Oxbridge (wherever that may be) is accused of many sins: elitism, positive discrimination and prejudice of every shade to name but a few. And now a distinguished alumnus has voiced his view that Oxford is still getting it all wrong, admissionswise, ‘staggeringly’.
Your mates, the House of Windsor, have shown the world that the game is up. The centuries of polite condescension practised at arm’s length from popular culture came to an abrupt end amid uncomfortable glances and nervous grimaces. The gates were flung wide. No Trojan horse was required. Come on in, no contest. Canterbury had no reply to Chicago. Gospel trumped the choir boys. Oscars outnumbered Garters. Not an MP or General or billionaire in sight. Just our daily tweeters: George, Idris, David and Victoria. If Diana was the people’s princess, Harry is the champion of the chavs. Bring on the clowns? They are already here.
Five years ago in the Scandinavian backwoods, I planted the stock of a vine in a pergola and enjoyed watching it grow strongly, up and over the framework each summer; duly flowering and offering up a few bunches of green grapes every year.
Just before the Beast from the East passed through, I pruned it back and transplanted it into a biggish pot for its move to Blighty, hoping it could survive its man-handling. And here it is! Three weeks into its life here, it is just starting to come into leaf (almost a month later than ‘normal’), encouraged by a spell of weather better suited to its Mediterranean origins.
As you can see, I have planted a few strawberry plants for company, and it has a commanding view of my neighbour’s manicured English garden. And a little Greek pot provides nostalgic comfort for greyer days.
Later this year, I’ll post another picture – which I hope will show how it has thrived in sunny Sussex.
Getting organised back here in Blighty has been hampered by the wholly admirable tendency of authorities to doubt my claims to be me. They have had plenty of practice dealing with incomers of all shades and I applaud their even-handedness. Of course it would have been easier if I had kept a record of all my British identifiers – like my NHS number and the first name of my doctor almost 20 years ago – but I didn’t.
Back in the land of the Vikings, the bureaucratic logic is easier to follow. Every resident is given a ‘health card’ displaying a number. (No difference there then, unless the GB resident doesn’t register with a doctor.) This number is then used for all official registrations and services: tax, utilities, banks, insurance, local gubmint. There are supporting security systems too to avoid identity theft.
I never felt my official ID threatened my independence or limited my freedom as a citizen but it avoided the circuitous routes one has to follow here to be recognised. Generally speaking it’s in my own interest to sign up for things without complications.
But the two societies are different! Over there it is uncommon to see a post box without the occupant’s name. How very un-British that is!
One of the things that will remain with me when I leave Vikingland for pastures old and loved is the memory of compulsory outdoor lunches and preprandial drinks sessions dictated by the first marginally optimistic weather forecasts of Spring. ”16 grad. Dejligt. Det er så hyggeligt!”’ They’ll happen throughout the country next week – after I leave. Perhaps, in some cases, because I have left! The participants will be pale, cold and prevented by tradition from escaping inside to a warm fire.
Ever since the world’s media started to report hygge a few years ago, the natives here have allowed their inbred hygge to acquire disproportionate importance in their lives. And now they want UNESCO to recognise it as an ‘intangible’ treasure alongside the Mediterranean Diet and Turkish Coffee.
Back home I shall retaliate post haste with Afternoon Tea and the Village Cricket Match experience. Now that’s what I call hygge.
The Danes have a reputation for putting up iconic buildings. But around the coasts there are countless ugly silios in grey, decaying concrete. Just 15 miles from here they have just tried to get rid of one with unexpected and costly results.
The Corona float delivered pop door-to-door. We paid a deposit on the bottles and were reimbursed when we returned them to the pop-man a week later. Then shops and plastics and cans took over the pop trade, deposits were forgotten and the rest, as they say, is detritus. Continue reading “When I were a lad……”
He has a strange name. He should be a diarist* with a name like that. He is? Oh, sorry, Q. Anyway, he rang a few of my bells with his thoughts in today’s DM.
I’d add a common pleonasm people employ,as follows: ‘They both attended the same school.’ Just one will do, dear.
I bet my reader seethes over a few common malapropisms too.
* Didn’t you have a Letts diary as a youngster?
Don and Kim’s unprecedented head-to-belly calls for some creative thought. Geneva won’t do – because the boy went to school nearby. Singapore is too, well, Asian. So for me, that leaves Cuba, which has all the requisites for a world title fight. History, communism, cigars, Gitmo (the honey-pot destination for serial-killers) – and proximity to Florida for the inevitable round of golf. Don claims to play off nine; no doubt matched by Kim’s as-yet-unpublished handicap. Cuba will also enable Don to show off his perhaps limited Spanish vocabulary, upstaging the (allegedly) polyglot Korean. Covfefe, por favor, barista. And Ladies and Gentlemen, your Master of Ceremonies for this headline bout is none other than the darling of the media, winner of the Nobel Prize and everybody’s best friend, Barack Obama! Enjoy!