The 1914/18 war was always in monochrome; and film footage always depicted armies marching in double time, gesticulating like robots. But all that has changed, thanks to the modern technology Peter Jackson has deployed to shocking effect. I cannot imagine the reality of blood and guts in the trenches when the whole picture is revealed. Lest we forget? After this we never will.
It was picture-postcard romantic to live deep in the beechwoods in a thatched cottage built for the game-keeper in the mid 1800s, wood-smoke curling up from two tall chimneys every morning as the mist cleared in the Spring sunshine.
But these days our little friends Elf and Softy are daring to point out that even the newest, tightest, most efficient woodstoves pump invisible particles into the rooms they heat. And this time they are absolutely right! Much to the chagrin of the green wellie brigade and other country dwellers with a preference for traditional heating.
I acquired ‘solid’ evidence during the Viking years. First, a dripping nose which coincided exactly with winter sojourns at home; second, the state of the fly screens which we needed in the woods and which were yellow with smoke-dust after a few months’ use (there was no dust outside in the woods!).
So before you chuck another log on, you might want to think again.
I can’t help thinking I’m an egalitarian. The word seems to connote more or less what I stand for, morally speaking. It cements the aims of all those who want to lift our species out of the life old Hobbes described as natural: ”solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. But ever since the Americans crystallised the principle – ‘all men are created equal’ – plenty of gainsayers have ensured that some are more equal than others. They have used pseudo-science, pseudo-religion and pseudo-economics to justify their belief in the subjugation and humiliation of other races and creeds. Not to mention politics where we witness so-called social democrats identifying members of their clubs who have unsuitable views about equality.
Of course the best strategy for my opponents is to deny the principle – which in their book gives them licence to deny their hypocrisy, their dressed-up inhumanity, their sense of innate superiority. Their tribes just play their cards more skilfully, they’ll say; and devil take the hindmost. But I can’t hope St Peter will deal with them in the end; so many of his adherents agree with their flawed conclusions. I just want them to know they can’t fool everyone with their arguments.
That’s what the commentators are doing, meddling with our ineffably wonderful language.
How? Potential winners at the European Championships are allegedly likely to medal! Synonym? To podium.
That’s after they have battled their opponents.
There seems to be a nature/nurture issue here: Scotland and Denmark have similar populations, as do Uruguay and Wales. But only two of them are among the WC last sixteen in Russia.
Answers please on a Fray Bentos pie or a side of Danish bacon addressed to me. Thank you.
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’.
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.