Do you speak English?

“And there was never a better time to delve for pleasure in language than the sixteenth century, when novelty blew through English like a spring breeze. Some twelve thousand words, a phenomenal number, entered the language between 1500 and 1650, about half of them still in use today, and old words were employed in ways not tried before. Nouns became verbs and adverbs; adverbs became adjectives. Expressions that could not have grammatically existed before – such as ‘breathing one’s last’ and ‘backing a horse’, both coined by Shakespeare – were suddenly popping up everywhere.”

Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson

French language learning
My French reading homework this week.

Dear …
My face is politeness for You.

It’s been a hard day’s night. As to me. I guess for You too.
I must be in a harry – I”m under thumb of my wife.
I carefully exam Your docs and let You know some later. Mayby today.

I wish You unforgettable everning.
Cordially,
Mr …

This is a real email from a real client this week, though I suspect the real author was Google Translate. Continue reading Do you speak English?

Springtime in Photos

“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”

Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë

From indoors, yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun shone brightly and I hurried out to work. As I stepped onto the pavement a bracing wind caught my light leather jacket, tugged at my loosely-wrapped scarf and made my feet feel naked in my sockless pumps.

Some snippets of March and April (all photos are captioned if you click on them): Continue reading Springtime in Photos

Paris when it sizzles at 38 deg C

“Along the Paris streets, the death-carts rumble, hollow and harsh. Six tumbrels carry the day’s wine to La Guillotine. All the devouring and insatiate Monsters imagined since imagination could record itself, are fused in one realisation, Guillotine.”

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

pantheon parisWe walked slowly, our eyes fixed on the domed roof. The headphone-thingy talked about symmetry, symbolism, liberté, égalité, fraternity. Léon Foucault’s pendulum swung back and forth beside us where it has almost always been since 1851. Christ looked on from his mosaic-ed position on the eastern wall, down at La Convention Nationale sculpture, as if blessing French nationalism … Continue reading Paris when it sizzles at 38 deg C

Life: my week in pictures and film clips

“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.” 

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Pile of manure brought in especially from Buckingham Palace horses for Fulham Palace allotment.

I’m sitting on our terrace doing a bit of work and writing this blog on a sunny Sunday in London.

According to Hubby, this sort of weather is normal for London – that locals dub it “sunny London” (direct quote).

Whether or not you agree with Hubby, I can testify that we have in fact had a lovely warm summer so far and Londoners are well and truly out of hibernation. Continue reading Life: my week in pictures and film clips

Coffee: the opiate of the masses?

Lopez and Sons Coffee
Lopez and Sons Coffee

Joe Fox: Do you know what? We are going to seduce them. We’re going to seduce them with our square footage, and our discounts, and our deep armchairs, and…
Kevin: Our cappuccinos!
Joe Fox: That’s right. They’re going to hate us at the beginning, but…
Kevin: … we’ll get ’em in the end.
Joe Fox: Do you know why?
Kevin: Why?
Joe Fox: Because we’re going to sell them cheap books and legal addictive stimulants. 

You’ve Got Mail screenplay by Nora Ephron Continue reading Coffee: the opiate of the masses?

Salem and Boston: American cultural saturation, witches and baseball

“We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Salem, Massachusetts

Bewitched in SalemIn summary, Arthur Miller’s play is a classic parable of mass hysteria drawing a frightening parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 and the McCarthyism Cold War fears of 1950s America.

Set in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts, the townspeople are stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and hatred, culminating in the wrongful sentencing to death of 20 people for the crime of witchcraft. Continue reading Salem and Boston: American cultural saturation, witches and baseball

New York City, you had me at “Hello”

Statue of Liberty“… Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome...

… “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!””

Emma Lazarus (written in 1883 & later affixed in bronze to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty) Continue reading New York City, you had me at “Hello”