On the Continent learned persons love to quote Aristotle, Horace, Montaigne and show off their knowledge; in England only uneducated people show off their knowledge, and nobody quotes Latin and Greek authors in the course of the conversation, unless he has never read them.
(George Mikes: How To Be An Alien)
Photo credit: Fortepan/Becságh István/Forgács Károly, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Down here it was still the England I had known in my childhood: the railway-cuttings smothered in wild flowers, the deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate, the slow-moving streams bordered by willows, the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen – all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.
(George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia)
Allí, en el sur, Inglaterra seguía siendo la que había conocido en mi infancia: zanjas de las vías del ferrocarril cubiertas de flores silvestres, las onduladas praderas donde grandes y relucientes caballos pastan y meditan, los lentos arroyuelos bordeados de sauces, los pechos verdes de los olmos, las espuelas de caballero en los jardines de las casas de campo; luego la serena e inmensa paz de los alrededores londinenses, las barcazas en el río gangoso, las calles familiares, los carteles anunciando partidos de críquet y bodas reales, los hombres con bombín, las palomas de la plaza Trafalgar, los autobuses rojos, los policías azules… todo durmiendo el sueño muy profundo de Inglaterra, del cual muchas veces me temo que no despertaremos hasta que no nos arranque del mismo el estrépito de las bombas.
Up on the motorway to Lancashire – instead of having fun in Spain as once planned – to attend to some family affairs while we’re still on holiday. At least we’re now also allowed non-essential travel, so we hope to fit in some hiking too!
For the past few days, the row about whether a certain politician who broke the lockdown rules by travelling to visit family at some 200 miles’ distance (for childcare reasons) should resign.
In the circumstances I don’t believe that his reason for travelling was acceptable; but that’s just my personal opinion. What I do know for a fact on the other hand is that my family made sacrifices in the interest of public health instead of doing what was the best for us (as I believe did many others!) – while this mother****** did the exact opposite. Ergo, he should resign.
Today we got a refund for one of the many things that was cancelled on us due to everything closing. Yippee! I celebrate the fact that we did get one refund and in fact in a couple of cases our direct debit for services that we subscribe to but can’t use at the moment was frozen – but what about the rest? There are at least half a dozen companies, museums, a school, etc. that owe us money and not a peep out of most of them…
I’m one of those lucky people who are blessed with living in a leafy suburb. I usually deprecate this fact because I’m a genuine city girl from Budapest and god, is it boring living in a leafy suburb where there is nothing but streets and streets of identical suburban houses and if you want to buy a bloody pair of socks, you have to go to a boring mall an hour’s distance away or to an overcrowded Oxford Street (even farther away).
But today it was sunny and it’s spring and I’m still officially on holiday… and the gardens of these boring suburban houses, full of blooming tulips and trees in flower, looked so spectacular that I wanted to video my entire walk.
Sometimes when the weather is nice and the night is clear, I check when the ISS is due to pass overhead at a reasonable hour and then sit in the garden waiting to spot it. And I think of the people aboard, and of space, and of science and adventure; and I nightdream of a future when mankind will, somehow, crack the secret of travelling faster than light or through wormholes, or what-do-I-care, as long as they will be able to get to the centre of our galaxy and even to far away galaxies and live on other planets.
The ISS is not passing anywhere near me for a while (you’re in luck in North America around the US-Canadian border and in Australia and New-Zealand) but the reason why I mention them is because since this whole lockdown madness started, several of the astronauts on board talked about how they cope with their isolation and being locked into a small space.
So imagine yourselves on board of the ISS, people!
Last week in Lancashire we found Mr Anglo-Saxonist’s old (Advanced) Dungeons & Dragons books and set of dice in his late parents’ garage. Thank you to the lockdown, today we gave it a go.
For those of you who don’t know, Dungeons & Dragons is an old role-playing game from the 1970s. I’ve never played it before, and well, what can I say? Setting up the characters alone took a couple of hours… and on our first encountering a new character in a pub, we didn’t know what to do next, until I had the happy notion to invite him for a beer! It seems an incredibly complex game, not helped by the fact that Mr Anglo-Saxonist, who is acting Dungeon Master (a sort of game master and umpire), can no longer remember the rules or even understand the abbreviations in the rule books… But we did kill 3 hours this afternoon, and although it gave him a headache, the rest of us were reasonably entertained. As this is a game that apparently just goes on and on, we’re taken care of for another few weeks of lockdown at least?
Locked Down in London, Day 23: The Police Is Losing the Plot
Earlier in the week, the Northamptonshire chief constable threatened to send his policemen to check on shoppers’ baskets and trolleys because in his opinion going out to buy chocolate Easter eggs is not essential!
And then England – southern England, probably the sleekest landscape in the world. It is difficult when you pass that way, especially when you are peacefully recovering from seasickness with the plush cushions of a boat-train carriage underneath you, to believe that anything is really happening anywhere. Earthquakes in Japan, famines in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don’t worry, the milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning, the New Statesman will come out on Friday.
(George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia)
Y luego Inglaterra, el sur de Inglaterra, probablemente el paisaje más acicalado del mundo. Cuando se pasa por allí, en especial mientras uno va recuperándose del mareo anterior, cómodamente sentado sobre los blandos almohadones del tren de enlace con el barco, resulta difícil creer que realmente ocurre algo en alguna parte. ¿Terremotos en Japón, hambrunas en China, revoluciones en México? No hay por qué preocuparse, la leche estará en el umbral de la puerta mañana temprano y el New Statesman saldrá el viernes.
“England looked strange to us returned soldiers. We could not understand the war-madness that ran wild everywhere, looking for a pseudo-military outlet. The civilians talked a foreign language. I found serious conversation with my parents all but impossible.”
Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and its sequel, Swallowdale were two of my childhood favourites. They hark back to a time when children enjoyed rather more freedom than they do now (although even in those times surely not a lot of them was allowed to camp alone on an island). If you want your children to get outdoors to enjoy fresh air, if you want them to develop their imagination, if you want them to have interest in other things than just owning the latest iPhone… get these books for them and let them expand their horizons.
In terms of age, we’re talking about age ten and about, both boys and girls – because although these books treat adventure (adventure of the kind that’s actually believable), the girl characters are just as strongly drawn as the boys. A cut above Enid Blyton.
Mikes György (better known by the English version of his name, George Mikes) was a Hungarian journalist who moved to England during the 1930s where he married an Englishwoman and lived until his death in 1987. In 1946 he published a humorous book about his experiences as a foreigner in England – a book which betrays as much about Hungarian idiosyncrasies as about English ones! The book was so successful that it was followed by two sequels. And many of his observations of English culture still holds true today.
Mikes György (mejor conocido por la versión inglesa de su nombre, George Mikes) fue un periodista húngaro, quien se mudó a Inglaterra en los años 1930, donde se casó con una inglesa y vivió hasta su muerte en 1987. En 1946 publicó un libro gracioso de sus experiencias como extranjero en Inglaterra – un libro que te revela tanto idiosincracias húngaras como inglesas. El libro tenía tanto éxito que Mikes escribió dos secuelas. Y muchas de sus observaciones de la cultura inglesa siguen ser verdaderas.
Quote of the Week / Cita de la semana:
Some years ago I spent a lot of time with a young lady who was very proud and conscious of being English. Once she asked me – to my great surprise – whether I would marry her. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I will not. My mother would never agree to my marrying a foreigner.’ She looked at me a little surprised and irritated, and retorted: ‘I, a foreigner? What a silly thing to say. I am English. You are the foreigner. And your mother too.’ I did not give in. ‘In Budapest, too?’ I asked her. ‘Everywhere,’ she declared with determination. “Truth does not depend on geography. What is true in England is also true in Hungary and in North Borneo and Venezuela and everywhere.’
(George Mikes: Preface to How To Be an Alien)
Hace unos años he pasado mucho tiempo en la compañía de una señorita joven, quien era muy orgullosa y consciente de ser inglesa. Una vez me había preguntado – para mi grande sorpresa – si me casaría con ella. «No», respondí, «mi madre nunca estaría de acuerdo de que me caso con una mujer extranjera». Me miró con un poco de sorpresa y irritación, y replicó: «¡¿Yo, una extranjera? Qué tontería hablas! Yo soy inglesa. Eres tú quien es un extranjero. Y tu madre, también.» Yo no me di por vencido. «¿Incluso en Budapest?» la pregunté. «En cualquier lugar» me declaró. «La verdad no depende de la geografía. Lo que es verdad en Inglaterra es también verdad en Hungría o en el norte de Borneo y en Venezuela y en todas partes del mundo.»
Visits to Chatham Historic Dockyard, home among others to the diesel-electric submarine HMS Ocelot, and to the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth, home to HMS Alliance, a submarine built at the end of World War II, means I’ve got some photos of the outside and inside of the submarines to share. (Click on the gallery to enlarge photos.)
This being primarily a book blog, the photos are accompanied by a book list – half a dozen books set on submarines. Not a definite list, by any means; I have heard of several others well spoken off (but I haven’t got round to reading them yet). If you’d like to recommend a book on submarines that you enjoyed, please leave a comment below.
“Dogger. Gale warning.
Gale warning issued 14 March 03:43 UTC¹.
Wind southeast 4 or 5, increasing 6 to gale 8. Sea state moderate, becoming rough or very rough. Weather: occasional drizzle. Visibility good, occasionally poor.”
Shipping Forecast, issued 14 March 17:25 UTC, Met Office
If you ever heard the shipping forecast on BBC Radio 4 (an oddly soothing recital except when it’s inserted into the middle of the nailbiting finish of a test match), then you know that Dogger is one of the forecast zones in the North Sea.
Si has oído, alguna vez, el shipping forecast, es decir, el pronóstico marítimo, de BBC Radio 4 (un recital extrañamente tranquilizador (excepto cuando lo leen durante el emocionantísimo final de un partido internacional de críquet), sabes que Dogger es una de las zonas pronósticas marítimas en el Mar del Norte.
Up to 8000 B.C. Britain was connected to the Continent by a land bridge and Doggerland was above sea level. But as glacial ice melted after the last ice age, sea levels rose: Britain became an island, while Doggerland went to the bottom of the deep blue sea…
La mapa arriba ilustre como Gran Bretaña se convirtió en una isla.
Hasta 8000 a.C. Gran Bretaña estaba conectado al continente con un ‘puente’ de tierra y el territorio de Doggerland se encontró arriba del nivel del mar. Al terminar la era glacial, el nivel del mar se elevó: Gran Bretaña se convirtió en una isla, mientras que Doggerland se hundió al fondo del mar…
⇒ We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea by Arthur Ransome