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Say ‘No’ To Brexit

One of our anti-Brexit cards – Enjoy, because there is precious little else to enjoy with the looming threat of Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal.

‘Clerks’ Anti-Brexit Greeting Card to support the No Brexit, anti-Brexit movement, featuring a mockup of a World War II Ministry Of Information poster about clerical work for ‘girls’.

MINISTRY OF LABOUR
THE MINISTRY OF FOOD REQUIRES
GIRLS
AGED 15 TO 17 YEARS OF AGE
TO ENROL FOR CLERICAL WORK FOR
THE DURATION OF BREXIT.
CONTINUING EDUCATION WILL BE
PROVIDED IN WORKING HOURS.
RECRUITS CAN THEREFORE
EARN AND LEARN
AT THE SAME TIME!

THE FOOD QUESTION IS A
WOMAN’S QUESTION.
COME AND HELP THE FOOD
MINISTRY. THEY WANT YOU
NOW!

APPLY AT YOUR LOCAL BREXIT OFFICE

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Things that made me laugh, with a bitter taste in my mouth

More than a third of the population of England died during the outbreaks of the Black Death in England In the 1300s. Here is part of a contemporary report:

Then the bishop of Lincoln sent notice throughout his whole diocese giving general power to all priests, both regulars and seculars, to hear confessions and give absolution with full episcopal authority to all persons, except only in case of debt. In such a case, the debtor was to pay the debt, if he were able, while he lived, or others were to be appointed to do so from his goods after his death. In the same way the Pope gave plenary remission of all sins (once only) to all receiving absolution at the point of death, and granted that this power should last until Easter next following, and that every one might choose his own confessor at will.

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Spes Phthisica and the Heights Of Consumption

Spes Phthisica and the Heights Of Consumption

A while ago Tamara bought me a book, ‘As Kingfishers Catch Fire‘, and I opened it and started reading where it fell open, at the chapter on the skylark.

You can see the words spes phthisica near the end of the text that I have quoted here, and I wondered whether the authors were being figurative or whether it was a real medical condition.

RICHARD JEFFERIES AUTOBIOGRAPHY, The Story of My Heart, tells us almost nothing of its author’s short, sad life. It was written in 1883, as the tuberculosis that would kill Jefferies began to show itself in bloodspotted handkerchiefs and digestive complaints. He would live for four more years, long enough to see his third child die of meningitis, long enough to write his mesmerising post-apocalyptic masterpiece, After London. He was thirty-eight when he died, the age I will be when these words are published, and he’s buried in Broadwater Cemetery, Worthing, not ten minutes’ walk from where I grew up, on the rim of land between the chalky South Downs and the sea. The Story of My Heart is the record of Jefferies’ spiritual development, of the way that, through nature, he accessed his ‘strong inspiration of soul thought’. It is a lavish, joyful book, some passages coming close to madness, touched perhaps by the spes phthisica that is said to induce a kind of euphoria in consumptives…

I looked up spes phthisica and found that it is a medical term that means a state of euphoria occurring in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis.

The phrase is pronounced SPACE THIZICA.

I also found an article that suggested that the Romantic poets and artists were romantic precisely because they suffered from TB and were given to romantic euphoria because of spes phthisica.

As we know, TB causes anaemia and worse symptoms. And anaemia is characterised by a deathly pallor to the skin.

Because of that effect, the article also suggested that various pale and ghostly figures that appeared in Romantic books and paintings were the deadly embrace of TB.

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Field Work Post-Brexit

A warning of the consequences of Brexit.

At Flying Twigs we are firmly in the ‘No Brexit’ camp – and not only because of the economic consequences although they look dire enough.

It’s because pulling up the drawbridge will cut us off culturally from Europe – and we need Europe. Europe needs us but we definitely need Europe.

Our ‘No Brexit’ anti-Brexit greeting cards are our humorous take on a serious subject.

We need to be part of Europe because we need to be able to immerse ourselves in the sights and sounds and conversations of Europe.

It’s not enough to be geographically near continental Europe. We need to be able to feel comfortable in Europe – everything from chatting about food, comparing how we dress, the things we and they think are important… These observations and interactions change us for the better when we have open minds.

What we don’t need are any barriers, and certainly no extra barriers – whether it is lines of people stacking up in the passport queues, or anything else – that signal that we are over the border and into ‘foreigner’ territory. We need to feel that Europe is ours and we are part of Europe.

So, we have nailed our colours to the mast with a series of ‘No Brexit’ greeting cards. They are a spoof, a satire that are intended to poke fun at Brexit.

There are 21 cards along two themes. One is a pastiche that imitates the style of wartime public information posters – the kind that exhorted the population to do its bit, conserve energy, keep transport free for essential workers, make do with less in difficult ‘post Brexit’ times. Of course, we hope those times never come to pass and that Brexit is avoided.

The other theme for these ‘No Brexit’ greeting cards is a pastiche of film, theatre, and gig posters – telling the dire consequences of Brexit, or the thrilling tales of suspense about how we conquered Brexit and stayed in the EU.

The Future, Is There One? Well of course there is a future, but the prospects for a rosy future outside the EU are getting clearer by the day – and they are getting less and less likely. From fruit rotting in the fields to no nurses and doctors in our hospitals – it makes one wonder why everyone isn’t crying the message from the rooftops of ‘Danger! Brexit Cliff Ahead’.

We hear that there are umpteen MPs who are sitting on the fence, waiting for a clear enough sign that they can stand up united and oppose this farce of a Brexit exit.

What will it take to make them rise up? Maybe these cards and a thousand other messages will nudge them past the tipping point.

In that hope, and because Brexit really is a farce that needs to be treated accordingly, these cards will wing their way hither and thither and change some minds and give someone a laugh.

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He, She, Him, His, Her, Her

Is it her? No, that is wrong. It should be Is it she?  The meaning is clear if we reverse it and say Her it is, which is plainly wrong, whereas She it is, is plainly correct.

Or to put it another way, Is it her? begs the question of ‘Her’ what? Her dog, for example?

None of this is my natural language. I make the mistake all the time. Tamara is a much better speaker of English and she gets it right all the time.

So we were talking about this mix-up, and how people speak. Suddenly, in a blinding flash of insight, I noticed something about the English language.

We, wrongly, say Is it him?, whereas the correct language is, Is it he?

And that is when it struck me that we say her and her dog.

But we say him and his dog.

Females only get her.

Males get him and his.

Why is that?


Apropos Nothing

Leaves on the ground in Cambridge, yesterday, so beautiful in their place in the universe.

They grew on trees
They fell from trees
If the worms didn’t eat them
They’d be up to my knees

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Travelers and Travellers

I was in Waterstones and I bought a book on impulse after scanning a few pages. Sitting at my computer, I wanted to recall the name of the book. But the book was downstairs.

I looked on the Waterstone’s website and put in ‘travel nazi Germany’.

Nothing.

I googled for it and it brought up a review of the book in the Washington Post.

Um… different cover to the one I had bought.

But I had the name now: Travelers in the Third Reich.

So I put the title into Waterstone’s website and there it was. With the book cover I had bought.

Same title. No, not quite. It’s got a double ‘l’ in travellers, for the English market.

Could the author have used another word that translated across varieties of English?

Probably not, because the book covers tourists, people there on business, people there specifically to see what was happening in pre-war Germany.

I prefer the cover on the version made for the English market. It puts you in the position of the traveller. And it’s reminiscent of travel posters of the 1930s.

Is there a message in the US version? Is that the Hindenberg airship that was supposed to do a number of round trips between Germany and the Americas?

The airship never completed the first of its journeys, because it famously burst into flames and was destroyed at its mooring in New Jersey in 1937.

The Hindenberg 1937