Friday, July 20, 2007

Town Planning Insights (1): West End Westerlies

"...the prevailing westerly wind in England, blowing the worst of smoke and stench eastwards, has ensured that the most salubrious part of any English city is always in the west."
- Clare Clark, reviewing Hubbub: Filth, noise and stench in England by Emily Cockayne, TLS, 13 July 2007.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Engines of Necessity

The engines of necessity are parked in the sidings of despair. The seven members of the maintenance team of fate have hung up the toolboxes of desire, and wept seven oceans of tears. All along the line, points freeze and grandmothers step. The reason of sleep comes knocking gently on the souls of your window. Do not let it in.

On a lighter note, I see that it's not raining this morning (yet).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cliche Makeover: the shadow of a doubt

The origins of this fine cliche have recently been unearthed in an archaeological dig near Lidchester, England. Kneeling trowel-fanciers hot on the trail of a medieval sewer that served the old cathedral stumbled across a limestone doubt that had been buried there during the War of the Hoses.

Measuring three feet by eight metres by two years, the doubt bears all the signs of having been entertained by several generations of Lidchester locals. Experts from the University of Environs have run a series of computerised tests which suggest that, at dawn on Midsummer's Day, the doubt would originally have cast a shadow two miles long pointing directly at the sea.

The summer solstice was the one day in the year when Early Man would "have a wobble" about the relationship between the sea and the land, which was otherwise believed to be stable, mature and imbued with mutual respect. Hence, at any other time, people were able to carry on their normal business convinced that they were completely right about everything. Or something.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Disappearing Words: Margarine

According to the Margarine and Spreads Association, the name margarine comes from the Greek word margarites meaning "pearl". And yet margarine isn't made out of pearls - oh no! It's made out of fat.

We still consume, I imagine, around 18 tonnes of margarine per head every year, and a further 2 tonnes per foot. That's despite the raging success of spreadable products named after cries of disbelief. And yet it's very rarely that you hear the word "margarine" in your local cawfee shop. Nor does it crop up much in hi-level debate about the "special relationship" between the UK and the US.

"Margarine" appears only once in the works of Shakespeare:

Would that this margarine o'erleapt th'very bounds of reason;
Aye, there wouldst see a pretty coxcomb for a quivvering.
- Two Spots For A Picnick, or The Comedie Of Terrors (Virgin, 1599)

Disappearing Words: Mauve

Mauve! What a useful word. But it's just not getting any play these days. Try asking for something mauve in Zara, and see where it gets you. Tell your SO that his/her aura is looking mauve today, and you'd better duck!

But mauve is still (arguably) where it's at. Or, at the very least, mauve is where it once might have been.

Try to work "mauve" into your conversation this week. Why not mauve-tivate your team members to use this handy colour word too? What do you mean, you haven't got any team members? Excuse me, I think I've just seen someone I know.