29 November 2008

Pimpez votre condom

Capotes anglaises, we called them in my day.

Anyway, it seems the freedom Frenchies take the largest.

28 November 2008

Despised Business Jargon


That's one despised jargon I've not even comes across.

My peeviest?

  • Going forward
  • Out of the box
  • Pro-active
  • Pushing the envelope.

    Cool Comment: The attentive and defiantly unclichéd Sinbad sends this excellent link which, as conscientious spoon-feeding author of this blog, I convert for your instant gratificated plaisir.

    Kip: My younger daughter and I would relieve the boredom of the more 'improving' films I insisted on us viewing by watching out for instances of "Try to get some sleep." Trouble was that it was usually hauled out in moments of stress, invariably by the hunk hero to an exhausted stressed bellissima co-star over which the audience was on tear-stained tenterhooks, so our sudden guffaws and loud slapping ^5s did not go down well.

  • 27 November 2008

    Costly Conversion

    Years back in Decatur, I got a healthy swipe across the face by a gorgeous lesbian for grumbling about an equally comely sister, that what a pity she - both, in fact - batted for the other side.

    I still haven't learned; must be a guy thing.

    I'm reeling out the exact same waffle over Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher.

    £186,895.52 comp for

  • Sex discrimination
  • Victimisation
  • Sexual harassment.
  • 26 November 2008

    Posted by Picasa
    nigella lawson

    If you're going to wear breasts

    "If you're going to wear breasts, you have to do it with complete insouciance, like Scarlett Johansson.

    Otherwise everyone gets embarrassed.

    People really do love a bosom. It's one of life's inexpensive pleasures. Women probably spend even more time admiring them than men.

    'Breasts really are the new guns,' a girlfriend told me triumphantly.

    There is nothing more fascinating than a woman who owns her sex appeal."

    New guns. I must slip that in somewhere.


    One of my favourite literary awards.

  • Samples
  • Caught my eye:

    "After agonizing for, oh, about two-fifths of a second, I straddled him on the bed, pinning his arms beside him with all my body weight.

    'Remember what you said about chastity being curable if caught early enough?' "


    "'Perhaps you'd like to take off your shorts.'

    'Do I have to?'

    'I think you do.' "

    wasn't bad.

  • The Long List
  • Etsi M'aresei Na Zw


    24 November 2008

    Einstein dating my sister's gorilla in the kitchen sink

    Sayy funneh:

    Google ay-Phone beffled by the old British eccent.

    23 November 2008

    police van afire

    Tip-ping Point

    More fisticuffs between Lefkimi locals and the brutal riot rozzers over the proposed open refuse dump.

    During the demo that blocked the way of the bulldozers, the fuzz threatened to drive over the sit-in.

    The locals fought back, torching a police van and trapping two riot policemen whom they disarmed and stripped nekkid.

    18 November 2008

    Monty Python on Youtube


    Englischer Friedhof

    I have a bee in my bonnet that will land me in trouble. Look out for this page vanishing almost as soon as it's been posted.

    That foto is rather a good one, being of our new locum taking the Remembrance Day service with a German grave in the foreground.

    There are *many* Germans buried in this Protestant cemetery - nowhere else for them - and George Psaila tends them all and keeps the graves tidy.

    According to George, not once can he recall any sort of official visit by a representative of the German consular corps; nor, I gather, has anyone thanked or acknowledged his work.

    I am intrigued by this and am of half a mind to pursue the matter further.

    But herein lies a quandary: the German consulate is above a favourite restaurant overlooking the Liston. I pass it daily and could easily pop in and pop my question.

    My nerve fails me because the current consul, Mr K Gisdakis, is a personal pal of someone I fear to offend.

    So here I sit, cowardly lips buttoned for the nones.

    Grave Commission. Still in cautious mode, let me write in my favourite currency, hearsay. As I stood there, head bowed, I couldn't help rankling at the desecrations around me of some of the grave placings.

    I was there the day after it had been completed and walked with a George who could hardly stem the tears of rage.

    Look at the noble simplicity of that cross, insulted by the crass cookie-cut 'foundation' of the graves beyond. All hearsay, remember, chaps. Hearsay.

    According to GP, a delegation from the WG Commission arrived to inspect and shore up (or whatever they called it) certain graves. They were, apparently, unwilling to conduct their inspection on foot and made G open the gates for their vehicles to come thru. I saw the damage the vehicles had done, not just on the corner stonings but on the paths.

    Lucky for us all I don't have photographic evidence or the Corfucian Irregulars would be executing a midnight raid on a certain office and firing off emails to certain WGC prefects.

    I don't know: look at this rubbish. Talk about sore thumb out-stick. Does it look respectful to you? Any thought gone into it, think'st thou? Exactly.

    I have asked George to alert me when next these types turn up and I will be there with camera and camerades to observe and 'discuss' their concept of tasteful grave-scaping.

    17 November 2008

    Sea Legs

    If I raise my eyes from the TV coverage of the Vendée Globe single-handed yacht race, I can see the boats heading out of Gouvia Bay for more exciting waters.

    Actually, from the sailors I've met from the marina, they're more likely heading laden with Mythos beer for some calm cove, there to get sloshed before heading back with tales that the waves were this high, the spinnaker billowed thus, and the rest.

    When I was a pipsqueak Swallow & Amazonian in 1950s Hong Kong, most of my dad's government cadet cronies had chosen the hardship far east posting because of the sailing it offered and a bright young lad could usually get a crewing most weekends.

    If you were accomplished enough and parents allowed, you might even get invited on the Hong Kong-Manila race.

    Mon dieu, those must have been the days: certainly before only a lunatic would risk the pirates that later roamed those seas and money spoiled the amateur spirit.

    Speaking of money, the late 1960s saw me as greenhorn publicist for the noble house of Cassell & Co Ltd, publishers of Churchill and Monsarrat among others.

    Also of an abrasive and far from jolly jack tar called Robin Knox-Johnston whose story of his attempt on the solo round-the-world record we had agreed to publish.

    We needed backing, editor/RK-J sailing buddy Ken Parker had rounded up some moneyed suits, and off we went to Robin's Thameside houseboat to introduce everyone.

    Knowing Robin's inability to suffer fools, Ken and I were nervous as hell that he'd take contempt at some remark and lose the deal.

    There we were, sipping our tea and everything going well when Robin leaned back in his chair just as a river boat went past setting up a mild wash that nevertheless tipped him flat on his back.

    So, four pinstripes, two publishers, none of whom had even held on to the table, while there on the planks was the man we were entrusting with a large amount of money to sail single-handed thru considerably rockier waves.

    Robin picked himself up:

    "Whoops, that was a bit embarrassing," he said with a grin and we went on with business.

    We got the dosh, Robin went on to victory, and 'A World of my Own' was a major seller, recouping all our money and more.

    Good times.

    Out of Step

    I feel like the soldier whose mother calls out at a parade: "Look! My boy's the only one in step!"

    Why does no one else seem to share my three big beefs?

  • In 1966, track 7 on his Jack Orion album, Bert Jansch recorded a fine version of 'Black Water Side'.

    Years later - too many to plead concidence - one James Page, guitarist with a combo known as Led Zeppelin, blatantly copied Jansch on a track he thinly disguised as 'Black Mountain Slide' or perhaps it was 'Side'.

    And yet one still hears of him referred to in almost laudatory tones.

  • In 1963, a girl group known as The Chiffons recorded a superb song called 'He's so Fine'.

    Many many years later, a guitarist called George Harrison pretended to have composed a ditty called, 'My Sweet Lord', as obvious plagiarism as I have heard.

    Research also reveals that Harrison performed with a popular songster quartet known as The Beatles (further information here).

  • Today's news includes coverage of the arrival in a northern city of the disgraced footballer, Mr Diego Maradona. As I recall, there is overwhelming evidence of Mr Maradona having once used his hand to guide a soccer ball into the opposing net.

    Rules of the game penalise this sort of play, and yet even today one sees this Latin afforded the same publicity as some sort of athletic celebrity.

    Is the world topsy-turvy?

  • 16 November 2008

    Keyboard Warriors

    I put this up, I whisk it off.

    Local readers beg me to put it back up again.

    I find her eminently fanciable, despite the accent.

    The tune is infuriatingly catching.

    Miss Kaz: That seems to be the name of the abrasive chanteuse. I haven't dared look into it, but here be bio of our lass.

    diana's choc pud

    Author's Cut

    I have a magazine column.

    Not a very convincing one yet - too in-jokey, too in-crowdy, too slangy - but it'll get there if I hang on here long enough.

    For the latest issue I consulted widely and gritted my teeth as pals slashed and sliced until they declared it fun and feisty.

    Alas, I was over length so the final version was blue-pencilled further, the blued bits being the very sections that folks had giggled over and told their pals to expect.

    Here, then, to silence 'popular demand' is the auteur's cut, the excised passages in monotype.

    "I do believe I enjoy the close of a season more than its sunny start.

    Price lists plummet and aestivating pals surface to throw tattle-tale parties to catch up on gossip and add coup-de-grace shredding of tattered reputations.

    No more taciturn top-tipping tourists with their bumbling gait and bizarre belief in crossing the road on those faded stripey bits.

    Vicar Valete - No more valiant vicar ‘Doc’ Owen, off to Oostende and lacy Brugge with the ebullient Avis. Rara, indeed.

    I had counted on Clifford’s successor being an equally straight shooter but am depressingly informed that locums (locii?)are denied Double-Oh status from the off.

    With Avis no longer riding shotgun, it’ll be the Wild West out there with those whacky Wednesday lunches turning into Bun Fight at the Eucharist Corral and some I could name making Lambeth Conference look like a vicarage tea party.

    Oh, you know what I mean.

    Sombre Novembre – I’m lighting candles that someone’s Thomas goose doesn’t get Cooked.

    This is also the month scheduled for The State vs Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in re the deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning of babes Christi and Bobby Shepherd.

    Joining them in the dock on a negligence rap are two UK reps who are no doubt kicking themselves for not acquiring such obvious basic qualifications as X-ray vision and a M.I.T degree in gas-fired water heater maintenance.

    To more seasonal matters, I love Novembrios for being distant enough from Christmas to not yet loosen the purse strings, yet seasonal for Madam Editrice’s painstakingly researched gift suggestions: “Guten tag, Herr Tag, if you’d care to send us review copies of your latest high-end Heuer chronometers, we’ll think about including one or two as stocking-fillers.”

    Plus, all those witty features on such vital skills as ‘How to Fend off Unwanted Guests’.

    Dekembrios – and a whole new readership to dazzle and beguile.

    What new readership, you cry? Why, those ‘Guests from Hell’ you failed to fob off by ignoring our tips in the November section. Do pay attention.

    Worry not. I have a parlour game that never fails to bring a zip to the morning after.

    Buy two extra copies and label them ‘Guest Suite’ and ‘Family’.

    In the home side’s copy, annotate the heck out of the ‘Unwanted Guests’ article with quips like ‘Too funny – must use on the Bentley-Cooksons!’ or ‘If this doesn’t keep that bat of your mother at bay, nothing will.’

    Then, placing the ‘Family’ copy in your boudoir and taking immense care not to … by the anklet of Anargiros! Ochi! Tell me you didn’t confuse the two … Marcus you buffoon! Mother will never visit us again. No, it’s not funny. Wipe that smirk off your face.

    The atmosphere at breakfast next morning will make the buffeting winds outside feel like summer’s gentlest zephyrs.

    Kal’a Kris’tougena - The month for wishes and blessings, so aren’t you glad you read, marked and inwardly digested last edition’s stellar guide to ‘Wishing in Greek’.

    A late addition to win you friends: ‘Kali sy’nehia’ – ‘Good Continuation’, or ‘May the rest of your day go well.’

    Example 1: I withdraw money from my First Business Bank, ensuring with my superior British queuing skills that I am served by the lovely Konstantina. Our business done, she wishes me good day and I in turn bowl her over by hoping the rest of her day continues well. She is dutifully anchored at the receipt of custom so I am wishing her hassle-free handling of those duties until the end of her shift.

    Example 2: An interesting use, from one non-Greek to another. Me, in fact.

    In the last issue I slavered over the statuesque charms of a certain Gouvia serveuse, as a result of which her lithe Hungarian bod became the most ogled chassis on the strip, setting tills tintinnabulating as the punters crammed into Muses restaurant and the Netcafé for a squint.

    As reward, I was allowed to perch in a corner and gaze adoringly from afar, sometimes summoned to sit closer and pose as her sugar-dad boyfriend to discourage unsuitable suitors such as … well, like me.

    Even blissful Corfu summers end and soon we were sipping plastic coffee in the Departure lounge and swapping the usual lies about keeping in touch.

    She brushed my cheek: “So this time it’s me who go, and you stay in your nice home. How you say? Kali sy’nehia?”

    With that she turned on those ridiculously impractical heels and sashayed through Security, her pert rump going tick-tock above the denim swish of those endless legs.

    Akrivos, my dear. That is exactly how I say.

    #$@! So much for pleasantries. What I need now is a winter vocab of ‘Scaring and Swearing’. I keep a cheat-sheet in the car of Greek car registrations but it lacks a certain je-ne-sais-quoi in my petulant Oxford bray: “Advance, villain! It gettest not any greener, thou whey-faced poltroon from Preveza!” I think I’ll wait for the real deal from the Professor.

    Januario – Kronia Po’lla! A new year and a chance to dust down those tired old resolutions.

    Would you believe that I have never ever made a single vow of improvement? (Ghosts of Januaries past rise before me with saintèd ex-wife and stern daughters nodding vigorously.)

    Take Me to Your Nadir: Jan Morris is a fine writer and her visit was an honour to the island. All the more puzzling disappointment that for her assurance to Financial Times readers (Sept 13) that ‘Sweet Airs Still Abound’, she chose to visit the pits. She’d been told that ‘a lot of places in Corfu are very nasty, but the nastiest of all is Kavos … so I went there at once.’

    Why, for heaven’s sake? What a waste of pink. A place doesn’t sink to the status of nadir for nothing. It’s branded ‘nasty’ for being … well, nothing. And nothing begets nothing, QED her article.

    But full marks to the Kavos PR department: hot on the heels of Ms Morris’s wasted words, my favourite bi-monthly ran an hilariously brazen interview with our Police Commissioner.

    With no space to waste, the interviewer asked the usual – “Is Corfu a safe destination?” “Are the Tourist Police operating successfully?” – and then cut to the chase:

    Is the area of Kavos controlled by the Hellenic Police Department?

    I beg your pardon?

    By the handcuffs of St Gerasimos! If I were the editor, I’d ask my new best friend the Commissioner for extra protection … from the Mayor and constabulary of Kavos.

    Foodie Fanfare to my favourite purveyors of perfect Christmas hampers, including the best spuds in town and – gasp! - Eggs That Do Not Run in The Pan.

    Take a bow Kalliope and Fergal (‘Veggies ‘n’ Herbs to the Gentry’). Tel: 697 655 2345; Kellykerkyra@hotmail.com

    Hot tip, lads: On arrival, feign puzzlement over Fergal’s dulcet South Efrikan eccent. (“Sorry, mate, can’t make out a bally word you’re saying. Your bird not about?”) That way, he will have to release the beauteous Kalliope from her gilded cage and you will achieve what we in the trade call Synergy of Purchase and Pulchritude. (You don’t get that from Waitrose. You know that).

    advanced banterThat’s it from me.

    Here’s a quote from my favourite Christmas reading to myself:

    “Ever notice that ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision?”

    Marilyn Monroe, no less; not just a pretty face.

    Have yourselves a Merry little Christmas and a riotous New Year knees-up.

    And hey, tell that special person you love them."

    14 November 2008


    This blog is not in the business of being polite or flattering and I don't intend to start now.

    It's not even in the business of being read so I don't know why I bother with pompous explanations.

    I've just had fun reading the informative official blog of our efficient and attractive British Vice Consul, Mrs Sarah Ticherou.

    Being "official" and under the aegis of the FCO, ST has to watch her comments and commas - hence its slightly earnest tone - but that doesn't hinder her interesting picture of the training she underwent and her conscientious approach to the job.

    When next I find myself huddled with gossipy malcontents blathering on about imagined failings of our Foreign Office, I shall point them at Sarah's scribblings and do my usual shimmer orft in the direction of a stiff drink.

    Good little piece by Steve Hale on a subject I've often pondered about: why should a diplomat blog?

    To me, for anyone in the diplomatic corps to put finger to keyboard is running a huge risk of treading in the mire *somewhere* down the line. It's such a protocol-bound sensitive world that someone somewhere is usually offended by something one says.

    I imagined some brisk career diplomatic going, "OK, chaps, it's good for PR if we show we've half a calf in the 21st century, so i want you all to start blogging like mad and heaven help any of you who put a word wrong. Right - carry on and don't forget that the old man is watching."

    13 November 2008

    Hey, Reverend Tambourine Man

    I don't go to church here any more.

    I did for the first year, out of politeness for mama, but I'd had it up to here at those two schools that I knew I'd lose my temper, sitting there cramped with no distraction or entertainment, bobbing up and down for 75 minutes just to shove €10 in the collection bag.

    What I really dreaded is that ghastly 'Peace' when everyone rushes around slobbering over each other.

    Ruptured Supplication: Michael Henderson in his graceful and skewering Spectator review of Quentin Letts' must-buy Fifty People who Buggered up Britain:

    Letts reserves his sharpest barbs for two less-heralded cultural vandals, Graham Kendrick and the Very Rev Ronald Jasper.

    Kendrick, apparently, has composed more than 400 ghastly modern hymns:

    "There may be a time and place for happiness," Letts writes of Kendrick's tunes, "but church worship is a time for inner examination, not bullying, incessant gaiety ... yet here are the happy-clappies insisting that they bang a tambourine, just as they insist that the inner spell of adult supplication be ruptured in their communion services in order to shake hands or kiss neighbours at the 'sign of the peace."

    'This an angry book,' summarises Henderson. 'It is also beautifully written.'

    Other quotable quotes from Henderson's ace review:

  • Paul Burrell: a mincing rat
  • John Prescott: plain stupid
  • 'Sir' Jimmy Savile: the octogenarian show-off, run through for an obsession with being young that cheapens 'the currency of authentic, heady youth.'
  • Daily Mail article.
  • 07 November 2008


    Thank goodness I recently subscribed to one of those monitors that alert one to links of interest. I'd not have known otherwise that my own silly blog had been outed and would have tootled on oblivious.

    This *is* a silly blog and never meant to be read, particularly by anyone close to me.

    I'm taking a sabbatical as I rethink.

    I have no doubt that I'll hear more from the last people I want to stumble upon these bleatings.

    No comment. And if you happen upon a particular post that puzzles or offends ... none of it is true. Pure invention. Every word a fib, including 'and' and 'the'.

    06 November 2008

    Crotchety Vidal nails Dimbleby

    Splendid bit of spleen.

    Not surprised it's gone viral.

    Sample of Vidal: "I know the territory. I'm surprised you even asked me, because I know too much about the subject.

    You like to get people who don't know much about the subject."

    A palpable hit.

    Anjali Rao

    anjali rao

    Is there a fan club for Ms Rao? There should be.

    Note my genuine interest and respect: I post only the most demure pic of this comely damsel.

    Ms Rao is above cheap treatment.

    She is always good and never better than her recent interview ex-Clinton chief of staff, Thomas 'Mack' McLarty in which she asked all the right questions about the tricky transition of outgoing/incoming White House teams.

    Thank the Saint of Maidens she was not around the Hong Kong media scene many moons back! A certain Dorian Gray newscaster stalked the land and all sweet things succumbed to his charms. Ms Rao would certainly have been gobbled up and never heard of again.

    Actually, if Ted's still going, I have no doubt he steered his zimmer in La Rao's direction - and been most charmingly rebuffed with a delightful giggle.

    Paws off, Taffy - she's ours.

    I shall post more on this talented lady - and it will be serious stuff, nothing to satisfy those prurient googlers out there, searching for sexy pics.

    Fie on you naff busybodies!

    The kid stays in the movie

    I was actually snapping the Lady in Brown (who would have set me 100 lines of Phylarchos had she caught me) but look at the cool kid behind her.

    What's the brat doing?

  • Hawking and spitting like a true Cantonais?
  • Excavating his nasal cavity?
  • Jettisoning his gum?

    By Polydoros! I wish I'd spotted him at the time and clicked a few more off.

    He seemed completely on his own, just chilling on the Garitsa waterfront.

  • Down, boy!

    Thank Kroisos no one needs tell the Greeks how to mollycoddle their animals.

    The Animal Welfare Act holds no terrors for us.

    But y'all over in Blighty clearly need Guidelines:

  • Dog not to be disturbed when eating as this can cause 'food-related aggression'.

    Damn'd right: I can't stand tripping over the hound when it's scoffing. Give both it and the bowl a sound kick; that quickly clears my way.

  • Dogs should not be fed at the table as this can lead to begging.

    (What? As in "Darling, I beg you not to feed Cerberus au table . It only blunts his appetite for Cuisse d'Albanicus ." Right ho, mater!)

  • Groom dogs with long hair at least once a day and all dogs should have teeth cleaned with dog chews or canine toothpaste as part of routine care.
  • Training dogs should be done through "positive reinforcement" rather than punishment that can lead to behavioural problems in the future.
  • Dont walk the hound during the heat of the day or feed it less than an hour before vigorous exercise.

    Blimey, that's impractical. How do know if, 5 mins after feeding the hounds their usual meat and bone, some light-fingered johnny hoxha isn't going to clamber over the fence and need seeing orf?

  • Aforesaid Animal Welfare Act of 2006 carries a max jail sentence of six months or fine of up to £20,000.
  • 'Curious' animals such as cats should be kept away from windows or tumble dryers.

    (Spoil sport: our moggy LOVES being chucked in the tumble drier. We invite the neighbours round for a good laff)

  • Signs of stress: barking excessively, urinating indoors, yawning when not tired (sounds more like me than faithful Argos)
  • Cats are not vegetarians, adults do not need bowls of milk - but they do need somewhere to hide and to scratch claws. (Ack ptui! They've got it all mixed up. Again, that's *me* that needs all that.)
  • And what would we do sans  the ubiquitous spokesman?:

    ”A new washing machine or pot plant comes with instructions, currently most pets do not. We think the new codes of practice will improve animal welfare and prevent animal suffering through education.”

    You can't invent this stuff.


    A word to the wise. Two, in fact: coat hanger.

    Or at least always carry some sort of long flexible wiry tool that can retrieve objects from awkward nooks and resting places.

    I was in town in a hurry and I went round to get something out of the boot/trunk, tripped and watched the keys describe a perfect arc into the tines of the grate. Didn't even clip the sides.

    Most grates have been there 100 years sans being disturbed and I could not budge it. However, like the dude in 'Strangers on a Train' whose lighter went into the drain, I could see my keys ...

    Then I remembered I had dry cleaning in the back seat *and* I had not yet locked the car itself - can you imagine if i'd been walking *away*, having locked everything??

    Out with the coat hanger, deft refashioning with the hook at the end, and voilà, hooked my keys out. Phew.

    So, heed my plight and add some wiry gizmo to the toolkit in the back of the Rolls.

    Speaking of which, and it's worth repeating, I read somewhere that the early handbook manuals for the Rolls- Royce - changing tyre, checking oil and pressure and so forth - started each section with:

    "Instruct your driver to ... "

    05 November 2008

    review of ioanna in athensplus

    Greek Gestures

    A must-read and possibly the answer to many Xmas gift posers: the talented Ioanna Antoniou-Kritikou has come out with a lexicon of gestures and expressions.

    Says it's in Greek but Vivienne Nilan's review in Athensplus (scroll, scroll down to page 14) talks of a handy glossary that "matches the meanings conveyed by the gestures to their equivalents in English, Albanian, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Russian."

    That sounds fun and rather useful for next summer when we'll be once more teeming with outlandish nationalities with whom I will take great satisfaction in communicating in their mutha gestures.

    "Epikoinono sta Ellinika: Ennoiologiko lexico heironomion kai ekfraseon" comes from Ellinika Grammata publishers and does indeed sound to fit Ms Nilan's description of the book I wish I'd seen before I arrived.

    Posted by Picasa

    Gervais' 10 stoopid things Americans say

    With the election still going on, you can tell it's a dull night if this is the only post i can think of.

    i've actually gone off gervais since i first saw The Office, but then i didnt hear him prattle 'til recently *and* i sense that success has gone to his head.

    i won't bother to list the 10 here but i lived for a while in the States and no one ever asked me anything close to what he enumerated on Letterman. In fact, they sound like a very dated list of what americans would like to think other americans come up with.

    That whole language accent thing is over. OK, so all accents sound the same over there - toff, cockney, brum, Oz, french, s'th efrikan et al  - but so do a lot of regional american accents to me, save for the exaggerated southern and Bawston of course where i lived for a while and mingled with wonderful Hahvud types as well as those distinguised brahmins.

    This was back in '80s, the tail end of the british accent's rule.

    I recall arriving at a party of distinguished types, fluting away in my Fauntleregal tones and some Mike Caine double, complete with dirty rotten scoundrels blazer, slithering over and asking in a hostile hiss what my game was, fearing a rival.

    I was relieved to tell him that i had no game, being there as mere husband of my Little, Brown editorial wizard of a wife.

    He was suspicious and right to be. Later that evening I was introduced to some society matron who took me to one side and asked me to do a Henry Higgins/Zoltan Carpathy number on the chap. Apparently he was into advising on stocks etc (mega commission, natch) and given to poncing around with a CV that included Eton, MCC and some Cambridge college.

    Well, I was able to tell her straight away that his vowels were pure Edward Heath (the original estuarian) which made me doubt the Eton bit.

    I gave her a tip: to ask ever so sweetly and in wide-eyed admiration in which house he'd been at Henry VI's charity crammer.

    The houses have names like Waynflete, Villiers, Mustians, Jourdelay's, Baldwin's Bec, The Timbralls and so forth but  - as I knew from dating a housemaster's daughter - are referred to by the name or initials of your housemaster. Neat, huh? And a good way of also signaling your years there.

    "If he tells you Macindoe or JST, he's probably bona fide , alas."

    Well, they didn't have wikipedia in those days and the bounder prolly didnt expect such a detailed query because he apparently came up with,

    "Oh ... I was in Fleur de Lys, damn'd good house ... also made Pop - d'ye know about Pop?" (At which point, she didn't need to.)

    Anyway, he seemed to do ok with the whole Brit accent thing and I saw him about at all the parties and clubs, oozing and schmoozing and seeming to do all right. I asked him a cricket question once - something about the Bedser twins - that he got absolutely right after which he would latch onto me and talk Wisden all evening which boosted his rep no end.

    I was in fact acquiring a taste for basket ball: the Boston Celtics (seltics not keltics, please) were in the ascendant and watching Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale in action was - now i think back - like that classic photo of New York jazz alley listing Bird, Monk, Miles and god knows who else in concert in separate joints.

    We got best seats thanks to Steph working with a sweet girl whose married boyfriend had contacts. He was also a cop, mildest mannered cove you could hope to meet and a true friend. One game he stood up to remove his jacket and some oik yelled at him to stop blocking his view. John turned to apologise, at that moment revealing the pistol at his belt. A silence fell.

    A few weeks later I was dining with an old Secker author, the great George V Higgins and ex assistant DA and I asked him, did I imagine it? Would he have been carrying his gun at the game? It seems such a good story ... was it wishful imaginings on my part?

    "Yes, he'd've been packing," said George, and gave me the detail which I forget because I so loved the word 'packing'.

    I later sent him an LP of the Secret Policeman's Ball because I loved the sketch of an Englishman going out to LA and being invited to a party: "Everyone bring pieces," was the advice, at which the Limey wondered, "Pizzas??".

    Good times.

    04 November 2008

    Taverna Kithara

    First night of the winter season.

    What need text?

    Speaks for itself.

    02 November 2008


    Elitist and discriminatory

    Ya know what? I'm not really interested in greasing the axle of the tumbril for idiots such as the Wuss Wosses and Brandons who in fact inhabit a world that toucheth not mine.

    I reach for my musket far more readily for noble commanders who resign over needless deaths of their trusting charges or, as here, idiot ignoramus decisions to ban Latin as elitist.

    What utter bilge.

    "This includes bona fide, eg (exempli gratia), prima facie, ad lib or ad libitum, etc or et cetera, ie or id est, inter alia, NB or nota bene, per, per se, pro rata, quid pro quo, vis-a-vis, vice versa and even via.

    Its list of more verbose alternatives, includes "for this special purpose", in place of ad hoc and "existing condition" or "state of things", instead of status quo.

    In instructions to staff, the council said: "Not everyone knows Latin. Many readers do not have English as their first language so using Latin can be particularly difficult."

    Of other local authorities to prohibit the use of Latin, Salisbury Council has asked staff to avoid the phrases ad hoc, ergo and QED (quod erat demonstrandum), while Fife Council has also banned ad hoc as well as ex officio.

    Professor Mary Beard, a professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge said: "This is absolute bonkers and the linguistic equivalent of ethnic cleansing. English is and always has been a language full of foreign words. It has never been an ethnically pure language."

    I'm too angry to say more.

    Thank God I'm not in England now: I'd be striding into these places and spouting as many elitist phrases as I could come up with.

    Next you'll hear is that m'lud is chided for using latin.