Monday, 16 December 2013

Seasonal Story in 100 words


Mad, he thought. Waving across No Man’s Land and shouting friendly greetings, when yesterday and tomorrow…   After all they’d been told about the enemy. And yet, from what he’d seen, they were men, dead or alive, not so different, certainly more like himself and his comrades than the generals and politicians on either side. Still it would mean trouble – although they had trouble already– and made no sense – unless they could make it last, all of them take control across the divide... He raised an arm, heard his own voice joining with the rest: “Frohe Weihnachten, Tommy! Happy Christmas nineteen-fourteen.”

Folie, pensa-t-il. On agite la main, on crie des félicitations à travers le terrain neutre, alors que, hier et demain… Après tout ce qu’on leur avait raconté au sujet de l’ennemi. Et pourtant, comme il les avait vus, c’était des hommes, morts ou vivants – pas si différents, sûrement plus semblables a lui et à ses camarades qu’étaient les chefs militaires et civils de chaque côté.  Ça leur apporterait néanmoins des ennuis – mais on en avait déjà! – et n’avait aucun sens – à moins qu’on ne s’arrange pour prolonger ça, s’unifier tous, s’arracher le contrôle…  Il leva le bras, s’entendit crier avec les autres: “Frohe Weihnachten, Tommy! Happy Christmas 1914.”   [OK, un peu plus long en français].

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Quotations Challenge Quiz Part 2

Part 2: the mostly quite obscure

1. “a riband to stick in his coat”

2. “the palm of possession is dreary”

3.         “For thus the royal mandate ran,

            When first the human race began,

            ‘The social, friendly, honest man,

                                    whate'er he be –

            ‘Tis he fulfils great Nature’s plan

                                    And none but he.”

4. “their heads just out of the mist of years long dead.”

5. “roaming with a hungry heart”.

6. “The genius raids, but the common people occupy and possess”.

7. “Ye would not call this too indulged tongue

            Presumptuous, in thus venturing to be heard.”

8. “Not for golden fancies do iron truths make room. ”

9. “A sweet disorder in the dress.”

10. “The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress.”

11.       “Through the long gorge to the far

                        light has won

            His path upward, and prevail’d.”

12.          Not caring that those mighty columns rest

Each on the ruin of a human breast –

That to the shrine the victor’s chariot rolls

Across the anguish of ten thousand souls!”

13. “But nor satisfied ever, nor weary

            Is ever the wind.”

14.. “True to the kindred points”         

15. “And we run, because we like it.”

16. “We were young, we were merry, we were very very wise …”

17.. Business in deep waters.           


In what publication can you find all of the above effectively invoked?

In what publication can you find all of the above effectively invoked?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

SmothPubs December Holiday Quiz: Who said...?

Test your knowledge of Quotations

DIY Write Stuff: Try them on friends, students, teachers…

Part 1: the once familiar, more or less

Where do these come from, originally?    

1. “A PROPHET is not without honour save in his own country, and in his own house.”

2. “In faery lands forlorn”

3. “And, strange to tell, among that Earthen lot, some could articulate while others not.”

4.woman wailing for her demon lover”

5. “One generation passeth away and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever.”

6.. “The old order changeth, yielding place to new”

7. “Sermons in stones, books in the running brooks.”

8.. “to be young was very heaven”

9. “if severe in aught ... the love he bore to learning was his fault.”

10. “All the earth and air, with thy voice is loud”.

11. “The colonel’s lady an’ Judy O’Grady are sisters under their skins.”

12.       “Whoso beset him round

                        With dismal stories,

            Do but themselves confound;

                        Hobgoblin nor foul fiend

                        Can daunt his spirit

He knows he at the end

                        Shall life inherit.”

13. “The starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the mackereel and the pickereel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel.”

14. “The hungry sheep look up and are not fed.” 

15.  a) “And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”
            b) “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil.”

16. “Slowly, silently now the moon walks the night in her silver shoon.”

Supplementary:Question: In what publication may all of the above be found effectively invoked?                                                                                  Answers here.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Sexism and gendered child-rearing

Today’s related news story, surely a contender for the “statement-of-the-obvious of the year” award: “Sexism is daily reality for girls…”

Fortunately there are and have always been challenges to the dominant ideology in this context as others, as in the current campaign “Let Toys Be Toys” which has chalked up a number of successes. 

                                                               Sexterotyping : A Long History...

Among the texts denounced and attitudes demolished by MaryWollstonecraft (“Writers Who Have Rendered Women Objects of Pity”, ch.5 of  VRW*), is this from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quoted on p.178 of the Penguin Classic edition: “Boys love sports of noise and activity; to beat the drum, to whip the top, and to drag about their little carts: girls, on the other hand, are fonder of things of show and ornament, such as mirrors, trinkets, and dolls: the doll is the peculiar amusement of the females; from whence we see their taste plainly adapted to their destination...” (Emile, 1762).

Mary, by contrast, contended that “a girl, whose spirits have not been damped by inactivity, or innocence tainted by false shame, will always be a romp.” She was clear about the tendency of Rousseau’s ideas: “To render [the person of a young woman] weak, and what some may call beautiful, the understanding is neglected, and girls forced to sit still, play with dolls, and listen to foolish conversations; - the effect of habit is insisted upon as an undoubted indication of nature.”.(p.179 in same).

* Mary Wollstonecraft:  A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, edited with an Introduction by Miriam Brody,Penguin Classics (1985) 1992. 

“The pernicious tendency of those books, in which the writers insidiously degrade the sex while they are prostrate before their personal charms, cannot be too often or too severely exposed.”  - VRW p.193 (Writers Who Have Rendered Women Objects of Pity).

Woolworths didn’t get where it is today without a bit of gender stereotyping!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Calum Smith 29th May 1912 – 12th November 2003

Calum Smith, author of  Around the Peat-fire, (Edinburgh, Birlinn, 2001 and 2010) and, as “M.S.”, of the  “As I See It:” column in the Stornoway Gazette, 1955-56 (see previous posts on this blog), died ten years ago today.

An obituary appeared in the West Highland Free Press (pdf here).  It was produced very quickly in response to the sad news and includes a couple of minor inaccuracies: Calum and Peggy had been married for 61 years (minus one week), not 51, and had at that time only one great-grandchild, although there are now four.
A longer obituary, with photographs, was later published in the Stornoway Gazette, 27 Nov. 2003:
7-year-old great-grandson of Calum with his model of a "tigh dubh" (black house) such as the one where Calum was born 

Peggy and Calum walking towards the Callanish stones. Isle of Lewis, 1989

Monday, 11 November 2013

Mary Wollstonecraft in London

Mary Wollstonecraft in London

(The flowers evoke the Suffragette colours)
Earlier this year an interesting piece of street art appeared outside Newington Green Unitarian Church, signed by street artist “Stewy” – see inter alia

Mary spent many key periods of her life in London, so there is plenty of scope for more of this sort of thing at other sites.

For example (Work-in-progress table):- 

MW's London
first home
Primrose St. (-> Liverpool St. Station)
from age 4
nr. Epping Forest
from age 6
nr. Barking
aged 16-17
Queen's Row, Hoxton
chez Blood, 1782-3
1 King's Row, Walham Green
Finsbury Sq. (Christies)
with Eliza
Hackney, with sister Eliza (Bess)
Hackney, with Eliza (Bess)
Islington, with Eliza
Newington Green
school, with sisters, Fanny Blood
small terrace house found for MW by JJ
49, George St., Blackfriars
George [-> Dolben] St.
J Johnson's printshop/rooms
72, St. Paul's Churchyard
Meets William Godwin chez J.J.
working on Analytical Review
early 1790s
Store St.
16 Finsbury Pl.
1 Cumming St.
16 Judd St. East
with Imlay
26 Charlotte St.
New Rd. (Euston Rd.) last meeting with Imlay
suicide attempt Oct. '95 & rescue
Putney Bridge
Duke's Head tavern, Fulham
Moves to Cummiing St.; WG.
25 Chalton St., Somers Town
with Godwin
Old St. Pancras church
29 Polygon, Somers Town (Werrington St.)
Mary Hays
30 Kirby St.
brother Ned & wife
1 St. Katharine's St.
home of Bloods
Newington Butts
 72 Qu. Anne St. East
Joel & Ruth Barlow
18 Gt. Titchfield St.

Biographies for more detail on the above by: Lyndall Gordon, Claire Tomalin, Janet Todd

Postscript, October 2019:
Dolben Street SE1, formerly George Street, has a blue plaque
London Borough of Southwark
Mary Wollstonecraft
Writer, teacher and 
champion of women's
Voted by the People

See also: