Saturday, October 04, 2014

The IS; Cyclists; UK pupils in need; & Strange words.

After the latest beheading in the 'Islamic State', I thought of the comment I heard earlier this week that, unlike Catholics, Anglicans and Jews, the world's Muslims have no single, well-known person to speak for them and to condemn such atrocities. Such are the schisms and factions in Islam. So, no equivalent of the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Chief Rabbi ever appears in the media to speak for the many millions of Muslims who are as horrified and repelled as much as the rest of us. Ironically, this individual would be the Caliph and the murderous Islamic State used to call itself the Caliphate. Amongst other things. There was even a Caliph identified, and then ridiculed by Muslims for having an expensive watch. Wonder what happened to him?

Having had my chest brushed by not just one but three speedy teenage cyclists in a park on the way to dinner with Spanish friends last night, I raised the topic of annoying cyclists over coffee. The reaction was satisfyingly supportive of my irritation but, sadly, no solutions were tabled. Though I may have missed one, as everyone naturally spoke over everyone else.

In the UK, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are give a 'pupil premium'. This is 1300 quid for primary school kids and c. 900 quid for secondary school kids. News reaches me that some pupils are being given iPads under this scheme, though the relevant schools are trying to keep this secret as they don't want everyone demanding one. More amusingly, I'm told that one school was asked by parents to use their child's premium to build a conservatory at the back of the house because an assessor had decided it lacked light. No one appears to have thought of brighter light bulbs. But, anyway, instead of laughing this out of court, another assessor was despatched to review the proposal and then present his recommendation to a committee. After which the latter's decision would be reviewed by the school governors. You couldn't make it up and it confirms once again that we're truly living in the Age of the Bureaucrat.

Finally . . . One of the advantages of reading a novel written in 1907 is that you come across words you either don't know or which have changed their meaning over the last 100 years. Or have simply fallen out of use. Here are several from Arnold Bennett's The Old Wives' Tale. Apologies to those who've seen a couple before in an earlier blog:
1. Gimp
a): Twisted silk, worsted, or cotton with cord or wire running through it, used chiefly as upholstery trimming.
b): A fishing line made of silk bound with wire.
c): A physically disabled or lame person.
d): A feeble or contemptible person. [Wimp?]
2. Doxology: A liturgical formula of praise to God.
3. Unliable: Not liable
4. Stillage: a frame or stand for keeping things off the ground, as with the barrels in my grandfather's pub cellars
5. Steen: A kitchen item for the storage of bread.
6. Slopstone: A stone slab or table under a tap.
7. Rep: As in 'crimson rep curtains'. A fabric with a ribbed surface.
8. Natty: Current in style, both of dress and manners
9. To scamp: To perform in a careless superficial way
10. Shirting: A material for making shirts, especially a fine cotton in plain colours or incorporating a traditional woven stripe:
11. Linsey: A type of coarse, home-woven fabric typically having a cotton warp (lengthwise threads) and a wool weft (crosswise threads).

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