June 30, 2009

Moving house

Filed under: misc — Duchess @ 2:15 pm

Well, not quite.  Moving house implies another house to go to, or other grown up accessories, the kinds of things my elderly father calls “plans”.  (As in, “But what are your plans?”)

Although I have no plans, I have, nevertheless, suddenly acquired tenants and apparently they are not expecting me to be lurking in the back bedroom when they move in next month.  It seems they are also expecting my chattels to be gone.  Cupboards that haven’t been opened since 1984 need to be emptied.

Hands up who knows what a Teasmade is.

June 20, 2009

Oh good grief

Filed under: misc — Duchess @ 1:35 pm

Today the UK government issued guidance that British schools should no longer teach children the spelling rule, “i before e except after c”.  It was one of the main news headlines all morning.

Haven’t they got anything better to think about, like crashing economies worldwide, wars in Iraq and Afganistan, unrest in Iran, terrorism in Pakistan, nukes in North Korea and disease and starvation in Zimbabwe (to name a few, if they are feeling bored and out on a limb)?

Apparently not.  They have other things on their mind.  The guidance says:

The i before e rule is not worth teaching. It applies only to words in which the ie or ei stands for a clear ee sound. Unless this is known, words such as sufficient and veil look like exceptions. There are so few words where the ei spelling for the ee sounds follows the letter c that it is easier to learn the specific words.

According to the BBC, the directive, issued to 13,000 primary schools recommends:

other ways to teach pupils spelling, like studying television listings for compound words, changing the tense of a poem to practise irregular verbs and learning about homophones through jokes such as ‘How many socks in a pair? None — because you eat a pear’

Never mind the suggestion that our kids should learn spelling from television listings, could someone please explain the homophone joke?

June 4, 2009

Tonight was my first time

Filed under: A long way from home,misc,Politics and history,Village life — Duchess @ 3:48 pm

I have lived well over half my life in the UK, but I only became a citizen in 2005, weeks before the last general election and too late to register.  Tonight was my first opportunity to cast a vote as a UK national.

It isn’t a proper election, really.  For most of the country it is merely a European election, something even most Europeans, don’t care about — Slovenia turned out less than 17% last time around.  Only for a very few of us was it also time to elect our local representatives.

Even so, my village was buzzing.  It took me nearly an hour to walk the quarter mile from my house to the polling station because I kept running into people and everyone was in the mood to chat.  Each one of us clutched our polling card, sent by the Royal Mail, second class post, and headed in bold capitals: Representation of the People Act.

There are no hanging chads in England.  We are given a piece of paper and sent to a makeshift booth (not so much as a curtain) where there is a nice fat pencil.  We are enjoined to use that pencil to put an X next to one and only one candidate or party.  Then we fold our ballot and put it in a good old fashioned ballot box.  The local election results will be counted out tonight, paper by paper.  The European votes will be sealed until Sunday; by then 375 million people in 27 countries will have been offered a ballot.

I missed altogether the chance to vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party, a regular election contender in the first couple of decades I spent in the UK, but since the death in 1999 of their leader, Screaming Lord Sutch, apparently it’s no longer an option.  Tonight they weren’t on either of my ballot papers though the party is still publishing a manifesto.  (I like the idea of arming school nurses with dart guns to administer vaccinations during playtime – recess to Americans – more fun for the nurses and less stressful for the children.)

Nor have we heard much recently from the Natural Law Party, but long ago, before I had a vote, I paid taxes to fund their election broadcasts about Yogic Flying.  (I’m not complaining: they were very entertaining — I am only sorry I can’t share my memories of them, it seems they were too long before youtube. )

Tonight there were, nevertheless, plenty of other parties on the long ballot paper I picked up at the polling station:

British National Party – Protecting British Jobs.  These people exclude non whites from membership, advocate zero immigration and no imported goods (crumbs! what would we eat, wear, watch, drive?).  Their official policy is to pay all non whites to emigrate to other countries.

Christian Party – “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”.   I never heard of these folks, and don’t know anything about their policies but I am wondering why the quotes.  Is it a rumour? 

Conservative Party.  No tag line, but we know who they are.

English Democrats – Putting England first. 

Jury Team – Democracy, Accountability, Transparency.  Another one I have never heard of.   Jury Team? 

Liberal Democrats.  They wear socks with their sandals, drink warm beer and grow beards all round (ladies and gents).  On the plus side their economic guy knows how to waltz and has a son who is an opera star. 

No2EU – Yes to Democracy.  Foreigners might have noticed that we are just a wee bit ambivalent about Europe.

Pro Democracy: Libertas EU.  Like I said.

Socialist Labour Party.  Back on familiar territory.

The Green Party.  Sandals without the socks.

The Peace Party – Nonviolence, Justice, Environment.  I’m guessing Mom and apple pie too, but I never heard of this party either.

The Roman Party – Ave!  I am beginning to think I made a mistake not supporting them.  They sound like fun.

United Kingdom First

United Kingdom Independence Party – We know about these folk.  They have several MEPs (Member of European Parliament).  Some of them are in jail.

In the end I voted for the party of the guy who married a woman from Kenya and sired an opera star.  I can’t help it.  I’ve heard the kid sing La ci darem la mano.  By their fruits shall ye know them.

More on our elections soon… There’s nothing like British politics.

Freely hosted by Weblogs.us. Powered by WordPress. Theme by H P Nadig
Close Bitnami banner