Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

Tay Tay's girl gang at the MTV Awards in 2015

Tay Tay’s ‘girl gang’ at the MTV Awards in 2015

 

If you’ve got more than a handful of friends, it seems you may need to kick some to the kerb as science reckons our brains can’t handle more than five besties at a time.

A study by the MIT Technology Review looked at a theory by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who noticed that there was a direct correlation between people’s brains and how many friends they have – basically the bigger your brain the bigger your friendship group and the smaller your brain, the less friends you’re bound to have.

According to Dunbar, humans are only able to have FIVE best friends, with maybe another 10 close friends, 35 acquaintances, and 100 additional contacts, due to the size of our neocortex.

And if you were having doubts about his theory, Dunbar actually tested out it out recently by examining 6 billion phone calls made by 35 million people in an anonymous European country.

“The team assumes that the frequency of calls between two individuals is a measure of the strength of their relationship,” the MIT Technology Review states. The study found that Dunbar’s estimate wasn’t too far fletched: “The average cumulative layer turns out to hold 4.1, 11.0, 29.8, and 128.9 users,” researchers found — again, that’s besties, close friends, acquaintances and “contacts” respectively.

So maybe Katy Perry and Rihanna had the right idea when they chose a girl squad of two as opposed to Tay Tay’s massive army? And who are Taylor’s best besties from among the girl gang? We think the people should be told.
We reckon we’ve got at least six friends, Dear Reader. Coz we’re really, er, you know, brainy. You know who you are.

Queen Elizabeth IILike most other Brits (originally, at least). and much of the rest of the world, we are full of admiration for Queen Elizabeth II as she approaches her 90th birthday, having recently become the longest-serving monarch in the country’s history.

We are not, in truth, overly in favour of the monarchy, as we are highly sceptical as to whether it really offers the economic boon that is always quoted whenever anyone questions its existence.

And though it is supposed to be non-political, it undoubtedly wields behind the scenes influence, and whether that influence is for good or ill it really should play no role in a truly democratic society.

One cannot help, by way of example, to wonder what might have occurred had avowed Nazi sympathiser Edward VIII remained on the throne to apply his influence in support of Halifax and the appeaser faction in the Conservative Party in 1939. No ascent of Churchill and an ignominious accommodation with the Nazis would have been much more likely than the stout defence of country and Empire – and subsequent defeat of fascism – that actually occurred. For a fuller discussion of the fight between Halifax and Churchill on the conduct of the war, one of the most seminal events in the whole of human history as it turned out, we recommend this Wikipedia article, which is fascinating.

And non-Brits sometimes forget we have chopped the head off a king on our way to a participatory democracy. We are by no means mindlessly adulatory to our monarchs. The approbrium heaped on future King Charles III’s head over the breakdown of his marriage with the adored Princess Diana shows how shallow the British public’s acquiescence really can be. Our monarchs really do rule at the public’s favour.

Nevertheless, one would be hard pushed to find anyone with a word of criticism of the Queen. Despite her advanced years, she maintains a punishing schedule of public engagements, (the equivalent of almost one a day), and despite having, by all accounts, something of a temper (an attribute she shares with most of her ancestors), she manages to seem to deal with almost everyone with impeccable courtesy and good humour.

She has never had a whiff of scandal anywhere in her personal life, and unquestionably is held in great affection by the vast majority of her own people, by people throughout the British Commonwealth (a push for a Republic in Australia, for example, is widely believed to be on hold while she still lives, out of respect for her personally), and ordinary folk in the world in general. He continued occupation of her throne (well, a total of eight thrones, actually) is undoubtedly the democratic will of her subjects, and that should be respected.

Which leaves us with one burning question.

If she is still on the throne ten years from now, as might well be the case, who will send her the official telegram that always goes from her to a centenarian subject on their birthday? After all, such an outcome is by no means unlikely. Her mother, it should be remembered, was mostly hale and hearty until her 102nd year.

She can hardly send one to herself, now can she?

We think the people should be told.

"And we should put all the long haired ruffians in the army, too, that'd wake em up ..."

“And we should put all the long haired ruffians in the army, too, that’d wake em up …”

One of the things that drives us into a blue billy-oh state of mouth-foaming rage is that oft-repeated moment where people cheerfully announce “I’m not a racist, but …” and then proceed to say something effortlessly racist and dumb, because you just know they’re going to say something to emphasise someone else’s perceived otherness.

So today, this made us laugh.

Actually laugh out loud, not just typing lol, but really, you know – lol.

We hope it does you, too.

 

I'm not a racist

 

PS Dear Reader – and you know who you are – the next time you feel moved to pronounce “I am not a racist, but …” you are almost certainly about to say something racist. So don’t.

“Awa’ an bile yer heid”

coffee (1)

In another confirmation of what we have always fervently believed, you can chalk up another benefit to downing your favourite morning brew: drinking coffee may protect your liver, research from the our old alma mater the University of Southampton in the U.K. has found.

After analyzing data on 432,000 people from 5 separate studies, the researchers concluded that people who drank one cup of coffee a day were 22 percent less likely to develop cirrhosis—scarring of the liver that eventually causes it to fail—than those who didn’t drink any.

But it gets better. The more coffee they consumed, the better their livers fared: People who drank two cups a day were 43 percent less likely to get the disease, while those who drank four cups a day had a 65 percent lower risk of it.

The study didn’t separate between decaf and regular coffee. But it’s likely that the caffeine does play a protective role, says study author Oliver Kennedy, M.D.

Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in your body, which are responsible for activating certain liver cells that lay down scar tissue. If this process is hindered, scar tissue—and eventually cirrhosis—may be less likely to occur, he says.

Still, it’s possible that there’s something in coffee itself that may be responsible for the beneficial effects, too.

For instance, one component called diterpenes — found in both regular and decaf coffee — may tamp down inflammation in the liver, reducing the risk of cirrhosis, Dr. Kennedy says.

So if you want to keep your liver safe, consider adding a cup or two of coffee to your day, as well as maintaining a healthy weight and limiting alcohol consumption, says Dr. Kennedy. And stick to no more than two alcoholic drinks a day.

We’re not sure about that last one, frankly, and we’d love to stay and talk, but right now we’re off to make another coffee.

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We do love a good F*** Up, as you know, Dear Reader. Mostly (as it’s the business we are in) we have concerned ourselves with glaring errors in commercial advertising, packaging, signs and so on. But with #election2016 in full swing, it’s the pollies in America that are now making some classic mistakes. Such fun.

Case History #1

 

Jeb-Bush

 

It’s really very important, peeps, that you keep your website URL registrations up to date. Not like dear old Jeb Bush, who in keeping with his bumbling campaign for President forgot to keep the registration current of jebbush.com. So Donald Trump grabbed the registration and simply re-directed it his website. D’oh!

Smart move by Trump, as there is an increasing trend for people not to link to websites from online advertising, or even to Google the correct link, but simply to type in what they assume to be the right URL. In America people normally assume that’s the name plus “dot com”, in Australia name plus “dot com dot au”, in the UK name plus “Dot co dot uk” and so on.

People in each domain “learn” their local suffix and assume that’s what the URL will be. Well done Trump and his staff (the only time we expect you’ll ever hear us say that) and big black mark for Bush. Not the last time we’ll say that. (Telling his audience to “clap now” the other day wasn’t all that smart, either.)

Case History #2

 

MARCO-RUBIO-VANCOUVER-facebook

 

Hilarious mistake by Marco Rubio’s campaign.

“It’s unmistakably Vancouver,” the Sun wrote.

The tugboat also features a Canadian flag, according to BuzzFeed News, who first flagged the footage on Monday.

The size and length of the ad buy was not immediately clear. But Vancouver-based videographer Guy Chavasse told CBC News on Monday that he shot the scene last August.

“It’s pretty funny, isn’t it?” he told the CBC. “It’s a good-looking video, no doubt, but it’s pretty recognisable as Vancouver.”

Chavasse estimated the campaign paid $80 for his footage. He also said he’s not a “Republican fan” or Rubio supporter.

Well, if it isn’t morning again in America, at least it’s morning again in Canada, eh?

So dumb it fair takes yer breath away.

For more F*** Ups, from all spheres of public communication, just go to the search box top left of this page and type in F*** Up. Then sit back and enjoy. Innocent fun for all the family. Well, not so innocent really.

PS We have promised various correspondents that we will faithfully report any F*** Ups from the Democratic side of politics, fearlessly reporting Hillary or Bernie burying their heads in a passing bucket of ordureful incompetence. But of course we know that won’t happen, because Democrats are incredibly clever and skillful and unicorns are real and so is magic fairy dust.

 

Who you calling a goat?

Who you calling a goat?

About time we had another advertising and marketing F*** Up to report to you.

To celebrate Chinese New Year, and it’s the Year of the Monkey this year of course, Woolworths in Australia are thoughtfully selling Chinese lucky bamboo with a cute Monkey picture. Seems a great idea. But as our good friend She Cao asks on Facebook, why have they written the Chinese character for “Goat” under the cute picture of a cheeky Monkey?

We think the people should be told. Woolworths? Care to comment?

Update: latest reports tell us the mistake is in Coles, too. Crikey!

For more F*** Ups, just pop F*** Up in the search box on the top left of this page, and go for your life. There are dozens on the blog. Enjoy.

18 January is Pooh Day, celebrating the birthday of A.A. Milne in 1882.

Pooh

There is no doubt in my mind that Milne tapped into a deep understanding of the human condition with his Pooh stories.

Milne was a noted writer, primarily as a playwright, before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work. He served in both World Wars, joining the British Army in World War I, where he was injured on the battle of the Somme, and was a captain of the British Home Guard in World War II. Milne did not speak out much on the subject of religion, although he used religious terms to explain his decision, while remaining a pacifist, to join the Home Guard: “In fighting Hitler”, he wrote, “we are truly fighting the Devil, the Anti-Christ … Hitler was a crusader against God.”

When he was growing up, one of his teachers was H. G. Wells, who in 1889-90 taught at the school owned by Milne’s father, where Milne was educated. What effect that great genius had on the young Milne is not known, but one can speculate that he played his role in fuelling both his imagination and his affection for writing.

After the first war, he wrote a denunciation of war titled Peace with Honour (1934), which he retracted somewhat with 1940’s War with Honour. During World War II, Milne was one of the most prominent critics of fellow English writer P. G. Wodehouse, who was captured at his country home in France by the Nazis and imprisoned for a year. Wodehouse made radio broadcasts about his internment, which were broadcast from Berlin. Although the light-hearted broadcasts made fun of the Germans, Milne accused Wodehouse of committing an act of near treason by cooperating with his country’s enemy. After the war Wodehouse was investigated and some believe he was lucky not to be hanged. Wodehouse got some revenge on his former friend (e.g., in The Mating Season) by creating fatuous parodies of the Christopher Robin poems in some of his later stories, and claiming that Milne “was probably jealous of all other writers. But I loved his stuff.”

A.A.Milne with his son Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear - photograph: Howard Coster

A.A.Milne with his son Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear – photograph: Howard Coster

As discussed, Milne is most famous for his two Pooh books about a boy named Christopher Robin (named after after his son, Christopher Robin Milne), and various characters inspired by his son’s stuffed animals, most notably the bear named Winnie-the-Pooh.

It’s not generally known that Christopher Milne’s stuffed bear, originally named “Edward”, was renamed “Winnie-the-Pooh” after a Canadian black bear named Winnie (after Winnipeg), which was used as a military mascot in World War I, and left to London Zoo during the war.

“The pooh” comes from a swan called “Pooh”.

E. H. Shepard illustrated the original Pooh books, using his own son’s teddy, Growler (“a magnificent bear”), as the model.

The rest of Christopher Robin Milne’s toys, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger, were also incorporated into A. A. Milne’s stories, while two more characters – Rabbit and Owl – were created from Milne’s imagination.

The original toys

The original toys

Christopher Robin Milne’s own toys are now under glass in New York where 750,000 people visit them every year.

The fictional Hundred Acre Wood of the Pooh stories derives from Five Hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, South East England, where the Pooh stories were set. Milne lived on the northern edge of the forest at Cotchford Farm, and took his son walking there. E. H. Shepard drew on the landscapes of Ashdown Forest as inspiration for many of the illustrations he provided for the Pooh books. The adult Christopher Robin commented: “Pooh’s Forest and Ashdown Forest are identical”. Popular tourist locations at Ashdown Forest include Galleon’s Lap, The Enchanted Place, the Heffalump Trap and Lone Pine, Eeyore’s Sad and Gloomy Place, and the wooden Pooh Bridge where Pooh and Piglet invented “Poohsticks”.

People have wondered why there weren’t more Pooh stories, given their huge success. But the success of his children’s books was to become a source of considerable annoyance to Milne, whose self-avowed aim was to write whatever he pleased and who had, until then, found a ready audience for each change of direction: he had freed pre-war Punch from its ponderous facetiousness; he had made a considerable reputation as a playwright (like his idol J. M. Barrie) on both sides of the Atlantic; he had produced a witty piece of detective writing in The Red House Mystery (although this was severely criticised by Raymond Chandler for the implausibility of its plot). But once Milne had, in his own words, “said goodbye to all that in 70,000 words” (the approximate length of his four principal children’s books), he had no intention of producing any re-workings of Pooh lacking in originality, especially given that one of the sources of inspiration, his son, was growing older.

The Wine the Pooh phenomenon shows little signs of slowing. The rights to A. A. Milne’s Pooh books were left to four beneficiaries: his family, the Royal Literary Fund, Westminster School and the Garrick Club. After Milne’s death in 1956, his widow sold her rights to the Pooh characters to Stephen Slesinger, whose widow sold the rights after Slesinger’s death to the Walt Disney Company, which has made many Pooh cartoon movies, a Disney Channel television show, as well as Pooh-related merchandise.

In 2001, the other beneficiaries sold their interest in the estate to the Disney Corporation for $350m. Previously Disney had been paying twice-yearly royalties to these beneficiaries. The estate of E. H. Shepard also received a sum in the deal.

The copyright on Pooh expires in 2026. In 2008, a collection of original illustrations featuring Winnie-the-Pooh and his animal friends sold for more than £1.2 million at auction in Sotheby’s, London. Forbes magazine ranked Winnie the Pooh the most valuable fictional character in 2002; Winnie the Pooh merchandising products alone had annual sales of more than $5.9 billion. In 2005, Winnie the Pooh generated $6 billion, a figure surpassed by only Mickey Mouse.

The wisdom of Pooh – its sheer, adorable humaneness – is easy to discern when one browses through some of the more famous aphorisms that are scattered throughout the books. Here are our favourites. Which are yours?

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
― House at Pooh Corner

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
― Christopher Robin to Pooh

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
― Winnie the Pooh

“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”
― Winnie the Pooh

“Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
― Winnie the Pooh

“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”
― Winnie the Pooh

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
― Winnie the Pooh

“I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.”
― Winnie the Pooh

The last couple are possibly our personal favourites. This:

“One of the advantages of being disorganised is that one is always having surprising discoveries.”
― Winnie The Pooh

And this:

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh.
“What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
“It’s the same thing,” he said.”
― Winnie The Pooh

Milne also clearly understood that not everyone could share his relentlessly sunny view of the world. Or perhaps, that he needed to ventilate hiseeyore1 own doubts and fears occasionally.

In this wise, I have always enjoyed Eeyore’s character more than any other in the books. His relentlessly curmudgeonly pessimism is so refreshing, tinged, as it is, with a stoic determination. If you every find us down in the dumps, Dear Reader, perhaps you might kindly remind us of this wonderful passage.

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore.
“However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

Until the next earthquake, then, people, we celebrate A.A. Milne.

Bobbing along

 

Well, Dear Reader, a very Happy Christmas and a Bonnie Hogmanay and 2016 to you.

We have been a little remiss in not posting much in the last few days due to two simple and conjoined facts: one, Mr and Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink are officially on holiday, (on a swanky cruise ship, no less), and two, the internet is so cripplingly expensive that we decided to hold off a few days before plunging headlong into our usual travel-ese. That this has kept us off the all-consuming Facebook has been a relaxing coincidence.

We are, in fact, swooshing up from Sydney to Vanuatu and New Caledonia for a brief and – trust us – well-deserved break, and so as we write we are somewhere south of Lougainville and north of Port Vila in international waters off Vanuatu. It’s easy to work out that we’re in international waters, because the casino is open.

There, a bunch of dour Chinese and one cheery Brit will take your money with remarkable rapidity if you absolutely can’t think of anything else to do at all, and you have to be somewhat desperate as there are at least three trivia competitions running concurrently 24 hours a day, and the brain training they offer is free – and we simply luuuurve trivia competitions – so you’d have to be dead keen on the masochism of cards, craps and roulette to spend too much time buried there in the bowels of the vessel.

Then again, we did notice some other people actually winning, which is somewhat of an alien concept to us, so maybe we just haven’t got the knack of it yet. After thirty years playing Blackjack, and almost invariably losing, we are close to assuming the knack will never arrive. Or that there is, in fact, no knack to be got. But we are not quite at that point yet.

And then again, again, there do seem to be a large percentage of young couples in there, with her gazing adoringly up into his eyes, as he rashly slams down another $20 to buy a card on twelve, and ends up duly eviscerated with 22. It’s as if, time after time, the young lad is saying to his belle, “there be no dragons around for me to slay on your behalf, sweet Princess, so have a look at how painlessly I can lose a week’s wages while you watch”. Maybe it’s not masochism but rather machismo that’s on display. Indeed, it deserves it’s own word. Masochismo works.

As first time cruisers, we have been simultaneously entranced, horrified, and sometimes simply bemused by the experience.

It’s hard, for example, not to simply sigh with pleasure when this greets you as you sit down to write.

 

IMG_4966

 

Cruising is gaining rapidly in popularity around the world as the new “go to” middle class vacation. We say “middle class” because the upper classes only cruise in uber-luxury mini-liners with 20 guests and 437 crew, either on a bateaux of their own or at a pinch a ship owned by a friend or even a discrete tour company called something like BlueOcean Wanderer – the name chosen to imply “unhurried, un-shackled, off the beaten track, and above all, daahling, no middle class people”. (We apologise in advance to the owners of BlueOcean Wanderer, which no doubt exists somewhere.)

The poor can’t afford anything more than a quick trip up and down their local capital city waterway on a Sunday. Even if they plumped for an interior cabin and no drinks package* – of those, more later – they couldn’t chuff up the vast sums cruise companies charge for all-you-can-eat corned beef hash** – more on that later, too – and hot and cold running 70s music trivia.

Which leaves us ensconced with our fellow middle-class pretend-riche, some of whom are very nice, and some of whom are utterly horrid. A bit like life in general, really, but with waves.

We have discovered that we can ascertain someone’s status back on dry land pretty accurately by the grade of orange in their fake tan – the more orange, the more entre nous – and their level of bling.

Bling is in inverse proportion to social status. A discrete golden chain married to a demure and only half-awful pair of what used to be called Bermuda shorts suggests an accountant in training, or a teacher. Especially with a tired looking wife and squalling toddler in tow.

When blinded by what looks like half of Australia’s national debt coiled round and round a neck the size of a small bull matched with a disturbingly tight pair of bathers revealing, as it were, a substantial package, you can pretty much assume “delivery driver who earns twice what you do, but who missed out on Mrs Dalyrymple’s finishing school”. And that’s just the girls.

Most of the passengers are white. Most of the staff aren’t. Many of the staff are from the world’s low-income countries –  Indonesia, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, China, South Africa, Mexico – and they work very long hours and extremely hard. It’s also easy to assume that they get paid the best part of bugger all, as the cruise line charges a quick and easy 18% “gratuity” charge on everything you spend on board – although one has no way of knowing whether that gratuity charge actually gets to the workers, or if it does, whether that simply makes up a substantial portion of their wages, thus reducing the wage bill of the employer.

One is also encouraged to tip exceptional service directly, which means that 95% of the staff are obsequiously gracious, ineffably cheery and obsessively intrusive the entire time.

This is due to a number of factors – including their quite and innate genuine niceness – but also very clearly their desire to get tipped.

To an egalitarian Aussie eye it appears forced, and demeaning, for both staff and customer. It is, of course, the “American way”, a country where a campaign to establish a national wage of just $15 an hour has been met with furious opposition from employers happier to pay $6-10 an hour. To put that in perspective, Miss Wellthisiswhatithink gets A$25 an hour for babysitting/nannying, and wouldn’t accept less, nor would it be offered.

 

Cocktails. Or as the young and restless with a drinks package call them, "Breakfast".

Cocktails. Or as the young and restless with a drinks package call them, “Breakfast”.

 

The other outcome of this low wage environment is that all staff – and we mean all staff – seem utterly preoccupied with selling drinks packages*, whereby one (outrageously expensive) daily charge covers all your drinks, except top shelf stuff, but where that tariff is set so high that you basically have to set out determinedly to drink your weight in rum and coke from about 10am every morning to get your money’s worth. Selling a package equals kudos, and job security.

For the delivery van drivers this temporarily-arranged alcoholism isn’t a problem, so long as there’s going to be a decent break between them getting off the ship and getting back behind the wheel, and they are all cheerfully smashed pretty much 24-seven. For those who don’t wish to be unsteady on our feet by lunchtime, or who want to avoid falling overboard, it’s an egregious waste of money.

But every time one orders a drink or a bottle of wine – which are triple or quadruple what one would pay in Australia for very average drops – one is incredulously asked “You don’t have a package, Sir?” and the sales spiel starts again while you feel obliged to dream up new excuses for your parsimony. It is, in a word, bloody annoying. Two words.

 

"Hello Ladies."

“Hello Ladies.”

 

The English language skills of the staff also often leave much to be desired, but the effect is also frequently very funny.

Watching a diminutive high-pitched Chinese waiter go up to a table full of six giant buffed Aussie blokes and start with a squeaky “Hello, Ladies, my name is Kwan and I am your waiter tonight … now, ladies, I just need to tell you about our wine special for this evening” has it’s own wonderful schadenfreude.

Needless to say, the Aussie blokes are both too polite and too anal to correct him, so night after night the cabaret repeats.

The world that is today intrudes on our idyll every time anyone wants to get on and off. Security is as fierce as at any airport, with sniffer dogs checking for bombs, and machines that go ping scanning us all on at initial embarkation and on and off whenever there is a shore excursion. I am not sure what they think we’ll be bringing back on board – nerve-gas-infused coconuts? – but it seems churlish to object and no one does. This is the one place that all the smiles disappear to be replaced with rapt attention and scowls. We are not aware that the South Pacific is a key target for terrorists of any ilk, but “you can’t be too careful nowadays”. The security officer busting a quick dance move to SuperTrooper by Abba which was blasting out to keep us amused was a welcome and timely diversion from pondering just how depressing much of the world has become. Before we left from Sydney we happened across two Border Force (customs) personnel taking snap after snap of the Sydney Opera House on their iPhones from an upper deck of the ship. “Refuse to believe that’s security focused” we opined. “Nope,” said one, “We just don’t get up here much.”

Somehow their extra-curricular casualness made us feel safer, rather than worried. But somewhere, as we write these words, we know this very scene will be stolen by a hack writer in Hollywood and coming soon to a screen near you will be pictures of the soul-less terrorist or brutal bank robber unknowingly snapped by a bludging Border Force officer, which happy chance is the vital clue that leads to their discovery and arrest. You heard it here first.

 

Corned Beef Hash

All hail the Hash

 

Which leads us, tortuously but inevitably, to the corned beef hash**. Which delightful concoction, as we haven’t traveled all that much in the USA, was a very pleasant and new experience for us, and which we have been devouring assiduously since Day 1. Corned beef, (yes, like the stuff that comes in tins), onions, and potatoes. Hashed. And fried. From the French, hacher. (Never let it be said our writing is not educational.) Or as the civilised world would call it, mashed.

Despite being a cholesterol bomb it is, quite simply, delicious, and goes perfectly with eggs and bacon and baked beans and tomatoes and fried bread and anything else one can squeeze onto one’s all-you-can-eat breakfast plate. Or plates. And it is matched very well with scaldingly hot American coffee, too, which actually isn’t anything like as bad as everyone else likes to pretend. Provided one adds lashings of milk. When drunk black it is indeed unpotable bitter mud and would be better used as tar on the bottom of passing leaky native canoes.

What is really interesting about the corned beef hash – beyond its Satanic moreishness – is that it appears to be comprised of at least 50% salt.

As was the buerre blanc on the escargots, the bifteck minute which was cut so thin that anything over thirty seconds would turn it into leather, and the beouf bourgingon which had no discernible red wine in it (not even the cheap crap; it hadn’t even had an open bottle of cheap crap waved anywhere near it) but plenty – plenty – of salt.

We are most grateful that our arteries are only temporarily being loaned to America. God knows how anyone there over the age of 50 ever survives their middle age – their blood pressure must be at least 200 over 120. In all seriousity, the difference between the two cuisines is stark. The food quality is genuinely pretty good, especially considering the number of people being fed, (nigh-on constantly), but the salt content of many dishes would put the Dead Sea to shame. We reckon someone, somewhere, as we speak, is injecting honeydew melons with salt water.

The cheese is, needless to say, inedible.

Anyhow, tonight is New Year’s Eve, meaning we are now going off to be dragooned into a mass party (all dressed in formal clothes, no less), by our talented and relentlessly cheerful MC/Factotum/Trivia Quizmaster/Tour Director, who will cram us into a small and sweaty space to shout “Ten, nine, eight, seven …” before what seems like ten thousand yellow balloons are dropped on our heads, and everyone starts kissing each other frantically.

As the outbreaks of Norovirus on cruise ships has led them to placing hand sanitisers everywhere – Heaven forfend that you would try and get into a restaurant without the cheery chappy from Indonesia squirting germ killer onto your hands – “Time for Washy-Washy! Time for Washy-Washy!” – there’d be a bells going off and a near riot if you tried to sneak past un-washy-washied – one would imagine that thousands of extremely drunk and hot strangers kissing each other repeatedly might not be the wisest activity. But hey, when in Rome.

More tomorrow. After the trivia, natch.

 

What?

trump dogs

 

According to Mr Donald Trump, an extreme toupe who is running for President in the USA, police in London are terrified for their lives right now due to the terror threat.

By his logic I’d hate to think how Americans feel about their dogs right now.

At the sprightly age of 68, Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood could have been expecting to quietly gather some moss, instead he’s going to be changing nappies.

The Rolling Stones band member is expecting twins with his wife Sally Humphries, 37, who owns a theatre production company.

 

Ronnie Wood and his wife Sally.

Ronnie and his wife Sally. Source: Getty

A spokesperson for the band said: “Sally and Ronnie Wood are delighted to announce that they are expecting twins in June 2016. Needless to say, they are thrilled and overjoyed with the wonderful news.”

Not a matter that most 68 year olds want to deal with.

Not a matter that most 68 year olds want to deal with.

It is not really for us to comment censoriously on other people’s life choices, and I am sure Mr and Mrs Wood are both delighted and in love. But we cannot help but wonder whether it is actually wise to have kids at 68.

Ronnie will be about 74 or 75 when he has to attend his kids’ first day at primary school.

More than 80 when he has to go along to see them in their first secondary school bandslam. There’ll be a special audience section for those with zimmer frames, we trust.

And with the best will in the world, it can’t be THAT much longer until Ronnie turns up his toes, and he will be fortunate indeed to see his new kids grow to adulthood. Very unlikely to see them at college, or see them married, and definitely won’t see their children or be able to contribute any grandfatherial support.

We just wonder whether people consider such matters when getting pregnant? Whether or not it’s actually good for the kids?

Go on, call us old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy. You know you want to.

syria photo

 

At the Wellthisiswhatithink desk, deep in darkest Melbourne, people occasionally pass us vital documents they think should be broadcast to a wider audience.

This is how we stumbled across this revelatory but top secret intelligence briefing on the situation in Syria and Iraq.

With luck, this highly restricted document will clear up any confusion you have on the situation over there. We publish so that the truth may be known. Eat your heart out, Wikileaks.

So … (deep breath) …

YOUR EYES ONLY

Let’s kick off with Syria. President Assad (who is bad) is a nasty guy with a bad moustache who only got the job because his Dad had it before, but then he got so nasty that his people rebelled and the Rebels (who are good) started winning. (Hurrah!) This is despite the dorky Assad having a rather dishy British wife who was universally believed to be good, until she spent too much on shoes and stuff and became generally considered to be bad.

Things were sort of going OK for the good rebels but then some of them turned more than a bit nasty and are now called IS or ISIL or Islamic State or Daesh (doesn’t matter what they’re called, they are definitely bad) and some rebels continued to support democracy (who are still good) and some we are just not all that sure about (who may be bad, or good, but time will tell).

IS are so bad even Al Qaeda (really bad too) don’t like them and start fighting them.

The Americans (who are good) start bombing Islamic State (who are bad) and giving arms to the Syrian Rebels (who are good) so they could fight Assad (who is still bad), which was good. But this ironically puts America on the same side as Al Qaeda in Syria, which is just plain odd.

Now. There is a breakaway state in the north run by the Kurds who want to fight IS (which is a good thing) but the Turkish authorities think they are bad, so we have to say they are bad whilst secretly thinking they’re good and giving them guns to fight IS (which is good) but that is another matter altogether and we’ll get more confused so we’ll let it go. Meanwhile the Turks have shot down a Russian plane which they say was flying in their airspace (which is definitely bad).

Anyway, getting back to Syria and Iraq.

So President Putin (who is bad, because he invaded Crimea and thejoker Ukraine and killed lots of folks including that nice Russian man in London with polonium-poisoned sushi) has decided to back Assad (who is still bad) by attacking ISIS (who are also bad) which is sort of a good thing?

But Putin (still bad) thinks the Syrian Rebels (who are good) are also bad, and so he bombs them too, much to the annoyance of the Americans (who are good) who are busy backing and arming the rebels (who are also good).

Now Iran (who used to be bad, but now they have agreed not to build any nuclear weapons and bomb Israel with them are now sort-of good) are going to provide ground troops to support Assad (still bad) as are the Russians (bad) who now have both ground troops and aircraft in Syria.

So a new Coalition of Assad (still bad) Putin (extra bad) and the Iranians (good, but in a bad sort of way) are going to attack IS (who are very bad) which is a good thing, but also the Syrian Rebels (who are good), which is bad.

Annoyingly, now the British (obviously good, except that funny and rather confused Mr Corbyn, who is probably bad in an ineffective sort of way) and the Americans (also good) and the Australians (who are generally considered good because they’re mainly about cold beer and beaches) cannot attack Assad (still bad) for fear of upsetting Putin (bad) and Iran (good/bad) so now they have to accept that Assad might not be that bad after all compared to IS (who are super bad).

So Assad (bad) is now probably good, being better than IS (but let’s face it, drinking your own wee is better than IS, so no real choice there) and since Putin and Iran are also fighting IS that may now make them good.

America (still good) will find it hard to arm a group of rebels being attacked by the Russians for fear of upsetting Mr Putin (now good) and that nice mad Ayatollah in Iran (sort of good) and so they may be forced to say that the Rebels are now bad, or at the very least abandon them to their fate. This will lead most of them to flee to Turkey and then on to Europe (which is bad) or join IS (still the only constantly bad group, and that would be really bad).

For all the Sunni Muslims in the area, an attack by Shia Muslims and Alawites (Iran and Assad) backed by Russians (infidels) will be seen as something of a Holy War, and the ranks of Daesh will now be seen by the Sunnis as the only Jihadis fighting in the Holy War. Hence many Muslims will now see IS as good even though they are the baddest of the bad. (Doh!)

Sunni Muslims will also see the lack of action by Britain and America in support of their (good) Sunni rebel brothers as something of a betrayal (not to mention we didn’t do anything about a corrupt Shia government being imposed on Sunnis when we took over Iraq: hmmm, might have a point there) and hence we will be seen as more Bad. Again.

A few million refugees are now out of harm’s way (good) but nobody really wants them (bad) and now winter’s coming (bad). Lots of people think the refugees are how IS will sneak bad guys into Europe (which would be bad, but there’s no evidence of it happening, which is good, but that doesn’t stop people being frightened of them even though they have no reason to be, which is bad). Meanwhile the French have decided to bomb Iraq to pay back IS for the attacks (bad) in Paris and other countries like Lebanon and Jordan also look like getting dragged further and further into the conflict (bad).

So now we have America (now bad) and Britain (also bad) and Australia (bad, but with good beer), providing limited support to Sunni Rebels (bad) many of whom are looking to IS (good/bad depending on your point of view, even though they’re still really bad) for support against Assad (now good) who, along with Iran (also good) and Putin (also, now, unbelievably, good) are attempting to retake the country Assad used to run before all this started?

There. I hope that this clears it all up for you.

And if in doubt, fuck it, let’s all just bomb someone else. ‘Cause that will help.

Well done, Mr McClure, whoever and wherever you are. Well done, that man.

 

Well done, Mr McClure, whoever you are. Well done, that man.

hugs

Most of them you never see, or notice. Yet everywhere you go, quiet acts of kindness surround you.

Every day, good people live their lives with strength, with purpose, with compassion and integrity. Every day, the whole world is lifted by people who are happy to have the opportunity to make a difference.

Usually, those who boast about it or make grand promises are not the ones who are actually advancing life’s goodness. It’s the quiet, sincere kindness, from folks who have no interest in taking credit, that gives each day its special shine.

It’s hard to remember sometimes, with the relentless miserableness of the news, but the world is actually filled with good, caring people who never find themselves in the headlines and who never care to, either.

The magnitude of their cumulative kindness each day is too large and far too widespread to ever be calculated. It is the perfect tonic to those who are toxic in our life – people who should know better but are nevertheless happy to offload their personal stresses onto us, to be angry, unreasonable, venial or just plain bad.

Life is good today because so many people choose to see it as good. And in every small moment, each in his or her own way, they humbly give life to the goodness.

Quiet acts of kindness surround you, even now. So feel the goodness and quietly pass it on.

A word. A gentle gesture. A task done for someone who can’t manage it themselves. A little encouragement. Or just some simple unforced friendliness.

Feelgood psycho-babble? Nope. This isn’t just “fluffy stuff”. Living in a close-knit community and having good neighbours could have hidden health benefits and may even reduce people’s risk of suffering a heart attack, new research has claimed.

getting onResearchers in the USA said that the social support and reduction in stress levels afforded by getting on well with the people in your community could be of benefit, particularly for elderly people more likely to suffer a health crisis.

Thy found, based on a four-year study of more than 5,000 Americans over 50, that people who said they trusted and liked their neighbours, felt part of the community, and expected their neighbours would help them in a difficulty, were less likely to go on to have a heart attack.

Levels of social cohesion were rated one to seven based on people’s responses. Each one point on the scale represented a 17 per cent lower risk of heart attack, the researchers from the University of Michigan said.

Well, yesterday Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink and I were at the races in the afternoon. We were having a wonderful day – our mare Khutulun won with a huge surge at the end of her race and a great time was had by all.

photo finish

But it was somewhat spoiled by the fact that all the way to the racecourse, about an hour and a half, the car had been busily flashing warning lights at us (and plenty of things that go ping were ping-ping-pinging for all they were worth) and after Khutulun had duly saluted (at 14-1 no less, thank you very much) we called the Roadside Assist guy.

He picked us up from the back of the grandstand, which was very nice of him, as by then there was the mother of all thunderstorms breaking over our head, and to find us he had to weave his way through thousands of pie-eyed drunken revellers and then take us from the track to our car which was miles away in the car park. He didn’t have to say yes to doing that, he just did. And he was chirpy, and cheery, and made us feel better because of his relentless enthusiasm.

He duly got us going, chatting cheerfully all the time dispensing little jokes and bits of folk wisdom, although the car did play up all the way home and finally conked out altogether about three streets from our house, but that’s another story.

What really struck me apart from Mr Happy Car Fixer was the little guy in his 60s sitting in his car waiting for the traffic to clear leaving the course, who got chatting to us as we piled out of the mechanic’s van – that’s when we eventually made it back to our car after narrowly avoiding running down half a dozen young ladies who obviously thought that drinking four bottles of cheap champagne in the hospitality tent somehow makes you invulnerable if hit by a truck.

He was an immigrant from somewhere or other – I am guessing Serbia or Croatia or somewhere like that from his thick accent – and as soon as he worked out we were in a fix he said “Well, I can take you to Melbourne, no problem.” He just smiled an encouraging cracked-tooth, unshaven smile and said it, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to drive someone you’ve met 30 seconds before 125 kilometres down the freeway.

We didn’t need his help in the end, but what a generous thing to say? Fair bucked us up.

As we limped cautiously out of the car park a cheerfully sloshed guy making his way through the puddles back to town called out to us “Any chance of a lift?” and Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink, entirely unsure that the car would keep going for a hundred yards let alone an hour and a half answered “No, sorry.” and I felt a little guilty after the kindness that had been shown to us.

But we had been told in no uncertain terms not to stop if we wanted to get home, so we spluttered and lurched onwards.

Sorry mate. Hit us up again next time. Just let me get the car fixed first. Which I have no doubt will cost every penny we won on Khutulun.

Funny old life. And often, a kind one.

So we just passed a thousand posts. 1001 to be precise. And well over half a million hits.

As is our wont when we reach a milestone the first thing we do is say thank you to you, Dear Reader. After all, you’re the point.

Over more than three years the blog has become an eclectic mixture of politics and popular culture, enlivened with a decent dose of sheer nonsense from time to time, and we’re really quite proud of it. It’s been re-reported all over the world, read in virtually every country in the world, and we have a made a bunch of wonderful and loyal new friends. You know who you are, and how much we appreciate your support.

And as is also our wont, we wanted into the blogosphere to find out the significance of the number we’re celebrating, in this case the palindromic 1001.

1001

So we came across Norway’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 87th Academy Awards. Apparently Bent Hamer’s 1001 Grams is delightfully quirky and gently affecting as it ponders how much a life really weighs, and whether it is possible to truly measure happiness. We’ve never heard of it but apparently it’s “buoyed by trademark deadpan humour and wry observation: a film as restrained – and as slowly illuminating – as the protagonist.” Which sounds pretty good, really, so we might look it out on the worldwideinterwebs to reward ourselves for the effort involved in 1001 posts.

1001 was a special year, of course. It was the first year of not only the eleventh century in the Christian calendar but also the first year in a new millenium. Pretty big. It was a rather disturbed year in Europe. Lots of people called Aeth-something or miscellaneous Viking names were having at it.

And talking of Vikings, it’s also thought to be the year that Leif Eriksson and his band of brothers and sisters established small settlements in and around Vinland in North America, hundreds of years before Columbus found the place accidentally.

baekdu

Looks quiet. Don’t be fooled.

Baitoushan volcano on what is now the Chinese-Korean border went pop with one of the biggest explosions in history. It has remined active 9and dangerous) ever since. In other China news, construction began on the Liaodi Pagoda, the tallest pagoda in Chinese history, which was completed 54 years later.

In mathematics, One thousand and one is a sphenic number, a pentagonal number, a pentatope number and the first four-digit palindromic number. We have not the faintest idea what any of those things are, so we’ve left the links in for you to find out.

Luckily for her, she talked a good story.

Luckily for her, she talked a good story.

In The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, harem member Scheherazade tells her husband the king a new story every night for 1,001 nights, thus staving off her execution. From this, 1001 is sometimes used as a generic term for “a very large number”, starting with a large number (1000) and going beyond it, as in:

1001 uses for…
1001 ways to…

In Arabic, this is usually phrased as “one thousand things and one thing“, e.g.:

The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, in Arabic Alf layla wa layla (Arabic: ألف ليلة و ليلة‎), literally “One thousand nights and a night”.
1001 thanks is Alf shukran wa shukran (Arabic: ألف شكرا و شكرا): “One thousand thanks and thank you”.

Incidentally, the story of why Scheherazade was in danger of her life is quite interesting.

The main story concerns Shahryar, whom the narrator calls a “Sasanian king” ruling in “India and China”. He is shocked to discover that his brother’s wife is unfaithful; discovering his own wife’s infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her executed: but in his bitterness and grief he decides that all women are the same.

Shahryar begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him. Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once again. And do it goes on for 1,001 nights.

The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques and various forms of erotica. Numerous stories depict jinns, ghouls, apes, sorcerers, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, and not always rationally; common protagonists include the historical Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, his Grand Vizier, Jafar al-Barmaki, and the famous poet Abu Nuwas, despite the fact that these figures lived some 200 years after the fall of the Sassanid Empire in which the tale of Scheherazade is set.

Sometimes a character in Scheherazade’s tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, resulting in a richly layered narrative texture.

An early manuscript of the One Thousand and One Nights

The different versions have different individually detailed endings (in some Scheherazade asks for a pardon, in some the king sees their children and decides not to execute his wife, in some other things happen that make the king distracted) but they all end with the king giving his wife a pardon and sparing her life. Phew.

The most immediate reference that occurred to us for 1001 was 1001 detergent, used for various uses, but primarily for carpets.

“1001 cleans a big big carpet, for less than half a crown” was the hugely famous slogan, and I have never forgotten it.

Anyway, the ad is just simply wonderful – just love the accents.

Even better, the product is still available although the ads, sadly, have ceased.

Most people these days wouldn’t even know what half a crown was, more’s the pity. Ah well.

Happy 1001th everyone, and once again, thank you!

Brilliant.

If we made this required viewing for all sexually active males everywhere in the world we would make the world a much safer and better place for women. As well as saving a lot of males a great deal of pain and potential punishment, too. As well as helping the sexes just, you know, get on.

 

 

Well done Upworthy. Superb.

Show this to every male you know, Dear Reader.

Sincerely

A Male

Whoever we are Wherever we go Yes means yes And no means no

Whoever we are
Wherever we go
Yes means yes
And no means no

PS Dear male population of Australia. Forget this simple video when dealing with my daughter and you will be sorry.

PPS Women who would like to reinforce this simple point when walking down the street are invited to purchase this t-shirt, available in a variety of formats.

Click the link:

http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.431439352

underground slang

Alarming news that one of the most enjoyable of world dialects – Cockney rhyming slang – may be set to die out in London and elsewhere.

Rhyming slang is a form of phrase construction that is especially prevalent in dialectal English from the East End of London; hence the alternative name, Cockney rhyming slang. The construction involves replacing a common word with a rhyming phrase of two or three words and then, in almost all cases, omitting the secondary rhyming word (which is thereafter implied), in a process called hemiteleia, making the origin and meaning of the phrase elusive to listeners not in the know. That fact may well have been behind the growth of the linguistic habit – obscuring the facts of a situation from authority figures such as the police – or the “bottle stoppers”, ie coppers.

A well-known example is replacing the word “stairs” with the rhyming phrase “apples and pears”. Following the pattern of omission of the second or subsequent words, “and pears” is dropped, thus the spoken phrase “I’m off up the apples” means “I’m going up the stairs”.

In similar fashion, “telephone” is replaced by “dog” (= ‘dog-and-bone’); “wife” by “the trouble” (= ‘trouble-and-strife’); “eyes” by “mincers” (= ‘mince pies’); “wig” by “syrup” (= ‘syrup of figs’) and “feet” by “plates” (= ‘plates of meat’).

Thus a construction of the following type could conceivably arise: “It nearly knocked me off me plates—he was wearing a syrup! So I ran up the apples, got straight on the dog to me trouble and said I couldn’t believe me mincers.”

In some examples the meaning is further obscured by adding a second iteration of rhyme and truncation to the original rhymed phrase. For example, the word “Aris” is often used to indicate the buttocks. This is the result of a double rhyme, starting with the original rough synonym “arse” for buttocks, which is then rhymed with “bottle and glass”, leading to “bottle”. “Bottle” was then in its turn rhymed with “Aristotle” and truncated to “Aris”. “Nice Aris, darlin'” can still be heard on the streets of London today when an attractive girl is bold enough to walk past a building site.

Rumours that this is your author are exaggerated, Dear Reader

Rumours that this is your author are exaggerated, Dear Reader

The use of rhyming slang has spread beyond the purely dialectal and some examples are to be found in the mainstream British English lexicon and internationally, although many users may be unaware of the origin of those words.

One example is “berk”, a mild pejorative term for a foolish person widely used across the UK and not usually considered particularly offensive, although the origin lies in a contraction of “Berkeley Hunt”, as the rhyme for the significantly more offensive “cu*t”.

Another well-known example is to “have a butcher’s” for to have a look, which is derived from “butcher’s hook”.

Here are some more of our favourites:

Cow and kisses = the ‘missus’ or wife. This may be how the pejorative term “cow” came to be applied to an argumentative person.

God love ‘er = mother, although beyond the esteemed lady’s hearing she might also be called “the strangle”, from “strangle and smother”.

China plates = mates. This may be one of the few terms that will survive longer, as “You OK me old China?” can still be heard commonly around the East End.

Cat and mouse = house. Possibly because both typically inhabited said venue. An alternative is “Gates of Rome”, possibly reflecting the gladiatorial combat about to ensue with the Cow and kisses.

Bob Hope = soap. The famous entertainer was born in London, moving to the USA when he was four. Interestingly, his first show on American network radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour.

Hat and scarf = bath. Perhaps reflective of the fact that this rare event was often taken in a small lukewarm tin bath in front of a weak fire trying to keep a cold cat and mouse above near freezing level. Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink can actually recall taking a “bath” still clothed in a woollen jumper in the east end of London one particularly chilly day.

Iron horse = racecourse. Possibly because the early traction engines – called iron horses – took over the haulage work of horses in some situations. The name then got transferred back to the places where real horses ran.

Belt and braces = races. An obvious rhyme, but also perhaps because people got “dressed up” to attend a race meeting.

Hot dinner = winner. Perhaps after a good day at the belt and braces you could afford one. The phrase “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” is used widely in Australia, by the way, to mean any “good or happy thing or event”, after the great good fortune of winning the weekly “chook raffle” in the local pub.

Grumble and mutter = to take a “flutter”, ie place a bet on a horse or dog race. Probably the indicative sound made by someone when their nag runs home plumb last.

Food gets its fair suck of the saveloy in rhyming slang, too.

Borrow and beg = egg. Which is what one had to do for an egg during the Second World War, in particular.

Kate & Sydney = Steak & Kidney. Usually in a pie.

Uncle Reg = equals veg(etables), as in “Pass the Uncle Reg”.

Perhaps the best known is:

Ruby Murray = Curry, a favourite food of the working class from the British Raj onwards, and now such a stable that the dish Chicken Tikka Marsala is now the national dish of the country. You still often hear “Fancy grabbing a Ruby?” late at night in a thousand pubs, so this, too, may survive the general decline in rhyming slang. The term comes from a hugely popular Irish singer called Rub Murray in the 1950s: although she is now largely forgotten her name lives on in rhyming slang.

(Another similar example is “Billy Cotton” for “rotten”, although few now remember the famed band leader who filled our wirelesses with his joyful sounds in the later 50s and early 60s.)

Another term that might survive is “Rub a Dub” for the “pub”, although “Jack Tar” for “bar” is less well known or heard now. The latter comes from the days when sailors were notorious for drinking heavily, “Rub a Dub” seems to be simply a good rhyme, pinched from the 18th century nursery rhyme “rub a dub dub, three men in a tub”.

Runner and rider = Cider, although no on seems sure why beyond the rhyme.

Christmas cheer = Beer, as in, “I’m popping down the rub a dub for a Christmas, you coming?”

A really fascinating one is:

Dicky Dirt = Shirt, from the 19 century when a detachable shirt front worn under a jacket was called a “dicky”, which may be why to this day we call a bow tie a “dicky bow”.

Perhaps less well known is:

Tate & Lyle = Style, as in “Putting on the Tate & Lyle tonight, aren’t you, me old China?” and named after a famous sugar company. Sugar was associated with wealth, and tea rooms and tea dances, where the less well-off went to indulge in a little occasional luxury.

Rhyming slang can be amusingly blunt.

Pony = Crap, untrue or nonsensical. From “Pony and Trap”, which is also frequently used as a euphemism for visiting the loo.

Paper Hat = Prat, a useless person

Paraffin Lamp = Tramp, as in “Have a wash you smelly paraffin”.

Sometimes only knowing a little history can explain the terms used.

Kettle = Watch, as in “Nice new Kettle you’re wearing mate.” One of the most confusing of all rhyming slang expression, because the derivation of Kettle from the word “watch” is unclear – until you know a little bit about the history of watches that is.

Kettle is the shortened form of Kettle and Hob – think of the oven range in an old fashioned house, with its kettle boiling away on the round hob. When pocket watches first became fashionable, they were held against the body by use of a small chain. The watch then slipped into the pocket and could be easily extracted without dropping it. These were called fob watches, and it’s from this expression that we get Kettle and Hob for watch.

bloaterSomethimes though, the rhyming slang is just plain fun, as in:

Yarmouth Bloater = motor

: which plays out as “Have you seen my new Yarmouth?” for “Have you seen my new car?” A Yarmouth Bloater was a much prized and expensive smoked fish to buy in the fish markets of the East End. It was also made into a packaged paste (as shown in the picture) to be spread on bread at tea-time. A real treat. As is, presumably, a new car.

Which is partly why it would be such a shame if rhyming slang were to die out. Not only does it give us a direct link to our past, it’s also entertaining. Long evolved from being a way to keep information secret, it is now a distinct regional dialect, as valuable as any other.

Let us hope a new generation reared on slang that is more likely to have emanated from the streets of LA or New York discovers their own rich linguistic heritage before it’s too late.

Do you have a favourite piece of rhyming slang we haven’t highlight? Please tell us about it! Or we might end up sitting over here on our Pat Malone remembering it.

 

 

 

We need to warn you, Dear Reader, we have discovered how to use the close up feature. This may go on for some weeks.

DSCN0230

Gull

One night about a year ago Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink turned the late night TV shopping channel on.

It was an accidental act, in truth, but we found ourselves taken by the subject matter: to wit, buying a new camera at what looked like an amazingly low price.

NikonIt turned out, of course, that it wasn’t an especially great price, and we could have walked round the corner and bought it at the same price and got some professional advice into the bargain.

But no matter. We had always wanted a nice camera, as opposed to taking snaps using the iPhone, not that the remarkable and ubiquitous little device didn’t actually take nice snaps, but this one seemed very swish and a nice colour, and the front pointy bit went in and out really far, so in we dove.

Anyhow, as a sign for how ludicrously busy all our lives have become, this weekend is almost the first chance we have had to play with the camera, at Smiths Beach on gorgeous Phillip Island, in Victoria, Australia.

Of course, as you will have discovered previously, Dear Reader, the new technological age sits somewhat heavily on our prematurely aging shoulders. Fresh from wrestling with things that go bing, we now found ourselves poking with uncertain, stubby little fingers at a camera for which a high-flying degree in advanced sub-atomic particle physics would be inadequate preparation.

There is not one, not two, but fully three ways to make the telephoto thingy whiz in and out. meaning, of course, that it does so when one least expects it to.

Press the wrong button, and the playback screen turns into a mass of statistics and charts telling you why you have just messed up the last shot taken. Trying to get back to just seeing the photo on its own again without the accompanying science takes fully half an hour of increasingly frantic thumbing through the “destructions” as Mrs W calls all manuals, which as with most things seems to be written in a sort of pig-din Japlish which defies easy translation.

The little diagrams of buttons on the camera would be very helpful if one didn’t need a magnifying glass to see which buttons they refer to, (dagnabbit, knew we left something out of the beach bag), as the whole booklet is clearly written for people with A1 20-20 vision aged 18, which as it emanates from the Land of the Rising Yen is somewhat curious as we never yet met a Nipponese who could see past the end of their nose without glasses as thick as the bottom of a Coke bottle, so quite who the manual is aimed at is something of a mystery.

Meanwhile the little twirly thing on the top offers you fully twenty “shooting modes”, and heaven forbid you should try and photograph a sunny Aussie beach in “Night Portrait” mode, as the seagulls flying by suddenly all look like Ring Wraiths or Dementors come to drive us back into the cottage.

Plumping for “Scenic” seems like a safe option, until you realise the sub-Menu offers you fully fifteen variations of scenic to choose from. Choosing between “Cloudy” and “Dusk” looks tricky to the untrained eye …

Seagull at dusk. Or cloudy. You choose.

Seagull at dusk. Or cloudy. You choose.

Then, when one finishes the hour-long process of turning the damn thing on, one realises that there is actually more to taking a good photo than pointing and pressing. More digital photos (and before them, bazillions of miles of film) must have been taken of waves crashing on rocky seashores than almost any other subject matter you care to name. One very quickly realises that taking a good photo of a wave is clearly nigh-impossible. There is that wildly improbable nexus of the right camera, the right setting, the right moment, and that indefinable “eye” that true photographic geniuses have.

Which we, Dear Reader, do not.

Looking west at Smiths Beach

Luckily, the world is such an intensely beautiful place that it is impossible to entirely stuff up photographing it even with one’s new techno-rich clicky thing. We did, we think, nevertheless manage to make the photos quite big and a suitable format for desktop wallpapers. Feel free to nick any you like.

A Spring day on a beach in rural Victoria is probably the best balm for the soul imaginable. Even when your camera is just another way of reminding you that the world is hurtling ever onward to a place where you no longer really belong.

No, these photographs are not very good.

DSCN0218

Looking East

But the world is. The world rocks.

(Gettit? The world rocks. Oh, never mind …)

Warning: this article contains NSFW offensive language and an excruciating gaffe.

Friday marked 100 days until the official release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – be still our beating hearts – and the franchise managed to celebrate in the worst way possible.

The Hunger Games’s official Twitter account released a (now deleted) poster where the worst-of-all-never-let-it-be-breathed-in-public C-word was accidentally strewn right across dear old Jennifer Lawrence’s face.

Now we know JLaw’s a sport, but really. Gentlemen. NONE of you noticed before you did this?

Find art director. Fire his or her sad ass.

cunt

 

Thanks to The Independent for the spot. And most of the rest of the internet. Jennifer will be starting to wish the damn thing had never been invented.

For more F*** Ups, just put F*** Up in the search box to the top left of this page. Enjoy.