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Saturday, 27 February 2010

Quiz Question (3)

A two part question this time. Both of the answers are titles of well known books.
1) Who was Oliver Mellors?
2) Who was Sarah Woodruff?

I will post the answer in the 'comments' in a few days. There are no prizes, merely the glory of being first to answer correctly.
And to make it ridiculously easy there are two photo clues.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

American v. British English

This subject provides a rich vein of humour/humor and interest. There are hundreds of words that are totally different depending on whch side of the Atlantic you live and a lot of words that have different meanings.
As Winston Churchill said, referring to the USA and the UK: "We are one nation divided by a common language". I recognise/recognize that Canandian, Australian and Indian English all have their own identities.
When I chose this topic in my former blog  (click here)  it was one of the more popular posts so this is really 'part two'.
In case any reader is unaware here are some examples:
USA word/s                    UK word/s
Two weeks                       Fortnight
Truck                               Lorry
Elevator                            Lift
Eggplant                           Aubergine
Liquor store                      Off licence
Desk clerk                        Receptionist
Duplex                             Semi-detached
Line                                 Queue
Public school                    State school
French fries                      Chips
Chips                              Crisps
Realtor                            Estate Agent
Dull (of a blade)                Blunt

This list could be hundreds of words long and we haven't even scratched the surface.
Some expressions have completely different meanings in the other country.
In the UK "My word, you do look queer" although rather old-fashioned means that you look ill.
A friend went to the USA and told a co-worker who was looking sad to "keep your pecker up".
In England this means 'to remain cheerful'. Apparently it means something else in the States!

All of the above doesn't even cover the grammatical differences there are. If you have any good examples of English variations in any country please let me know - it's an endlessly fascinating topic.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The 2012 Olympic Site

The Olympic Stadium with 895 days to go!
My office is only a few hundred yards away from the huge building site for the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games.

Last Wednesday we were given a guided coach-tour of the spectacular site by Huw Edwards, the Government and Business Relations Manager at the Olympic Delivery Authority.

The project is on, or slightly ahead of, target for completion time.

At this moment the site is an ever-changing maze of driveways, open pits, piles of sand and mud and venue sites under-construction in various stages of completion. Security is high on the agenda and impressive systems are in place and working well and presumably will be a well-oiled and high-functioning element of 2012.

The thing that impressed me the most was the Aquatic Centre roof (above). It was built on scaffolding, then rasied one-and-a-half metres into the air by crane and lowered onto just three concrete towers. It was lowered by a computer-controlled crane, one millimetere at a time, taking a week to complete. Below is an artists impression of the Aquatic Centre after completion.
The beautiful project was designed by Britain's world-renowned Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid. Incredibly it is her first major British commission.I think the reason that London was favoured above Paris as a choice of venue for 2012 was London's imaginative legacy programme. The 4,000 capacity Olympic Athlete's Village will be turned into 'affordable housing' in a deprived area of London. Although larger companies are obviously winning the major building contracts there are regulations in place to make sure some of the sub-contracting and third-tier contracts are given to smaller and local businesses.
There is a free website ( where any business can register and upload their profile and receive a regular list of contracts that they can bid for.

If you are interested in following the progress of this development, probably Europes largest current building project, you can visit:

Sunday, 7 February 2010

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
-Philip Larkin
Despite the surprising coarse language in the first line, this poem can be considered as one of his last and therefore more mature poems having been first published in Larkin’s final collection, “High Windows”, (1974).
The poem is written in a bouncy, almost childlike, tetrameter (four accented beats per line). The poet achieves this by a simple abab rhyming scheme and uncomplicated single-word perfect rhyming words, mostly of one syllable.
This contrasts with the seriousness of the subject matter and the poem has more depth than first sight might reveal. There is little in the poem’s three stanzas that is throwaway or without due consideration. For example, the fact that your parents “fuck you up” can be taken as a pun and operates with two meanings; they cause your generation initially and your degeneration eventually.
While the first two verses have a comical element to them the final one becomes more poetic with a serious admonition at the end.
Personally I think Larkin is only talking about himself despite the last two lines. He may have meant the poem as an epitaph.
After all, he took his title from Robert Louis Stephenson’s “Requiem”.