Six men shaken, but not stirred, nothing but a dream

The admiral standing erect near the double entrance doors of the Connaught Hotel in Carlos Place is dressed as a doorman. No-one dares think of him as a doorman, for his majestic presence. Even his unbeatable calm is disturbed when a taxi stops outside the old-fashioned hotel and out step two gentlemen in their eighties. The admiral stares. One old man has bushy beard, moustache and white whiskers. The other, paying the taxi, has no facial hair but a massive double chin. He makes an affable “Good morning!” to the admiral and passes into the hotel followed by the six-footer who says, “Fine day my dear mun,” to him. It is an Edinburgh accent. (more…)

By | 2012-04-28T15:20:24+00:00 April 28th, 2012|Humour, Today, World History|0 Comments

Plain English

What is plain English? What it is not is only too obvious, and can be read in all British bureaucratic communication, business letters, government departments, and sadly, much of modern English journalism – anywhere where there is linguistic contact with the public. Applications, safety instructions, official letters, licences, applications for licences or passports, insurance policies, hire-purchase documents, guarantees, instruction booklets for use of electric or other machinery etc. should be presented clearly, using language that people are certain to understand. With few exceptions, they are not:

Take, for instance, this real letter about house rents:- (more…)

By | 2012-04-24T09:47:08+00:00 April 24th, 2012|English Language, Humour, Today|0 Comments

Spain: the King’s apology

Almost too much printer’s ink and telecaster’s saliva has already been spent on this subject. A few days ago Juan-Carlos I, a Spanish Borbón to his fingertips, left the hospital where surgeons had replaced half of his hip. He looked tired, much older than his seventy-four years, more than a bit depressed. He also looked like a guilty schoolboy owning up to some frightful misdeed at his Prep School. He said he was sorry and that it would not happen again.

What had don Juan-Carlos I done to merit a King’s apology to the people, if such a thing exists? He had gone off to Africa to shoot elephants while his wife the Queen was in Greece with her family, his grandson Froilán was surrounded by anxious doctors trying to mend a foot  he had shot almost off with his divorced father’s shotgun. ‘It was an accident’ the boy told newspapermen. (more…)

By | 2012-04-20T11:03:18+00:00 April 20th, 2012|English History, Humour, Spanish History, Today, World History|1 Comment

Saturday Humour

Here are some stories so old they wear beards from here to Omsk. But they suffice to make you cultured bloggers chortle. Or at least one hopes so:-

In Central Park, two elderly literary Russian-Americans were strolling on a nice winter’s day. As happens with the elderly, the need to pee became strong. Devy said to Rollo, “It happens I have to micturate,” and Rollo said, “I hev to do it all the time now.” So they found a big old tree and stood against it. After a few moments, Devy said, “You know sumpn? When you do that the sound reminds me of the water flowing down some trickling stream in our beloved Russian Steppes, clean as a pouring of pearls, splashing likka rivulet of gold!” Rollo sighed and nodded his venerable head. Then Devy said, “On the contrary though, what I do sounds like someone pissing on a wet blanket!” Rollo thought again and said, “maybe that’s because you’re micturating on my overcoat.”  (more…)

By | 2012-04-14T16:03:02+00:00 April 14th, 2012|Humour|0 Comments

Another Voice: by Dean Swift

 Yesterday March 25 regional elections took place in two autonomous communities in Spain – Andalucía and Asturias. The results were more or less what were expected, in that the Andalusians voted slightly more for the Popular Party and J. Arenas than the PSOE led by Griñan. Arenas need fifty-five seats in the Andaluz parliament for the all-essential absolute majority. He did not achieve this, winning fifty to the forty-seven won by the PSOE. (more…)

By | 2012-03-26T11:02:25+00:00 March 26th, 2012|Humour, Philosophy, Today|1 Comment

The Double Negative – Articulate or Annoying?

The double negative is a peculiarly English device very much used in what might be called ‘literary’ English. It is designed to give more emphasis to a phrase. For example, the writer of a novel could say, “She was unusually attractive.” The term is self-explanatory but not very advanced. Using the double negative, the same writer could say, “She was not unattractive to men, though not pretty.”

As far as I know, this literary device is unusable in the Romance languages. In Spanish, for instance, the double negative is used to emphasise the negative, not to negate it, ie. “Ellos no tienen nada que temer”. ‘no’ and ‘nada’ are both negatives. Sensitively translated into English, it would read, “They have nothing to fear,” with only one negative. Directly translated however, the phrase would be ungrammatical – “They don’t have nothing to fear,” which in English is unacceptable. In Spanish the phrase is perfectly acceptable. (more…)

By | 2012-03-04T12:54:58+00:00 March 4th, 2012|English Language, Humour, Philosophy, Today|0 Comments

Right, Left or Centre?

In the course of publishing nearly two hundred short histories for we have received many comments. They are a mixed bag indeed; some commentators have difficulty with elucidating their opinion of an article; some have no problem; others become a little mixed up when it comes to spelling, though that issue is being addressed at last by many Ministers of Education. Some are, as is the nature of things today, obscene. These can be treated with the humour they deserve. Others show with startling clarity that the commentator is incapable of separating his own deeply entrenched views on Life from the opinion of others. As the well- known philosopher observed – ‘El infierno es los demás’ (Hell is everybody else). Not to worry! Around 60% of the comments are complimentary, even flattering. Three lady history teachers  at university, from France, South Korea and Alaska respectively use as material in their classes. This is encouraging. (more…)

By | 2012-03-03T12:17:36+00:00 March 3rd, 2012|English Language, Humour, Philosophy|1 Comment

A message from Dean Swift

I apologise to this website’s watchers for the fact that I have not posted anything for a couple of days. I and my family have been struck down by Madame Grippe, a tenacious and painful lady whom nobody wants to sleep with, though anyone struck by her – must. Today I hope to write about a lady who must be a relative of La Grippe, in that both females are extremely disagreeable, though myths about both have been around for centuries. Today or tomorrow I write about Elizabeth Báthory, Countess (or ‘Blood Countess’) of Nádasdy. (more…)

By | 2012-02-18T12:03:55+00:00 February 18th, 2012|English Language, Humour, Today|0 Comments
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