29 March 2010


Brazil's first capital, Salvador da Bahia, was founded in 1549.  The United Kingdom annexed the Punjab in 1849.  Queen Victoria opened the Royal Albert Hall in 1871 and the Republic of Ireland was the first country in the world to ban smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, in 2004.

Born today:  Thomas Coram (1668-1751), Pearl Bailey (1918-1990), Astrud Gilberto (1940), Eric Idle (1943), Christopher Lambert (1957), Elle Macpherson (1963) and Lucy Lawless (1968).

It is the Day of the Young Combatant in Chile.


  1. Some great birthdays. There is a Simpsons episode in which Lucy Lawless is held prisoner by Comic Book Guy that ends with Lucy flying away with Bart and Lisa - Bart says 'I thought Xena couldn't fly? and Lucy replies (something like) 'Yes but Lucy Lawless can.'

    And happy birthday to Thomas Coram, one of the individuals who, as Kingsley Amis said, makes you believe there might be something to be said for humanity after all.

  2. Good morning Untrusties.

    Bleary eyed. The move to BST drives me up the wall for about a week, usually. Such a dismal day here today, and I just heard on the news that there is snow in parts of Scotland and possibly the high Pennines. Blimey!

    I remember one year - must have been 1970 or 71 bearing in mind I was only a nipper - when it snowed at Easter. I was living in Cheshire at the time, and it was a good few inches thick too.

  3. Morning all,

    We were in Brussels for the weekend. Couple of hours on the train, job's a good 'un.

    Now as Brussels is officially a 'bilingual city' I ignorantly thought it would be ok to natter in Dutch.

    The first restaurant we went to, I asked for our order in Dutch and, not to put too fine a point on it, the waitress gave me a look like she wanted to rip my head off and shit down my neck.

    Later on, I tried in a bar and the barman looked at me like he wanted to rip my head off, shit down my neck, urinate on the corpse and then bury the discarded body with quicklime.

    I hadn't realised quite how tense it is between the different speakers. Good weekend though.

  4. Your Grace,

    You're not actually Dutch-speaking Belgian are you? I find that when in Quebec if you try your best with French and make a hash of it as soon as it becomes clear you're not English-speaking Canadian they'll speak to you in English.........

  5. Good morning my fellow internauts.

    I am glad you had a good weekened yer Dukeness. I wonder why Brussels has been made 'officially a "bilingual city"' if there is such opposition to the use of Dutch? Who made this decision?

    Other birthdays today include Lord (Norman) Tebbit, Sir John Major, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Jennifer Capriati, Sheila Kitzinger, and Dame Fiona Reynolds (Director General of the National Trust).

  6. Lavartis,

    just did a quick check online and saw this.

    Dutch is very much in the minority in Brussels despite being in Flanders. Serves me right for not doing my research before going.

  7. Completely in agreement on Coram, Edwin - and his organisation is still doing great work.

  8. Dotterel,

    You're not actually Dutch-speaking Belgian are you?

    Hi Dot, no I'm an English speaking Glaswegian, although strangely this has had no effect (so far) on my ability to be understood in Dutch.

  9. must, avoid, joke, about, understanding, Glaswegian, accent!

  10. Don't worry Dot, I've heard the lot, every joke going ;)

  11. Hence the need to avoid the joke: too clichéd!

    I am reminded of the time my French friend called the Canadian Embassy, got a Francophone but ended up speaking in English due to the accent barrier though!

  12. You sure your not being followed Duke we now have four Dutch visitors on line with you. Perhaps your accent has alarmed the population and they are planning your ejection....... Good to see you here untrustee.

    Lavartis - Good on you. Always a pleasure to read a graceful retreat from a clumsy/over enthusiastic sentence.

  13. BB I too can remember snow at Easter. I recall one very drunken Easter in the late 1960's when I awoke in a field at Robin Hoods Bay covered in the damn stuff.

    Considering it a sign of fortune, from a benevolent God, that I had not died of exposure I immediately went to the pub and offered praise and swore I would never again camp (in a sleeping bag) at Easter.

    Thus was started a consumerists life, I moved to camping in tents and then in mid life to caravans.

    Funny what snow at Easter can do - I never again camped in a sleeping bag so for me it was life changing. It didn't cure me of a passion for Easter as the first serious party of the year though....

  14. Canadian French is so difficult to deceipher for most French people that they even put subtitles - in French - on some French Canadian films when they are shown on the TV over there.

    I found it really difficult when I first went to Montreal to understand a word anyone was saying to me and would often end up reverting to English, despite being bilingual. It is not just the pronunciation, it is the syntax and quite a bit of the vocab that is entirely different.

    I suppose it would be like taking someone from the UK who has never had any exposure to US tv programmes and such like and plonking them down in the Everglades to get on with it...

  15. Deano

    I love Easter too because it is round about my birthday time, and daffodils are the one sight that will pull me out of my winter depression. I love them.

    I have noticed this year, though, that Easter is being commercialised by supermarkets in a way I hadn't noticed before. There seems to be as much emphasis on booze advertising as there is at Christmas, with ads for Baileys at 9 in the morning on some channels.

    As for camping - done it once, on the Ile d'Aix in the pouring rain (that might well have been an Easter weekend if my memory serves.) Never again.

  16. BB I've been told it's like trying to understand really thick Texan!

  17. G'day all.
    Understanding French in Louisiana is pretty tough. Mind you, English as spoken in New Orleans is fairly difficult, too. So lyrical and rhythmic, it doesn't really matter what's being said to you, it just sounds good.

    Anyway, sometimes it snows in April.

  18. Happy birthday some time around now, BB!

  19. Happy birthday some time around now, BB! Seconded.

  20. Shit it's mine soon too - glad I bought myself a new camera now.

    (But it was traumatic thauma....pissing about on websites etc... reading reviews ...and finally taking pot luck. It's amazing the variation in price which a capitalist system throws up. Common to find +/- 50% - seems you should be pleased to have the option of being robbbed in the name of choice)

  21. Deano, shopping online is just as bad if not worse than physical shopping. Not for the faint-hearted. Happy birthday soon to you too.

    MsChin (from yesterday): I have considered infiltrating mumsnet but decided I couldn't be arsed. Some day when I'm feeling particularly disgruntled I may do so.

  22. Good Afternoon Everyone

    Lavartis-thanks for your post yesterday.No
    hard feelings!

    Still in pre-mod on Cif.Trying to resolve things
    with mods but thus far no response from them.Why
    is this making me feel 45 going on 10 FFS?

    Anyway got work to do so have a good day all.
    And BB Happy Birthday for whenever it is.

  23. Ugh! am surrounded by a chaos of boxes, bags and rubbish and although Oxfam and various others have relieved me of a mass of stuff I still have too much!

    What acquisitive creatures we are. Will someone please tell me why I can't bear to part with ancient and battered copies of Mary Renaults romantic Greek sagas? I am truly pathetic!

    Oh, and happy birthday BB...

  24. It's to do with the word romantic Sheff

    Good luck - the day of moving she draws nearer, now there's trauma for the unsuspecting. Be sure and start the day with a stiff brandy or somesuch.

  25. Sheff - I think we are like birds lining their nests with nice things. Maybe on some level it makes us feel safe? I know for example if I am feeling stressed I can go and sort through my books or photos or something and it really does calm me down.

    I also like jewellry - my husband calls me a magpie - so a half hour with the silver bits and bobs I have gathered or been bought over the years and the silver cleaner, works too.

    It sometimes makes me despair that I am so attached to these 'things' but then they nearly all have emotional value. I am sure it is the same with your books. If you cant bear to part with them then definitely dont!

    Happy birthday BB.

    Popping out again now to go and dry my mums hair. Have found out it is a shoulder separation injury - apparently very common with rugby players. And she somehow managed to do it just rolling out of bed!

    I will endevour to catch up later.

  26. Oh my day is not going as well as I smugly thought it - I see from Paul that it is afternoon already.

    Resolve dear Sheff, resolve, that is all it takes. I had you down as a lass who ate the bony bits of the tinned salmon, which was a fine preparation for the trauma ahead.

  27. PCC Does stepdad know of the company your mum is keeping in her bed?

    Rugby players indeed. I would have liked to have heard her explaining that away at the hospital/Dr's Surgery....

    OK - break over, away to do something suitably idle with a wet/murky day.

  28. the trauma ahead.

    Thanks a bunch deano - and yes, I do eat the bony bits of salmon but only if its very recently been plucked out of the water, preferably a wild Scottish river and then been cooked over a smokey fire. Poached in other words.

  29. Hehehe- thanks but it isn't til the 18th April. St Perfect's day in the French Catholic calendar, bien sur :p

  30. No reason not to start celebrating now.

    Rugby players - phwoar.

  31. Hope your mum feels better soon, PCC. x

    And what Thaum said about rugby players...

  32. Sheff You'll be fine young miss a new and exciting chapter awaits you.

    I settled on an Olympus E620 with additional lens. Three reasons:

    i) the inbody/onboard image stabiliser - the way my hands/body shakes during recovery from a long session would mean no photography for several months a year else;

    ii) the dust problem (in the works) which you can get in digital SLR's would be a fegging nuisance for me. Living in a field/van with dogs can at times be very dusty...

    iii) I have a number of old Olympus lenses that can be (albeit imperfectly adapted for manual use) added to the kit.

    I know I said three reasons but a fourth would be that I should like to take pictures which would please the Gods.... Always prudent to say thank you....

    I was sorely tempted by your wonderful Leica - truth is I'm thinking of saving for one too - but I thought it unfair on BB

    ...."Me lord I'm here today to defend me client Mr deano who has been found in possession of a hoard of secretly taken photographs of countless thousands of unidentifiable ladies, ankles

    .........on the second charge of possession of secret photographs of lady librarian's ankles.."

    That wonderful Leica ...if only I owned one.

    Get thee behind me.

    No matter who wins the election our world will be more repressive and I'm sure a Leica and I together could lead to problems.

    And BB is far too nice to be taken for granted, and to expect her to research the life of artists like Michelangelo for a defence of piss artist is call too far.

  33. and on the third charge ......checkout girls wrists.. That is easily defended. He was me Lord researching for his intended film of the life and times of Frederick Furnivall...........

    I told you it was a wet/murky day here.

  34. I'd do it for you, Deano. Although why someone wants pics of ankles is beyond me...

  35. For the same reason that the most exotic story in the world is that of the old blind man who hires an unseen fine woman to read pornography out loud to him.

    His mind is not fevered, just joyfully engaged...

    Thank you my lovely I would not wish to be defended by anyone else.

  36. BB - ankles as fetish objects. In fact there's probably no part of the human body and the things you can adorn it with that hasn't been fetishised by someone at some point or another.

  37. A pigeon has just shat on the window.Didn,t
    those of a superstitious nature once believe
    that was a sign of good luck?

    Perhaps a lottery win is in the offing!

    The excitement is killing me!

  38. Paul

    It's only a sign of good luck if the window was closed...

  39. habib
    "Understanding French in Louisiana is pretty tough"
    Show-off. Understand French in France remains difficult for me...

  40. recall Maureen Lipman saying that her mother was insistent that being shat on by a bird was lucky, and that this was a Jewish tradition (I think Ms Lipman concluded that it was more likely to be a lived-in-Hull-near-the-docks tradition)...

    So unless you got splattered, you're out off luck. Judaically speaking.

  41. I don't have fetish about them. With so many wonderful bits and pieces about ladies to have a fetish about a mere one of them would seem crass and tasteless.

    I think it something to do with the silliness of the Victorians getting giddy about the sight of an ankle. I'm fond of a little silliness truth be known.

    And of course it always reminds me of my favourite childhood game........"Lets play doctors and nurses......I'll be... and you just lay down here...."

    The fegging daftness of that airport body scanner disciplinary thing the other day - I wanted to say to the silly lass and chuckle at her " .....oh dear lady if only you knew what was going on my mind ............I don't need a scanning machine...."

  42. Lot of seagulls by the old Hull (fishing) docks a particularly unsavoury type of bird crap to encounter on window, shoe or head

  43. sheff, not pathetic at all! You should hang on to the Mary Renault books. A very interesting and entertaining writer - she was a 'political' lesbian before Bindel and Campbell were even born. Ironically, she moved to South Africa with her partner in the 1940's to escape the 'prejudice' of the UK. Why has Bidisha never mentioned her in all her literary musings about female authors and the patriarchy? Perhaps she's never even heard of her?

  44. Silly bloody woman - I loved my mother but she really was nuts.

    I had always been told by me mam that I was born on Good Friday. I can never easily remember whether my birthday was the 30th or 31st of March. I know it's at the endish of the month of March. I usually just wait and the kids or some family member tell me on the day.

    To resolve the question I just googled Good Friday 1947........ to find it was April 4th!

    March 30 1947 was Palm Sunday which is I guess as near as I will get to the truth. It probably explains why me mam was careless about my name, I've mentioned before she mostly called me by my older brother/dads name Jack.

    Of course it could also explain a lifelong confusion about exactly where the weekend should start and end and thus my preference for the long weekend over any other reward in life.

    You learn something new every day on UT.

  45. LOL deano

    My dad has "two" birthdays - the day he was actually born, on the 22nd March, and the day his dad put on the birth certificate by mistake, which was the 20th.

    Still. In some countries - Vietnam is one, I think - they only bother about the year you were born, so they all give their birthdates as 1st January of whatever year it was...

  46. Hi Scherfig good to see you still around. Always assume the Danish flag is you.

    "...>she moved to South Africa with her partner in the 1940's to escape the 'prejudice' of the UK..."

    The irony rather leapt off the page.

  47. OK, i'll bite. Could i be an honourary Yorkie by say "Where there's muck, there's brass"? His Grice may confirm that Dutch slang has geluk meaning (dog)sh*t. The proper meaning of geluk is either good luck or happiness.

    Once upon a long long time ago my mother was off sick, but virtually recovered and awaiting the firm's doctor. I was a small boy then and had arrived having stepped into some geluk and spread it inadvertently all over our stoop. My poor mum immediately decided to wash it all off the stoop and did so with great effort. Shortly after the doctor arrived and gave my mum another two weeks off due to her increased vital signs after the effort. Geluk indeed.

  48. Still. In some countries - Vietnam is one, I think - they only bother about the year you were born, so they all give their birthdates as 1st January of whatever year it was...

    We do the same here, but with racehorses.

  49. Am still incarcerated in the CIF 'shame hole'.

    Was 'released' briefly and managed to get a
    quick post to Hermione who has been terrorised
    by a rodent .But the pre-mod status has now
    been re-instated so dunno WTF is going on.

    Really do need to get a grip as this is
    beginning to bug me,i,ve a whole stack of
    work to do and there really are more
    important things in life.

    I fear i,ve become addicted to Cif and
    have no idea what form of rehab is available
    to get me weaned.

    Perhaps i should take up meditation before
    i lose everything!!!

  50. There was certainly brass made from piss in Yorks

    "....One of the oldest historic sites for the production of alum from shale and human urine are the Peak alum works in Ravenscar, North Yorkshire...."

    They used to barrel up London piss and send it up the coast where we made a shilling or two from it in processing alum for the dye industries.

    Ravenscar as it happens is just along the coast within sight of the field in Robin Hoods Bay that I found myself and under snow in the late 1960's....(as reported at 11.02 this morning)

    A full circle in such a short time means that I must be boring the tits off Montana's guests and visitors. - a sure sign that I should go away and take a cold shower and lay down in a dark room.

    Regards all see you later.

  51. Do people get addicted to UT as well?

  52. Nahhhhhh.

    Have you read Brooker's thread, Paul?

  53. thauma: cant find today's Charlie Brooker.

  54. thauma: Thanks, i read that one. so no Brooker today, terrible withdrawal symptoms.

  55. scherf

    Am glad you like Mary Renault too. I ate her books up as they came out in my youth. She managed to evoke a wonderful sense of the ancient cultures and her prose is clean and unfussy. I think I've read all her books now and when I'm feeling down, re-read them.

    Have you read The Charioteer - about being gay during WW2 and also about conscientious objecting too. I think it was the first book I ever read that was about gay sexuality?

    Apparently the first in her Alexander trilogy (Fire From Heaven) is on the Booker 'lost great books' competition list. So get over and vote for it.

  56. Sheff,

    Get over where?

  57. scherf

    re the rad fems and Mary Renault. I don't think they thought she was serious enough, and her protagonists were generally rather dishy blokes too. Especially Alexander, with whom I think she was in love - but then so was I. She wrote about gay sexuality in a very engaging way with The Charioteer and The Last of the Wine which was set in classical Athens and a fantastic evocation of life there. She was a great classical scholar.

  58. Dot - to the Mann Booker website.

  59. Mary Renault was great and was also the first writer of rank to praise Patrick O'Brian - who is also on that Booker list as well as Reginald Hill whom I'm backing!

  60. Well on the long list they were! MR gets my vote

  61. Good evening, Untrusties.

    What is the weather like where you are? It is bucketing it down with rain where I am.

    Last night I had to take a return train journey at 9.40 pm. The ticket-office was closed so I had to use the machine. My tickets cost £5.40, I put in a tenner and got the tickets BUT NO CHANGE. I am annoyed.

  62. sheff, I really like Mary Renault as a writer. She wasn't a trained classical scholar at all, btw, she studied English and then trained and worked as a nurse. Some classical purists dislike her intensely (snobbery probably). There's lots of interesting essays and studies around on how her sexuality informed her literary works - only male heroes, women as inconsequential or monsters, her portrayal of homosexuality in classical times rather than modern times for safety/acceptance reasons (The Charioteer excepted) etc etc.
    If you're interested in her, here's a few links:

    Masquing the phallus
    BBC film 2006

  63. Raining here too Lavartis. Been dingy and grey all day. Those machines are a bugger...it happened to me on the tube in London once. Extremely annoying - the tickets are expensive enough already.

  64. scherf

    Thanks for the links. I always hoped she'd write about Sappho but she never did.

    The purists can go f**** themselves. It was Renault who got me interested in classical philosophy, which I eventually went on to do at University (in my 40's) together with archaeology. I owe her a lot, apart from the pleasure of reading her books. I read the Theseus books to my own children - they loved them.

  65. Lavartis, overcast here in West Mids, raining off and on all day. Sleet or snow expected over next few days. Ugh.

    I think I may have a Renault book knocking about somewhere that I've probably never read. Will do so next time I come across it.

  66. Evening all,

    medve, I had no idea geluk also had that meaning. Adding that to my vocabulary now.

    Re: feminist writing. I have no interest in it whatsoever except for Simone de Beavoir's four part autobiography which I devoured over one summer at Uni. I have no idea why I picked up 'Memoir's of a dutiful daughter' but I was hooked (possibly because I did a lot of French 19th/20th Century History at Uni).

    Her evocation of her experiences during the Fall of France is quite the best thing I have read on the subject and her involvement in the Algerian Civil War protest movement is very interesting. Her analysis of the hypocrisy of Bourgeois society is bang on the money also.

  67. Bucketed it down as I came home from work, now down to a steady drizzle here.

    And worse to come. Ugh indeed, thauma.

  68. Pissing down with rain here as well.That short
    burst of Spring was really uplifting.Apparently
    poor weather for next few days then better
    weather over Easter.But then when was the
    weather forecast ever accurate.?

    BTW does anyone know the absolute latest date the PM has to call the election by?For the life
    of me i can,t remember how much notice the public should be given.Sadly none of my
    colleagues know either.

  69. Duke, de Beauvoir's autobiography is fascinating. I'm not terribly interested in a lot of feminist writing either, to be honest, but I liked hers because it is so much more than the narrow feminist (read: misandrist) shite you get these days.

    Hers is a whole philosophical and political movement that includes feminism as one aspect of the ideal.

  70. Paul

    No idea about your first question, but on the second - local authorities are given just 17 days' notice of the upcoming election, during which time candidates have to register as such. The logistics for polling stations / counting of votes are already in progress.

  71. thauma,

    absolutely. As well as being majestic sweeps of the 20th Century, philosophy and politics, they are also brilliant travel guides as de Beauvoir and Sartre were great travellers.

    The last book 'All said and done' is an absorbing meditation on existentialism, philosophical frameworks, a life lived and a poignant tribute to the people she knew then long gone.

    In 'Force of Circumstance' I love the tale she tells of the night Sartre went for dinner in Paris with Ernest Hemingway, Picasso and Charlie Chaplin. She couldn't be arsed going.

  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. MsChin-cheers for that.

    I think the election can be held in early
    June at the latest but will probably follow
    tradition and take place early May.Which
    probably means it will be called sometime
    in mid-April.So we,re probably looking
    at another 2-3 weeks before Gordons big

    You probably heard the News of the World
    is now coming out in favour of the Tories-
    -or should i be saying Murdoch is coming
    out in favour?Good riddance to the tablod
    twats is what i say.Although it shows how
    much power News International now wield that
    Labour probably needs their support.

  74. Just realized i put an awful lot of
    'probably(s)' in that last post!

  75. Cheers for the linky Scherf.

    Haven't read any Mary Renault so I shall give her a try.

    Evening to everyone I've not said hi to today, btw. Bucketing down here too. Blech.

  76. BB,

    meant to say Gelukkige Verjaardag!

  77. Hi All-- Absolutely pissing down here, so don't think you're the only ones.

    BB--The earthy patois of Quebec can be very humorous and interesting, to say the least. Have several Quebecois friends and they can combine English and French in phrases previously unheard.

    deano--It could be that thee and me share a birthday. Along with Clapton and Robbie Coltrane. Cool.

    Duke, thauma--Also read de Beauvoir's autobiography, found it a compelling book.

  78. Duke - it's been 20 years since I read them, so the details are a bit fuzzy. I do remember something about SdB and Sartre being excited to meet Hemingway (having read him in translation) and then being so hugely disappointed in the man himself that they disassociated themselves from him.

    The falling-out with Camus over the Algerian question was also interesting.

  79. Your Grace!

    Dankjewel, but it isn't for another 3 weeks :o)

    I was trying to be mysterious by saying it was "around Easter"

  80. Boudican

    It's the tutoying that got me to begin with, especially in shops and so forth. French people are so up their own bums about using the Vous form. That plus the accent and the vocab had me completely lost the first time I was there.

  81. Evening everyone

    The suicide bombers in Moscow were female
    apparently.Bidisha,Bindel and Campbell will
    no doubt be 'brainstorming' with each other
    to find ways to still put the blame on men.

    Wonder how Bindel is getting on with her newly
    acquired male chums!

  82. Your Grice:

    Re Brussel

    Originally a Flemish city. My experience, which has changed during the past forty odd years, is that many people will definitely understand Dutch, if not speak it as well. Since the 1980s Flemish has been in the ascendency as the economy of Flanders soared and that of Wallonia plummeted. Previously nearly all Flemings could speak French as well, these days it is becoming common for Walloons to be able to speak Flemish.

  83. BB - interesting about the tutoyering. When I worked for a Frenchman at the tender age of nineteen, he (50ish) would call me 'vous' or 'madame'; I particularly hated being called 'madame'! But that was just his generation's way.

    Then I worked, just a few years later, with a load of 20-something French people, and everyone tutoyered everyone else - except for the older bosses. Vous tended to be used only sarcastically.

  84. Bed is calling ... ttyl, all!

  85. Your Grice:

    One of the greatest authors of Dutch literature was a Fleming: Willem Elsschot. Recommended for your Dutch studies are Lijmen, Kaas, Het been, or, in fact any of his work. All good in my opinion.

  86. damnit, missed the 'chancellors debate'. was watching city v wigan. not sure which would be the less edifying spectacle...

  87. Scheibel said school officials knew about the bullying but none will face criminal charges. "The actions of these students were primarily conducted on school grounds during school hours and while school was in session,"

    So why are they being allowed to get away with such a dereliction of the duty of care?

  88. Montana - words fail me.

    sheff - quite.

  89. Good Christ.

    Seconded on what the fuck the school officials thought they were doing - DA clearly mad as hell at them, how come no charges?

  90. Beats the shit out of me. Except that it's probably mostly a case of "Well, we can't press charges against those nice, professional people. It's not their fault the kids are thugs."

  91. Hi All

    Montana - this is horrendous. Remember a case where Afghani was killed by troops - injuries so extensive abnd severe his legs were described by a doctor as " pulp " . No-one found guilty of his murder as it could not be determined who struck the actual killer blow ! All were guilty of course - as in this case. Those who watch and do nothing are as guilty as hell.

  92. More about Phoebe.

    Beware. It will make you even angrier at the administrators and staff at that school.

  93. "French people are so up their own bums about using the Vous form."

    Yep. Then they wonder why they have 15% unemployment.

    C'est le Connerie, Stupide.

  94. It really is sick-making, the things we tolerate and excuse.

  95. As you said the kid had a great smile. What a dreadful waste.

    Good night all.