Saturday 21 June 2014

Received Ideas VI

The gun helps.
More quotes purged from my mini ebook, Clichés: A Dictionary of Received Ideas. Only £1.50.

CAPTAIN COOK His ships were too big for the Polynesians to see: “European explorer ships, it is said, were invisible to native peoples because they had never seen a ship before.” (Guardian blogs, 16 May 2005)

CROMWELL Never housed his steeds in a stable when there was a church handy: “General Monk, having changed sides, sacked Dundee for Cromwell and stabled his horses in the ruins of the South Church.”

EVIL Old-fashioned. “Do we still need evil?”, asks Laurie Taylor (July 2012).

GUNS Don’t kill people. People kill people. (“But the gun helps.” Eddie Izzard)

GUYS, IT’S 2014! Say this whenever a social reform has unaccountably failed to happen. “The dates of English school and university spring terms are set according to when Easter falls, and the date of Easter is set by the phases of the moon – this in the 21st century!” (A.C. Grayling, 2013)

HELL IN A HANDCART Where we’re all headed: “London, that us’d to be the most safe and peaceful City in the Universe, is now a Scene of Rapine and Danger [due to] effeminacy, our Toupee Wigs, and powder’d Pates, our Tea and other scandalous Fopperies; Disuse of noble & manly Sports." (Daniel Defoe, 1728) Thanks to Lee Jackson, author of Daily Life in Victorian London.

HISTORY IS BUNK Henry Ford “said nothing of the sort. What he did say was that much history was bad history, and was therefore more or less bunk. He was not criticising history but the way it was interpreted and taught. He was so concerned that well-based history should be available that he endowed history faculties in a number of US universities.” (Professor Emeritus Garel Rhys, Cardiff University, writing to the Times, 2014)

HUMAN RIGHTS As Prince Charles said in 2001, the Human Rights Act “will only encourage people to take up causes which will make the pursuit of a sane, civilised and ordered existence ever more difficult”. (That may be why we are going to Hell in a handcart.)

IBSEN “His reputation as a distinctly gloomy, po-faced Norwegian who invariably occupies the high moral ground does him no favours.” (Daily Telegraph, February 2010)

ICED COFFEE “There’s a popular story that iced coffee (frappé) was invented during some exhibition in Thessaloniki when an enterprising exhibitor whose stand didn’t have electricity decided to try his coffee cold instead of hot.” (A Greek friend writes)

JOKES “There are only eight jokes, though nobody knows what they are.” (Paul Daniels) “It’s impossible to be funny without offending someone.” (Jeremy Clarkson)

KIDS TODAY Grow up too fast: “In every generation… there has been an outcry against young girls’ bad behaviour as if it were a new phenomenon – the flappers, the beats, the ladettes – and every generation has looked back with nostalgia to a previous age when little girls’ innocence was intact.” (Review of Girl Trouble by Carol Dyhouse, The Guardian, March 16 2013) “Ever since the war there has been a loosening of moral fibre. Nobody minds what they say, and as to the clothes they wear!” (Mrs Price-Ridley in Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage complains that there has been a loosening of moral fibre since the war – the First World War) “In the 1550s, people in Buxton complained about ‘youthful persons’ who loved ‘to pipe, dance, hop and sing’.” (Tom Holland)

KILTS An ancient form of Scottish dress: “The mummy’s curse is one of those traditions (like celebrating Christmas or wearing clan tartans) whose origins are supposedly lost in the mists of time but were in fact invented by the Victorians.” Thomas Jones, London Review of Books, February 2014

LESBIANS Queen Victoria didn't believe in them: “It’s claimed that the 1885 Labouchère Amendment which prohibited acts of ‘gross indecency’ between men originally applied also to women. The Queen stated firmly that no woman ever did things like that; nobody wanted to take on the job of explaining the reality to her; and the bill was amended, so as to leave lesbians unaffected.” (Friend WS writes.)

LOGIC “The paperwork of the brain.” (Truett Ogden)

More here, and links to the rest.

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