sports offerings are a long way from
104th over: WICK104th over: WICKET!! Ponting c G Jones b Harmison 156 (Australia 354-9)ET!! Ponting c G Jones b Harmison 156 (Australia 354-9)
§1. Blame it on the boogie, silly Danishes!
Don't blame it on the sunshine,
Don't blame it on the moonlight,
Don't blame it on the good times,
Blame it on the boogie
"Blame it on the Boogie", The Jackson Five (5)
They aren't, though; they're blaming it on, of all persons, the prinsess:
Det var prinsessan Alexandra som bedrog prins Joachim - inte tvärtom.
- Hennes otrohet krossade äktenskapet, säger flera källor till danska
tidningen Ekstra Bladet.
It was prinsess Alexandra who betrayed prins Joachim, not
"Her infidelity destroyed the marriage", say several sources to the
Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.
Ekstra Bladet a newspaper? It makes BT look classy,
frankly. And while we certainly approve of counter-examples to the
folkloric hegemony that holds it is men who cannot be trusted, we do
not approve of such counter examples if (a) they impugn the behaviour
of lovely prinsesses and (b) they are reported on the say-so only of
man ikke længere at kigge rigtig godt efter for at få et bevis
for, at der er en lille ny tronfølger på vej.
One need no longer squint to see
the Bun that's in the oven;
Kronprinsess M bears radiantly
the child who's fate's to govern.
There is a picture to prove it, of course.
§3. Frocks and sparklies!
We never could resist a wimmin in a nice
tiara, we admit it freely.
Sweden's lovely young princesses [sic] Victoria and Madeleine
made a pretty picture in pink and blue summer gowns topped off with
tiaras when they attended the wedding of Prince Manuel von Bayern and
Princess Anna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg.
"Prinsess Who zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-What", you ask or enquire? Well,
it's like this:
Princess Anna's great-uncle, Prince Richard, is the current head of
the house of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. He is married to Princess
Benedikte of Denmark, who is the sister of Queen Margrethe, and the
daughter of the late Princess Ingrid of Sweden. Anna's 32-year-old
groom, Prince Manuel, is the son of Prince Leopold of Bavaria.
You know, Prince Leopold of Bavaria! Used to play inside-right for
§4. Prinsess in lurrrrrrrve
is the lovely kronprinsess Vickan of Sweden:
Här visar kronprinsessan Victoria att Daniel Westling ska bli hennes
Hon bär ett gnistrande halsband med parets initialer V och D.
- Det är ett av hennes favoritsmycken, säger hovmarskalk Elisabeth
Here kronprinsess Vicktoria shows that Daniel Westling will be her
She is wearing a sparkling sparkly with the couples initials V and
"It is one of her favourite sparklies", says hovmarskalk
The thing about prinsesses in general and kronprinsesses in particular
is that they are not allowed to declare or announce their many
feelings in public for fear of the public finding out, and so they
(and the public) end up playing these arcane and anachronistic, but
not uncharming, games of semiotics.
It isn't, we find ourselves once more remarking, easy being a prinsess.
The Dutchy-Dutch really do ride pillion side-saddle on the back of
each others' sensible shoppingbikes, even down busy shoppning streets.
This would be utterly mad in a country where there are hills, for
sure, but in the Netherlands there are famously none, and the traffic
laws are such that if a drunk bicyclist dressed in black and with no
lights rides the wrong way down a one-way street and is hit by a car
it is, by law, the car-driver's fault. Obviously, nobody
wears a cyclinghelmet.
Dutch double beds are Puritanically provided with separate sets of
bedclothes for the separate sides. Acts of blanketsharing are
expected to be focused, functional and brief, because that's the way
the God of the Dutches prefers it. (He's very Calvinist, you know.)
Gezelligheid is Dutch for hyggelig. It mostly involves
cafés featuring a diverse range of periodicals and candlelight that is
too dark for reading them in. I don't see it catching on over here,
C&A are still a going concern in the Netherlands; 'nuff said.
§5. Food and drink
We will have more to say about the mysterious Bavaria Holland Beer
later, for sure, but it is worth remarking that the Belgian
Jupiler bier is the one you actually want to be drinking.
And the Dutches do at least have excellent sossages (worst),
which of course are quite unlike German sossages (wurst) which
they do not resemble at all, actually, and why would they, hé?
§1. Beware of Frenchy-French teach yourself books
For you may habituate to an 'r' more uvular than is entirely
The phoneme /r/ tends to be alveolar in Belgium, in Amsterdam, and the
north-east of the Netherlands, but uvular elsewhere.
["Dutch", Carlos Gussenhoven, Handbook of the IPA, p.74]
We may just decide to stick with our nice Rotterdam (or wherever)
accent, because our /r/ is vair vair uvular.
§2. On not being Englished.
We can order biertjes, we can order cinema tickets and we can order -
at least now that we have been briefed on the follow-up question "Vit
of brun?" - samwidges in Dutch without being Englished. This is a
fairly modest level of accomplishment, you might concievably think or
opinionate, but it is already more than we are allowed to get away
with in Swedish, which we actually speak.
The Dutches say "Sorrie!" for "excuse me" (and "I beg your
pardon/sorry"). It is indecently cute, for sure. We now say it too,
of course, in our best Dutchy-Double-Dutch accent.