Saturday 31 December 2022

Outrageous Excuses 20: Authenticity


Actors, directors and designers come up with all sorts of reasons why they didn't stick to the story or reproduce the accent or the clothes:

I didn't want to do an act of mimicry. (Matthew Modine on acting in the prequel of Stranger Things)

You hire a Welsh actor to play a Welshman but he doesn’t sound Welsh enough so you get him to ham it up. 

Early folksong collectors added major “endings” to modal Scottish tunes.

George IV had Windsor Castle remodelled to look more medieval

I was just trying to make what had obviously happened even more clear. (Lady Carrados in Margery Allingham's Coroner's Pidgin tries to explain why she swapped poison bottles and moved the corpse.)

The author returned a very kind letter of thanks for my work and explained that she had deliberately made her heroine attractive to modern readers and if it were historically accurate the book would miss her target audience. (Via FB)

Stephen Knight explains his approach to Great Expectations: When I was asked to adapt the book I didn't take it as an invitation to climb the mountain, but simply to do my own sketch of it... This is more like a dream about a book, a way of using the timeless characters to explore timeless themes. (Such as gay orgies and opium dens...)

My objective was not to be an historian, but rather to find a sort of logical truth. (Deborah Davis, writer of a recent TV series about Marie Antoinette)

Some of it is dramatic licence, absolutely, but there is a truth or a greater truth in every scene. (Star of a play about Princess Diana, November 2023)

In My Fair Lady,  Audrey Hepburn was given a correct hairstyle with a bun at the back (a "Psyche knot") – but the hairdressers added a 50s bouffant on the top. (The BBC's Classic Serials from the 60s were to my mind the best-ever adaptations of Victorian novels. Clothes were accurately reproduced – but all female cast members had their hair set on rollers instead of being given the flat, straight hairdos of the time.)

In the 50s, so-called sandals were just shoes with cutouts and piercings because genuine sandals were a "sign" of rebellion and bohemianism.   

In The Imitation Game, a film about wartime computer wiz Alan Turing, the computers were made to look more dramatic with red cabling that looked like veins.

The real codebreaking machine, the Bombe, was housed in a Bakelite box. Production designer Maria Djurkovic and her team researched the working replica that is on display at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, England. "Our version of the machine had to look convincing," says Djurkovic. She and director Morten Tyldum decided to reveal the machine's inner workings. They also added more red cables to give the audience the feeling that blood was pumping through its veins. (Tumblr) 

The Crown’s scriptwriter, Peter Morgan, admits: “Sometimes you have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.” 

The director of Wild Mountain Thyme suggests people around the world wouldn't understand realistic Irish accents. (2020)

We’re not slavish to history,” say the makers of a series about Catherine the Great. “I don’t think the real Peter ever consummated the marriage. But that’s not good TV.” (History relates that it took him 14 years.)

A certain popular TV show got permission to film in the stately home museum I used to work in and decided that they'd prefer the historically accurate yellow walls to be painted brown – for reasons? The museum management let them and didn't bother to change the colour back afterwards. (@WildWimminPod)

The costume designer for The Great Gatsby “did a lot of research” on 20s clothes but thought they were “frumpy”, so picked and chose from 20s and 30s styles and modified them to make them tighter. (No costume designer can ever quite bear to make actresses wear cloche hats in the proper way – pulled right down to the nose.)  

The show’s screenwriter, Alex Cary, said he had used artistic licence because in espionage “you never quite know what the truth is, and I took that as a licence to tell a greater truth”. (Daily Telegraph, 2022, on a new film about Kim Philby. He’s winched in a working-class female character who didn’t exist, following a trend, says the Telegraph.)

I had to find a voice for the Queen: I didn’t want to do an impression or turn her into a caricature. (Clare Foy, paraphrase. The Crown's costume designer explained how she did a lot of research but the clothes were “reimagined from my research” and weren’t a copy of something historic. OK, so she turned herself into a 50s dress designer, but surely in a historical drama we want an accurate reproduction of everything?) 

Chefs given the task of recreating Titanic’s last meal “include historic hints” and think they are fulfilling their brief. “It was opulent but heavy. It had multiple meat courses and rich sauces so we adapted it a bit for modern taste,” says Titanic Belfast’s head caterer Leo Small. “We included historic hints in every course – such as our toasted barley jus as homage to the cream of barley soup – but we used modern techniques and equipment such as sous-vide ovens, foams and Heston-like touches.” (Times April 5, 2012. So he did not recreate the menu at all. Plus nobody ate their way through the whole menu – you picked and chose.)

The Dig: Key theme from Basil Brown: "The past - it speaks to us". Oh, it has to be about US, not the Anglo-Saxons. People in the present Learning Lessons. The preachy bit. We found some amazing Anglo-Saxon art and Now We Are Better People For It. (@TimONeill007. Apparently the film shows people discovering that the Dark Ages were not so dark after all, plus a lot of marital strife, tremulous romance and cross-class friendship.)

I call this the Titanic Complex. There is a very dramatic real bit of history going on but the film makers think they need to make it more interesting by adding extra drama, like a couple having marital problems, affairs, etc... Blablabla wedding ending, oh drama, pretty young things finding love, handsome chap in uniform, blablabla... some hanky panky... who on earth thought this story needed any of that completely made-up nonsense? (@fakehistoryhunt)

In The King's Speech, therapist Lionel Logue lives in a terraced house and treats the King as a mate, says Ian Jack in The Guardian. In reality, Logue had consulting rooms in Harley Street and lived “in a Victorian villa called Beechgrove on Sydenham Hill. Beechgrove had 25 rooms, five bathrooms, five acres of garden, a tennis court and a cook”. And he said: “The greatest thing in my life, your majesty, is being able to serve you.” But, Jack concludes, “it hardly matters. The film is true to the substance.” He adds: “Logue has consulting rooms in Harley Street and yet his home seems to be a mean terraced house in the East End. The front door opens straight to the pavement, where ragged children play in the fog. The point is to show that Logue's friendship with the man who became King bridged all kinds of divisions: between a ruler and his colonial subject, between privilege and a state close to poverty, between a chippy Australian and a shy prince.” (And speech therapists add that stammers are neurological, not psychological. But are audiences really that dense? Do they need to be preached to quite so obviously?)

I know his depiction is historically inaccurate and the result of centuries of malicious rumour and disbelief that Mozart could die so young but the Salieri in 'Amadeus' is the hero we deserve. (@Oniropolis)

Aboriginal people in Australia have never been covered by a flora and fauna act, either under federal or state law. But despite several attempts by various people to set the record straight, the myth continues to circulate, perhaps because, as one academic told Fact Check, it "embodies elements of a deeper truth about discrimination". (Abc.net.au)

So Orwell never said “the working classes smell” – but he was disappointed by them, look at the way he denigrated their reading matter in that piece about Boy’s Own stories. (He was disappointed that the magazines fed the working classes a fantasy of “aristocratic” schools with titled pupils and old grey stones.)

Meryl Streep is the mistress of accents, but she had trouble trying to force herself to pronounce “half” like an English speaker – it kept coming out as “haaaaaaaaaaf” instead of “harf”.

Makers of the film Diana (2013) just couldn't bring themselves to actually copy her hairstyle (visible in thousands of pictures from all angles), and gave the actress a do that is too flat on the top and too long at the back and sides. Perhaps not enough time had passed?

Mozart is challenged to a violin duel and upstaged by a precocious rival. His name? Joseph Bologne, AKA the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, AKA young, gifted and Black. Whether this showdown ever took place is doubtful but it makes for a playful opening to Chevalier, a new film based on the life of the long-overlooked classical composer who was also a champion fencer. (Guardian, April 2023)

At the end the director states, after I thought I was watching a movie that was historically accurate, that he had changed several characters and other aspects to make them more contemporary (meaning: what he thinks the way things ought to have been 100+ years ago, vs reality) re: gender, sexual preference, racial matters, etc. As such, the movie to a degree is fiction; a lie. Which is sad, as it detracts from the ground-breaking path that Colette lived. (kjr03215 on the film Colette, imdb)

I personally think you have to look back to see forward. My collections were inspired by my early, most powerful memories. I remember the way my mum dressed and how back then young girls dressed like their mums. I've taken shoulder pads and reinterpreted them, rejuvenated them. First of all a few people were a bit shocked to see them again but could see I'd updated them. (Young designer quoted on bbc.com. So it's OK to revive the shoulder pad as long as you "update" them in some way – I wonder what that way was.) 

I recently learned that no historical drama - not even the ones that put real effort into accuracy - ever gets courtly male clothing quite right for certain time periods, because the things they actually wore look SO ridiculous to modern eyes that it would change the whole story. (Abi Brown via Facebook. Another designer explained she couldn't use authentic male dress of the period because it looked too modern.)

Ben Macintyre in the Times (19 Nov 2023) plays cliché bingo. He calls those who complain about historical inaccuracies in The Crown and Napoleon “pedants and purists”. (Ad hominem.) He claims that “based on a true story” films are more historically accurate than ever before. As for his own books: In each case, the screenwriter took the true story and remade it in a new art form, for a different audience, with close historical guidance. Each was faithful to the essence of the tale, context and period detail... Film-makers are not trying to reflect truth (which is impossible anyway) but rather to create a new, believable emotional realityThe Imitation Game played fast and loose with the Enigma story but led to a massive surge of interest in what really happened at Bletchley Park. (See Lourdes below, also new Agatha Christie "adaptations" that, however unfaithful and crude, "will draw in new readers".)

Was the “swearing, sh*gging, pop music, pretty people, lovely costumes” version of history created by Netflix – which doesn’t have to worry about stuffy advertisers? There is probably an acceptable artistic justification for making a film about Queen Anne with added lesbianism, swearing, rock music and rabbits, but I can't face looking for it.

Restaurants claim to be bringing back “real British cheese” and it turns out to be mozzarella. They claim they are reviving “real British food”, but it’s all over chilli jam and rocket because it’s been given a “modern twist” or “fusion elements”.

See also historical dramas where they get everything right apart from the 60s hairstyles, or the 40s heavy make-up, or the 80s dialogue.

Or architects building housing “in keeping” with the surroundings by throwing in one “witty reference” to Victorian architecture (that red stripe!). Or those flats by the sea that had portholes because it’s nautical you know and rocks behind chicken wire to symbolize er er the seabed. The flats were instantly christened the “tin can” and the rocks had to be taken away because they were dangerous.

See also plans to “rebuild the Crystal Palace” by, um, not rebuilding the Crystal Palace but building something new with a couple of “Victorian” details. (It was dropped.)

And interior designers who claim "You don't want to live in a museum!" while ripping out period features.

It all reminds me of the nun who said that people who went to Lourdes and didn't get better "had been healed in a different way". The visions of Fatima may not have been genuine, but they brought many people back to the church. See also the therapists who tell you your psychic integration is really coming on, even though you're no happier. And the people who say a statement is "true in a very real sense" when they mean "it's false". In the 70s feminists even used to say that women might not have org*sms but they "enjoyed s*x in a different way".

Healing is not the complete disappearance of your pain and trauma. Healing is acknowledging that the pain may still exist, but knowing that whatever you've gone through or whatever you're feeling doesn't define you. (Diplomats for Health in Resilient Community @DFHRC. Pass the paracetamol.)

And you can always say your made-up story is "indicative of a wider truth". Or "deeper", if you prefer. Or "where it differs from the letter it remains faithful to the spirit". I think you mean "I'm using this story from the past to say something about oppression, exclusion and relations between the sexes in 2023, because that's the current fad and I'll win prizes". The more authentic the setting, the more the characters have to preach current attitudes.


More here, and links to the rest.

Outrageous Excuses 21



Silly reasons for not voting:

I want my vote to count.

Every vote, whoever it’s for, is a vote for the kyriarchy.

I’m not voting until there’s a “none of the above” option.

None of the parties do enough for women.

I want to send Them a message.

I’m going to leave my vote blank as a protest.

Politicians are all liars and cheats.

I’m not voting for a politician, ha ha!

I’m going to spoil my voting paper to teach them a lesson.

Voting for someone who is the least worst is not my idea of change. (voteblankrevolution.com)

I refuse to vote until [insert condition here].

I’ve just had enough of everything.

Voting never changed anything.

They’re all the same!

I don’t want to vote for a politician, ha ha!


And from John O’Farrell’s Things Can Only Get Better:

I’m far too busy to bother with all that politics nonsense.

Well, I voted Labour last time but it didn’t make any difference.

If you vote it only encourages them.

If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it.

He adds that people tell pollsters they’ll vote Labour, then go out and vote Conservative: “For some reason, when people were asked what they considered to be the most important issues, no one volunteered the true answer: my wallet."


OUTRAGEOUS EXCUSES

It’s always something: a personal saga, a coworker’s out to get them, or a litany of excuses. Whatever it is, it’s more important than getting things done. 

Responds to every request with a boatload of inane reasons why he or she can’t do it, or arcane things that must happen first. 

“This is how we did it at XYZ company.” 

Once a man criticised my desire for knowledge saying that it was not convenient for a woman to possess knowledge because there was so little of it. (Christine de Pisan, 1364-1430, scholar and feminist)

Excuse of the week goes to Martin Christmas of @EnvAgencyYNE who told locals not to swim at Bridlington beach as water quality was "Affected by birds, which is why there are efforts to move seagulls on from some beaches, and from dogs". (Feargal Sharkey)

In the face of strong disapproval from the public, Primark say they can’t assess the impact of mixed changing rooms until they have “rolled them out” across all stores

Yet another senior British Conservative MP has been reported to police over allegations of rape and an alleged string of sexual assaults. It is reported that it "is not in the public interest for him to be named". (@archer_rs)


HOLIER THAN THOU

I found the offer of a knighthood something that I couldn't possibly accept. I found it to be somehow squalid. (Harold Pinter) 

I can’t like this picture by Cézanne because colonialism. What would it be like if colonialism had never happened?

Women shouldn’t complain to HR about harassment because they’d be collaborating with an authoritarian system.

I can’t mourn the Queen because of her association with colonialism.

Gerald Durrell was wandering the sand dunes of California where he found a flawless flint spearhead lying on the surface. It was so perfect he just left it where it was.

Fellow white dietitians: please stop saying the Mediterranean diet is the “healthiest” way to eat. This upholds white supremacy. (@KathleenMeehanRDN)

The nuns would have called it “scrupulous conscience”.

More here, and links to the rest.


Monday 19 December 2022

Grammar: Howlers 26


When I was at school at the Convent, I flinched every time my friends called the "pergola lawn" (pictured) the "pergular lawn" (to rhyme with "jugular"). They also referred to the postulants (novice nuns) as "apostulants". Every day at lunch we would say the Angelus, and the entire school would chant: "The angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary; and she was conceived by the Holy Ghost." Both biologically and theologically incorrect. Every Friday we would sing the Salve Regina, a Latin hymn to the Virgin Mary. We were never given the words – we just picked it up by ear. There was one line I could never get: it just sounded like "er er er er". So I looked up the words: they are "Eia ergo". So I sang this and everyone else sang "er er er er" for the rest of my time there. I'm sorry, but it has all been annoying me for decades.

In the 60s, it was fashionable to buy a Spanish rug from Casa Pupo. The shop's name was on a label on the rug, but everybody called the shop "Casa Pupa". I flinch when people talk about Marlene Deartrick, Johann Sebastian Bark, Rekkavik (capital of Iceland), Bob Geldorf, and Mount Siniai (the place has two Is, not three). As for Americans, why "Joolyard School of Music" when it's spelled "Juillard"? Why is Huston pronounced "Hewston"? And then there are people who deliver a "diatrabe", consult a "theosaurus" and take "Epson Salts" when the name is printed on the tin...

I also shudder when people use “cognitive dissonance” to mean “denial” – or sometimes “projection”.  You deny reality to avoid cognitive dissonance – which is what happens when you try to believe two contradictory statements at once.


MIXED METAPHORS AND GARBLED CLICHES
Rishi Sunak’s presence in No. 10 is a “groundbreaking milestone”.

They don't deserve to be raked over the coals. (It’s “hauled over the coals”. You rake over the embers of a fire.)
 
Have we taken on more than we can chew? (It's "bitten off".)

On Lady Susan Hussey receiving a Mexican order – the Sash of Special Category of the Order of the Aztec Eagle – the Times says: The Mexicans recognise the upper crust on their tortilla when they see it. (Tortillas don’t have crusts. They’re so thin there is hardly an “upper”. The upper crust is the top crust of a loaf of bread. It would be clean, unlike the bottom crust which might have picked up some ashes and dirt from the brick bread oven. Well, it’s no sillier than some explanations!)

Old-tie network for old-school-tie network, sometimes called the Old Boy network. Your fellow Etonians, identifiable by their school ties, give you a helping hand or leg-up.

Pity The Times is a burnt flush. (@SimonD555. That’s “busted flush”. From Poker?)

He was a very small cog in a much larger wheel. (Martin Edwards, The Life of Crime. “Just a cog in the machine” means that you are a tiny part of an organisation. Surely no cog can be more important than another cog – if any of them fails, the machine stops.)

That’s another part of the double-edged sword. (All swords are double-edged. They have a blade and a handle, and that's it.)

Hopefully Brits will not let this madness build deep roots. (Twitter) 

Kids today are all coddled snowflakes. (If you coddled a snowflake, it would melt. Think of coddled eggs.)

Dealt the death knoll. (Tolled or rung the death knell, dealt the death blow. No grassy knolls involved.)

Dethroning statues (Times letters page headline. You topple statues, and dictators – sometimes statues of dictators. You dethrone monarchs.)

Hanging by the narrowest of threads. (You can’t get much more fragile than “hanging by a thread”.
Hanging by a hair? The cliché is “by the narrowest of margins”.)

The rail-thin six-inch stilettoes worn by this generation of royals are a world away from the sensible block-heeled courts preferred by the late Queen. (Times. A skinny person may, with hyperbole, be “rail-thin”, but stilettos the width of a rail would be pretty chunky – whether that’s a rail as in railway or railing.)

The investigation had blown the lid on a glaring hole in the GRU’s tradecraft. (The cliché is “blow the lid off” or "blow the gaff". And that should be “gaping hole”. Holes don’t glare unless there’s a light inside. How about: "The investigation had shown up a gaping hole in the GRU’s tradecraft"?)

It irks me  that many authoritarian and reactionary Evangelical/other fundamentalist leaders are posturing themselves as against "Christian Nationalism". (@thesnarkygent. "Positioning" is meant.)

Bending their backs to justify X. (The cliché is “bend over backwards to justify/accommodate etc”.)

Thank u to these 2 special people for having the moral compass to stand up 4 fair sport 4 females with me. (@sharrond62. That’s "moral fibre".)


PURE HOWLERS

Sometimes a typo is almost an improvement:

During what she calls "the most misogynistic period" in recent history, J.K Rowling has emerged as Nicola Sturgeon's doughiest opponent. (Reaction.life, doughtiest)

We had a set of beautiful new vanished wood gates installed. (RC)

Make sure you pick the right word, instead of one that just sounds like it. Avoid:

scale model when you mean life-sized
trenchant (pithy, forceful) for entrenched (stubborn, unshiftable)
approbation (approval) for opprobrium (disapproval)
plumage for signage
pertruberance (no such word) for protuberance (knobby bit) 
obeisance (bowing) for obedience 
flushed out for fleshed out 
laconically (shortly) for sardonically (sarcastically)
confusion reins for reigns (rules)
self-reverential (self-adoring) for self-referential (self-referring)

dead to the wide for dead to the world (In Victorian novels and melodramas, a lady who has strayed from the path of virtue is “dead to the world”. She’s still alive, but her family, friends and acquaintances behave as if she wasn’t. Now usually used to mean “deeply asleep”. What would “dead to the wide” mean? It’s like spitting image/splitting image for “spit and image” and and off your own back for “off your own bat”.)

Apparently sports writers confuse in the ascendant with in the ascendancy.
Charles acceded, he did not ascend, to the throne. 

Who dons freckles and a red afro. (Guardian, sports. To don is to put on.)

Shape and extenuate your eyes with this natural and vegan eye shadow. (Peacewiththewild.co.uk, extend)

The Tambora volcanic eruption that caused acute climactic change. (@AlexPetrovnia. Climactic is from climax, climatic is from climate.)

In the colonial period a 70-ft George V had loomed, unscathed in his imperial clad, over New Delhi’s grandest boulevard. (Lse.ad.uk Imperial clobber?)

clouds on the peripherals (Peripherals are things like printers, microphones and external hard disks that you plug into computers. Peripheries, or edges, are meant.)

Do you foment or ferment a revolution? (NGRAM shows “foment” just ahead, both rising sharply in popularity in the 1920s. “Fomentations”, or hot compresses, aren’t so much used these days.)

To this day, I’ve never stepped foot back in the building. (Stepped back, or “set foot”.)

A quick forage into Wales. (Antiques Road Trip, foray)

Release from this saccharine honey trap comes by way of ‘Girl Graduate’ in gown and mortar board, a gratifyingly popular costume. (Verity Wilson, Dressing Up. "Saccharine honey trap" is a tautology. But a “honey trap” is not a sentimental costume, it specifically means sending a woman agent to seduce a mark and then blackmail him into handing over secret documents.)

A couple of local lads flexed their boxing gloves on a carnival float. (Verity Wilson, Dressing Up. You can only flex your muscles. What are they doing with their boxing gloves? Demonstrating, exhibiting, showing off?)

The people living in this arid region are literally living on a knife-edge. (Ade Adepitan, metaphorically. Literally is often used for "very much".)

Back in England, Edgar Wallace was a much sort after newsman. (sought after)

As he has shown that he doesn’t think he should be construed by rules... (@harrycovert16 Constrained? Restrained?)

I am painfully aware I am a 20 year old university student punching a bit above my belt. (Above my weight.)

I thought gaslighting was rewriting history to better suit your narrative. (@rj3000. Gaslighting is persuading someone that there isn't a problem, from "It was just banter" on...)

Now we have Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police spying on members of Congress. (Marjorie Taylor Greene, Gestapo)

Grammar: Howlers 25


Words and phrases can get distorted if you've only heard them, and have never seen them written.

Munchjack deer are an invasive species. (muntjac)

His unpleasant remarks wrangled. (rankled)

The pictures were painted in egg tempura. (tempera)

The priest was a friend to his partitioners. (parishioners)

Enrol for unroll

Thither for tother

He repeated the conversation pervatum. (verbatim)

Yeons ago... (Aeons or eons.)

Forced perspective (It's "false perspective".)

Rhymes
for rhines (drainage ditches)

This book comes complete with dusk jacket. (dust jacket)

Non challancy (nonchalance)

It’s only foo leather, not the real thing. (Faux, French for false.)

In hoc to (Like ad hoc – but it’s “in hock” ie in pawn.)

I have been reading the series in order, and so far I have found this the least for filling. (fulfilling)

Their aim is to sew confusion. (Sow as in sowing seed.)

He has a pension for railwayana. (penchant)

Your remark was very inciteful. (insightful)

at one fail swoop (In Macbeth, it's "one fell swoop".)

The underpass was decorated with graphity. (graffiti)

But doth suffer a C change. (In the Tempest, it's "sea change".)

He’s biased, he's got an act to grind. (It's "axe".)

The soap opera was rather mellow dramatic. (In the early 19th century, only two theatres in London were licensed for plays. Other theatres had to present plays as "melodramas", with songs and dances and dramatic underscoring from a band in the pit. The "melo" bit is from "melody".)

brassic flint for “boracic lint”. (It's rhyming slang for “skint”. Boracic lint was a WWI wound dressing.)

Our pleas fell on death years. (deaf ears)

James Stewart raises the barre considerably. (The bar that’s raised is one you have to high-jump over, not one you hold onto while doing pliés and arabesques.)

This strategy does not address the route cause. (root cause) 

Low and behold! (It's "lo!" which means the same as "behold!", but we don't say it much any more.)

We don't need to make a big kerfluffle about it. (Kerfuffle, meaning "song and dance". )

They decide to hold up in the cave for the night. (imdb. Did we say "hole up" before we adopted the ugly “hunker down”?)

In Revolutionary France, women wore mop caps. (mob caps)

There's no need to put women on a pedal-stool. (pedestal)

Budapest is full of Art No Voo houses. (Art Nouveau)

Right from the gecko. (get go)

If I want to remember something, I write it on a postic note. (Post-It)

pratful for pratfall (vulture.com)

Quote on quote (quote unquote)

In too smaller space. (in too small a space)

More here, and links to the rest.


Saturday 17 December 2022

Predictions for 2023


In 2023:

A disappointing theme park will close its gates.

A Zeppelin comeback will be predicted. In 2022,  Canada’s Buoyant Aircraft Systems International previewed a zeppelin at the Aviation Innovations Airship Conference. UK's Hybrid Air Vehicles, makers of the Airlander 10, & France's Flying Whales, were also present.

Eco-airship contract to launch 1,800 jobs in South Yorkshire (2022-06-14) 

Plans will be unveiled to travel by maglev, mine manganese nodules from the seabed and extract gold from seawater.

Kids today will [do something kids have been doing for years] because [recent phenomenon we want a peg to talk about].


People will say the following as if they were the first to think it:

If you can write an article about being cancelled, you haven’t been cancelled. (Same goes for “silenced” or “censored” or “deplatformed”.)

If you’re so keen on refugees, why don’t you have them to come and live with you?

New technology is rewiring the brains of the younger generation and reducing their attention span. (It has taken millions of years to evolve the human brain – you can't rewire it in a generation. But somehow kids always have a short attention span and play Minecraft all day.)

Let’s get children to walk to school!
Death is the last taboo.
The menopause - no more need to suffer in silence!

Older women become invisible.
Masculinity is in crisis and it’s all women’s fault.
How can you mourn sincerely for someone you don’t know?

The survival of the fittest is a tautology.
Black Friday? Why not a “buy nothing” day!
Marriage is just a bit of paper.
Nobody looks at the upper stories of buildings.

All socialists are “champagne socialists” and don’t count. Actors and footballers should stick to acting etc.

An anarchist organisation is a contradiction in terms.
Arabs are Semites too.
Halloween is a recent American import.

I don’t care if you’re black, white or green!
Atheism is a religion.
Truth is complex.
Wage slavery is the real slavery.

When's White History month?
When’s International Men’s Day? (19 Nov)

It’s the people who bring a child up who are the real parents. The commitment made in front of friends and family is the real wedding. 

I wish I had a dollar each time a scientifically incompetent ideologue claimed science is a religion. (psmag.com)

And the one thing I ask of British Twitter is to refrain from using the phrase, "what have we become," when, for much of us, the UK has always been this way and continues to be. It just hasn't affected you and a better reflection is, why. (@Blewish)


People will use the following phrases:

Lulled into a sense of false security.
Restored to its former glory.
Spires aspire to heaven.
Restored my faith in human nature.
Glass half full, glass half empty.
Twatter and Farcebook.

Not heard so much any more:
Nuclear weapons? You can’t DISinvent them!
Calling someone racist is as bad as using the N word.

More here, and links to the rest.

Monday 12 December 2022

Buzzwords of 2022 Part 2

What have people been saying in the second half of 2022?

Kim Kardashian shouldn’t have worn Marilyn Monroe’s dress. I can’t form an opinion on this one.

If you want to get a laugh, just say “avocado”. Or vegan.

Oh no, “Fakebook” now.

When did jammed or jam-packed become rammed or ram-packed?

“There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country." Conservative MP Lee Anderson has told MPs people who use food banks "can’t cook a meal from scratch" and "cannot budget” during a debate in the House of Commons. Channel 4 News

Everything is “dropping” rather than arriving, or being revealed or unveiled, or launching, or debuting.

Conspiracy theory: Bill Gates is buying up all US farmland.

Is interpretive dance the new Brown Windsor soup? There never was such a thing.

Ten non-white people are shot dead by a white supremacist and someone on Twitter pops up to say “White men are under attack too”.

Everything Boris says is now diagnosed as “rhetoric he learned at the debating society”, ie the Oxford Union.

Bristol pubs to host three-day “anti-jubilee” party – it begins.

Daily Telegraph still suggesting that we should “put down the TV remote control” for the sake of our health. When did you last cross the room to press buttons on your actual TV? And how would you do half the things you do with the remote? 

Tmesis: Sending Marni home? What (and I can’t stress this enough) the actual bleep? (Re the Sewing Bee.)

Platty jubes 

Why did so many people choose Johnny over Amber? One reply I got: “Because they think males should fight for themselves and not be weak bitches.” So men ought to be violent but all victims are hysterical liars. Does not compute.

Oh now she’s “Carrie Antoinette”.

You’re special!” is an insult. (I’m “special” for not denigrating Angela Rayner for being “common” and having red hair, apparently.)

clutch: Perfect, Exactly what is needed. (Urban Dictionary) 

I think people on both sides are calling the other side “Handmaidens”, but it’s hard to tell. But you can be sure that whatever you accuse your opponent of, they’ll accuse you of the same. (Tu quoque.)

Social media is evil because people see something written down in black and white and believe it’s true. (Says someone on social media who seems never to have read a book or know they exist.)

Newfypoos are the latest must-have cross-breed. 

Seems legit. (Used ironically.)

The UK is now a fascist state because anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray has been silenced under new rules. (Too loud.)

When they knock on your door
In the middle of the night
And take you away 
To an unknown fate
That's when you know you're living
In a police state.
(TD)

Media shouldn’t call Ghislaine Maxwell a “socialite” – she was a sex trafficker! And they shouldn’t refer to “pro-life” movements, they are anti-choice! And others on the template of “All Lives Matter”. 

July 16: Panic about the heatwave panic! Snowflakes, cowards, mad dogs and Englishmen! (Second heatwave Aug 11 and people are just getting on with it.)

A scientific review has concluded that depression is not caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, and may be more closely linked to stressful life events. (The Week)

The anti-woke are just anxious old people who don’t like new words, according to Caitlin Moran.

A feature of so many of the candidates has been a strange desire to disown the fact that they've been part of a governing party for twelve years, to talk as though they are victims of some notional alternate "progressive" regime from which they propose to liberate the population. (@conbrunstrom)

Lots of things are disgusting, last week of July.

Much sneering about the Wagatha Christie verdict. Competitive apathy. How can these “nobodies” afford agents?

People calling Keir Starmer “Keith”. Like calling George Osborne “Gideon”.

GOAT is an acronym for something – but what?

Those women who try and chuck a short-haired woman out of the public toilets – they're as real as the women who shout abuse at men who hold doors open for them, aren't they? August. (And this seems to have stopped happening, Novmber.)

Doggo, kiddo and now froggo...

First there was the text-only Internet, then it became far more widespread with pages and pictures and it became the Web. Inexplicably, it is now the Internet again.

High energy prices forecast and everyone remembers the good old days of frost flowers on the windows – and chilblains. The girl who woke up to find her hair frozen to the pillow trumps them all. (They used to tell us not to go to bed with wet hair. Perhaps this was why.)

People see nothing wrong with exploiting and mocking small children in GIFs and memes without their consent. Perhaps one day they’ll get it, just as people slowly got that it was wrong to be cruel to animals.

Cower” is popular week of 2022-08-20. Perhaps because Liz Truss misused it: “We will not cower to the ECHR.” She meant something like “bow” or “kowtow”.

When did men become “dudes”? I think I like it, I think I’ll buy it.

Is a “cheem” an idiot? As for “cheugy”.

Fuel crisis. People talking as if “no central heating” meant “no heating”. Poor dears, they don’t know about the other kinds.

If floods in Pakistan have killed 1,100 people and destroyed X acres of farmland, there’s no need to say they’re “devastating”. Is it too much to ask? Probably, when the devastation has been on such a scale.

August 30: It's August and, of course, the supermarkets are already selling Xmas pudding. (@LeoHickman)

Twitter calls them “notifications’, so why does everyone call them “mentions”?

Resilience” is passé, it’s all “teaching children critical thinking” now. We’re always planning to teach children something that isn’t “facts”. “Emotional maturity” was fashionable for a time. Or was it “emotional intelligence”? Also “teaching children how to learn”. I am skeptical of all such drives.

Is “hole up” what we used to say instead of “hunker down”?

Goodbye, Your Majesty. 

Educated, intelligent friends putting the Republican view, while others say “I agree, well done for being brave enough to state these views publicly”.

Instant rumours: All those ennobled in the Queen’s lifetime must hand back their titles. A group of Irish dancers performed a celebratory jig in front of Buckingham Palace when the news was announced.

King Charles III is acceding to the throne, not ascending to it.

Just a few faint moans about the flowers: Why kill flowers? They’d be better off used as compost (they will be). And what about food banks?

What to say about the Queen’s death: I was surprised to find I was so emotional. I thought she was immortal. (Les bons bourgeois are terrified of having the same feelings as the hoi polloi.)

Twitter and other social media areas are moaning about “passed” for “died”.

People wheeling out “How can you sincerely mourn for someone you’ve never met?” as if they were the first person to think it.

Also asking “I planned to do [anodyne activity] today – will people think it’s disrespectful?”

The crowds at the Queen’s funeral were, as we were repeatedly told, “good-humoured”.

Has “dragged” replaced “owned”? 

Foxes in charge of henhouses: The SNP has employed a man who threatened violence to “terfs and transphobes” as Equality Officer.

It's so telling that some people think "It won't make you popular!" is a decent response to child safeguarding concerns. See also "Rowling could have just retired on her riches and STFU". (@glosswitch)

Someone on Twitter dithering about getting their fourth Covid jab. Very “Yes but I didn’t inhale”.

2022-10-20 Coalition of chaos – now the revolving door of chaos! (Braverman, Starmer) 

People making air-fryer jokes and “lots of tabs open for months” jokes. Air fryers are privileged and middle class, you see, and they don’t work on working-class food. It’s an American thing. (I just scream “bookmark frequently visited sites!”)

Penny Mordaunt says “ge’ing” a couple of times and suddenly she’s speaking “Mockney”. 

Rishi Sunak will be our next Prime Minister and people on Twitter are saying “Yes, but Disraeli was white, and Sephardi Jews aren’t an ethnic group”. 

Someone points out that teenagers lack a youth movement like beatniks, hippies, punks, Goths, emo. 

Elon Musk has bought Twitter and Twitter erupts with “The doom has come upon us! Twitter’s days are numbered! Woe!”. (We all join mastodon and retire baffled, and Twitter continues on its merry way.)

Someone suggests women call themselves “the Uterati”.

purity politics (It’s the 80s all over again.)

sock puppet (what the Americans call glove puppets) has become just “sock”, as in “sock account” on Twitter.

Uh-oh, rationality is tainted by “coloniality” and other methods of arriving at the truth are equally valid, or something... Not seen such silly nonsense since the feminism of the 70s which dismissed logic as “linear and hence phallic” and the whole of science as a “triumphalist narrative by the white-coated priesthood”. I mean “science is just another competing narrative”. Oh and it was all just a “paradigm” which was about to be overtaken by a new paradigm that would admit UFOs, faith healing, Jung, homeopathy, astrology and whatever you wanted to believe. Now statistics are tainted because they were used to support eugenics. I remember when we shouldn’t believe in Darwin because he led to “social Darwinism”, meaning that the fittest survived because they were superior.

Rabbit in headlights popular November.

Michelle Obama is a “narcissist” because she’s only famous because she’s married to a prominent man; she has changed her hairstyle (to braids); and explained the US public weren’t “ready” for natural hair while she was First Lady. It’s a shame she felt like that. Her daughter has braids too and they both look wonderful. Meghan also is a “narcissist” – what a coincidence.

The Fediverse thinks everything is transphobic. (What are future historians going to think of this sentence, 100 years from now?)

Expulsion of woman from Holyrood transgender debate for wearing suffragette colours sparks global boom in feminist scarf sales.

ERG loses 2/3 of its paid-up members, says the Byline Times.

The Women’s Equality Party is running out of members and money after admitting men. 

goblin mode: Staying at home in bed all day binge-watching TV and eating junk food. Never getting up and dressed. People probably did this already but now it has a name. 

@jk_rowling funds a women’s rape crisis centre, @indiawilloughby compares her to Goebbels(@Sorelle_Arduino) 

More here, and links to the rest.


Monday 5 December 2022

Hey Guys, It's Nearly 2023


Can we stop antiques programmes patronising old ladies? Lars Tharp twinkles at an elderly lady and goes on and on about “kidney jade” as if it was potentially embarrassing. She hangs on to her smile and her dignity.

An elderly lady presents a walking stick made out of a shark’s spine to David Harper. He tells her to feel its lovely tactile qualities and then tells her it’s an elasmobranch body part. “I knew that.” “Doesn’t it spook you?” “No, not really.” “I’ve had people shriek and drop them!” Clearly, he was expecting her to shriek and drop the horrible thing and it would make “good television”. So ha ha ha, David.

And we stop encouraging contestants to buy loo seats? And can we prevent the auctioneer seizing the opportunity to be a stand-up comedian and coming out with endless wee jokes? Please? Same goes for alcoholometers, surgical instruments, bed pans, decanters etc.

And can we stop the Les Dawson jokes about “the wife” who of course is really “the boss”, ha ha ha ha? “So there’s you and your three sons but your wife doesn’t like this suit of armour? It’s four to one?” 

The Australian border security programme Nothing to Declare keeps in the segments where the man caught with three suitcases full of undeclared food blames it on his wife or mother and smiles as if it’s a big joke. “I’ll be very very cross with my wife and tell her not to be so silly next time he he he!” Even the nice man who dressed entirely in purple explains that he once put coloured clothes in with white garments in the washing machine and his wife was furious so now he wears nothing but purple! Big charming smile, everybody laughs.

Bargain Hunt

Tim W: And how did you become a gender expert?
Contestant (old white man): I think it was trying to understand the female brain.
Tim: And have you cracked that one?
Contestant: No!
All: Ha ha ha.

It’s 2021 and people are still making misogynistic “muh wife” jokes. (@anumccartney)

Another cliché: the expert roars with laughter at everything done or said by a very ordinary middle-aged couple. Sometimes one of the pair is coached to be the “card” who goes off-script and spontaneously buys things or knocks down the price. “Ooooh, there’s no holding her!” or “I knew I was going to have trouble with you!” “She’s very decisive, isn’t she?”

More here, and links to the rest.


Hey Guys, It's 2022!



It's 2022 and young women are being shot and killed for not wearing a headscarf.

Reading lists with token women on token women's topics? let's leave them in 2021, shall we? Feels like we could have left them in 1901 and yet, here we are. 
(Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley @lottelydia)

It’s 2022 – the future! - and medieval dragon fantasies are popular.

And in Lewes they’re burning the Pope in effigy.

Food banks are providing warm rooms.

My bank still has the same crackly hold music from 25 years ago. In fact, all hold music is crackly.

Americans are still dressing up like a parody of indigenous people.

Private schools still exist and are still charities, and one in particular produces most of our rulers. And it’s single-sex. (And the Labour leader says they do a lot for the country.)


There are illegal faith schools in the UK that teach children practically nothing about the modern world.

Northern Irish schools are still segregated by religion.

It's 2022 and I have to actually tell y'all that eugenics is a bad thing. (@heidi_seidr)

It’s 2022 and adults still think putting the burden on young girls to “close their legs” counts as sex education and is an appropriate way to address young girls being preyed on by adult men. (@naledimashishi)

A friend who practises in litigation told me that when she and other female colleagues/friends attend an interview they remove their wedding rings and refer to their husband as their partner to avoid the 'she might have a baby soon' stigma. Diabolical in 2022. (@LizMcG_emplaw)

A friend did their OSCE’s with me recently and got yellow carded for wearing a “short skirt”… could someone explain to me how it’s 2021 and medical schools are still pushing sexist notions of primness upon its female student cohort, for daring to display their ankles? (@MedicGrandpa)

It’s 2021 and people are still moaning about headlines “using the passive voice” to avoid apportioning blame. Blame can be apportioned in the passive voice.

And an unelected, unofficial body decides policy for schools, universities, institutions and political parties. As someone said, it’s paying a lobby group to lobby you.

There are still no full-time black male High Court judges in the UK. (Leslie Thomas)

And still, here in 2021, "attention seeking" is used as a put-down and dismisser for any women speaking about things that are uncomfortable to hear. (@AmyScaife)

How are there "Unregulated Children's Homes"? How is that a thing in 2021? (@williemillersm1)

It’s 2021 and there are still faith schools, and private schools have charitable status.

There is no oversight over who can “provide materials” for schools. Translation: disseminate propaganda.

It’s 2020 and I’m still being called “exotic”. (@jjconceptsinc)

More here, and links to the rest.

The Demon Drink 5



Can we retire the expression “enjoying a drink”? Also "tipple" in the context of old people?

Alcohol is the only drug you seem to have to apologise for not taking. (Adrian Chiles)

I don’t drink, which sometimes makes it hard to meet people. (slate.com)

It’s very difficult not to drink here. Everyone is like, “Drink! Drink!”. You can’t let your glass get low because they’ll fill it. And if you say no they get angry. (American girl who married an English toff, Times 2016)

I didn’t drink for most of last year and I really noticed how the rest of the world revolves around it. I was treated with suspicion by people when I said I didn’t drink, and it became the only thing people could talk about when it was revealed. Being a non-drinker around people who love booze weirdly makes it your problem – the drinkers start to feel self-conscious and inspired to recount to you, sometimes in great detail, their own relationship with booze, how they couldn’t live without it and all the advantages of getting out of your skull. They can’t understand why you would stop and quiz you about it, becoming very personal – not to mention hyper-sensitive – very quickly. I spent so much of my life trying to work out who I was and what the best version of myself could be... building your whole world around drinking – rather than socialising or having fun, which don’t necessarily need booze – is not a personality substitute. If anything, it robs you of your character. Your anecdotes become tales of stupid things you did when drunk, or stories about how you can’t actually remember what you did...  It was only when I stopped drinking that I saw the adult world for what it really was... my main takeaway from being sober is that drunk people are absolute a*holes and terminally boring. (Theguyliner.com)


We have a drink problem in the UK. Might it help if pensioner TV stopped using alcohol as a cheap laugh?

This discussion group with a friend – does it take place in a pub? (Alexander Armstrong, Pointless. The answer was “no”.)

The grain was used for bread, and more importantly for beer! (Antiques Road Trip)

You’ve brought along a bottle and you’re looking for a party. Everybody likes a tot of whisky. (Anita Manning, Flog It!. OK the item was a bottle of whisky.)

Was that pre or post opening the wine? (Selling Houses with Amanda Lamb)

Bargain Hunt contestant: And have a glass of wine after.
Charlie Ross: I bet you need one after boogie bouncing!

What’s funnier than an alcoholic bear, after all? (Eric Knowles, Bargain Hunt)

Tim Wonnacott: What do you like about Italy?
Contestant: The people, the culture, the food...
His daughter: THE WINE!
All: Ha ha ha.

Eric Knowles: Do you do a lot of meditating when you’re sitting on the riverbank fishing?
Bargain Hunt Contestant: We do a lot of drinking!
PEALS of laughter from all within earshot. 

Ladies don’t usually like tankards... but I know a couple of ladies who could empty a bottle of Pinot Grigio out of there! (Antiques Roadshow, 2019)

Invite family and friends around and let the hours fly by, enjoy sitting in the conservatory come rain or shine with a glass or two or just for some well-deserved peace and quiet. (Estate Agents’ details_

Pick a room and just move straight in. You don't even need to lift a finger here once you’re unpacked as all has been done ready for so grab a glass of whatever you fancy and just sit back and relax. (Haart estate agents)

I like a bit of champagne.
Don’t we all, darling?
(Bargain Hunt)

David Harper, as contestants pick up a decanter: But what are you going to do with it?
Contestants: Fill it with wine! We Australians love our wine!

I think those two would enjoy a tipple together. (Paul Martin on Flog It! David Harper is talking to an elderly lady who has brought in an alcoholometer. “Waste of good gin – I’d rather drink it!” says David.)

Giving up vodka at 80 as a health kick: this is the sort of “ageing” I can embrace. (The Times on Jilly Cooper saying she’d been “drunk for a fortnight” to celebrate her birthday – on wine, not vodka.)

Paul Martin: What do you like if you don’t like brooches?
Punter: I like going to the pub.
Paul Martin: No comment. (But at least he didn’t laugh or twinkle.)

Woman describes sequence dancing: And then you hold hands and twiddle around.
Tim Wonnacott: And then do you have a gin and tonic?
Woman: Oh, no, we’re old dears, we can’t go out like that!

Britain’s oldest woman has died at the ripe old age of a hundred and something. She puts her longevity down to “a regular glass of sherry”! (BBC Breakfast,  2016)

It’s very tempting, Gaynor, isn’t it? (Dickinson’s Real Deal. Gaynor is selling a bottle of champagne.)

Ooh I think I need a gin. (Woman told her clock is worth the price of a car, Antiques Roadshow)

I think we need some tea.
And some whiskey.
Ha ha ha!
(Countryfile)

Jamie’s doing all the hard work, and I’m sitting at the table with a glass of wine... ha ha ha ha! (Escape to the Country)

Two restorers on The Repair Shop are renovating a giant teddy bear in a field: Wondering what time the picnic hamper is going to arrive. Nice glass of red?

He looks as if he’s had a heavy night out, which is perfectly appropriate for the night before Christmas. (John Kay on BBC Breakfast on Santa cakes)

Alcoholics Anonymous