EXAMS!!!!

Exams!

It’s that time of year again.

Exams!

The word can bring the usually stout of heart and joyous of personalities to a stuttering, heart-in-the-mouth, stomach-churning (occasionally pants-filling), halt.

exam Will

Thousands of young people across the UK will have sat, or be currently sitting these horrendous GCSE/A level/End of Year papers. My thoughts are with you guys.

But why do we do exams? For years I have gone along with the mentality that exams are there to assess how much we have learnt, to grade us for the next level of education, to see where our skills lie (academically) and so direct our employment options.

Imagine our ancient ancestors – ploughing the fields, milking the cows, thatching roofs, building homes, smithing your horse’s hooves, sewing your clothes, brewing ale, grinding corn and so on and so forth. Did they sit written exams? No. They didn’t, but managed to make, create, produce and thrive in a continuously moving environment.

SONY DSC
Er, obviously NOT going to be a bricklayer!

The problem lies with numbers; not those hated calculations involving equations and formulas – or that might just be me. I mean numbers of students. In the past, authentic assessment was the norm; we had apprenticeships; an expert would take on an apprentice, provide individualised training and constant feedback. Apprentices were evaluated on how well they applied the skills, not how well they answered a multiple-choice question. The tradition continues today; the construction industry being a point in question.

exams chinese outside
Chinese students had to sit outside – is this what we are heading towards???!!!

But as the population grew, we needed a way to assess huge numbers of potentials. And now we have a kind of production-line mentality to education and exams. We go in one end, age 5 years (3 ½ if you go to pre-school), and come out the other aged 18 years, having sat numerous tests along the way: IQ tests, 11Plus, Aptitude, End of Year, SAT’s (thanks America!) Mocks, GCSE’s (O Levels if your over 40 years), A Levels. THEN, you can go to Further or Higher Education where you do further exams – or retake those English and Maths GCSE’s you failed at school.

exam stress
And we start them so young!

And this in an age where we talk about the individual; about how we’re each different, how we have differing needs, how we learn at different rates. So why the rigid, one-size-fits-all attitude?

And what do exams do anyway, besides stress us out? So you happen to be able to remember a bunch of information that someone spewed out for 10 months, so what? Just because you can pass a written exam, does not mean you will be successful in life, as a person – you know, the REAL important stuff?!

Should we be looking at a new way to educate people? What should we be educated in?

We’re so busy stuffing our heads with dates and measurements and names and so forth, that we do not stop to think what we should be learning about.

Education, after all means – the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university, “a course of education” (OED) Origin – Word Root of educate

The Latin word ducere, meaning “to lead,” and its form ductus give us the roots duc and duct. Words from the Latin ducere have something to do with leading. A duct is a tube that leads from one place or organ to another. To educate, or teach, is to lead to knowledge. To induce is to lead into a particular state. (Merriam-Webster)

 

So, instead of stuffing words, dates and formulae in, we should be spending half the time, drawing out from the pupil.

And anyway, who decided that if you don’t get the grades then you’ll never ‘make it’ in life. Let’s have a look at how some well-known people fared in their school exams and ask ourselves, Do we really need exams in the form they currently are anymore?

Imagine if every student across the land – every single one – refused to do their exams. On the same day, at the same time, they all agreed to down pens and refuse to take part in this pointless ritual that measures nothing but an individuals ability to regurgitate information in a given time frame…I wonder what would happen?!

exam david
Failed his pasty eating exam…

 

Simon Cowell –Music Entrepreneur – left school with just 1 O Level.

Jon Snow– journalist/News Presenter – Grade C in English.

Lord Alan Sugar – Business Entrepreneur – 1 GCSE.

Sarah Millican – Comedian – D and E in her A Levels.

Jeremy Clarkson – TV Host – “If your A-level results aren’t joyous, take comfort from the fact I got a C and two Us. And I have a Mercedes Benz.”

 

…and extracts from some school reports of the good and the average:

 

“This boy will never get anywhere in life.”  Eric Morecombe, Comedian.

“Judi would be a very good pupil if she lived in this world.” Judi Dench, Actor.

“Certainly on the road to failure…hopeless…rather a clown in class…wasting other pupils’ time.” John Lennon, Musician.

“Inclined to dream. Could do better if he tried.” Nick Park, Animator.

“Jilly has set herself an extremely low standard which she has failed to maintain.” Jilly Cooper, Author.

“Constantly late for school, losing his books and papers….regular in his irregularity….” Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister 1940-1945/1951-1955

So you see, if at first you don’t succeed; become an entrepreneur, a comedian or a politician, can’t go wrong!

 

Oh, And

Good Luck! 

Sex…(That got your attention didn’t it?!)

 

N.B: Possible sensitive material. (Depending on how sensitive you are.)

Sex sells.

Forget your Game of Thrones romps in Peter Littlefinger’s brothel, or the gyrations of any number of women – and occasional men, in music videos, or that 1990’s bra advert – ‘Hello Boys.’

You know by now that I like to have an occasional rant  – and if you don’t then you haven’t been following properly! *smiles coyly – or you have only just started following.

I wanted to rant about sex, no not the lovely smushy, let’s-get-this-party-started kind of sex, but the kind that is used to make you (and me I suppose, sometimes, but I like to think I’m-above-that-kind-of-thing) buy stuff.

Are advertisers bastards? Or are we just dumb animals that allow our baser instincts drive the click-pay-send-buy cycle? It’s all over the show: perfume and aftershave adverts, clothing, cars, ad infinitum. But what bugs me most? Music videos! Music videos that contain endless yards of naked, semi-naked, sweaty, oiled, writing flesh. And guess what? There’s no age limit on them like films have, so television channels can show them at 8:30 on a Saturday or Sunday morning, when you want a lie-in, and your little kids are up and about. And what do little kids do when alone? (Ew, not that!) Yep, they watch the box, unsupervised (‘cos you got pissed the night before and have to lie still in a darkened room so you don’t vomit all over the place – or is that just me?)

Your kids are watching soft porn people!!!!

But before we all get carried away, this post isn’t about soft porn (though I know some people will wish it was). I have been noticing semi-clad images all over the show except one place – literature (NO! Not that kind of literature) I’m talking about fiction writing and the covers that bind them.

Sex sells.

petyr baelish
Petyr Baelish, fondling those exquisite pages.

Which brings me back to Game of Thrones; or should I say books in general. Although there is an insanely wild amount of sex in G.O.T, the covers tell a different story, because it’s all about politics, not sex. There are those books that have a suggestion of sex on the covers; prime example is Jilly Cooper and all those jolly gals and boys who ride horses, play polo and live in a foreign country as far as I’m concerned. And maybe an open shirt or two revealing a male chest to titillate the middle-aged, middle-class reader. And then there is the brigade of women writers and readers (and I guess some blokes) who read romance. Ah, romance; roses, wine, softly scented kisses, you’re kidding aren’t you?!

 

image001.jpg

It was not always so. For your delectation, I have trawled through acres of yellowing-dog-eared-slightly whiffy pages to present to you some fine, and cringe worthy, examples of how sex has been selling literature for decades. From the 1920’s through to the current day, I give you, how sex sells literature…

sex 1928
Ladies in Hades. 1928

 

What Aldous Huxley would have made of this cover, God only knows!

sex 1963
Teacher’s Pet. 1963
sex 2011
In Bed With a Highlander. 2011
sex 2012
Taking a Shot. 2012
sex 2013
First Strike. 2013

And my favourite; even though it is a parody…

sex spoof

You can find more romance parody book covers at – https://www.flickr.com/photos/verybigjen/sets/489555/

Feel the need of a scrub down now. Have a great day y’all.

To Be (a nerd), Or Not To Be (a nerd)…

…that is the question… that I am posing today.

Way back when I was at school, nerds were the really intelligent kids (not me!), who were excellent at Maths and Science in particular. They couldn’t throw, or kick, a ball, they shied away from crowds, cool kids, hockey sticks, pubs, clubs and bars, even their own shadow at times. Nerds were, well, nerdy!

nerd2

Then along came this other word – Geek – it infiltrated to the UK from the ‘good ole US of A’. And we were confused, so this geek was like a nerd but had something to do with technology, both intelligent in academic ways, but stupid socially, neither had any dress sense (many wore spectacles) and you certainly did NOT want to get trapped with one who then regaled you with their favourite topic, no sir!

nerd1

 

For older readers, the difference between nerds and geeks is purely a matter of lexical semantics – they’re both weird. For younger readers, there is a whole pile of difference , and don’t you dare call me a nerd when I’m a geek!!! And then they stomp off to read their comics (because, as we all know, nerds/geeks read comics, don’t they?)

So let us have a little stroll through the history, and meaning, of the world of Nerds and Geeks. Got your notebook and mismatched attire? Then let’s go…

A nerd is a person seen as overly intellectual, obsessive, or lacking social skills. Such a person may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, little known, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical, abstract, or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities. Additionally, many so-called nerds are described as being shy, quirky, pedantic, and unattractive, and may have difficulty participating in, or even following, sports.

Though originally derogatory, nerd is a stereotypical term, but as with other pejoratives, it has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity.

The first documented appearance of the word nerd is as the name of a creature in Dr. Seuss‘s book If I Ran the Zoo (1950), in which the narrator Gerald McGrew claims that he would collect “a Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too” for his imaginary zoo.The slang meaning of the term dates to the next year, 1951, when Newsweek magazine reported on its popular use as a synonym for drip or square in Detroit, Michigan.  By the early 1960s, usage of the term had spread throughout the United States, and even as far as Scotland. At some point, the word took on connotations of bookishness and social ineptitude

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerd

The word geek is a slang term originally used to describe eccentric or non-mainstream people; in current use, the word typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with a hobby or intellectual pursuit, with a general pejorative meaning of a “peculiar person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, or socially awkward”.

Although often considered as a pejorative, the term is also used self-referentially without malice or as a source of pride. Its meaning has evolved to refer to “someone who is interested in a subject (usually intellectual or complex) for its own sake”.

This word comes from English dialect geek or geck (meaning a “fool” or “freak“; from Middle Low German Geck). “Geck” is a standard term in modern German and means “fool” or “fop”.The root also survives in the Dutch and Afrikaans adjective gek (“crazy”), as well as some German dialects, and in the Alsatian word Gickeleshut (“jester‘s hat”; used during carnival).[1] In 18th century Austria, Gecken were freaks on display in some circuses. In 19th century North America, the term geek referred to a performer in a geek show in a circus, traveling carnival or travelling funfair sideshows (see also freak show). The 1976 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary included only the definition regarding geek shows. This variation of the term was used to comic effect in an episode of popular 1970s TV show Sanford & Son. Professional wrestling manager “Classy” Freddie Blassie recorded a song in the 1970s called “Pencil-Necked Geek”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geek

Hang on, let’s pause here – so nerds are shy – so fucking what!? Most shy people I know are also the most strong-minded individuals I have ever met. They read fantasy fiction? Co-o-o-l.  And geeks are enthusiasts? Where would we be without people who are enthusiastic about something, anything? Aren’t creative types enthusiastic to the point of obsession? William Turner, Auguste Rodin, Frida Kahlo, Barbara Hepworth, H P Lovecraft, Prince!? They would never have produced the paintings, sculpture, books or music that they did, without having at least a hint of geekiness/nerdiness.

So what happened?

Lets see if we can identify the ‘accusers’ and the ‘supporters’…

1974: The Fonz, a character on an American TV show; Happy Days, referred to socially awkward kids interested in science and math as nerds. The world gave him a big thumbs up and nerds a big thumbs down. NB: this was a guy in his late twenties(at least!) who seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out with teen schoolkids!!! *J’accuse The Fonz.

1978: Eugene Felsnic, a character in Grease was shrill voice, had poor social skills, thick glasses, and was generally considered embarrassing. He was the butt of a lot of jokes. poo Eugene was just overly keen. *J’accuse the T-Birds, The Pink Ladies and Producers,  Allan Carr and Robert Stigwood.

1984: The movie, Revenge of the Nerds was released, and amazingly,people delighted in a movie where the nerds get to win. The film does not actually portray nerds positively, but they were the stars! “We have news for the beautiful people. There’s a lot more of us then there are of you!” Nerd appreciation went up slightly. *Kudos to Director Jeff Kanew.

1985: Movie; Weird Science by John Hughes came out, (also Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Hughes humanized the nerds that audiences had made fun of before. Audiences were made to understand that nerds have feelings too. They were no longer the butt of jokes. Nerd appreciation was beginning to climb. *Kudos to Director John Hughes.

1991: Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, was a fairly accurate stereotype, and though an enjoyable character, he does not help the cause of geeks and nerds. Ever. Not sure if he was appreciated or jeered. *Nada.

1999: Star Wars: Episode I was released. And so began the biggest nerd growth in the history of mankind. Nerds were popping up all over the show; watching the films, talking about the films, buying merchandise that appeared in those comic shops that started popping up everywhere. (Being a cynic, I am apt to believe the supreme marketing of this franchise is what has created a cycle of movie-nerd-merchandise-tie ins-geek-movie-nerd ad infinitum.) However, the profile, appreciation/acceptance of nerds and geeks has risen tenfold. *Kudos  to creator George Lucas.

2007: The Big Bang Theory, American TV show arrived. It has been and continues to be, a massive hit. It portrays nerds/geeks as being not only super intelligent but, know-it-alls’ who are indeed socially adept, who are terrified of women, often pedantic and in one instance (Sheldon) possibly lean towards Asperger’s. What initially appear to be stereotypes, and to a degree they are, they also reflect what the vast majority have concerns with; friendship, work, and problems with both. The first nerds to get their very own show! Hurrah! *Kudos to writers, Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady, Maria Ferrari, Steven Molaro and the rest.

nerd5

2010: It wasn’t enough anymore, to visit comic book shops, sit on the side-line and discuss girls who would never look at you, it was time to get physical – enter Kick-Ass, the movie! This was a nerd who was mad as hell and he wasn’t going to take it anymore! This was the skinny, ‘little’ guy who no-one looked at, the guy who hung out with his two equally nerdy pals and spent too much time with comics – it is an homage to the comic superhero, stop just reading about it, and do something. Kick-Ass hailed the rise of a new nerd – Super-Hero-Nerd! *Kudos to writers/Director Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman.

nerd3

Well there you have it. Or do we?

Before you go, can you see anything missing from this picture so far?????

Notice an absence from the list???

Still not got it??

I’ll give you a clue – what is the gender of the writer of this blog?!

Where are the women?! It is an odd thing, females have been noticeably missing from the nerd/geek history. If you type female nerd into your search engine, you will more than likely get an image of a ‘sexy’ woman in tight shirt and spectacles that she probably doesn’t wear in her ‘real’ life!

1995: Hackers starred Angelina Jolie as a young hacker alongside Jonny Lee Miller. It wasn’t a terrifically good film and did little for nerds and geeks, even though their IT skills were at the cutting edge! *Nada.

nerd7

1996: Saw Matilda making a hit, (with children and some parents). Matilda was not only very well read and intelligent, she got the better of her bullying teacher; Miss Trunchbull. It was cool in the playground for a short while, then the boys came back with their footballs and sense of entitlement. *Kudos to Roald Dahl (and Director Danny De Vito for trying.)

nerd6

 

1997: J.K. Rowling brought us the best girl-nerd ever! Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, was published. Then it was made into a film! It was a HUGE success. She wrote 6 more! We got more films! Hermione Granger was the new hero of young women and girls right across the planet, she had to fight extreme prejudice from, not only classmates, but teachers. She is from a Muggle family, she is well-read, she is intelligent(more than any of the other characters), she is brave, she is loyal – she is the driving force behind Harry and Ron and without her, I believe, Lord Voldemort would have won!!

nerd8

 

Girl nerds are just as cool as boy nerds, perhaps more so, as they have to work harder. In what way, I hear you ask? Well, if you’re a boy, and a nerd, it can still be a battle to get respect from people. If you’re a girl nerd, you not only have that battle, but another with the boy nerds, who are just like the rest of their species when it come to females!

To Be (a nerd), Or Not To Be (a nerd)…that was the question. Or are you a geek?

I have decided I am a mix of both. It needs a new word, I propose NEEK!

“Oh yes, I’m the great Procrastinator.”

I was going to write about how English words mean something else in other languages – like ‘kiss’ in Swedish means ‘pee’. But I went and did some laundry instead.

Then, I was going to write about the current political climate re- America and Syria. But I went and had a cigarette instead.

I thought about writing about how words in the English language have changed their meaning – did you know ‘nice’ originally meant the opposite of today’s meaning. But I ended up reading and replying to e-mails.

You see, I’m a procrastinator, of the first order!

It isn’t that I don’t have an idea, I have plenty of ideas, I write little notes everywhere, my dining room is an homage to Post-It notes and notebooks. I will wander about the house looking for something to do, or I spend an hour (or two or three!) on the Playstation. or suddenly, there is a huge amount of laundry to be done! I have always been like this; seemingly directionless, a self-accused lazy person.

However, I have since realized that this is not the negative non-activity I first believed it to be. I watched a TED talk given by Tim Urban, in which he explains, with amusing visuals, what a dire procrastinator he was/is;      https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_urban_inside_the_mind_of_a_master_procrastinator

and recognised many elements within myself. I also discovered that I belong to a, pretty awesome, group of individuals who are cast as procrastinators.

Victor Hugo – French writer Victor Hugo was apparently familiar with the muse of procrastination; preferring to do any and everything rather than focusing on his work. So how, I hear you ask, did he get busy again?  Well apparently, he would strip naked, have his servant take away his clothes and lock him in his study until he resumed work! Well, at least he wasn’t distracted by doing the laundry!

victor-hugo-9346557-1-402

“It may look to the untrained eye [like]I’m sitting on my arse all day” (I Spy, PULP)

 

Saint Augustine – Who’d have thunk it! A saint! (I feel so much holier than thou now) Apparently, Augustine was dreadful at getting things done and could relapse into bouts of distraction at the drop of a hat.  He struggled to maintain his pious status all of the time and often relapsed into sin. His desire for sex often led him astray and over the years he forgot his holy path on more than one occasion. I know how he feels!!

st-augustine-3

“Dum de dum, people watching, so I’ll pretend to write..tum te tum…”

 

Leonardo Da Vinci –  Da Vinci completed some of the most famous works of art ever to have been created, but it turns out that he was not very focused.  Mona Lisa took 16 years to complete! Da Vinci was so renowned for his procrastination that one benefactor had to threaten him with bankruptcy to get him to finish a commissioned piece.Many of Da Vinci’s works remain unfinished.

da-vinci-alam_159842t

You think you grow a beard like this without procrastinating?!

 

Margaret Atwood – Margaret Atwood apparently suffers from serious bouts of procrastination. She has had 14 novels, 9 short stories and 16 poetry books published, but, according to the author herself, her success is down to allowing herself to procrastinate for a few hours in the morning, and by the time she sits down to work mid-afternoon, she is finally able to focus.

atwood

The evil genius that is the procrastinator, mwah-ha-ha!

 

Douglas Adams –  was as legendary for his procrastination as he was for his one-liners. “I love deadlines,” he once quipped. “I like the whooshing sound they make when they go by.” According to his friend, Steve Meretzky, “Douglas has raised procrastination to an art form. Hitchhikers Guide would never have gotten done if I hadn’t gone over to England and virtually camped out on his doorstep.” Adams struggled mightily with the writing of his final novel, The Salmon of Doubt, and would soak for hours in a bathtub instead of getting on with it. He had been working on it for ten years and still hadn’t completed a first draft when he died of a heart attack in 2001. The fragments were published posthumously, but they are far from forming a coherent novel.

douglasadams

42? Whatever!

 

The Dalai Lama – A great spiritual leader who travels the world teaching about compassion as the source of happiness in life. But before Dalai-hood, he was a student who found it hard to get motivated. “Only in the face of a difficult challenge or an urgent deadline would I study and work without laziness,”. And now?  “You must not procrastinate,” he now teaches. “Rather you should make preparations so that even if you die tonight, you would have no regrets.”

Dalai Lama

Ha ha ha ha! You fools who work non-stop!

 

The Dalai Lama! I know! (he went and ruined it at the end when he talked about making preparations though.)

So, if you feel the guilt of the procrastinator, fear not, you’re we’re in good company. So forward procrastinators of the world! Let us hold our heads high, unfurl the banner without sigil and sound the horn and feel proud of what we are! We are (not quite) mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore – 1st Meeting of The Procrastinators – meet at the park next Friday at 7 pm – if you can be bothered – or maybe you have some laundry to do? We could postpone it until next month…

 

Dashie XP procrastinates good style – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13y7IVYoRS8 

dashiexp

 

 

 

 

 

N.B: there is swearing in the above video, so if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing…well, what can I say?!

 

P.S: I will be starting a series of interviews in the coming weeks; keep a lookout! And if there are any creative types out there who wish to be included, just drop me a line. Ta ta for now.

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Poison?

Q: What do you get when you mix alcohol with literature?

A: Tequila Mockingbird.

I know, it’s a bad one.

This morning, I began my day with two cups of tea. Yes two, wow, aren’t I a hedonist! Around this time – or at work, 10.30, I have a cigarette. On the weekends, my tipple of choice is gin; G & T, Gin Sling, Gin Cocktails, or cider.

So today, I decided to take a look at, not only the tipple but drug of choice of some literary characters.

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Probably one of the best descriptions of a hangover in literature. Jim Dixon drinks beer, and lots of it, he says that he cannot afford spirits.

Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.”

blog jim

James Bond by Ian Fleming.

A lot, when you begin digging about – including Scotch and Soda, Whiskey, Champagne,  Vodka martinis, Red Wine, White Wine, but famous for The Vesper Martini; shaken not stirred. (By the way, it was Dr. No who first said those words). A light-hearted study revealed that  James Bond was a major alcoholic, in a category of drinkers at highest risk of developing malignancies, depression, hypertension, and cirrhosis. Despite his reputation as a womanizer, he likely would have suffered from sexual dysfunction. Glamorous much!

The author – James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, loved drinking gin – sometimes a bottle a day – but was converted to bourbon at the suggestion of his doctor who thought it might be marginally less damaging for his health.

blogbond

 

Harry Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser

Champagne, Beer, Gin, and many other unspecified ‘stiff drinks’.

Harry Flashman drank to get drunk, leading to him being expelled from Rugby school for drunkenness.

I knew better than to mix my drinks, even at seventeen.

blog flashman

Dr. Jekyll by Robert Louis Stevenson

THAT drink! You know; the one that turned him into his alter ego, Mr. Hyde. But Jekyll’s is more like a chemical addiction to his alternate persona.

The author – Apparently, Stevenson wrote the tale of Dr. Jekyll during a cocaine binge.

blogjekyll

 

Jay Gatsby by F. Scott Fitsgerald

A man who made his fortune from bootlegging is remarkably restrained when it comes to alcohol. Though we know he drinks; Mint Juleps, Champagne, and wine, what Gatsby really wants is “the incomparable milk of wonder.”, the milk of life (aka mother’s milk). Gatsby is in control of his drinking, unlike…

The author – Loved gin. “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

bloggatsby

 

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Cigarettes, Cigars and a Pipe. Also Cocaine and Morphine; used occasionally to escape, as he said, from “the dull routine of existence.” He injects his cocaine in a seven-percent solution with a syringe. It must be mentioned, though, that Holmes in not a drug addict, this recreational use of drugs like cocaine was common in the Victorian era.

The author – although Doyle believed in fairies, he did not do drugs, or drink to excess as far as we know.

blogholmes

Mark Renton by Irvine Welsh

Heroin – primarily. “We took morphine, diamorphine, cyclizine, codeine, temazepam, nitrazepam, phenobarbitone, sodium amytal, dextropropoxyphene, methadone, nalbuphine, pethidine, pentazocine, buprenorphine, dextromoramide, chlormethiazole. The streets are awash with drugs you can have for unhappiness and pain, and we took them all. Fuck it, we would have injected vitamin C if only they’d made it illegal.” Renton and his pals are a mess; a grimy, stinking, rotten-breathed, heaving mass of an almost waste of space.

The author – Welsh drinks Green Tea (though he did briefly experiment with heroin).

blogrenton

 

However, the award for consumption, in quantity as well as variety, goes to:

Raoul Duke by Hunter S. Thompson

We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug-collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge, and I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon.”

Also, Singapore Slings.

The authorThompson himself took…  everything!!

blograoul

 

So we took a turn there, from good old beer, to the crazy world of ether and mescaline. Like the world of Jazz, literature is packed as full as an 80’s models nose of cocaine, with drug use.

Writers, is required to be creative; or do we they just love it?

The rest:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Opium

Thomas De Quincey, Laudanum

Charles Baudelaire, Hashish

Aldous Huxley, Mescaline

Jack Kerouac, Benzedrine

William Burroughs, Heroin

Philip K Dick, Speed

Stephen King, Cocaine

Oscar Wilde, Absinthe

William Faulkner, Mint Julep

Dorothy Parker, Whiskey Sour

Ernest Hemingway, Mojito

 

I’m not advocating that people go out and get as inebriated as Flashman or as toked up as Holmes. But you have to admit kids, there’s a hell of a lot of creativity and entertainment that’s come out of it!

I just noticed when I completed writing this – there is only one woman on the list – Dorothy Parker. Are we to assume that female writers do not imbibe, or are they just more secretive about it?! Let me know if you find out.

Ta ta for now chaps and chapesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ever-Expanding Arse, OR, Don’t Read This If…

By ‘Ever-Expanding Arse’, I do not mean the straw-headed, venomous, bigot who currently resides in the White House (Though you feel free to apply this if you want).

I mean MY arse (Yes, in the UK, we call our backsides arse, not ass, as the American way. An ass is a kind of donkey to us). As a writer, I spend a lot of time, and I mean A LOT, sitting on my arse. Sitting for long periods is not good for us, apparently, humans were not designed to sit around all day, with our bodies bent at angles, drinking tea (or coffee, or gin) and eating carbohydrates like there is no tomorrow.

You see, in my head I look like this…

glamswimsuit

 

But in reality, I’m more like this…

swimsuit

 

So this morning, I decided to take up my routine that I have neglected for about a year; and went for a brisk walk in the local park. By brisk walk, I actually mean a pain-inducing hotness in my right knee. I have put on quite a bit of weight since taking up this writing malarkey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not huge, or obese, but things do wobble, even when I’m stationary. Writers take note – Sitting for long periods only expands the buttocks, not the mind. A walk in the outdoors, fresh air, mobilisation of the limbs, can assist with brain function – go on, try it and see.

Which brings me onto my ‘OR’. Don’t Read This If… you like dogs!

In the park, especially in the mornings, there are always LOTS of dog walkers and their fluffy companions. I like dogs, I do. I would like to own one, but, I am not, I repeat NOT, prepared to pick up its crap; and neither, it seems, are many dog owners. There was so much dog crap lying around, you could have made a poo monument to dog walkers.

So, there I was, minding my own business, when I see two small dogs on the path ahead. Their owner or owners were chatting in a faecal enveloped aura many metres away. One of the dogs was a poodle (If there is one breed of dog I do dislike, it is the poodle), it stared at me, it tried to stare me down, really; but I was having none of it, besides I was wearing my sunglasses. When I refused to pet or even acknowledge it, the creature began trotting alongside and barking at me – its tail was not wagging readers! I put my hands in my pockets for fear it would take a woolly leap and snap them off. I strode past the owner with a ‘look’ on my face, she apologised, I know she did this because even though I had earphones in and The Kinks were filling my ears, I saw her mouth form the word ‘sorry’. Firm in my smug belief that she was an idiot, I continued without acknowledgement.

Then I remembered what a friend said to me, many moons ago, about poodles. “Have you ever noticed,” he said, “How the space between the front paws and the back paws are just the right size to fit your foot?” Visions of sparsely-furred poodles flying through goalposts came to mind. It brought a smile to my face. I continued on my limping, burning, wobbling way.

The moral of the story folks is; writers should take daily exercise and…no, it isn’t. There is no moral, I’m just a writer with an ever-expanding arse who can’t bear poodles, or Chihuahuas, or terriers.

 

direwolves
Now there’s a pooch worth having

 

 

 

 

 

Indexing by http://www.blogarama.com/en/

Infantilising the English Language – or Not…

Many of you will have noticed that I usually write and post on Mondays and Fridays – today I have a free day, so you lucky, lucky people get an extra this week!!

 

In the UK, there is and has been a habit of making regular words into a kind of ‘baby talk’. I don’t know if other countries do this – I would be interested to hear what readers from India, Germany, America and so forth, use in their day to day speech.

Of course, growing up British, these words were not unusual to me. As I reached adulthood and my world of contacts expanded, I realised that not everyone in the UK uses these words, though they may know what they mean (sometimes), some words are regional.

I had thought it was because we hadn’t grown up, as a nation, linguistically, research proved me wrong. I trawled through many online dictionaries, as well as my trusty ‘real life’ actual dictionary in book form.

N.B: Don’t get your shortened alterations confused with British slang; not the same.

 

I’m going to give you just a flavour of what I mean:

 Butty – also buttie:  Northern English – A filled or open sandwich. E.G. ‘a bacon butty’. This originated in the 19th Century, from buttered bread, buttery, butty!

Sarnie: British informal – a sandwich. E.G.  ‘…two crates of beer and a plate of sarnies.’   Probably originated in the 20th century; from Northern or dialect pronunciation of the first syllable of sandwich. N.B. I disagree with this; pronunciation of the word sandwich in Northern England uses a flat vowel ‘a’ as in cat. In the South, they pronounce this as ‘ar’ so the word could only have come from the south surely?

Telly: British Informal – television. E.G. ‘he’s watchin’ the telly in the front room’. First recorded in 1935-40; tel (evision) + -y.

Cardy: Short for cardigan. E.G. ‘she had a hole in the sleeve of her cardy’. Traced to the 1960’s.

cardy
Veronica’s cardy was knit from reinforced steel, thus keeping her in a permanent pose.

 Welly – also wellie: Short for wellington boot. E.G. ‘I lost my blue welly’. Use of this contraction can be traced as far back as 1817, but became most commonly used from the 1970s onwards.

Chocky Bicky  – also choccie biccie: A chocolate biscuit. E.G. ‘I like a choccy biccy with a cup of tea’. I couldn’t find the origins of this, but I do know they say it in Australia.

Jim Jams: That’s pyjama’s to you! E.G. ‘I’m getting my jim jams on when I get home from work’. Originated in the early 20th century: abbreviation of the pronunciation; pie-jim-jams, alteration of pyjamas.

Baccy: Tobacco, particularly the self-rolling brigade use this. E.G. ‘got any baccy mate? I’m all out’. By shortening and alteration of the word to-bacc-o, we end up with baccy. First Known Use: 1821.

smoking-nuns-postcard-60
Sister Ermintrude and co enjoyed  the new baccy they were growing on Mother Superior’s allotment plot.

We also say words to children because either they have onomatopoeic qualities or to avoid saying the ‘real’ words!!! So a cat becomes a ‘pussy cat’, (much hilarious usage ensued in TV sitcoms of the 1970’s) or kitty. Bobo’s – sleep. Wee wee – urinate. Poo poo – a shit. Woof Woof– dog. Brum brum – car. Birdy – bird. Moo moo – cow. Ducky – duck. Horsey – horse.

You can see a pattern here can’t you?! If you stick a ‘y’ on the end, that generally works – no don’t be an idiot! You can’t put it on the end of chair – chairy? Really? We aren’t that dumb! Or you can repeat the same word. I t goes on endlessly, and I have encountered a huge amount of ‘baby talk’ dating back to the 1920s and 1930’s, primarily from the upper classes. They seemed to have had a penchant for developing a sickly, fluffy, hurl inducing way of speaking to animals and people they were very fond of –  Ickle wickle is a prime example. (I think I’m going to vomit).Working class folk were far too busy in the mines and pits and ship building yards, rolling their baccy into ciggies, to have time to develop a child-adult-lovers collective language.

I love Dorothy Parker‘s writings and attitude; she once worked for the New Yorker and did a review of A.A. Milne’s ‘The House At Pooh Corner. Parker wrote under the pen-name of Constant Reader. She purposefully mimicked the baby talk when dismissing the book’s syrupy prose style: “It is that word ‘hummy,’ my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.”  Richard Thompson even wrote a song about it, Baby Talk, in which he implores his sweetheart to grow up – ‘I’m sending you back to nursery school, When you start talking you sound like a fool’.

Time for a cuppa and a choccy biccy.

Bye bye for now weaders!