Category Archives: Culture

Housework As A Hobby

“People who know what is good for other people all the time are as big a menace in our society as the capitalists.”
May Hobbs, Born to Struggle, Postlude (1973).

More from The East End of London:

Cleanliness was so difficult to achieve in the East End home, yet so highly valued and so commonly practised, that it almost amounted to a decorative feature. “Cleanliness is my wife’s hobby, and I let her indulge it”, said a Shadwell coal-whipper to Mayhew as he showed him his spotless rooms.

What Do You Collect?

“Preserving tradition has become a nice hobby, like stamp collecting.”
Mason Cooley

At the Victoria and Alberta Museum this afternoon, I came across an exhibit that asked people to write notes for the museum about their own personal collections. The question was “What do you collect?” Most of the responses were from school children, and the first one was as follows:

I collect ideas. Every now and then I change them. I throw the old ones away to make room for the new ones. Some ideas never change, they look old but they can be trusted. – George, London.

Can this amazing statement really be that of a child?

That’s so Sept 10!

“It was very prettily said, that we may learn the little value of fortune by the persons on whom heaven is pleased to bestow it.”
Sir Richard Steele 1672-1729

The American Dialect Society has decided that the 2001 Word of the Year is the expression “9/11” in its various forms (e.g. nine eleven, 9.11, 9-11). It would be interesting to discover who first coined the phrase and the source of their inspiration, but I fear it’s probably a simple case of laziness.

I suspect whoever it was tried to apply the same logic as “24/7” (an abbreviation for “24 hours a day, 7 days a week”). Except, of course, that they got it wrong. In the case of 24/7 the units of time increase; hours are followed by days which are followed by weeks. But 9/11 is the opposite; the units of time decrease. So, the logic isn’t the same.

Of course, 9/11 is consistent with the standard US format for abbreviating the date in writing (i.e. month/day/year). But it seems strange that our spoken language should adopt the format of written English (or should I say “American”?). I was always taught that good writing should reflect the way we speak, but 9/11 is a case of speaking the way North Americans write. Here in Europe where the standard format is day/month/year, it’s only due to the incredible speed of the modern-day news media that we have realised those appalling events did not take place on the 9th of November!

Now, I gather someone has used the term to define an entire generation. “Generation 9/11” includes all those students who entered school in September 2001. I guess they’ll all talk like this:

“So, are you doing anything special for 12/25?”

“Yeah, I’m flying to Florida for 2 weeks. Leavin’ on 12/24 and I’m gonna party 24/7 the whole time! But don’t worry, I’ll be back for your big bash on 1/1. “

“Man, you oughta be more careful. That’s all so Sept 10th!”

Canadians strike gold

Canadian Flag

From Radio Canada International’s Cyberjournal:

There was jubilation among Canadian hockey fans Sunday as they celebrated the country’s first Olympic men’s hockey gold medal in half a century. Car horns blared and fans streamed into the streets moments after Team Canada notched a 5-2 win over the United States. In downtown Toronto, euphoric fans streamed down bustling Yonge Street, many clad in Canadian colours and draped in Maple Leaf flags. Some leaned precariously out of car windows, horns blaring. In Ottawa, police closed off streets in front of the Parliament buildings as a spontaneous parade made its way to the Peace Tower. In Montreal, traffic on Ste-Catherine Street was jammed for blocks. The street was awash in red and white flags and Team Canada togs in a display reminiscent of the 1995 referendum rally. Similar celebrations took place across the country. In a written statement, Prime Minister Chretien said the Canadian hockey team showed “matchless drive and talent” in winning the gold medal. The prime minister congratulated the team, saying Canada’s men’s and women’s hockey teams have united the country “in a way that only hockey can bring us together.” The women’s team had earlier won gold, also against the US.”

Married love

“There is no greater sorrow than to recall a time of happiness when in misery.”
Dante Alighieri 1265-1321

Britain’s Channel 4 is broadcasting a series of programmes on Married Love at the moment. The first two episodes covered the sexual ignorance of previous generations and the increased sexual awareness of the “Me Generation”.

It’s ironic that as people have learned more about sex, they have chosen to have fewer and fewer children. One of my great great grandmothers had 13 children by the time she was 43; her daughter had six children; her granddaughter had three; and her great granddaughter had only two.

I know there are lots of reasons for this change, but it’s clear that sex is now almost completely divorced [excuse the pun] from its original purpose of reproduction and has become largely a recreation. I suppose for many people it must be right up there with shopping.