Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Euphemisms in Quotes 4

Sharp observer

Don't quite see why Jan Moir says I ‘moaned’ about no grey in M&S ad. I sharply observed in a single tweet. No room for moaning! (@wmarybeard, Aug 2013)

The Whistles customer is over 25 and wants to be fashionable in the broader sense. (Jane Shepherdson, The Guardian, Jan 31 08 She means they don't want to be fashionable. And by "over-25s" she means "over-45s".)

But isn't “rant” a frequently used synonym for “argument uncomfortable, so I'd better use a pejorative term”? (The Rev David Grieve)

noble atheism: Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi accuses Hitchens and Dawkins of irony and sarcasm, and prefers “noble atheism or agnosticism, not the polemical kind”. (May 2010)

We were quite intellectual you know – pompous! (Bloke from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)

Demolishing a 100 year-old 'landmark fire station' is called an upgrade in Leytonstone. (‏@JonathanFoyle)

When did arguing the opposite case become a 'smear'? (Byzantine Ambassador ‏@byzantinepower )

"Free at point-of-use" is Tory double-speak for privatization. (Winston Smith ‏@Globalidentity)

'Twitter mob'
= public opinion the Daily Mail doesn't like. 'Silent majority' = public opinion the Daily Mail likes. (James O'Brien ‏@mrjamesob)

Perpetrators on what they plan to do to Spiegelhalter’s, the Victorian shop stuck in the facade of a department store: It will “be a new vibrant heart of the redevelopment, as homage to the Spiegelhalter story... We think it can be done in a way which makes the gap even more meaningful, to make it into an art piece which tells the Spiegelhalter story on its surface.” But it involves destroying Spiegelhalter's completely.

For "libertarian" read self-centred sod everyone else I'll do what I like. (‏@peopleman)

By "infuriates human rights lobby" I assume they mean "infuriates any humans with a sense of morality". (Twitter)

Tottenham Ct Rd Paolozzi Murals @tfl 'Don't fit with our design' = 'didn't value them'. (@JonathanFoyle)

Tower blocks = socialist = bad. Towers = free market = good. (Ben Jones/@benpatio)

'The Gay Agenda' - People wanted to be treated fairly and have the same rights as everyone else. (@MrOzAtheist )

Gwyneth Paltrow has surprisingly nuanced views on cheating. (TheGloss/‏@theglossdotcom They mean “she doesn’t condemn infidelity outright”.)

obsession: in the news this week (“This obsession with exposing natural history trickery is just a fad.” Guardian January 2014)

This building is very atmospheric. And by atmospheric I mean creepy. Very, very creepy. (Rory Bremner visits an old jail.)

Remember that in BBC and tabloid speak, the Tories have 'donors' while Labour has 'paymasters'. (@ivanwhite48)

The power station-reborn-as-mall will be reached along a “high street” (AKA a gauntlet of luxury apartments).

Key workers: Low-paid public servants. (Aditya Chakrabortty, Guardian May 2014)

I always speak my mind. (Katie Hopkins Translates as "I always say objectionable things. And plain mean and nasty things, because people like reading and hearing them.")

Muslim shooter = entire religion guilty Black shooter = entire race guilty White shooter = mentally troubled lone wolf. (‏@sallykohn)

More euphemisms here, and links to the rest.
Lots more euphemisms in my ebook:
Boo and Hooray: Dysphemisms and Euphemisms

Monday, 30 March 2015

Neologisms 12

Cheffy tricks


I like a vivid turn of phrase from the likes of - Nick Clegg and David Cameron?

cheffy tricks
(James Martin)
chisel-faced securocrat (Nick Clegg)
cupcake tat (@roxieroulette doesn’t want any at her Ipswich vintage fair)

edu-change industry
ludic workplaces (Alex Paknadel)

mud hut anthropology
(Nigel Barley)
nutgraf (US press speak for nutshelling a phenomenon – like why Ed’s 2 kitchens matter so much to the Brits)

selfservative
(Tony Turtle ‏‪@ATurtle05‬)
Sonnenfinsternis (German for eclipse)
sunset gig

trilliant
(triangular diamond)
trolley dash

white-glove sale
(at Sotheby’s – means “all the lots were sold”. White-glove service is ultra-posh, fawning service. And a White Goat is... a dingus that turns your waste paper into loo paper.)


Shouty pointless sponsored marquees. (Euan Ferguson on political cabaret)

A shoot-me-now moment at Gardening Club last night bonkers woman talking about allotments got group to stand up, pretend to plant potatoes. (Caroline M ‏@LadyofMisrule)

They were not unnice people. (Trevor Macdonald on the Mafia)

If, as Goethe posited, architecture is frozen music, then these buildings are vertical money. (nybooks.com)

One of those buses where the seats are a duster glued to some moulded fibreglass. Comfy. (John Grindrod ‏@Grindrod)

Getting the right conditions for life to form is like “shooting through the holes in the Swiss cheese”. (Eden)

Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for the 18th century... (@JamesMelville)

At the risk of sounding like a promotion for a new dog food, I favour what I would call a “scientifically balanced” approach to teaching reading. (Kevin Wheldall)

Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shovelling smoke. (O.W. Holmes)

You may as well ask a man to eat molecules with a pair of chopsticks. (Bram Stoker, Dracula)

Oh, time for that programme where people bimble around buying woodworm-riddled farm implements. (@revpamsmith)

The screaming meemies in three octaves! (Murder She Wrote)

Worryingly desperate LALALALANOTLISTENING quality to kippers faced with actual facts. (Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex on UKIP supporters)

Women’s lives aren’t an endless Clyde of damnation! (@Chrîss_m)

Burning Man; a long open-air grit-filled rave. (Diminuto Lacerta ‏@Jugbo See the Edinburgh fringe "a rave for middle-class kids”.)

It’s painfully obvious that she’s had several jobs done, leaving her nose barely there and her forehead frozen in time. (celebrityhiccup.com on LaToya Jackson)

The Legacy is not all døm and gløm. (theartsdesk.com)

Why did the authorities allow the situation to lurch along, disregarding modern accounting standards, for so many decades? (Catholic Herald on the Vatican’s finances)

It was in rag order, but it was very grand. (Bob Geldof on a mansion the band used to live in)

There are three layers to this flat – it’s like a little sponge sandwich, isn’t it? (Lucy Alexander of Homes under the Hammer)

Oh no it’s John Rutter-mas. (LD)

That train sailed before it even arrived. (@AmyDentata)

The LibDems have fallen off the edge of the planet. (UKIP spokesperson Nov 2014)

Red lights are flashing on the dashboard of the global economy. (BBC News, quoting David Cameron)

I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me. (@How_Upsettting)

That will peg back the temperatures. (Carol Kirkwood)

Pork pies – the pastry and meat “seemed to lead entirely separate lives”. (RI)

What the Scandinavians were churning out by the bucketload. (Tim Wonnacott on some 60s glass)

This "feminist T-shirt" business is really low-wattage stuff on all sides. Depressing wristband pseudo-activism vs confected outrage. (@WillWiles) 

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Overstatement, Hyperbole, Catastrophising and More



Sweeping generalisations and hysterical over-reactions.


There’s no tree in this country that’s more than 200 years old.
(Boris Johnson)

Everyone has a fear of immigrants. (Boris Johnson)

Boris Johnson compares critics of the garden bridge to the Taliban. (@AdamBienkov)


OMG. Just received an email sent in Comic Sans. I now need a new computer, a new email address, and bleach. (@ianvisits)

I'm of the opinion that if you use the world "selfie" to describe a picture you should be banned from using a camera. (Mr Wood ‏@woodo79)

The number of BBC presenters who say "haitch-dee" is enough to drive a man to drink and violence.  (@woodo79)

Accents were always the topic that attracted most of the ire, and the words used to express the writer’s attitude were always of the most extreme kind. Correspondents would say they were ‘appalled’, ‘outraged’, ‘horrified’, ‘disgusted’ ... to hear a particular accent or a particular pronunciation. (You Say Potato: A Book About Accents, Ben Crystal and David Crystal)

Sign if you want to make describing a casserole with a pastry lid as a 'pie' a criminal offence. (@elizabday)

Anyone over the age of 12 who uses the word "chaterama", without irony, should be cast out from polite society. (Peter Smith ‏@Redpeter99)

End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email. (NYTimes)

This misplaced apostrophe is a tragedy. (Hamlet is a tragedy. A misplaced apostrophe is a punctuation mistake.)


When the Harry Potter books were at their most popular, there were rather ill-natured complaints that "other authors couldn't get published" because of Rowling's omnipresence, which seems rather unlikely. Meanwhile other people were claiming that she had single-handedly "saved reading" - equally over-reacting. (Moira Redmond)


Women bishops are voted in. A woman asks “Are we saying the Bible doesn’t matter any more?”

Christians/atheists are always shoving their beliefs down our throats. (Translation: They criticised my beliefs/They stated their beliefs.)

Why are you attacking me? Why are atheists allowed to attack Christianity? (Christians on Twitter when asked for evidence)

All atheists are terrorists.
(Saudi Arabia Oct 2014-10-12)

Christmas pudding is idolatrous! (Edmund Gosse’s father belonged to a tiny Puritan sect that didn’t celebrate Christmas. He found his son eating a bit of Xmas pudding and threw the “idolatrous” stuff on the fire. The Plymouth Brethren, and subset the Exclusive Brethren, are still around, running schools where they tear pages out of text books and worse.)

The Welsh Dis-Establishment Bill shocks the conscience of every Christian community in Europe. (FE Smith in 1914)


Homosexuals are destroying human identity.
(Latvian Archbishop Surely a Catholic Archbishop ought to say it is a mortal sin and if you don’t repent you will go to hell and burn for all eternity?)

Gay relationships are not ‘positive’, warn Catholic bishops (Oct 2014-10-13)

Claims that same-sex couples die younger, are more prone to cancer, depression and suicide, as well as being more likely to abuse and injure children have been defended by the Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage (Adfam). (Irish Times Feb 2015)


Without irrationality there would be no film, music, literature, drama, romance or even love. (Letter to Times, 2014-10-11)

Apple smashes through forecasts (FT headline Results exceeded forecasts.)

If young people leave London because of high housing costs it will end up as a theme park for the rich! (The council tenants will stay, and the Turkish, Bengali, Chinese etc communities. They will carry on working as nurses, running shops and driving taxis.)

Life in Britain is now so terrible I’d rather go to Mars and never come back!

Everybody is buying drones as Christmas presents. (Sunday Times Dec 2014)


There is a CHILD in the quiet coach. I cannot contain my horror. (@MasumaRahim)

Children are coming to school unable to use a knife and fork! (Moany reports of head teacher spending hours every day cutting up pizzas because the children can’t. They are four. Give them macaroni cheese and chicken nuggets.)

A levels are the “enemy of scholarship”. (Headmaster in the 50s)


Newspapers contain no news any more! (Translation: There are some opinion columns and I disagree with them.)

The Festival of Britain (1951) - "three-dimensional Socialist propaganda" according to Churchill who demolished it. (via @oniropolis)

According to at least one critic, the 5th Doctor's love of cricket makes ALL of Doctor Who "thunderingly racist". tygerwhocame2t.blogspot.co.uk

In a long rant, film-maker Werner Herzog claims that safety helmets remove our sense of adventure. He doesn't like painkillers or antibiotics either, preferring to adventurously die of septicaemia. All kinds of safety measures that we now take for granted were once “an assault on our precious liberties”. (And libertarians never suggest going back and removing them all.)

More here and links to the rest.

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Lay of Oliver Gogarty

The Liffey, by Daniel O'Neill

Come all ye bould Free Staters now and listen to my lay
And pay a close attention please to what I've got to say,
For 'tis the tale of a winter's night in last December drear
When Oliver St John Gogarty swam down the Salmon Weir.

As Oliver St John Gogarty one night sat in his home
A-writin' of prescriptions or composin' of a poem
Up rolled a gorgeous Rolls-Royce car and out a lady jumped
And at Oliver St John Gogarty's hall-door she loudly thumped.

'O! Oliver St John Gogarty', said she, 'Now please come quick
For in a house some miles away a man lies mighty sick.'
Yet Oliver St John Gogarty to her made no reply,
But with a dextrous facial twist he gently closed one eye.

'O! Oliver St John Gogarty, come let yourself be led.'
Cried a couple of maskéd ruffians puttin' guns up to his head.
'I'm with you, boys,' cried he, 'but first, give me my big fur coat
And also let me have a scarf - my special care's the throat.'

They shoved him in the Rolls-Royce car and swiftly sped away,
What route they followed Oliver St John Gogarty can't say,
But they reached a house at Island Bridge and locked him in a room,
And said, 'Oliver St John Gogarty, prepare to meet your doom.'

Said he, 'Give me some minutes first to settle my affairs,
And let me have some moments' grace to say my last night's prayers.'
To this appeal his brutal guard was unable to say nay,
He was so amazed that Oliver St John Gogarty could pray.

Said Oliver St John Gogarty, 'My coat I beg you hold.'
The half-bewildered scoundrel then did as he was told.
Before he twigged what game was up, the coat was round his head
And Oliver St John Gogarty into the night had fled.

The rain came down like bullets, and the bullets fell like rain,
As Oliver St John Gogarty the river bank did gain,
He plunged into the ragin' tide and swum with courage bold,
Like brave Horatius long ago in the fabled days of old.

Then landin' he proceeded through the famous Phaynix Park,
The night was bitter cold and what was worse, extremely dark,
But Oliver St John Gogarty to this paid no regard,
Till he found himself a target for our gallant Civic Guard.

Cried Oliver St John Gogarty, 'A Senator am I,
The rebels I've tricked, the Liffey I've swum, and sorra the word's a lie.'
As they clad and fed that hero bold, said the sergeant with a wink,
'Faith, then, Oliver St John Gogarty, ye've too much bounce to sink.'

(Anon.)

Lifted from the site of poems about famous names.

More poetry here.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Death at the Dolphin, by Ngaio Marsh



Death at the Dolphin by Ngaio Marsh
For the Past Offences 1967 challenge


This is in my top three of Marsh’s novels (the others are Opening Night and Clutch of Constables). It doesn’t feel very 1967, but can she really have been 72 when she wrote it? It has a youthful feel, and the main characters are in their 20s, early 30s or 40s. She wisely doesn’t attempt to add Swinging London colour or slang. Spoilers alert!

Peregrine Jay is a young theatre director who loves Shakespeare. He is hanging about outside a derelict Victorian theatre in “Wharfinger’s Lane” near the docks. He has heard it’s for sale and gets an “order to view” from the agents. A friendly local helps him turn the key in the door and warns him about bomb damage. Inside, the place is falling to pieces, but a shaft of light hits the stage. He climbs up to stand in it and imagine the sinister ruin brought back to life – if he only had the cash! Forgetting the advice about the damage, he steps backwards into – nothing!

He finds himself chest high in cold water, clinging to the broken edge of the stage. He shouts for help. How long will it take the estate agents, or the friendly local, to come and look for him?

It’s a great dramatic start to the book. And then the plot thickens. He is pulled out of the hole by – an oil millionaire who has bought the theatre and just happens to be passing. (The friendly local was the deus ex machina.) The millionaire, Vassily Conducis, takes the soaked Peregrine home and offers hot baths, hot toddies and clean, dry clothes. Peregrine wonders about the man’s motives (it’s 1967, and homosexuality is about to become decriminalised). But Conducis, although oddly quiet and inhibited, only wants to help.

But then he reveals the McGuffin upon which the plot hinges – a glove possibly made by Shakespeare’s father for Shakespeare’s son, that he has mysteriously acquired. He offers to bankroll Peregrine’s plans for the theatre, and sends him home in a taxi.

Peregrine arrives back at his flat, which he shares with a theatre designer friend, Jeremy, wondering if it’s all been a dream. But next day he gets a call from Conducis’s agent...

To open the theatre, Peregrine writes a play about Shakespeare, and he and Jeremy have fun casting it with a set of actors who are known to be tricky, and to be swapping partners among themselves. A Fenella Fielding-like leading lady, her boyfriend who happens to look just like Shakespeare, a rough diamond who is the “fair man” of the Sonnets brought to life, an infant prodigy to play Shakespeare’s son, a young girl with whom Perry falls in love... The helpful local is hired as nightwatchman. All the characters are brought vividly and sympathetically to life by Marsh.

The glove is put on display in the lobby, and Marsh’s series detective, Roderick Alleyn, comes along to check on the security arrangements. He’s also invited to the opening night party. And when the glove is nicked, and one of the crew is murdered, naturally he is called in and the investigation gets going, with most of the characters under suspicion, and revealing more about themselves than they meant to. They are so well-drawn – it’s a joy to spend time with them, and their banter really is witty.

So what is 1967 about this book? The women are not wearing the way-out fashions of the late 60s. The older cast members openly have affairs – but this is the theatre. Actors had affairs in Marsh's books written in the 40s and earlier. The younger characters are rather shy and conservative. And romantic! London life goes on without much input from the Permissive Society. (It always seemed to be happening somewhere else.) Nobody smokes dope. I don’t think even Emily (the ingenue) wears a miniskirt.

I love the atmosphere – of a London aware of its history, and still grimy and semi-ruined, 20 years after the war. That’s how I remember it. A sense of place was one of Marsh's strong points: she puts us in the two boys’ bachelor flat (on the south bank, where they can just see the Dolphin Theatre); in the refurbed theatre itself, with Victoriana lovingly restored; in Conducis’s mews house full of antiques that minions have chosen for him. (In 1967, despite space-age fashions and determined modernity, it was becoming quite respectable to like Victoriana.)

The book has one, glaring, flaw. By 1967 you’d expect the casual anti-Semitism of Golden Age detective story writers to be a thing of the past. Sadly, no. There is a character called Mrs Guzman, mostly offstage and appearing in others’ accounts. Her portrayal is unsympathetic, to say the least - complete with heavy accent. Only dear Inspector Fox has some pity for her – or is it the theatre's business manager, Winter Morris?

The audio version is beautifully read by James Saxon.

More about Ngaio Marsh here.

Inspirational Quotes 72



In the 70s, we abolished marriage. We were feminists and we sorted everything.

I committed the terrible crime of being female and out in public on my own. (#everydaysexism Times, November 1, 2014)

The actress involved has now received the rape threats that are the inevitable consequence of the statutory negligence of being female and doing something. (Hannah Betts, Times, Nov 1 14)


But what you can do is say, ‘OK, I’m very scared, but I have to do this and this and this.’ By focusing on the actions – moving my hand to grab this branch – I could go beyond the fear. (Ingrid Betancourt)

“A few months into her captivity, [Ingrid Betancourt] realised that it was this that posed the greatest risk to her survival. Stripped of family, friends, status, she had to consider how she was to avoid going mad. What, she asked, is the essence of a human being when everything that defines her humanity has been taken?”


Anneli - a worshipping teenager with huge blue eyes and exalted ideas about God, the Universe and Love. (A Wreath for the Bride, Maria Lang)

Research that shows that marriage makes you happier and helps you live longer. (Tanya Byron in the Times Oct 2014)

[Interviewee] says there is a general feeling that university is "where you have to make lasting friendships, have nights of awesome parties and find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with." (BBC Online)

It's only "banter" if both sides participate. Otherwise it's basically just insulting/patronising someone and then demanding they laugh. (@lucyfishwife )

I save my best 'puppy dog eyes' for when I queue up behind someone who has £200 worth of shopping and I'm holding just a carrot. (@cluedont)

You sound like the sort of person things just happen to. (BBC Breakfast)

I don't think people on top understand how much everyone else fights for change and how much change we have brought. (@AmyDentata)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Inspirational Quotes 71



From Jane And Prudence by Barbara Pym

A husband was someone to tell one’s silly jokes to, to carry suitcases and do the tipping at hotels.

One’s married friends were too apt to assume that one had absolutely nothing to do when not at the office.

So this is Fabian Driver, thought Prudence, putting on a rather cool social manner.

‘He hasn’t asked me to marry him yet,’ said Prudence. ‘Why don’t you ask him?’ said Jane recklessly. ‘Women are not in the same position as they were in Victorian times.'

Jane also suggests that Prudence should ask Fabian for a walk in the twilight: ‘Well, why not? Why shouldn’t a woman take the initiative in a little thing like that?’ At the same time, Jane worries that Prudence has become Fabian’s “mistress” – she doesn’t know what terms to use, and feels unsure about what’s normal these days. To herself, she calls a sexual relationship between her friends as “the worst happening” or “something wrong between them”.

‘Well, the supply of suitable men isn’t inexhaustible when one reaches her age – not like it is at Oxford,’ Jane comments.


It’s called love/ I don’t know how it’s become unmentionable... (Thieves Like Us, New Order, 80s)

I want a job, I want a boyfriend, and most of all I want to make my nan happy. (Snog, Marry, Avoid)

Humans tend to care greatly about their status within a group. (The Guardian)

The creeping dread of doing something that will end up earning the disdain, contempt or, potentially worse, pity of those around us can lead to the intense anxiety we feel. (same article Guardian)

If a friend is always criticizing you, taking advantage of your kindness, or just not being reliable, then you have to cut them off. (lifehack.org)

If someone’s not paying you, you don’t have to do BJs, you don’t have to smile all the time, you can be yourself. (ex-prostitute)

[Height and size] will enable individuals to dominate in social situations. Dominance itself may open opportunities for affairs. (Expert quoted in Times Oct 2014)

More here, and links to the rest.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Inspirational Quotes 70


Yet still you wait for parties to make your moves.

This could be a modern sort of relationship. One where the woman takes control.

The mental and physical effort involved in putting on a brave face, going out and being normal around your friends is exhausting.

Women who work in the service industry have a very strange hold over you.


(Romantic Misadventure: A Point-And-Click Quest For Love
, Kit Lovelace)


One thing I noticed right away when I came to live in the small town is they are always talking about something that used to be here but isn’t any more.

Boy, some of these foremen are all crazy on this socialistic stuff and they want a union. So management has got up this Associated Foremen to have meetings and speakers to show them they’re part of top management and get 'em over this union idea.

“We never done it like that. We always kept the machine records in the machine-record book.” “But this is a better way.” “We never done it like that.” “But this is easier, simpler, and more practical.” “This book here, see, we always kept the machine records in this here book.”


(7 1/2 Cents, Richard Bissell)


The authors point out early on in their report that "social psychological research suggests that attractive people are favoured in numerous situations" (a thing you would not have guessed without social science) and soon after we learn that attractive and physically fit men report going on more dates and having sex more frequently than others. (BBC News on a report from NYU)

The central event of our lives is falling in love. (writer on BBC Breakfast)

It always made me sad to see that there were so many unmarried women in the world – sadder still to realize that they were largely unseen because there were so few public places they dared brave without a sense of strain. (Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado)

What it amounted to was that I, who had never been ANYWHERE before, had suddenly been around once too often. (ditto)


Why assume neoliberalism will be around forever? And why is "fairer" (and not substantively just or egalitarian) the horizon of possibility? (@davidjmadden)

When you qualify 'human' in 'human rights' as anything but 'all humans', you're left with privileges, penalties and no real 'rights' at all. (James O'Brien ‏@mrjamesob)

People who go on about the inherent liberalism of British culture are almost invariably intolerant reactionaries. (Charles Holland ‏@ordinarycharles)

If the Tories want to replace the Human Rights Act, they should be clear about which of our human rights they wish to revoke. (Andy Shaw ‏@RedAndy54)

More here, and links to the rest.