Quotable quotes from Winston Churchill (1864-1965, edited)

He is one of those orators of whom it was well said, ‘Before they get up, they do not know what they are going to say; when they are speaking, they do not know what they are saying; and when they have sat down, they do not know what they have said’. To the House of Commons, February, 1906.

I remember that as a child I was taken to the circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monsters. The one I most desired to see was called ‘The Boneless Wonder’ My parents judged that the spectacle would be too revolting for my youthful eyes; I have waited fifty years to see the boneless wonder sitting on the Treasury bench. To the House of Commons, January 1931, referring to Mr Ramsay Macdonald. (more…)

Dorothy Parker: some things worth remembering . . .

She was born Dorothy Rothschild (nothing to do with the bankers) in 1893 and died just over seventy in 1967. She was American, one of the founders of the wits’ Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street, New York. She was not unhappy all her life, but never really happy. Here are some of the sayings she is remembered for: (more…)

Some more eccentricities of pronunciation

Some more eccentricities of pronunciation

Spanish television announcers are lax when it comes to telling the viewers about the films they interminably show. Perhaps they do it on purpose, though I doubt that. This might have something to do with the fact that Spain is the only Spanish-speaking nation in the world where they still dub foreign language films into Castilian. No Latin-American country does this. They use sub-titles. Someone asked a Minister in the Thirties why Spain does this. The reply was appropriate for the Thirties, but not for the Noughties and after: “If we used sub-titles the people won’t understand the film, as few can read”. Can this explanation still stand today, after decades of compulsory education? (more…)

By | 2013-08-21T16:28:38+00:00 August 21st, 2013|History of the Cinema, Humour, Today|0 Comments

‘Lecturas’ puts its foot in it again

This is a pinkish Spanish glossy magazine published with great success throughout Spain. It mostly deals with ‘celebrities’ whatever they are; it is not in my list of great reads. In April of this year that sheet chose to congratulate the Queen of England on her eighty-seventh birthday, running seven colour photographs of Elizabeth II taken at various ages. There was a bit of text too, and in its single paragraph Lecturas managed to place its foot firmly in its own gob as per usual. (more…)

State theft or The Dissolution of the Monasteries

Rievaulx - 'one of the ruins that Thomas Cromwell knocked about a bit' /

Rievaulx – ‘one of the ruins that Thomas Cromwell knocked about a bit’ /

In civilized society there is a multitude of ways used by ‘the authorities’ to extract money from citizens like squeezing pips from a lemon or orange. Clever people, versed in these ways,  invent new names for new taxes every day, and equally astute parliaments in democratic countries shovel them into a hat and out roll new Acts or Orders perfectly phrased – and the citizen reaches into his fast emptying pocket to pay, again, for something he has certainly already paid for. Charging  direct tax on income, for instance, and then charging indirect tax on everything sold including services, means duplication or triplication of the same tax. As far as I know only the State of New Hampshire USA charges no income tax but maintains indirect taxation on goods and services. (more…)

A law in urgent need of repeal: the Royal Marriages Act

The Houses of Parliament /

The Houses of Parliament /

 Yes I know that the majority of you don’t give a stuff about royalty anyway but quite a few nations prefer their Head of State to wear a crown; some fine republics abound, where the H of S is elected every so often, such as the United States, France and Germany, but there are plenty of Presidents on this planet who would make a fine old mess of managing a small shop, let alone a nation.

    Now in Great Britain a hard law exists which is not as oecumenical as the Church of England claims to be: this law prohibits the heir to the throne (alone among all British subjects) from marrying a Catholic. It does not matter if the heir has not thought of doing so. The fact is that the law is insulting to the British monarch’s innumerable Catholic subjects, as well as being an even greater insult to common sense. (more…)

English section: Gobbledegook & Officialese

An onomatopoeic word is one that derives its meaning from the sound it makes. The accepted dictionary word ‘gobbledegook’ decidedly comes from the sound made by most poultry animals in the farmyard, especially turkeys. The term evokes unintelligible language, gibberish and nonsense, intentional or unintentional. The former is common in the speech of the under-educated, and in semi-educated writing. The latter is particularly to be found in the works of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. Lear used it supremely well in his ‘limericks’ such as this one:

‘There was an old lady of Chertsey,

Who made a remarkable curtsey;

She twirled round and round,

Till she sank underground,

Which distressed the people of Chertsey’. (more…)

By | 2013-04-08T16:39:31+00:00 April 8th, 2013|English History, English Language, Humour, Philosophy, Today|0 Comments

Saturday Spoofs; early April Fool’s Day biographies

 Pilloch, N.G., Baron Pilloch of Bedwetty was born one day during the Second World War. He became a Socialist after losing his temper with a nanny who possesed patrician accents. This lady was fired by Pilloch’s Socialist parents, to encourage the child’s Labour tendencies. In no time at all he became Labour MP and Leader of the Opposition. In the Seventies he was made a member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party but managed things so loosely the Labour Party kept losing office. Finally he led the Opposition to Margaret Thatcher’s second and third administrations; it was to no avail because Mrs Thatcher could never remember his name and could not see him on the Opposition benches. After more electoral defeats in the Eighties he resigned as Labour’s leader and joined the other failures at the European Commission, much to the relief of the British Labour Party. His life peerage came in 2005 but he never became Prime Minister, though he had nastily promised his nanny that he would. (more…)

Sturdy Beggars


Whipping a beggar throughj the streets /

Whipping a beggar throughj the streets /

In the so-called ‘developed’ societies since the end of the Second World War many children are brought up by unthinking parents to believe that work is something other people get. The idea of actually finding some work that pays rarely enters the mind of these children as they grown into adulthood. They have brought up in ‘The Welfare State’. In this demi-paradise they learn that the world owes them a living; they have their rights; ‘what do we pay our taxes for?’; ‘who needs education anyway?’ ‘who wants a job anyway?’ etcetera.

It may come as a surprise to know that in the English Poor Law of 1531, barely five hundred years ago, able-bodied persons who chose not to work were classed as ‘sturdy beggars’. Cynics today may pronounce these two words naughtily reversing the ‘u’ and the ‘e’, but that is not my province. (more…)

By | 2013-02-20T10:14:26+00:00 February 20th, 2013|English History, English Language, Humour, Philosophy, Today, US History|2 Comments

SPAIN: from black comedy to farce

     Not even the Monty Python team could have invented the present situation in the democracy with a monarchy, Parliament, and civilized population called Spain. The Marx Brothers might have shaken the head and said, “No-one would believe such a script, so fergettaboudit!” (more…)

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