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Monday, 23 April 2012

London Monopoly (8): Pall Mall

This is the eighth in my  series featuring properties on the London Monopoly board. This is the second property in the pink set.
Engraving of Pall Mall showing St. James Palace by Thomas Bowles, 1763.
UK Government Art Collection
Pall Mall is named after a  game formerly played in the area. The name derives from the Italian pallamaglio,  which literally means 'ball-mallet'. It then became Paille-Maille before it's present form. Samuel Pepys records seeing the game played by the King in nearby St. James park in the seventeenth century. 
Most of the property there is now owned by the Crown and the area is famous for the location of many long-standing gentlemen's clubs such as The Oxford & Cambridge Club, the Athenaeum and the Royal Automobile Club.
Gentleman's clubs evolved from the 17th century coffee houses as meeting places where men could find refuge from their womenfolk. However, most of the exclusive gentlemens’ clubs there today date from the 19th century.
The Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall. (Picture: EPR Architects)

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Spotlight on a Website (6): PostSecret
PostSecret is the world's most visited blog that carries no advertising.  I have been visiting for it for years without realising how popular it was until I saw this TED Talk. (For an introduction to TED see Spotlight on a Website 3).
The simple idea is that people email or send a postcard to Frank Warren where they anonymously reveal a personal secret and he publishes it on his website. A simple idea but a brilliant one. The results are often humorous but can be shocking, elevating, desperately sad and sometimes therapeutic.
Here are a few recent ones:
Sometimes people send in their secrets by email.....
"I created a false Facebook page for a girl I didn't like. I made her a lesbian"

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

British v. American English (3)

I have returned to what was one of the most popular subjects when I posted previously.
Some more British words and their US counterparts:
BESPOKE = CUSTOM Although we do use customised (not customized).
ANTI-CLOCKWISE = COUNTER-CLOCKWISE We don't have anything against clocks.
FRINGE = BANG A British client at a US Hairdresser might be surprised to be asked about their bangs. A bang is slang for sexual union. Oops!
BLUNT (of a knife) = DULL In the UK dull is only used to describe a personality or situation.
CODSWALLOP = BALONEY As in talking nonsense.
DO = SELL A Brit might ask, when shopping, "Do you do spare parts?"
No.(abbreviation for 'number') = #. Also HASH doesn't mean £ (that's the sign for pounds Sterling) It means MESS or SCREWED-UP.Wow, this is getting complicated (complex).
PINCH = STEAL But less serious. You might pinch a friend's newspaper but a bank-robber definitely steals.
AUBERGINE = EGGPLANT It's worth saying at this point that most US forms would be recognised (not recognized!) in the UK.
A LA MODE means 'fashionable' in the UK but means 'with ice-cream' in the US!
SCONE (if savoury) = BISCUIT
Actually the grammatical differences are quite deep between the uses of the English language in the US and the UK but it's the different words that are most interesting and more fun to discuss. Any examples you know would be welcome; there are thousands!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Painting of the Month (28) April 2012: Hieronymus Bosch

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. Painted about 1490 to 1510
The Garden of Earthly Delights is a Triptych which means a three-panelled work, usually made as an altarpiece but in this case the vivid sexual nature of the painting means it probably was made for a private patron. The two outside panels fold in so it can be closed and this one has a picture of the Earth being created by God only seen when it is closed.
Triptychs are generally 'read' from left to right. The left-hand panel depicts God introducing Adam to Eve. The square central panel shows the Earthly delights being enjoyed, frequently through the medium of alarming insertions! (see Detail 1, below.) The right-hand panel is clearly meant to represent Hell. It's easy to see the message as a warning against moral sin during one's lifetime and the punishment to come for misdeeds to be meted out in the afterlife. As the majority of the population could not read, graphic illustration was often the way of telling a story as with the telling of Bible stories via the stained-glass windows of a church.
Detail 1

Detail 2
The picture above, detail 2, is from the representation of Hell. You can see that the central character seems to have an arrow sticking out of his back-side. This forms a link with the other detail; I think Mr Bosch had some kind of obsession with....well, you know what I mean. 
The picture is too large to be seen properly here but there are plenty of larger-scale images on the Internet. It's an extremely interesting picture in many ways. The historical context, the imaginative detail and, not least, the moral message are very evident.