Wednesday 29 March 2017

Reasons to Be Cheerful 19

Rose Heilbron

The Liberal Project continues, despite the efforts of the Far Right to unravel it. There are still some reasons to be cheerful. There’s a natural hair movement in Africa and beyond, only about 40 years after the last one. And we don’t lock up “mental defectives” for decades any more. (Some were released in the 70s after 30 years inside.) Tail docking and ear cropping in dogs are now banned in much of Europe and Australia. But not in North America, and many Americans think that’s what the dogs look like. Forty years ago women become pilots. (It had been suggested that periods would make them unreliable.)

And this doesn’t happen any more: When I started work in 70s, the old-timers still talked bitterly of 'gentleman's hours', when the toffs had swanned in & out as they pleased. (@PaulGibbens1)

In France, the 1920 Birth Law... criminalised dissemination of birth-control literature. That law, however, was annulled in 1967 by the Neuwirth Law, thus authorising contraception, which was followed in 1975 with the Veil Law. Women fought for reproductive rights and they helped end the nation's ban on birth control in 1965. In 1994, 5% of French women aged 20 to 49 who were at risk of unintended pregnancy did not use contraception... Contraception in the Republic of Ireland was illegal in the Irish Free State (later the Republic of Ireland) from 1935 until 1980, when it was legalised with restrictions, later loosened. In Italy women gained the right to access birth control information in 1970. (Wikipedia)

Record numbers of young people now have the chance to attend university; rates of crime, teenage pregnancy, and divorce are at 40 year lows. Even inequality, while a legitimate concern, has not increased dramatically since the mid 1990s. (Spectator)

1215 Trial by jury supersedes trial by ordeal in England.

1803 Toilet rolls invented.

1962 Elizabeth Lane appointed first female judge in the County Court.
1965 Elizabeth Lane appointed first female judge in the High Court.
1972 Rose Heilbron appointed first female judge to sit at the Old Bailey.

1982 France decriminalises homosexuality.

1986 Public Order Act makes it an offence to publish or distribute written material which may stir up racial hatred.

2016 The Church of England Synod votes to allow clergy to ditch the robes.

2016 A Parliamentary report says that firms can not impose a dress code on employees (short skirts, high heels).

Mar 2017 Beauty and the Beast to be shown in full in Malaysia after censors back down (the live-action film features a gay character).

2017 First woman in 1,000 years becomes full member of St Pauls Cathedral choir.

Feb 2017 Gohil, prince of Rajpipla, Gujarat, calls for homosexuality to be decriminalised in India.

2017 UK deaths on the road have halved in the last 15 years.

2017 From April, large firms must publish pay gap figures.

2017 Jan UK government pardons thousands of gay men for decades-old “offences”.

2017 FGM banned in Nigeria.

2017 Feb 24 Same-sex marriage legalised in Slovenia

2017 Men in Sheds (run by the U3A) goes unisex (The carpentry co-ops were set up to combat male loneliness and depression.)

2017 Irish Sexual Offences Bill stops the accused from cross-examining victims of sexual offences.

2017 Botox accepted as a migraine treatment in Scotland.

2017 Lloyd’s of London bans 9-5 drinking for employees.

2017 March Muirfield Golf Club says it will admit women.

Less than cheerful

The gender pay gap in the UK is narrowing – but not in the Civil Service.

1919-1971 yearly renewal of 1919 Aliens Act. German & Jewish workers post-WW1 the ones to blame in parliament for any UK 'decline'. Lab&Tory. (Mister Neil Kulkarni ‏@KaptainKulk)

Germany doesn't have marriage equality, you can't get an abortion after three months or without mandatory counselling.

Dissolution of monasteries robbed the poor of social security and health service. Not addressed until the 1601 Poor Law.

1876 A woman blacksmith is taken to court for “wearing men’s apparel”.

1945-74 British children sent abroad to abusive “homes”.

1967 London Stock Exchange voted against women brokers.

2012 Squatting becomes illegal.

2017 At the behest of the Russian Orthodox Church, Russia has legalised domestic violence. (So that parents can “discipline” their children. And wives can be beaten once a year. In Russia, a woman dies of domestic abuse every 40 minutes.)

2017 The Republic of Ireland's Sexual Offences Bill criminalises the purchase of sex.

2017, 29 March EU President Donald Tusk receives the UK's letter triggering Article 50.

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Literary Clichés 3

Hard to read on the bus

Taking Detective Stories Seriously: The Collected Crime Reviews of Dorothy L. Sayers, introduction by Martin Edwards

If you are a Golden Age mystery fan, this is a lovely read. Sayers reviewed two to four books a week in the 30s – that’s how many of the genre were being churned out.

Thank heavens for recent reprints – but in many minds the greats and the Queens are the only Golden Age mystery writers. The accusations of snobbery, clichés, formulae, anti-Semitism and cardboard characters that stick to Christie and others must have originally been aimed at a pantheon ranging from H.C. Bailey to E.R. Punshon.

It's also clear that the greats were deliberately writing in a genre that abounded in stock characters and stock situations. Someone should do a Golden Age TV Tropes, but meanwhile let Sayers be your guide.

It was “one of those embarrassing house parties” where a recent widow invites “all the mutually suspect and hostile persons” present at her husband’s death.

In another household “A nurse arrives... to look after a man who has been murderously assaulted. A grim-looking individual lurks in the drawing-room... An old mad-woman in antique costume calls the cook a creature of Satan... A face peers through the rain-streaked window.” It can only get better, with an armed butler, shots, a fainting woman, hypodermic-tampering, and then “two detectives burst in with a bedraggled prisoner”. And it’s only chapter three.

In Death Fugue, “We have the well-worn opening of the belated traveller and the lonely house with a corpse in it. An organ plays mysteriously...”

“The evil Egyptian with a formula for exterminating mankind, the idiotic female who lets herself be lured away by the bogus policeman, the languid villain who keeps tame cobras... and the final appearance (by aeroplane) of the whole cast on a lonely island.” All appear in F.A.M. Webster’s Gathering Storm.

“A mystical, Celtic-twilight sort of gang, with a pre-Druidical religion, blood-sacrifices, hypnotic powers... caves, secret passages, revolving bookcases, rats” populate Death by the Mistletoe by Angus MacVicar.*

The Ince Murder Case is written entirely in clichés.... Vision of feminine loveliness – finely chiselled features – some subtle sixth sense – surging mass of humanity – workings of a malign fate”. And everybody has a “white, set face”.

“Anybody who talks sentimentally to dogs or was anybody’s batman in the war” can be trusted, but not “anybody who behaves haughtily to an attached old Scottish retainer.” (Murder on the Moors by Colin Campbell.)

More tropes: missing wills, lost heirs, a “seedy adventurer who masquerades as a parson”, murder victims who leave cryptic clues, actors who are shot on-stage mid-performance, the least likely person dunnit, the amateur detective who insults everybody, good and evil twins with substitution a la The Scapegoat (Daphne du Maurier), the body in the library, the shabby provincial waxworks. But we shouldn’t forget that the greats frequently sent up these conventions.

Too many authors fall back on “the stilted style of the 1890s”, with sentences that start “Small wonder is it that...”. And it is hard to tell, at this distance, whether this is supposed to be parody. Sayers is hard on polysyllables and over-writing (“Horror and anxiety twisted like heraldic snakes round his heart.”), but her sense of humour is not always reliable. She loves Mr Rosenbaum, a character in Victor MacClure’s Death on the Set who talks like this: “Ere’s Mr Morden gone and bin moidid!”, also a nautical character who tells stories in a Dutch accent while passengers in John Dickson Carr’s The Blind Barber drink a lot and indulge in “hilarious horseplay”.

“To combine the novel of mystery with the novel of manners was the great achievement of English writers in the past...”, and we wish they’d take it up again. Sayers herself is a perceptive guide to the fads of her times, taking in spiritualism, glands and even 12-tone music. The catchily titled Obelists en Route by C. Daly King includes two rival psychologists, one of the “purposive” school and one a “gestaltist”. Another example features a fascist movement known as the Purple Shirts (They aim to “Make Britain Free”. It couldn't happen here.)

This is a fascinating book on many counts, and if you’re stuck for plot, characters or incident, it might provide inspiration. Its only drawback is its size and weight: 16cm by 23cm; printed on thick, heavy paper; in large type with generous leading. And the paper cover is smooth and slippery, which doesn't make it easier to hold.

Dear publishers: if the Penguin paperback format was good enough for Sayers... For comparison, I’ve used William Donaldson’s Great Disasters of the Stage (Simon Brett must have a copy). It’s 18cm by 11cm, printed on poor-quality paper, in small type and close leading, but it’s readable and I can easily hold it in one hand. I can even slip it in my handbag. Dear, dear publishers, remember that some of your readers are little old ladies with arthritis, who like to read on the bus or train.

* Apart from hypnotism and rats, all these appear in my self-published novel We Three.

More here, and links to the rest.

Bring back proper paperbacks

Friday 17 March 2017

Misunderstandings 5

"Pitch perfect" became "picture perfect" became "picture postcard perfect" due to confusion with "picture postcard village". If your singing is "pitch perfect", it's perfectly in tune.

It’s like the paediatrician being beaten up because he was he was mistaken for a paedophile. (Angus Jackson, RSC director Mar 2017 quoted in Times. The female paediatrician who had "paedo" scrawled on her house has become an urban legend. The BBC has the details.)

hairy shirts for hair shirts (The penitential shirts, woven out of goat hair, were itchy and hot. You wore luxurious clothes over the top and hid your suffering.)

Like the druid and bardic movements in Wales, a few proselytising enthusiasts became the bottomless butt of jokes for the metropolitan masses. (AA Gill on Morris dancing. The “butt” in “butt of jokes” isn’t the one in “butt of Malmsey” – a cask; it’s a butt as in Newington Butts – a target for archery. But was it the bottom of a barrel?)

Tenterhooks are still holding people aloft, while their breath remains baited. (Tenterhooks stretched cloth on a frame, didn’t hold things aloft.)

The British colonial army in India, whose favourite laxative was a spoonful of gunpowder in a cuppa 'ot tea. (Florence King, Wasp, Where Is Thy Sting? Is she thinking of gunpowder tea – dried green tea rolled into pellets? Saltpetre – gunpowder’s active ingredient – was used medicinally in the 18th century for asthma and arthritis, but it is toxic and of no medical use. Soldiers used to pass round the story that the army was dosing their tea with saltpetre to dull their libidos.)

Rurophilia crops up in the strangest places... including murder trials. The psychiatrist who testified for the Crown in the trial of mass murderer John Reginald Christie described the defendant contemptuously as “an insignificant, old-womanish city man”. (Florence King, Wasp, Where Is Thy Sting? Surely he called Christie a “City man” – someone who works in the City, London’s financial district? Christie had worked as a clerk in a radio factory, and for the Post Office Savings Bank.)

What a busy week for trolls typing away in their parents' box bedrooms. (Carol Midgley, Times. Box rooms are not rooms with a box bed or boxlike bedrooms – they are very small rooms intended for the family’s “boxes”, or trunks and suitcases. When a servant left she took her “box” containing all her belongings with her. They could only be carried by two men or strong women, but there were porters with trolleys at railway stations, and men and boys who hung about the streets offering to carry heavy stuff, load and unload carts etc for a few pennies. We have shoulder bags and pull-alongs now, but tiny boxrooms remain, and some have been turned into bedrooms.)

Infantile sectarian anarchist throwing windmills with nothing useful to say. (Does this tweeter think “tilting at windmills” means “chucking windmills about”? Don Quixote "tilted at" some windmills, thinking they were giants – he rode at them with a lance, like someone jousting in a tiltyard.)

Fiona Bruce thinks Edinburgh was called “Auld Reekie” because it suffered from “a particularly smelly smog”. It just means “Old Smokey” in the local dialect.

Africans sleep with their heads on uncomfortable wooden “pillows” or neck rests. (They’re stools.)

Gone was the palatial edifice of the Euston and Victoria hotels that looked like they'd been carved from sugarloaf. ( Baroque and post-baroque architecture is often called “icing sugar architecture” because it looks like a wedding cake covered in piped swirls and filigree.)

A Julian Fellowes’ heroine “has a 'cut-glass set' to her mouth.” (Explained here.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Received Ideas in Quotes 4

Wild hogs: Journalist Henry Mayhew recorded one of the most remarkable bits of folklore common among the toshers: that a “race of wild hogs” inhabited the sewers under Hampstead... These black swine “have become almost as ferocious as they are numerous”. (Smithsonian Magazine Toshers were men who made a living fishing in London’s sewers for coins, rope, metal or anything they could sell.)

Noah Webster was vehemently anti-British, and went out of his way to use as many variant spellings as possible. (MML Webster was a spelling reformer.)

The Myth of the US Immigration Crisis: The country doesn’t have a wave of undocumented workers. That ended a decade ago. (

And that music they all listen to is just noise and you can't tell if they're boys or girls half the time here's my invoice. (Jon Dryden Taylor ‏@jondrytay)

European culture, in contrast to crass American and Soviet materialism, was idealist and anti-materialist, defined especially by literature and the arts. (

Head-itching fact of the day: in the immediate post-war years René Magritte supported himself painting fake Picassos, Braques, de Chiricos. (Hamish Thompson ‏@HamishMThompson)

Housing minister says first-time buyers should rely on inheritance from their grandparents. (Independent)
This reminds me of that thing about cake that Marie Antoinette famously never said. (M. v. Aufschnaiter ‏@mva_1000)

The Cat and the FiddleOrigin theories abound, linking this nonsense poem to everything from Hathor worship, to the naming of constellations (Taurus, Canis minor etc), or even the annual flooding of the Nile. Some have argued that it describes priests urging the working poor to work even harder. (

It was the duty of the god-parent to buy their god-child a pair of boots/shoes on the child's birthday, so that should the child's parents die by any and various means, then the child would be able to walk the distance to the god-parent's house. (Guardian commenter)

The caged birds [in Goya’s The Red Boy] may symbolize the soul, the cats may be an evil force. (Wikipedia)
It is said that Michelangelo included a concealed human brain on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. (MJ)

Modern society is going through a transition from the old mythologies and traditions to a new way of thinking where a global mythology will emerge. (Joseph Campbell, Wikipedia paraphrase)

Sylvia Sim was more famous than “Dickie”. While Attenborough was portrayed in the media as the “ultimate luvvie”, liable to weep at any time in public and especially in homage to fellow thespians, Sim escaped parody. (A Times obituary of Sylvia Sim, Lady Attenborough, drags in clichés about her husband, making a tenuous connection to Sim herself. Why mention them, unless the Times just wants to get in another dig at “luvvies” who have a nasty habit of caring about other people and voting Labour?)

Prince Charles never leaves home without his white leather loo seat, a Christmas present from his sister... Other packing essentials include a silver-plated porcupine-quill toothpick, a small red-and-gold cushion for his bad back, and solid-gold collar stiffeners, all stowed in his Louis Vuitton monogrammed luggage with a selection of 60 suits by tailors Anderson & Sheppard costing £3,000 a pop, and more than 200 handmade Turnball & Asser shirts at £350 each. ... A fussy eater, he likes vegetables steamed in a particular mineral water, and takes tea between 4pm and 5pm: muffins with boiled eggs - the chef boils seven eggs at a time to ensure at least one is perfect. (Condé Nast Traveller It was three boiled eggs last time. And it’s TurnBULL and Asser.)

Relativity, quantum physics, string theory etc etc have restored doubt, mystery and humility to the quest for knowledge and understanding - or at least that should be the effect. (DT)

Scientism is notorious for being its own echo chamber and having names for keeping other opinions out, like “peer review”. It’s just another #FakeReligion filled with fanatic zealots. (via Twitter)

The true meaning of Christmas is being drowned out by materialism.
(Pope Francis)

Unlike some others, Van Mildert college at Durham University was trivial to navigate, and very pleasant, centring around a lake that was rumoured to have been intended as a car park that flooded. (AG)

Why is it that Labour is often said to have a 'soul', over which there is always a 'battle'? It's never struck me as anything but weird. (‏@PolProfSteve Steven Fielding)

In the 17th Century Coffee houses sprung up around the City and were places of debate, gossip, business and promotion. It’s also worth bearing in mind that before then, people were mainly drinking weak beer all day (which was far safer than disease-ridden water) so it was basically the first time anyone was having fully sober discussions! ... A tradition developed whereby ships were sold ‘by the candle’ which meant it was an auction governed by the time it takes for a candle to melt. The final sale was confirmed when a pin (stuck into the candle wax before melting) dropped in front of the eager crowd; hence the phrase “You could’ve heard a pin drop”! (

Boxing DaySamuel Pepys talks about the 26th as 'Boxing Day' because the wealthy would give their servants the day off, sent home with a box of treats. (Dan Snow ‏@thehistoryguy)

In the days of rich gentry in England, they would go visiting each others' mansions for weeks at a time, living off their hosts. At the end of the visit they would leave some money in a large wooden box near the front entrance. Every year on Dec 26th, the servants would open the box and split the money. You know this if you read a lot of Jane Austen. (MC)

The residents of the manor would bring food and small gifts to their tenants. (EB)
It's the day you gift your servants with a "Christmas box" and switch places with them for the day. (AS)

(Another says job-switching happened in the Army. According to former nurse Monica Dickens, doctors and surgeons served patients and nurses their Christmas lunch – and carved the turkey. A "Christmas box" was a tip given to regular tradespeople who called at your door - bringing mail, bread, milk, coal, groceries and collecting trash. If the tip wasn't big enough, coal or trash would be accidentally spilled on your path or doorstep.)

Sense and SenilityIn Sense and Senility, an episode of Blackadder, two old actors demonstrate what to do if anyone quotes from the “Scottish play” (Macbeth) or whistles in a dressing room. You face each other and chant:
Hot potato
Orchestra stalls
Puck will make amends – ow!

"Ow" because the ritual ends with pinching the other’s nose. This has become Chinese whispered to:

Pluck to make amends!

Obvious, they’re plucking each other’s noses, aren’t they? No, it’s from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, which ends with the character Puck, aka Robin Goodfellow, promising “And Robin will restore amends!”. (Footnote: “Orchestra stalls” is rhyming slang.)

Or, per Sir Tony Robinson,

Hot potato, take off his drawers, pluck to make amends!

Some suggest that the BBC subtitles/Ceefax were misleading. But didn’t Sir Tony have the script? Or perhaps he didn’t read scenes he wasn’t in. Meow!

The curse of Macbeth, which forbids actors to name the play, only goes back to the late 19th C, & Max Beerbohm. (historian Tom Holland)

Rich Beggars

Street beggars are making "up to £200 a day" on the streets of Yeovil, according to a South Somerset District Councillor. ( Local homeless pregnant woman says more like £2.)

A lot of people have tried to tell me that the homeless people by our shop "aren't really homeless, they're just pretending to get money". (Dee Dee ‏@deedeelea “Tramps choose their way of life” has become “Homeless people don’t want to be housed, they prefer to be free”.)

“That ‘homeless’ woman outside Tescos is dropped off every morning by a Mercedes!” (In this urban legend, the car is always named. But if you were a Fagin running a begging ring, would you risk one of your operatives being seen getting out of a car as conspicuously expensive as a Mercedes? Every morning?)

More here, and links to the rest.

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Self-referential Statements 3

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

President Donald Trump's Treasury Secretary used his first senior staff meeting last month to tell his new aides he would not tolerate leaks to the news media, sources familiar with the matter said.

I don't understand anyone who doesn't have empathy. (Wu Ming ‏@twlldun)

The excessive use of hyperbole in modern media is the worst thing to ever happen to humanity. (Dean Burnett ‏@garwboy)

I'm the most hyperbolic person in the world. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

People who don't know the difference between describing cultural norms and generalizing people are so tiresome. (Brienne of Snarth ‏@femme_esq)

I long for the days when nostalgia wasn't so culturally omnipresent. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

Latinisms became trendy in Eng with Augustine (eg as a modus operandi which adds gravitas passim to 1's magnum opus, inter alia pace Orwell) (Byzantine Ambassador ‏@byzantinepower)

Tweeting from new age aggressor can be summed up as "thickoes like you just do ad hominem attacks, which disgusts me, you idiot". (@robinince)

I can't stand people who don't finish their (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

Short words are good and old words are best. (Winston Churchill)

Free speech trumps feeling offended.
So you say, you pigeon-toed, fungus-faced lusus naturae!

Reification. Is that, like, a thing? (Sam Leith ‏@questingvole)

BBC sees the Hollande affair as carte blanche to use every passé French cliché and démodé bon mot, en masse in one montage. (‏Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex)

I didn't know what Stockholm syndrome was but the man in the balaclava who broke into my house was kind enough to explain. (@blmayne)

There aren't enough revivals these days. Bring them back! I say. (Dave Roberts ‏@DLequeu)

One day I'll figure out what 'autodidact' means. (@MikeHypercube)

BBC1 news on its veil non-story tonight: "There's growing concern that this is being blown out of proportion." (Lee Jackson ‏@VictorianLondon)

Recently a friend told me that my public persona in general was a bit "negative". Of course, that's bullshit. Like everything else. (@stevenpoole)

Don’t talk to me about freedom of speech! (@RogerQuimbly)

A false analogy is like a cream cake. (AG)

People overuse hyperbole a million times a day. (@PetrosofSparta)

I absolutely ADORE understatement! (Private Eye)

"I prefer to eschew obscurantism" it says here. I'm not sure you're trying hard enough. (sumit paul-choudhury ‏@sumit)

Scotland independence vote would be 'divisive': Downing St. (@AFP)

There are two things I don’t like, prejudice against other cultures, and Dutch people. 

We do not stock this product you are asking for because there is no demand for it.

This message has no subject.
I’m speechless.
I’m not being defensive!
I’m not going to dignify that with a reply!
We just shouldn’t mention trolls!
You make your own luck.
There are no absolute truths.
All generalisations are false.
Metaphors are a dangerous tool in the wrong hands.
The statement on the other side of this card is false.

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 13 March 2017

Illogical 3

Ouija boards (Surely "oui-non" boards?)

Whales have breeding grounds and feeding grounds. (They live in the sea.)

It’s always in the last place you look!

I could care less.

set in stone (You set things in concrete, you carve them in stone.)

Temperatures approached 30C. (Temperatures reached 28C.)

PM makes 360deg rotation on cigarette packaging. (You mean 180 degree – 360 degrees takes you back to where you started.)

The total mileage stands at about 4000km.

priceless (There's a price and it's very very high.)

an empty bottle of brandy (an empty brandy bottle)

Uprooting themselves and moving to the other side of the world would be the toughest decision they’d ever have to make. (It would be the toughest thing they’d ever have to do, if they decided to do it.)

"The time is rapidly approaching..." No, it's not. Time passes at the same pace. (@franosch)
Except at the edge of a black hole. (@FastMacsTweet)

including the likes of X, Y and Z (You mean including X, Y and Z, not people like them.)

flammable and inflammable (Both mean "likely to catch fire".)
boned and deboned (Both mean "with the bones removed".)

There's more than one consensus. (Brexiteer)

Ken should fall on his sword and walk. (Andrew Dismore)

15 photos that will convince you that Iceland belongs on another planet.

I think she wore some disguise – such as one of her trademark silk scarves – while driving, so that she would not be recognised. (Queen’s dog trainer Roger Mugford)

I'm undecided because I don't know enough about it but I will be voting 'out'. (BBC News vox pop Perhaps she thinks “undecided” means “ill-informed”.)

We don't cater gay weddings. We serve everyone.

If he was alive today he’d turn in his grave.

Surely your enemy's enemy is, er, you? (@lucyfishwife)

Gold standard dross. (Dross is what’s left over after gold is refined.)

This very comfortable 'hideaway' is located in a sunny 'undiscovered' quiet Mews... (Well, somebody must have discovered it – no point hiding there now.)

Norwich: twinned with Rouen, Koblenz and Novi Sad.

Painted in loose bravura sweeps like the modernism Goya presages. (Laura Cumming, Observer 2015-10-11 And many other examples. He wasn't ahead of his time, we are behind his.)

Fillet of a fenny snake/In the cauldron boil and bake. (Boil and bake? Make up your mind! And you can't bake anything in a cauldron.)

People should produce, instead of passively consuming! (Who will consume their products?)

Indian giver (It was the British who gave and then took back from the Native Americans.)

2001 was groundbreaking, wasn’t it? Yes – at the time! (BBC Breakfast)

Chinese house prices are shrinking. (The market is shrinking as the numbers fall.)

He is one of the only thespians on the planet who possesses a Ph.D. yahoo news (One of the few.)

Gays have enough equality! (Said some bishop.)
It would right an equality imbalance. (The BBC on women in the theatre. Equality would mean 50% men, 50% women.)

Professionally pedicured feet at your fingertips! (TV ad)

three-week anniversary

You rush to the door, frozen in horror.

You could hear a pin drop! (You can only hear a pin land.)

Marketing bull that irritates me "An almost infinite number of possibilities". So not infinite in any way at all, but entirely finite. Grrr! (Brian Lawton ‏@MrBLawton)

build the deep levels of stamina (You build up, dig deep.)

How can there be self-help groups? (LC)

We’d like to introduce our children to a global world. (Head teacher on BBC Breakfast. Unless you teach them that it's flat...)

Next we'll be hearing about how the average Homo Erectus IQ was 150. (Web discussion about Neanderthals – don’t go there.)

fully lined, fully fashioned, fully licensed

It's come to the point where its now almost impossible to turn the clock back. (Eric Pickles, 2013-01-25)

The future is already here.

I pay someone to come and do my DIY for me. (Nick Knowles)

If our lives are more "fast-paced" than ever before, we should have more free time, not less?

deceptively spacious (more spacious than it appears at first sight), deceptively deep (deeper than expected – ie deceptively shallow)

You really need to think about reinstalling some original features. (Lucy Alexander on Homes under the Hammer, June 2012)

The experiment has failed! (It didn’t produce the results we wanted.)

World records won’t be broken, they’ll be shattered into a million pieces. (You can’t do more to a world record than break it.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 6 March 2017

Political Euphemisms (in Quotes) 3

Dear attention-hungry journos: your Hot Take on #WomensMarch, translated, is 'I don't like ordinary people expressing an opinion in public'. (Jon Dryden Taylor ‏@jondrytay)

Why do tories have "safe pair of hands" and "grown up" narratives as default? (McDuff ‏@Mc_Heckin_Duff)
Every time I hear a Tory say we need a "grown-up" NHS debate I know they really mean "private health care". (@Rachael_Swindon)

@RealDonaldTrump needs to purge Leftists from executive branch before disloyal, illegal & treasonist acts sink us. (Steve King @SteveKingIA)
Some people have been waiting years for their big chance to speak fluent fascist. (@Dorianlynskey)

You just know when Brexiteers say "commonwealth" they are itching to say "empire". (Sathnam Sanghera‏ @Sathnam)

Creeping emasculation (Piers Morgan): He mens women have more rights, there are more women in public life, women organize marches, men feel their position at the top of the tree wobbling slightly.

Libertarians fight for freedom. Freedom to kick minorities out of your store, to not accommodate the disabled, to not pay living wages, etc. (Existential Comics ‏@existentialcoms)

I love how everything that isn't troglodytic dog whistle bigotry is automatically "rabidly left wing". (@AlexPaknadel 28 Jul 2016)

"Don't want to get into politics" = "The current system has worked really well for me so please don't ask me to examine it critically". (Greg Wilson @gvwilson)

Lisa Nandy says we should stop “picking sides” in strikes. She means “We shouldn’t side with the strikers”.

Trump’s “terror attacks go unreported” is morphing into “the reports weren’t alarmist enough”. (Feb 2017)

The government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are a smokescreen for a massive programme of hospital and community service closures, and are its latest instrument for privatisation. (Unite)

Shami Chakrabarti is one of the most self-righteous, least likeable political figures on the scene. Sums up Labour 2017. (@Michael_Heaver She’s a socialist, she’s a woman, and she’s black.)

From Ad Sinistram:
spiv: entrepreneur
talking bollocks: thinking outside the box
unemployed: scrounger
public sector worker: scrounger
European: foreign scrounger
bigotry: mainstream political thought
scientific consensus: anti-business scaremongering
endangered species: vermin
right wing: moderate
moderate: communist
left wing: communist traitor
local opposition: nimbyism
safety regulations, environmental protection, employment law: red tape
greedy bastard: wealth creator

From Paris Lees:
Style Guide for 2016
Neo Nazis: Alt Right
Propaganda: Fake News
Civil rights: Identity Politics
Decency: Political correctness
Abuse: Free speech

These Hollywood elites wouldn’t know average, every day hard-working Americans if we bit them in the ass. @TomiLahren (I think this means “You just don’t understand that racism is necessary”.)

I only went into politics because politicians have made a mess of things. (Barbara Fielding, 78, Stoke independent candidate. She means: Politicians have failed to rid the country of brown people and Jews, who by the way run the world. And we were on the wrong side in the War. It's all on her website.)

Political dictionary: "outsider" = bigot; "elite" = any person opposed to bigotry who isn't so poor they live in an actual ditch. (‏@johnb78)

Dear @BBCr4today - Please, please start saying like it is! Bannon is a *white supremacist*. 'Right-wing firebrand' simply doesn't cut it. (Katy Cooper ‏@DecSop1)

West Virginia mayor resigns following controversial Facebook post referring to Michelle Obama as an "ape in heels". (@NBCNews) 
The word you are looking for is not "controversial". (John Whitehouse ‏@existentialfish)

Why do all minority groups have to be so tribal, blinkered, paranoid and devoid of common sense? UK would be better place if they calmed down. (Jon gaunt @jongaunt It's irony.)

You know when the media report on someone (Clarkson, Trump, JTerry etc) making sexist or racist comments the phrase is always 'caught out'. (Mister Neil Kulkarni ‏@KaptainKulk)

Nuttall says unlike Islington Lab, UKIP will speak about matters that affect "real working class people and real working class communities". (@MrHarryCole)
That's "real" spelt with a w, h, i, t and e. (Stephen Bush ‏@stephenkb)
When Bannon and Trump's Breitbart say "Soros" they mean "Jews." (Dan Murphy @bungdan)

Would like it if press stopped referring to bigots as "provocateurs," like they're Madonna in a cone bra in 1990 instead of fans of the KKK. (@summerbrennan)

Brendan Cox’s initiatives to get communities together is a “Disgusting attempt to politicize communities. Might work in trendy London Labour enclaves, nowhere else.” (@UKIPCANDA Where “politicize” means “indoctrinate with left-wing politics”. Because everywhere apart from London, different communities hate each other, as is right and proper.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Sunday 5 March 2017

Neologisms 16

What a polyp. (Ian Martin on Trump)
Bill, you absolute pudding. (BD Sixsmith)
You irredeemable prunes! (James O’Brien on Leavers who think Remoaners want to abandon Brits abroad)

Donald Trump is "factose intolerant". (William Francis on FB)

Their insanity is starting to glow in the dark.
(RK on the White House)

Your train of thought has been cancelled.
A replacement bus of thought is available. Your thoughts may arrive five hours later than planned. (@jeffnoon)

Shall I go to London and blow around like a feather in a pillow factory? (Gruntfuttock ‏@peasmoldia)

It's hard to think of another PM who created such ruinous, lifechanging chaos before practically evaporating into mist, than David Cameron. (@AliCatterall)

artwashing: using artists to make an organisation appear more friendly, and provide good PR for practices that may otherwise appear negative.

"Where's Corbyn?" Smashing PMQs every week, but dust bowls and cobwebs from our media. (@Peter_Nicholls)

It's no good when crisps aren't. (HB)

There's a veneer of culture and second homes, but it's essentially a mill-town graveyard. (Don Morrison on his hometown)

Is somebody going to get a chance to get in front of the microphone and put over our point of view in accents slightly less reminiscent of well-bred motor salesmen down on their luck? (Columnist Cassandra [1909-67] complaining about BBC announcers “mincing” through the news)

Shame they replaced it with a Tupperware greenhouse. (‏@JamesNonchalant on Stoke Newington Station)

Angela Rayner any moment she's going to go full red head everyone run. (Fat ‏@Bloke_On_A_Bike)
wounded rhino time (Someone has screwed up and landed you in it – time to charge like a wounded rhino and demand an apology, compensation and a free holiday.)

Morris dancers are one of the most riotously risible and despised groups in Britain. Yet they caper on regardless... (A A Gill)

The idea of a theremin ensemble is both intriguing and just slightly scary maybe one day I too will own a vintage theremin.... but until then I shall keep on soldering on till my mini one is built! (Amazon reviewer of Theremin by Albert Glinsky)

It's always a bit odd being back in Oxford, a perfectly normal Midlands city that got married to Gormenghast. (@WillWiles)

Failure of western democracy is what aviation safety calls the Swiss Cheese process. No one single big failure, lots of holes aligning. Usually followed by process called  "gravestone regulation", which I won't dwell on. (Rupert Goodwins ‏@rupertg)

Amazon are the Satan du jour for some people. (GFC)

You don’t have to sit him down for a full come-to-Jesus moment. (Dear Prudence commenter)

They are as valid as serving chocolate risotto on a cutting board followed by prawn and peas ice cream. (End Of Daze ‏@EndRoadwork)

rusted-on cronies ‏(@EndRoadwork)
We’re on spongy ground here. (JP)
at a speed of one angstrom per eon (AJB)

He is too lacquered in anecdote to communicate properly. (@byzantinepower)

the private language of academia (HP)

It’s mediocre in a weak way. (imdb comment on 50s Dors vehicle Man Bait)

If anyone becomes a therapist for money they need their bumps feeling. (Rhiannon Georgina Daniel)

May’s patina is already beginning to peel. (FL)

A lot of men in suits with their fingers in their ears. (Steph McGovern on BBC Breakfast on security guards)

Can I just press pause for a moment? (Sally Nugent on BBC Breakfast)

More here, and links to the rest.