ramblings

The Ancestors’ Commandments

I came across these a few days ago in a family history society magazine. I’ve tidied them up a bit.

The Ancestors’ Commandments

  1. Thou shalt use the same forenames for at least one person for every generation, preferably at least once in every family, just to cause confusion.
  2. Thou shalt wait the maximum amount of time before registering births and deaths, or better still somehow forget to get them registered at all.
  3. Thou shalt have two forenames, and use them both separately on official documents, but never together.
  4. Thou shalt change your forename at least once during your lifetime.
  5. Thou shalt use every conceivable spelling for your surname, and make up a few others as well.
  6. Thou shalt never use the same year of birth or birth date and always vary it adding a couple of years here and taking away a couple of years there.
  7. Thou shalt use the house name and country as your place of birth and not the village or town.
  8. Thou shalt completely disappear without trace for at least 15 years of your life and suddenly turn up again.
  9. Thou shalt use at least two different versions of your father’s name.
  10. Thou shalt not use family members as witnesses at your wedding(s).
  11. Thou shalt get married somewhere where neither of you live.
  12. Thou shalt not have all of your children baptised and shalt not always use the same church.
  13. Thou shalt move between counties at least once every ten years.
  14. Thou shalt move hundreds of miles from your home at least once.

Brilliant, aren’t they. And so, so true. I think Noreen and I each have a full house in our family trees.

Sprunging

Suddenly it’s Spring. Everything in our garden is growing, and green, and flowering. From the bright shocking pink of our “Ballerina” crab apple tree to …

… our small pendant ornamental crab apple …

Apple Blossom

… the cherry tree …

Cherry Blossom

… and the tulips.

Tulips

Our edible apple tree is just beginning to break into flower, so it should be full out in the next couple of days, and the lilac won’t be very far behind.

And just to top it all, the sun is shining!

Money, Money, Money!

Noreen and I had a fun time this afternoon: we played at the King in his counting house.

We have a gallon whisky bottle into which we put our small change when we come in – basically the shrapnel that weighs down the pocket. The rule is if it is less than a £1 coin and it fits in the bottle, it goes in; basically that is everything except £1, £2 and old 50p coins.

We’ve been doing this for many years, and used to collect about half a bottle a year (usually around £150-£200) which we used as holiday spending money. But now that we’re not working there hasn’t been as much small change to go in the bottle, and we’ve been lazy, so it hasn’t been emptied for quite some years. The bottle has overflowed into a plastic jar, which has overflowed into a tin.

Today we decided to count our loot. In days of old sorting and counting the coins was a horrible job (one reason we kept putting it off!); it used to occupy us all afternoon. But I knew the job was looming so I acquired, for a few quid on eBay, a nifty little machine which sorts the coins (basically by size). It’s battery driven and a devilishly clever sorting mechanism based on two disks and sized slots.

The sorted coins are output into small tubes which are calibrated so you get the value of each full pot, whereupon it is relatively easy to bag the coins in amounts acceptable to the bank. Well almost – the calibrations aren’t exact so the bags still have to be weight-checked (and as a double check we counted a few random bags).

We counted and bagged an amazing total of exactly £500 – yes a monkey! – with a couple of bags of odds and sods left over. And in just a couple of hours the job’s a good ‘un. Doing the job entirely by hand would have taken the two of us at least all afternoon, and probably all evening as well.

If you think in terms of pennies and 5p coins, you need a lot to make up even £100. But do you know what makes the real difference? 20p coins. It’s hard to believe but over half the £500 total was in 20p coins. We’ve noticed over the years that you get about 50% more 20p coins than 10p or 5p coins, and of course they’re worth more. That soon ratchets up the extra value. So if you want to collect just one coin, then 20p is the one to pick.

All we have to do now is stagger the incredible weight to the bank and hope we’ve weighed everything correctly. Wish us luck!

And then we have to decide what to spend it on!

Most Important People

I came across the attached article from the Naples Daily News (Florida) at the beginning of the year.

I don’t know I 100% agree with the author – well it is American! – as I think he has tilted the balance too far from the current norm and I think there is a balance to be struck. However from what I see around me the best adjusted children are those where the family apparently adheres, more or less, to his tenets.

Here’s an image of the article, and in case you can’t read it easily I reproduce the text below.


Click the image for a larger view


Naples Daily News, Sunday 1 January 2017

Your kids should not be the most important in the family

John Rosemond, Family Psychologist

I recently asked a married couple who have three kids, none of whom are yet teens, “Who are the most important people in your family?”

Like all good moms and dads of this brave new millennium, they answered, “Our kids!”

“Why?” I then asked. “What is it about your kids that gives them that status?” And like all good moms and dads of this brave new millennium, they couldn’t answer the question other than to fumble with appeals to emotion.

So, I answered the question for them: “There is no reasonable thing that gives your children that status.”

I went on to point out that many if not most of the problems they’re having with their kids – typical stuff, these days – are the result of treating their children as if they, their marriage, and their family exist because of the kids when it is, in fact, the other way around. Their kids exist because of them and their marriage and thrive because they have created a stable family.

Furthermore, without them. their kids wouldn’t eat well, have the nice clothing they wear, live in the nice home in which they live, enjoy the great vacations they enjoy, and so on. Instead of lives that are relatively carefree (despite the drama to the contrary that they occasionally manufacture), their children would be living lives full of worry and want.

This issue is really the heart of the matter. People my age know it’s the heart of the matter because when we were kids it was clear to us that our parents were the most important people in our families. And that, right there, is why we respected our parents and that, right there, is why we looked up to adults in general. Yes, Virginia, once upon a time in the United States of America, children were second-class citizens, to their advantage.

It was also clear to us – I speak, of course, in general terms, albeit accurate – that our parents marriages were more important to them than their relationships with us. Therefore, we did not sleep in their beds or interrupt their conversations. The family meal, at home, was regarded as more important than after-school activities. Mom and Dad talked more – a lot more – with one another than they talked with you. For lack of pedestals, we emancipated earlier and much more successfully than have children since.

The most important person in an army is the general. The most important person in a corporation is the CEO. The most important person in a classroom is the teacher. And the most important person in a family are the parents.

The most important thing about children is the need to prepare them properly for responsible citizenship. The primary objective should not be raising a straight-A student who excels at three sports, earns a spot on the Olympic swim team, goes to an A-list university and becomes a prominent brain surgeon. The primary objective is to raise a child such that community and culture are strengthened.

“Our child is the most important person in our family” is the first step toward raising a child who feels entitled.

You don’t want that. Unbeknownst to your child he doesn’t need that. And neither does America.


Book of Gloria

I posted about this on Facebook earlier, but it’s so brilliant I have to say more here.

Earlier today on the intertubes I came across the Bible in Polari. Those who know Polari, or are old enough to remember Julian and Sandy from the radio show Round the Horne, will guess how much of a hoot it is. Here, for example, are the first five verses of Genesis …

1 In the beginning Gloria created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was nanti form, and void; and munge was upon the eke of the deep. And the Fairy of Gloria trolled upon the eke of the aquas.
3 And Gloria cackled, Let there be sparkle: and there was sparkle.
4 And Gloria vardad the sparkle, that it was bona: and Gloria medzered the sparkle from the munge.
5 And Gloria screeched the sparkle journo, and the munge she screeched nochy. And the bijou nochy and the morning were the first journo.

And here, the Immaculate Conception from Luke 1:26-35 …

26 And in the seyth month the fairy Gabriel was laued from Gloria unto a smoke of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a nanti charver espoused to a homie whose name was Josephine, of the lattie of Davina; and the nanti charver‘s name was Mary.
28 And the fairy trolled in unto her, and cackled, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Duchess is with thee: fabed art thou among palones.
29 And when she vardad her, she was troubled at her cackling, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the fairy cackled unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with Gloria.
31 And, varda, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and parker forth a homie chavvie, and shalt screech her name Josie.
32 She shall be dowry, and shall be screeched the homie chavvie of the Highest: and the Duchess Gloria shall parker unto her the throne of her Auntie Davina:
33 And she shall reign over the lattie of Jacob for ever; and of her kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then cackled Mary unto the fairy, How shall this be, vardaing I know not a homie?
35 And the fairy answered and cackled unto her, The Fantabulosa Fairy shall troll upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that fabulosa fakement which shall be born of thee shall be screeched the homie chavvie of Gloria.

Brilliant isn’t it?!

Incidentally it’s worth downloading the PDF version, even though it is big, as it contains some wonderfully captioned “old style” images (“Gethsemane had always been a notorious cruising ground”) and a huge dictionary of Polari.

What I find interesting is how much Polari has passed into modern parlance (possibly as some was stolen from existing dialect like Cockney and entered the modern English from there). Just in writing this I’ve noticed acdc, troll, barney, butch, drag … the list goes on!

This is what I find so entrancing about language: not just the fun but the interplay between language, dialect, argot and idiolect. And I love it when something in one form is translated into another, but remains amusingly intelligible to speakers of the original – as here and as with the Pidgin of Papua New Guinea for Prince Charles: nambawan pikinini bilong Mises Kwin.

Just excellent!

Test Post 5

Another test post. Apologies. I’m trying to figure out the best way to get stuff automatically from my WordPress blog to Facebook and Twitter. But none of the methods seems to be reliable. I am removing these posts as soon as they are redundant.

Test Post 4

Another test post. Apologies. I’m trying to figure out the best way to get stuff automatically from my WordPress blog to Facebook and Twitter. But none of the methods seems to be reliable.

Book Review: Letters from England

Karel Čapek
Letters from England
(Continuum, 2001)

What is the connexion between Czechoslovakia, ant, London and robots? Answer: Karel Čapek.

Čapek (1890-1938) was a Czech novelist, dramatist and journalist who was mostly active in the 1920s and 30s. He is possibly best known today for two plays written with his brother Josef: R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) and Pictures from the Insects’ Life (aka. The Insect Play). This latter I have known since school as we did it as the school play in my final year; it is strange, weird and disturbing. With R.U.R. Čapek is credited with the invention of the term “robot”.

In 1924 Čapek visited Britain and Letters from England is the resulting sketches about the visit. It is a small paperback which I’ve had on the shelves for many years and dipped into occasionally – as I have done again recently.

The sketches, originally written in Czech but in several translations, are a mixture travel diary and cynical but humorous observation.

Čapek travels the length and breadth of the Britain (but omits Ireland). The first third of the volume is taken up with London, including this wonderful description of his first visit:

I remember with horror the day when they first brought me to London. First, they took me by train, then they ran through some huge, glass halls and pushed me into a barred cage which looked like a scales for weighing cattle. This was ‘a lift’ and it descended through an armour-plated well, whereupon they hauled me out and slid away through serpentine, underground corridors. It was like a horrible dream. Then there was a sort of tunnel or sewer with rails, and a buzzing train flew in. They threw me into it and the train flew on and it was very musty and oppressive in there, obviously because of the proximity to hell. Whereupon they took me out again and ran through new catacombs to an escalator which rattles like a mill and hurtles to the top with people on it. I tell you, it is like a fever. Then there were several more corridors and stairways and despite my resistance they led me out into the street, where my heart sank. A fourfold line of vehicles shunts along without end or interruption; buses, chugging mastodons tearing along in herds with bevies of little people on their backs, delivery vans, lorries, a flying pack of cars, steam engines, people running, tractors, ambulances, people climbing up onto the roofs of buses like squirrels, a new herd of motorised elephants; there, and now everything stands still, a muttering and rattling stream, and it can’t go any further …

This, remember, is 1924. Plus ça change!

Čapek perambulates an astonishing amount of the country: Oxford, Cambridge, Yorkshire, North Wales, the Lake District, Edinburgh, Inverness … and here he is in the Isle of Skye:

I am in a region which is called Skye, that is to say ‘Sky’, although I am not in the heavens but only in the Hebrides, on a large, strange island among other islands, on an island consisting of fjords, peat, rocks and summits. I collect coloured shells among the blue or flaxen pebbles and by a special grace of heaven even find the droppings of a wild elk, which is the milch cow of Gaelic water nymphs. The hillsides drip like a saturated sponge, the bruach heather catches at my feet, but then, folks, the islands of Raasay and Scalpay, Rhum and Eigg are visible and then one can see mountains with strange and ancient names like Beinn na Callaich … It is beautiful and poor, and the original shanties look as prehistoric as if they had been built by the long-departed Picts, of whom, as is well known, nothing is known.

Interspersed with the text are occasional thumbnail sketches by the author: naïve but humorous. And Čapek meets people, often well known people, like George Bernard Shaw, who sketches, twice:

GBSThis is an almost supernatural personality, Mr Bernard Shaw. I couldn’t draw him better because he is always moving and talking. He is immensely tall, thin and straight and looks half like God and half like a very malicious satyr, who, however, by a thousand-year process of sublimation has lost everything that is too natural. He has white hair, a white beard and very pink skin, inhumanly clear eyes, a strong and pugnacious nose, something knightly from Don
Quixote, something apostolic and something which makes fun of everything in the world, including himself; never in all my life have I seen such an unusual being; to tell you the truth, I was frightened of him. I thought that it was some spirit which was only playing at being the celebrated Bernard Shaw. He is a vegetarian, I don’t know whether from principle or from gourmandaise. One never knows whether people have principles on principle or whether for their own personal satisfaction.

If you want a criticism, the prose does get a bit tedious and turgid at times, however all in all this is a delightfully eccentric and amusing small volume; very readable in small doses, so eminently suitable for dipping into or light bedtime reading.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆