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The real Macbeth

The Scottish island of Iona, where the real Macbeth is buried / southernhebrides.com

The Scottish island of Iona, where the real Macbeth is buried / southernhebrides.com

Macbeth is the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays and probably the work most associated with that playwright’s well-known sense of imagery. His vivid imagination is also shown hard at work. Hardly a detail in the play’s structure is historically correct, but as in the same writer’s Richard III it really does not matter as the play’s the thing, and though both works might have been composed by a sixteenth century Hollywood scriptwriter, they are towering monuments to the power of the imagination. (more…)

Special Note to followers of General-History

From today we shall take a short break, for travel, research and the Christmas holidays. Apart from the occasional Humour or ‘Quis?’ posts which will appear during the break, G-H has 44 Categories, including historical subjects, Humour, Philosophy, Today and the English Language. 398 posts have been published, and we have also published 200 Comments of all kinds, with replies to some written by Dean Swift or Christian. There is enough to read or study for many, many days, and we will start again early in the New Year.

Very best wishes, a Happy Christmas and an educational New Year to our thousands of visitors.

By | 2012-12-12T09:23:11+00:00 December 12th, 2012|English Language, Today, World History|1 Comment

A (politically correct) state of affairs

Government, politics, wars and spying are subjects in which evasion and deceit are  common and vulgar; hypocrisy is paramount and prudery prominent. The survival of politicians in politics in a democracy or for that matter in a despotism, depends on getting control over your compatriots, and retaining it by convincing them of your admirable fitness for rule. (more…)

By | 2012-11-28T11:52:55+00:00 November 28th, 2012|English Language, Humour, Philosophy, Today, World History|0 Comments

The twelve basic tenses in English (British or American)


I work  =  I work hard all day



I worked  =  I worked hard all last year.



I will work  =  I will work hard after I have finished my exams.


Present Continuous or Present Progressive: (made with the verb TO BE)

I am working  =  I am working at the moment on a nuclear project.


Present Perfect: (made by using the vern TO HAVE; this tense indicates a mixture of the past and the present)

I have worked  =  I have worked hard all my life.


Past Perfect: (a sense of something that is now in the past, but no longer exists)

I had worked  =  I had worked hard all my life until I retired.


Future Perfect: (a sense of something that lies in the future, but that also has roots in the past and present, always used with the main verb in the past participle – worked)

I will have worked  = I will have worked hard all my life even when I am too old to work . . . because I love work!


Present Perfect Continuous (use of the verbs To HAVE and TO BE plus the main verb. A sense of the present, past and future in a continuous manner):

I have been working  =  I have been working for a considerable time on this project.


Past Perfect Continuous (something that was continuous, but which had to stop)

I had been working for months on the project, but last year I was forced to retire from it!


Future Perfect Continuous (the same as the Future Perfect, but with a continuous sense):

I will have been working on this project for twenty years by this time next year.

(a sense of someone looking back over the last 19 years, while still working, and looking forward to another year’s work, after which the 20 years will be completed)

SPECIAL NOTE:  The Conditional tense is made by adding the word would:-

I would work all the time if I had a job.

I would be working if only I could find a job

I would have been working hard all day if I had not been so lazy!

I would have worked very well as a public relations officer.


Another special note:-  The –ing suffix indicates the Present Participle of the verb: working. The –ed suffix indicates the Past Participle of the verb: worked.


Transitive: Transitive verbs are those which require to be followed by a direct object: example:- These verbs are bloody difficult.  You could not say ‘these verbs are’

The direct object is ‘bloody difficult’.


This broadcasting company has radio and TV channels and  business channels run by experts. Beyond doubt this communications group helped Spanish people make up their minds about the nearly eight years of Zapatero’s disastrous administration, which was democratically ended a year ago next Sunday. It is now Thursday. On November 20th, 2011 the General Election results silenced the PSOE and awarded the PP an absolute majority which they seem loath to use. This is all fine and historical but what about Intereconomía?

     The station is a part of the daily newspaper La Gaceta, a journal still not mentioned by state-owned television among their ‘distinguished’ list, which includes the Marxist/Socialist organ of the PSOE El País; the heavily right-wing mouthpiece of its chief editor Ramírez – El Mundo; the official spokesmen of the centre-right ABC: a few regional newspapers blindly not including El Día (Canary Islands), and that odd mixture of cultures and opinions La Vanguardia. (more…)

By | 2012-11-22T11:47:44+00:00 November 22nd, 2012|English Language, Humour, Philosophy, Spanish History, Today|0 Comments

Humour on Friday: what British public schoolboys think (and say) about each other


The public (i.e. private) schools of Great Britain are not so full of toffs these days. Britain’s democracy since the two world wars has led to a caste system that is never mentioned, but still exists. The great, historic, expensive public schools used to be represented at an archaic tribal gathering called ‘The Headmasters’ Conference’. Grave middle-aged gentlemen, some with a paunch, would debate grave issues such as school meals, the uselessness of the Classics , the need for more mathematics, how finance could be raised to build a bigger gym and the terrible cost of school blazers at Gorringes. (more…)

What the English language owes to Shakespeare

One of the very authentic painting of Shakespeare / biografiasyvidas.com

One of the very authentic painting of Shakespeare / biografiasyvidas.com

English owes more than you know to William Shakespeare. Yes, that playwright from four hundred years ago now considered so unimportant by British educational authorities that not a single play by Shakespeare is included in ‘O’ or ‘A’ Level examinations. It would be difficult to understand the importance one single playwright has had on the English language as we know it. There are 357 instances where Shakespeare is the only recorded user of a word in one or other of its senses. There are more than a thousand instances where he is the first of several writers to use a word, though later examples occur some 25 years after Shakespeare; therefore it seems likely that he introduced or popularized the word. There are 642 instances where he is the first of several writers to use a word. More importantly, at least 800 of Shakespeare’s words are still used to this day. He brought meaning to existing stems by introducing prefixes such as Dis-, Un-, Im-, and In-, or by adding the suffix –less. Let us take a look at what English owes to the man from Stratford-upon-Avon. (more…)

Humour: tall tales


Madame Charles de Gaulle

Paul Johnson tells us that when General de Gaulle at last decided to retire to his small chateau at Colombey-les-deux-Églises, he and his wife threw a small party to celebrate. Several distinguished journalists were invited, among them a few English reporters. During the conversation, an English lady reporter asked the General’s lady what she most looked forward to now that the general and ex-president of France had retired. “A penis,” said Madame. Silence fell around the table. The general leaned forward tutting. “Your pronunciation, cherie,” he said, not without benevolence; “I sink you mean ‘appiness, no?” (more…)

Arturo eyes Andalucía

Arturo Pérez-Reverte is one of the very best writers of modern Castilian prose, but then he is also more than capable of writing in the purest seventeenth century Castilian prose, as can easily be seen (by Spanish readers) in his series of Alatriste action novels.

   For several years he has presented his own acerbic column Patente de Corso in XL Semanal, which as the title tells us is a weekly magazine. In February of this year P-R wrote a singularly funny, at the same time accurate and thoughtful personal view of ‘eccentric’ happenings in the Autonomous Community of Andalucía. It is so good I think readers in English should get a chance to read it too. I have had the impertinence to translate Arturian Spanish into Deanery English:’ (more…)

By | 2012-09-21T10:41:11+00:00 September 21st, 2012|English Language, Humour, Spanish History, Today|0 Comments
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