Monday 30 July 2012


area bombing, dehousing = bombing civilians

arrogant = disagrees with me.

biased = biased in the wrong direction.

bishops = Church of England bishops

called upstairs (has recently been called upstairs) = died

character = if a place has character, or still has character, or you wouldn’t want it to lose its character, character means evidence of working class or ethnic life

character = integrity and a sense of duty, according to the Wikepedia entry on Cyril Connolly and prep schools

colourful past, well-known Soho character = criminal, gangster, Mr Big

hysteria about climate change = people saying man caused climate change

idyllic = like “tranquil”, it means far from crowds

key worker = public sector worker

lapsed Catholic = implies that you can't quit the Catholic church

poor impulse control = drinks, smokes, eats fattening food, beats wife, sleeps around (impulse = impulse to do the wrong thing.)

restructuring = firing staff

role model = attempt to mould next generation into useful citizens

social capital = network of powerful friends

social skills = social conventions

talky = of films, means “there’s some dialogue”.

the weather is settling down = we’re getting some sun

volatility = prices may suddenly shoot up, stock market may fluctuate wildly

worthy = dull, preachy, left-wing

More euphemisms here, here, and here. Also here, here, here, here, here and here.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Publishing Euphemisms

What those rejection letters, blurbs and reviews really mean.

Robert McCrum in The Guardian, 2009:
Cult novel: no publicity to speak of but it got a review in Time Out.
Word-of-mouth sensation: thank God for Amazon.
Multicultural phenomenon: no one can pronounce the author's name.
American bestseller: someone had a long lunch in New York.
Manga novel: a comic book.
Cult manga sensation: a comic book that's won a prize.
Bestselling manga sensation: DreamWorks has bought the film rights.
European sensation: we got drunk at Frankfurt.

Speaking of Frankfurt, the language of books is not exclusively English. To flash a bit of savoir faire, it doesn't hurt to go Euro:
Schadenfreude: deploy with caution; and certainly not to be confused with Weltanschauung or Bildungsroman.
Succès d'estime: we've put an ad in the London Review of Books...
Succès fou: sounds better in French, right?

Returning to these shores, the British book buyer must face up to the idiolect of blurbs:
Lacerating: excruciating.
Warts and all: a few dirty bits.
Authorised: deadly.
Writing at the peak of his/her powers: basically past it, but who knows?
Long-awaited: we sacked two editors and it's still overdue.
Her masterpiece: she's been around for years and with a bit of luck this one will click.
His masterpiece: we have reached the end of the line with this one, but fingers crossed.
Witty and profound: three jokes and an inexplicable reference to Wittgenstein.

If that wasn't bad enough for the harmless browser, there's that "reviewerese" to negotiate:
Delightful: the author's a friend.
I laughed out loud: this book has one joke.
Heartstopping: Hallelujah! There's even a plot.
In the tradition of X: the author has plagiarised X.
(And gently satirical: toothless)

More from The Guardian’s John Dugdale April 2012
We don't have sales numbers yet: trust us, you don't want to know
I loved the opening: boy, the middle needs work
National publicity and marketing campaign: there's no budget, so you're on your own
I've read the book: I've had it read
Ebook sales are strong, please don't worry: print sales are a disaster
This is too British for the American market: I have no idea what this is about
The translation is rather uneven: if it ain't from Scandinavia, we ain't interested
All our focus is on the paperback: the hardback tanked
There is such excitement in-house: my assistant loved it
Well-researched (for fiction):
maybe try writing non-fiction
Multi-layered: too many characters
Extraordinary breadth: too many scenes
Epic: too long
Too commercial for our list: I could have written it
Too literary for our list: too boring
At times exhilarating but tone is uneven: hysterical nonsense
Never quite reached the potential it promised: pitch better than book
I'm not sure I can get support for this wonderful novel in-house: a hotter manuscript has landed on my desk
I think we (agency) can improve the terms in your next contract: was your last agent in a coma?

Inspirational Quotes 19

Men like to say that they find intelligence attractive. 

One in five British women will reach the menopause without having had children. ONS study 2011

40 per cent of female university graduates aged 35 are childless and 30 per cent will stay that way. Institute of Education

You can express your interest in the normal way: get drunk and try to get off with her. Or the sensible way: clarify that she fancies you by asking her out on an official "date".

If you tell someone you want to be their boyfriend and they say "no, thanks" then that doesn't leave you much room for manoeuvre.

When you fall in love, you will think about moving in, about engagement, about marriage, about children, about divorce, about how to get along with your ex. Guardian May 5 12

We carried on with the charade. Blair’s ex-speech writer, Guardian May 5 12

Characteristics increasing the mating success of men are likely to evolve faster than those increasing the mating success of women. Independent April 2012

The troupe’s entire social structure revolves around a complicated system of posturing and teeth-baring… She is simply the lowest of the low, and is being told this in no uncertain terms. Richard Hammond on macaque monkeys, I

…the dreamily stoned solipsism, caressingly voiced condescension and utterly scatter-brained sense of entitlement… the way dreamers have to become authority figures in their turn. Review of Love, Love, Love, Independent May 10, 2012

“Couch and kitchen socialising has basically died out,” says Jonathan Gershuny, a sociologist at Oxford University. Quoted in the Economist May 2012  (People meet their friends outside the home instead, and it’s easier to arrange thanks to the internet. )

Inspirational Quotes Part 18

Inspirational Quotes Part 17
Inspirational Quotes Part 16
Inspirational Quotes Part 15
Inspirational Quotes Part 14
Inspirational Quotes Part 13
Inspirational Quotes Part 12
Inspirational Quotes Part 11
Inspirational Quotes Part 10
Inspirational Quotes Part Nine
Inspirational Quotes Part Eight
More here and here and here. And here. And here too. Yet more here.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Clichés and Received Ideas

Those factoids that everybody knows, those bromides that everybody wheels out: Gustave Flaubert (pictured) called them "received ideas". He collected them into a dictionary, and I have copied him. My new ebook Clichés: A Dictionary of Received Ideas is now available from Amazon at the low, low price of 0.75p.

Here's a sample:

LADYBIRDS Hate the colour purple.
COLOURS How do we know that what we see as “red” is the same as what other people see?
ELIZABETHANS Had appalling table manners.
FLORENCE, BRASILIA ETC It always rains without fail at four in the afternoon.
PLOTS There are only five plots.
GOLD A person who is gilded all over will die because their skin can't breathe.
LOS ANGELES They arrest you for walking.
PHILISTINES Were really sensitive potters.
NETTLES If you hold your breath they won't sting you.
WATER Runs down the plughole anticlockwise south of the equator.

Sir Thomas Browne in 1672 wrote a whole book on people's stubborn insistence on believing that ground glass was a poison and sheep bred on hillsides had one set of legs shorter than the other. They even thought that mistletoe grew on trees from seeds carried by birds, the ignorami!

Saturday 21 July 2012

Nora Ephron's 25 Things...

Twenty-Five Things People have a shocking capacity to be surprised by over and over again
by Nora Ephron (1941-2012)
1. Journalists sometimes make things up.

2. Journalists sometimes get things wrong.
3. Almost all books that are published as memoirs are initially written as novels, and then the agent/editor says, this might work better as a memoir.

4. Beautiful young women sometimes marry ugly, old rich men.
5. In business, there is no such thing as synergy in the good sense of the term.

6. Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one.

7. Nothing written in today’s sports pages makes sense to anyone who didn’t read yesterday’s sports pages.

8. There is no explaining the stock market but people try.

9. The Democrats are deeply disappointing.
10. Movies have no political effect whatsoever.

11. High-protein diets work.

12. A lot of people take the Bible literally.

13. Pornography is the opiate of the masses.

14. You can never know the truth of anyone’s marriage, including your own.
15. People actually sign pre-nuptial agreements.
16. Mary Matalin and James Carville are married.

17. Muslims hate us.

18. Everybody lies.

19. The reason why it’s important for a Democrat to be President is the Supreme Court.

20. Howard Stern is apparently very nice in person.

21. In Manhattan a small one-bedroom apartment that needs work costs $1 million.

22. People look like their dogs.

23. Cary Grant was Jewish.
24. Cary Grant wasn’t Jewish.
25. Larry King has never read a book.

Yes, not all of them translate. Cary Grant was from Bristol.

Friday 20 July 2012

Bronze at the Royal Academy

 Etruscan chimera: three animals in one

Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London
020 7300 5615
15 September-9 December 2012
From Bronze Age chariots to Louise Bourgeois spiders, taking in African heads, Buddhas and an Etruscan chimera (above), this exhibition will show how different cultures have used this metal to create gods, animals, pots and portraits. The works span 5,000 years; this is the largest cross-cultural show ever attempted.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Fake Etymology II

Why did well-known words and phrases come into being? There are many fanciful explanations, most of them unbelievable and insupportable. I have collected them into a mini e-book:

And here are some extras completely free:

Why was French Revolutionary hero Robespierre known as “the sea-green Incorruptible”?

He was said to be unable to be corrupted, or bought off (the Incorruptible part). He is supposed to have worn a sea-green cockade in his hat, hence the sea-green part.

He was as incorruptible as the sea was green.

Mme de Staël said he was pale, with green veins. Carlyle translated this to sea-green, “atrabiliar”, and went on about it.

Someone else at the time or nearer it said he had greenish spectacles.

GABARDINE Was invented by Alice Gabardine in 1888.

HORCHATA It’s a traditional drink made from nuts. The Free Dictionary says: Various folk etymologies exist – one legend links the origins of the name to James I of Aragon, who after being given the drink for the first time by a local in Alboraya, was said to have exclaimed "Això és or, xata!" ("That's gold, darling!")

LOO for toilet From the trade name Waterloo, which featured on iron cisterns.

GROAT John o’Groats is called after Jan de Groot, who ran a ferry from there (to Orkney, Fair Isle and Shetland, probably). The fare was 4d. Hence groat, which is how you pronounce Groot. (Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island)

KANGAROO Is the Australian aborigine for "What is that?".

BOOMERANG So-called because when early settlers asked the aborigines what the device was called, they answered "boomerang", meaning "it has no name".

LIGHT-HEARTED, HEAVY-HEARTED From ancient Egyptians thinking that
after death your heart was weighed against a feather.

MATTRESSES Used to be secured on bed frames by ropes.When you pulled them the mattress got firmer, hence the phrase “Goodnight,sleep tight” says @LadyKentmores (George Johnson) Or is it because the mattress rested on a network of ropes which needed tightening occasionally? (Lucy Worsley)

Thursday 12 July 2012

Outdated Slang III

When did people stop saying:

“Books and newspapers will survive because people will never read on computer screens.”

arguably/unarguably (70s)

But still.

Christopher Columbus!


dirty work at the crossroads

Discussing what a forward slash or hash sign really is (solidus, octothorpe). (It’s gone through the “remote” evolution. People used to call it the “Herbert” or some other twee nickname and now everybody calls it a remote.)

Get your finger out! (Probably Army, common in the buttoned-up 60s.)

green shoots

in for trendy, popular

in turn

om nom nom!

preserved in aspic (when people stopped using aspic)

put away in mothballs (when people stopped using mothballs)

right, left and centre

secondment (They were the kind of people who called holidays “annual leave” and could say “superannuation” with a straight face. )

That’ll do the trick.

The exception proves the rule. (Perhaps ridiculous beliefs are less popular, and people are more practical. Maybe because they have more things that actually work.)

the world as we know it (70s)

trendy for trending

Twitter/Facebook is evil.

Violence is the real obscenity.

Wake up!

What’s your game?

Who sez? Sez who?

You soppy date!

More here.
And more here.

Neologisms 5

purgatory with hanging baskets Dan Kieran on Alresford

insta-hummable, permo-glued Dora Mortimer in Diva magazine

defogeyfication (putting a steel and glass skeleton around the Cutty Sark etc)


scope creep (of a project)

the state-sponsored babysitting nature of some college programmes

You'll be Art Deconized if you walk into this antique warehouse (Eric Knowles on Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is)

It felt as though we’d walked onto the set of a washing powder advert. Daisy Greenwell on a tiny Greek island Times May 2012


cardigan style old-fashioned golf commentating

homeopathy: dilutions of grandeur

barcode the fine lines around your lips that your lipstick “bleeds” into

glue-on CGI @Davebot1000

It’s time for X to open the kimono for “politician to set out his stall”.

an hour-long Laura Ashley advert Ross Clark in the Times on Titanic and period drama generally, March 2012

pizza effect Phenomena are exported and then reimported to their country of origin (also called hermeneutical feedback loop) Pizzas, and also folk songs published by collectors (sanitised and harmonised) that go back into the oral tradition in that form (and then get collected again…)

the ship has sailed There’s no point going on trying to read Trollope, watch a movie you’ve lost interest in and many many more.

head maths for mental arithmetic

defenestration for sacking

But there are better books out there that won't make you feel like Lysoling your brain afterward. Amazon reviewer on Joan Rivers’ Still Talking

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Yet More Adjectives

Ignore people who tell you to "kill your darlings" and slash all adverbs and adjectives. They're just recycling an old "How to Write" manual from 1922. More adjectives here, here and here.

arthritic: The sometimes arthritic hierarchies of the old far left Laurie Penney New Statesman February 2011

Bismarck was “a self-centred, neurotic, corrupt, vindictive, treacherous, unprincipled, despotic, gluttonous ingrate, and a habitual liar to boot” Jonathan Steinberg in Bismarck: A Life

comedically bad Owen Hatherley on Southampton’s modernist hotels

fatuous: exemplifies a marketing-led architectural approach with its thin, etched aluminium façade and fatuous decorative balustrades. Kieran Long Evening Standard 20 April 2011
grisly: Making buildings symbolise something is something generally associated with the grisly jokiness of the ‘80s, such as Terry Farrell’s TVAM eggcups and so forth.

hand-wringing (liberal)

interchangeable: Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami, tends to send me into that pleasant haze of boredom as the interchangeable characters, quotidian detail and clunky metaphors pass by.

Lofty, ploddingly literary and rather affectedly performed, the material may have functioned as a short film, but is not nearly amusing or even interesting enough to go the distance at feature length. Variety on Le Nain Rouge, May 17 1998

mesmerisingly awful Kate Muir in the Times, May 2011, on a book about Wallis Simpson

mindless business park aesthetic @HughPearman

monumentally dull A Dance to the Music of Time darrenlollipopman Guardian Jan 8 2011

oppressively feelgood
Philip French Observer Feb 11

sappy and predictable Jonah Lehrer in the Wall Street Journal on The King’s Speech Jan 2011

stiflingly archaic and curatorial Sunday Times on the Fleet Foxes

twee: It’s the self-loving tweeness… @Quantick (David Quantick) on the Hairy Bikers

whimsical nonsense The Times on Terry Jones/Anne Dudley opera about a dog who is a doctor

whiteboy anono-rockers @Bobbi_Betamax

More adjectives here and here and here and here.

Monday 9 July 2012

Reasons to Be Cheerful... ish

Christian marriage has been unchanged for hundreds of years:

“The doctrine [canon law] enabled an Englishman to lock up his wife and not be liable for the tort of false imprisonment. He could beat her and not be guilty of assault. The same principle permitted him to rape her without the law recognising it as rape. A wife could not proceed against her husband, nor be called to give evidence in court against him. Most such constraints were done away with in Britain by Acts of Parliament in 1935 and 1945 in the teeth of fierce opposition from the organised Churches.”

1306 Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II declares gay marriage, along with sorcery and incest, to be unChristian.
1563 Council of Trent makes marriage a sacrament
2012 Coalition government is making forced marriage a crime.

Women priests and civil partnerships have rapidly become “entirely unremarkable”, says Robert Shrimsley,, March 2012.

Cheerful News
The world is less authoritarian than it was in the 50s. You can’t just order people around as if they were squaddies. Or make decisions for them. You have to give them reasons, and consult their wishes. Families are far more democratic. Children’s opinions are considered. Or at least, that’s the theory.

1609 Bohemia granted freedom of religion

1881 Flogging abolished in the army

1930s Anglican Church cautiously accepts artificial contraception at a conference of bishops

Since 1965 the statute law revision team has culled 2,000 obsolete laws.

2004 UK mobile phone operators block porn

2007 UK ISPs block child porn

It’s unlawful to give a child under 5 alcohol.
It’s unlawful to give a child over 5 alcohol if the child is harmed.
It is unlawful to be drunk in charge of a child under 7 in a public place or on licensed premises.

2012 Scientology membership has fallen from 200,000 to 40,000.

Not So Cheerful
1179 The Lateran Councils of 1179 and 1215 prohibited Jews from living close to Christians

1533 Buggery made a felony punishable by death in England and Wales.
1861 Buggery no longer punishable by death.
1885 Sex between men criminalised.
Homosexuality was legalised in “England and Wales in 1967, in Scotland in 1980, Northern Ireland in 1982, Guernsey in 1983, Jersey in 1990”. (Wikipedia)
1990 World Health Organisation removes homosexuality from its catalogue of mental diseases
1992 Homosexuality legalised in the Isle of Man.

1775 last execution for witchcraft in Germany

Until 1971 “women were banned from going into Wimpy Bars on their own, after midnight, on the grounds that the only women out on their own at that hour must be prostitutes”. (The BBC says “as late as 1971”, as if change ought to have happened faster than it did.)

What Took Them So Long?
The first women’s club in America began meeting over lunch in New York in 1868. They met at Delmonico’s because, like most fancy restaurants at the time, Delmonico’s did not allow women in unescorted for lunch. So they just walked in and sat down, and that was the start of the womens’ club movement… In 1969, Betty Friedan led a group of women to lunch in the Oak Room at the Plaza, where they still did not serve women who were not escorted by men. They sat there for two hours and the waiters wouldn’t go near them. The Plaza changed its policy within a few months. ( Advice to travellers in 1967 says British women do not dominate the conversation, and do not go into pubs unescorted.

1948 Women get degrees on an equal footing with men in Cambridge

“Until the early 90s, the Association of Travel Writers was male only, with an annual ladies' luncheon.” Linda Grant

2008 England’s Blasphemy Law repealed

Women need their ex-husband’s consent to revert to their maiden name if they change their name by enrolled deed poll. (Ordinary Deed Poll doesn’t have this requirement.)

Yet More Reasons to Be Cheerful.
More Reasons to Be Cheerful... ish.
More Reasons to Be Cheerful here, here and here.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Inspirational Quotes 18

There are men who in the presence of ladies so lose their power of speech that they forget the things they have carefully thought out and arranged in their minds. 12th century dating manual

We go after the attractive all-American kid with great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong, and can’t. Head of Abercrombie and Fitch, New York Times April 2012-04-30

The first big misconception is thinking that “Sex is natural.” It is as a result of this discourse that sexual education has long been obstructed as though it were not necessary to understand the mechanisms at work. Author of book about sex Philippe Brenot

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. Oscar Wilde

The road not taken doesn't always vanish: it can live on in our minds, affecting our present and shaping our future. BPS digest April 2012

I had always imagined myself middle-aged, married to a woman, and having a son and daughter — didn’t everyone want some version of that? Prospect April 2012

If your mantra is “take me as I am” you should not always be surprised if employers decline the offer.  Jenny McCartney Sunday Telegraph April 2012

Need to do more so I've got stuff to talk about. @RBFesquire

The notion that smart girls should make a man wait before they have sex with him derives from a host of socially constructed methodologies designed to prevent young people having sex with each other at a time when contraception was either unavailable or unreliable. Since the advent of the Pill, parents, religious groups and educators have resorted to guilt narratives to try to rein in youthful sexuality. For example, your mother and my mother would both have absorbed the notion that boys would tell you that they love you in order to persuade you to have sex with them and then once they’d had their wicked way, they would not even consider marrying you because you were too "easy". It was, I know, a well-intentioned attempt to prolong virginity at a time when sex before marriage and unwanted pregnancy were the ultimate taboos. …it still nags away at our collective conscience and makes us feel like bad girls if we put out too quickly. Casual sex has always received bad press. Suzi Godson Times April 2012

A lot of it is how you dress. I found people don't flirt with me if I wear big man pants and a rainbow sweatshirt. Girl with Aspergers,

“I was shocked to find how robust a predictor of social isolation commuting is,” Robert Putnam, a Harvard political scientist, told me. “There’s a simple rule of thumb: Every ten minutes of commuting results in ten per cent fewer social connections. Commuting is connected to social isolation, which causes unhappiness.” People may endure miserable commutes out of an inability to weigh their general well-being against quantifiable material gains. New Yorker 2007

It’s not just the flakes we wash out, it’s the confidence we wash in. Head and Shoulders advert

Grand exits don’t always make an impact. When journalist Ron Rosenbaum ripped up his paycheck in front of his editor at The Village Voice and stormed off vowing never to return, the editor looked up quizzically. “Who was that?” he asked.

[Solitary confinement] “crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment”. John McCain

Inspirational Quotes Part 17
Inspirational Quotes Part 16
Inspirational Quotes Part 15
Inspirational Quotes Part 14
Inspirational Quotes Part 13
Inspirational Quotes Part 12
Inspirational Quotes Part 11
Inspirational Quotes Part 10
Inspirational Quotes Part Nine
Inspirational Quotes Part Eight
More here and here and here. And here. And here too. Yet more here.

Thursday 5 July 2012


Need a gang or posse? Pick from one of these:
art herd
beautiful people
cheer squads
(especially when these are fellow-tramps)
dark forces
(shadowy group blamed for anything you like)
dwarf stars and bit players
(Richard Lacayo on the NY art market)
elbow roomers In geography and urban planning, elbow roomers are people who leave a city for the countryside to seek more land and greater freedom from governmental and neighborhood interference. Some are carrying out activities such as large-scale gardening, the raising of horses or other animals, or farming, or otherwise have a genuine need for the space. Others wish to pursue a rural lifestyle for reasons unrelated to space itself. Elbow roomers are often said to contribute to urban sprawl, though some authorities claim they are a part of the natural evolution of the edges of urban areas. (Wikipedia)
fashion pack
God squad
haute boheme
mutual admiration society
prawn sandwich brigade
(football liggers who only go for the corporate hospitality)
self-righteous eco-prigs
Times Aug 8 07
smug marrieds
The Hay Stack
(Hay on Wye groupies)
the high heid yins (what the Scots call TPTB or The Powers That Be)
train (group of people who trail after a VIP)

Inspirational Quotes 17

Cultivate inner beauty, learn a martial art to give you confidence, and you'll find someone when you aren't looking. Yeah, right.

Blondes are paid more, and marry wealthier men. Daily Telegraph 4 April 2010

Outside the protective bubble of a long-term relationship... Diary of a Separation, The Guardian, April 2012

Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest. @diggonomics

Really enjoying this Buddhism stuff I'm reading. It's simple, profound & beautiful. I particularly like the forgiving, forgetting stuff. //However, there doesn't seem to be a section on what to do if someone continues to be a **** after all your forgiving & forgetting. // think maybe those bits where Buddhism falls short is where Kung Fu comes in. @spudkitten

The consequences of obesity, at a personal and a societal level, are staggering. Susan Yanovski of NIH in Bethsda, MD, quoted in New Scientist April 2012

Each time the family arrived at a new place, Mike would be bullied. But the bullies left him alone once he learned to box, a skill that helped pay his way (in prize fights) through university. Obituary of runner Micah True April 2012

Employers make an instant judgement based on appearance… dress a level up. Your teeth, hair and general personal hygiene are key to your image, so spending money to get them right is always worthwhile… be considerate about how you could be perceived. Times April 2012 on improving your job-hunting chances.

[Davina McCall] tells me that she spent her 20s actively seeking a husband. Interview April 2012

One thing you can do is act “as if.” Watch people you think are more like the way you want to be. Then do a little role playing. Act as if you are like them. Believe it or not, by making a game of it and acting “as if” over time, you will start to incorporate those new behaviors. Good advice from

For younger people, work is an important social centre, a place to make friends and attract a partner. So their behaviour at work was about being entertaining, drawing attention to themselves and putting on a display. The Guardian, July 31, 2004

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Inspirational Quotes 16

“I was a dishwasher in a local Greek restaurant. No money, but it was something to do. It got me out of bed. I like restaurants. They become these weird families and you get very close to people.” (Jon Hamm on ordinary job therapy, Daily Mail March 2012)

Rhett Butler's father died of "genteel starvation... and hope". (Via @sophiawaugh)

"Be here now" was the slogan when she was in college, and "What, me worry?" Even during sex she could be made to feel inadequately bliss-centered, not cosmically enough tuned to the mysteries. Maybe you had to have children to recognize that rhetoric for the crock of shit it is. Lisa Zeidner

My teenage years were the hardest. All your friends pair off. (Small person in The Guardian, Dec 2011)

The majority (60%–70%) of patients with schizophrenia do not marry or have children, and most have very few friends or social contacts. The impact of these social difficulties as well as the stress caused by the symptoms themselves is reflected in the high suicide rate among patients with schizophrenia. (

In her startlingly pretty youth [she] had bobbed about in the shallows of the 1880s avant-garde group, the Souls. (Kathryn Hughes 2004 The Guardian)

I see it more along the lines of a typical entry in the long catalog of films where the female lead has no idea what she's looking for in her life so she does whatever is irrational and fun because that's how movie magic works. Liz throws out a man who has given the viewer no reason for dismissal, but this is standard procedure in a chick flick because here women can do anything and their lives will always improve. I've encountered far too many girls who take these plots to heart and implement them in the real world, leaving a trail of confused men in their wake. I'm a guy, and I'm not dumb enough to think that all the explosions I see in the films designed for my gender need to be realized at home. (Legendary Badass)

I think we made little of sorrow. We weren't sloppy-sentimental. It wasn't the thing to bellyache. Money and illness and sex were not talked about in those days and they are the only things people talk about these days, aren't they? Self pity and self esteem, which are now the key things in schools, were not allowed. (Deborah Devonshire)

Lifelong adolescence and self-indulgent bohemianism, often so unimpressive when encountered in real life... (Christopher Hart, Sunday Times, September 2010)

“It’s not about what you look like,” says Jessie J, hammering home The Voice’s “image is immaterial” message, while rocking… the image Jessie and a group of image experts have worked out as a winning formula in an industry where image is everything. (Grace Dent, April 1 2012)

She seems to have led a reasonably normal adult life — yielding a decent first marriage, two children and a happy second marriage. (Book review, Sunday Times)

Women have compromised themselves for aeons to be able to breed with partners who can provide security. (Suzi Godson Times Mar 17 12)

I learnt how to act like an extrovert. I think a lot of people learn the rules of the game [in order] to function. (Mark Dykeman on

Have the chat to suss out whether they want kids, disguised as comment about other people's kids. (Middle Class Handbook gives dating advice)

Camille Paglia noted that [The Best of Everything, written in the 50s] and Sex and the City had much in common in that the characters in both (who have similar lives) are "very much at the mercy of cads." (Wikipedia on novelist Rona Jaffe)

Cruddas says it was just "bluster". About as convincing as claiming abuse just "banter".  (@fechtbuch)

Those living alone “are more depressed”. (BBC March 23, 2012)

I'd pray for you, but (a) I'm an atheist, and (b) it doesn't work anyway, but the thought is there. (

More here, and links to the rest.