Monthly Archives: March 2019

Disunited in union (flags)

Flags have suddenly become a feature of British life.

And then there’s this:

Vexillologists (fans of all things to do with flags) might spot two gammony gents with two union flags. One of which is upside-down.

For the ignorant, the top broad diagonal, next the staff, should be uppermost. Clearly the gammon to the left here has his wrong way round. The guy to the right, with his defacing ‘No thank EU’, or whatever, is the more correct.

These two guys are in close proximity. Could they not talk to each other, and compare notes — and flags?


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Knuckle draggers in short supply — latest!


Remember: we were assured Westminster would be crammed — crammed, I tell ‘ee! — with 17 million rabid Leavers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Viet Gwent

Memory is strange.

Tonight I was watching Cathy Newman doing Channel 4 News from the main lobby of the Commons. After a couple of warm-up numbers (James Brokenshire, the ever-present Ree-Smug), we were given the Main Feature.

Cathy presented us, left to right, with Nicky Morgan, Jess Phillips and Anna Soubry. 

That’s on the screen: not political orientation.

These ladies are political dynamos.

Suddenly I remembered the ‘Viet Gwent’: Graham Price (prop), Bobby Windsor (hooker) and Charlie Faulkner (prop). For nineteen internationals in the 1970s these three, the ‘Pontypool Front Row‘ were at the sharp end, the heavy mob, of the Wales scrum.

My comparison — I hasten to add — is a recognition of the driving power of these female MPs. Not their looks.

Leave a comment

Filed under Channel 4 News, politics, Rugby

Relocated and reduced; ‘the German Ocean’

I’m of an age to have seen the German Ocean on (none-too-out-of-date) maps:

So, when did that bit of water get renamed?

I’m not disparaging ‘North Sea’ as a name. After all, it was that way inclined in Middle and even Early English:

Ys on Bretonelande sum fenn unmætre mycelnysse, þæt onginneð fram Grante ea..and hit mid menigfealdan bignyssum widgille and lang þeneð wunað [perh. read þurhwunað] on norðsæ.

The German Ocean was the more usual term from the Middle Ages:

Beyonde Scotlande, in the Germane Oceane [L. in Oceano Germanico]: are the Ilandes called Orchades, wherof the biggest is called Pomonia.

There is the clue: it was ‘the German Ocean’ as a translation from classical Latin, mare Germānicum, though that was an ambiguous term which seemed equally to include the Baltic. And Claudius Ptolemy’s second-century A.D. Hellenistic Greek has Γερμανικὸς Ὠκεανός. Ptolemy wasn’t fully rendered from Greek to Latin until 1525, but here from the British Library is ‘Oceanus Germanicus’ around 1480:

I’m making the assumption that ‘German Ocean’ died the death some time before George V Saxe-Coburg and Gotha became George V Windsor. ‘Political correctness’ is no recent invention.

Then, this morning, I hit on this headline:

To my mind, that raises a further marine delineation: where does ‘the North Sea’/’the German Ocean’ become ‘the Norwegian Sea’? Trying wikipedia, I get this:

Which is further confusion, with a German source identifying der Nordsee, and the red line showing the Norwegian Sea. A good Shetlander would inform us of the betrothal of Margaret of Denmark to James III Stewart of Scotland.

That was as messy a bit of dynastic business as one might wish. Scotland was seriously in arrears of the rents due for the northern islands. In 1460 a hectic spate of negotiations were necessary. A settlement was mooted, which would involve the marriage of Prince James of Scotland to pre-pubescent Margaret, daughter of Christian I of Denmark. Then the negotiations foundered, and were not revived until 1468. By then the settlement involved abolishing the “Norway annual’ payments, of any arrears, and a dowry of 60,000 Rhenish florins for (by now) 12-year-old Margaret. Christian didn’t have more than a couple of thousand florins in loose cash, so the Shetlands were pawned to Scotland in lieu of the rest.

When oil and gas started to come out of the seas (however named) around Shetland, the Norwegians cheekily offered to cash out the pawn money.

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, Scotland

Size matters

Donna Leon has knocked out a Commissario Brunetti novel annually for the last quarter century. And I’ve read each and every one assiduously. The last eighteen I’ve bought immediately on publication, and read each within  a day or so. Then shelved each, making one of the neater shelves on that side of the room —

Note there was space left for this year’s offering.

On Tuesday afternoon I had one or two errands in York (memo to self: sitting on spectacles is an expensive business). The last of these was collecting two pre-ordered novels from Waterstones: the new Donna Leon (I’m a fortnight late with this one) and James Runcie’s The Road to Grantchester.

Here I am, Thursday afternoon, both read and ready to be shelved. This is what I discover:

The 22cm height format is now, this year, up to 24cm. Thus screwing up my 23cm shelf pitch. That aggravates me far more than the increase in price (those odd .99 pennies are also round up).

Still, it was a good read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Donna Leon, James Runcie