Saturday, 22 November 2014

More What I Don't Miss About the 50s

Now UKIP are trying to drag us back to the 50s, let's remember the good old days. (Thanks to friends.)

There is an ancient attitude, too, that I saw in my mum and which seems to have disappeared along with the wireless and the mangle and the lardy cake: no fuss, no moaning. (Liz Jones meets the Pullein-Thompson sisters.)

stewed prunes

Dirty jokes and dirty stories – that co-existed with repression and being unable to talk about sex (or advertise condoms or sanitary towels).

Novelty records (There’s a Moose Loose about this Hoose, the ant and the rubber tree plant, Would You Like to Swing on a Star, They Swam and they Swam Right Over the Dam)

Idea that you shouldn’t hug or touch a child too much. (And you shouldn’t pick up and cuddle a crying baby.)

Idea that you had to wash vegetables in cold water, or they would go limp. It couldn't even be slightly tepid. And potatoes don’t go limp. You had to risk frostbite and what’s much more important – you had to SUFFER.

We were exhorted to form clubs and design our own badge. But they never told us what the point was. I suppose we could have had a club house in imitation of adults’ golf clubs and social clubs. They were always trying to turn us into adults too soon – except for the sex part.

Outside toilets.
Tin bath in front of the fire.
Ice on the inside of the windows in the morning.
Coats on top of the quilt to keep you warm.
Burst hot water bottles.
Weekly wash day when the kitchen was full of steam from the gas clothes boiler.
Liberty bodices.
Short trousers till you were at secondary school.
School caps.
Sadistic teachers with leather tawses.
Sago puddings
Semolina puddings
The smell of my grandmother cooking tripe.


Even worse having to resort to violence to stop people bullying me.
No TV.
Very few sweets even the Sherbet was rationed.
Violence on the Streets.

Domestic Violence.
Water freezing solid in the glass in my bedroom.
Children being abused - and the cover-ups.
Being forced to go to church and Sunday School.

Being forced to be a Christian - which I am not.
Having to Read the Bible out in classes, didn't make sense then - even
less now.
Seeing children in dire poverty, we appear to be moving back to that.
Having everyone in one room as that was the only one with heating.

The sheer pomposity that abounded the "class society" yes even as a little
un I remember that.

Some more reasons to loathe the 50's: Being routinely beaten by teachers (from the age of six in my case) with implements including shoes, rulers, straps, canes and cricket bats. Brutal, brutalising and utterly ineffective.

Pollution: the London smogs were appalling and killed large numbers of people. Rivers and canals were bio-hazards and disgusting beyond belief.

Housing: I never met anyone with central heating. Houses were heated with coal fires (hence the smog), typically only in one or two rooms. Homes were freezing in winter. Many were draughty and cramped. Even in the early 70's I visited slum houses in East London with no inside toilet. In the 50's north these were commonplace as were back-to-backs* with a shared toilet block at the end of the street. Then imagine getting up in the night and trudging down the road in a northern winter to use a shared toilet.

Parenting: It seemed to be a grim business for most parents, with children being seen as creatures needing to be forever disciplined and constrained. The idea that spending time with children might actually be fun seemed not to have occurred to many people.

Safety: Many workplaces were positively lethal. As were the roads. As a seven year old child to get to school I had to cross a six lane road (with central reservation) having no speed limit.

Food (again): Many families in the north couldn't afford enough food. Despite full employment money was that short.

Even if your experience was different, surely you can see that for many people the 50's were grim?

* Before anyone comments, check that you know what a back-to-back actually is ;-)


More here.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Euphemisms about Fashion and Stuff (in Quotes)

channelling: copying
investment bag: expensive bag
directional: Nobody seems to be entirely sure what that means.
editing your wardrobe: throwing away old clothes
pieces: clothes
product: clothes and accessories
pricepoint: price
(Times Fashion Glossary, August 14 2009)

Mystifying that women who complain vociferously about anything are FEMINAZIS; men who threaten violence are just engaging in BANTER. (Lee Jackson ‏@VictorianLondon)

commonsense: Why won't you just stop being so stupid and see things my way? (adults to children)

Investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study [but did] determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear. In other words they feared being sued. (New Scientist on a journal that withdrew an article about conspiracy theories about conspiracy theories. July 2014)

personality: attractive personality According to a Mississippi pageant director: “When a girl wins the pageant, it’s because she wins in interview. It’s like anything else in life. It’s not just about showing brains. You have to have a sense of humour. You have to be charming. You have to show personality. (NYT)

My publisher was “undergoing some changes.” As in death throes. (NYT, July 2014-07-27)

Unpaid internships, otherwise known as "allowing the children of the rich to buy lucrative professional jobs". (@OwenJones84)

The Fall, obviously, is supposed to be the real one. That’s “real” as in “really, really horrible”. (Times, Nov 2014)

The moment might leave you if you don’t grab it. (Naga Munchetty, paraphrase. She means “enjoy your fame while you’ve got it, and cash in”.)

When people say "You shouldn't discuss religion or politics", what they really mean is "Please don't decimate my worldview with facts". (@secularbloke)

Too often, “That’s really offensive” means: “Stop telling the truth.” (Milo Yiannopoulos ‏@Nero)

Fox News: Atheists are attacking Christians!
Reality: Secularists are alerting government employees to violations of the law.
(Russell's Teapot ‏@RussellTpot, Oct 31 2014)

laugh at ourselves:
laugh at YOU, laugh at THEM
The interrogator then sadly reminisced about those happy days, before PC took over, when “we could laugh at ourselves”, though I think “laugh at ourselves” usually means “laugh at all the cultural groups we don’t like really, you know, the thick paddy jokes... that were such a happy cavalcade on primetime”. The lighten up, it’s a laugh gang are usually far less light when the joke is on them (see UKIP, climate-change denialists, right-wing libertarians, corporate financiers etc. It’s all “just a bit of harmless fun” if it’s racist gagsmiths at a conference, and all staple their lips when the joke is on them). (Robin Ince’s blog)

"I'm saying what others aren't brave enough to say" can be translated as "I'm saying what others are too decent and respectful to say". (@LynnCSchreiber)

"It’s about time this country had a proper debate about immigration." Normally when people say that, what they mean is, “Let’s unanimously deplore immigration, then agree to put a stop to it immediately.” They certainly don’t mean they want a debate about it, because a debate has to have two sides, and one of the sides would actually have to stick up for immigration, and that wouldn’t do at all, because anyone who sticks up for immigration is “out of touch” with the “legitimate concerns” of “ordinary people” and “just doesn’t get it”. (Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph, Nov 2 2014)

“Forthright and straight-talking.” (Vox pops on the UKIP victory in Clacton)

We need to find new ways of working, new partnerships, new collaborative ventures. (Restoring England’s Heritage She means “new sources of funding”.)

Christian group home: indoctrinating work camp (writer to

A ‘Central Board’ to manage London's sewerage was briefly considered – and hastily dismissed as ‘unpalatable to the inhabitants of the respective districts’ (i.e. there would be local hostility to any ‘centralising’ measure). (Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth, Lee Jackson)

‘She’s got a lovely personality’ in my day was the answer to ‘Is she pretty?’ and meant, ‘No, she isn’t’. (Moira Redmond,

"Natural" is often just a "hoorah-word". (JP)

reprofiling: They decided instead on a “reprofiling” of Greek debt – a euphemism for rescheduling payments that many take to mean a debt restructuring. (The Week)

Cautionary words in positive film review: "rambunctious" "ramshackle" "colourful" "zany" "yarn" "fun" "romp" "unique." (Andrew Male)

"Pseudo-intellectual nonsense" is a favorite phrase among people that are bad at entertaining new (to them) and exploratory ideas. (@AmyDentata)

Not being yourself at work just gets in the way. (Gay speaker means “be out at work”.)

More here, and links to the rest.