This is a dark day. Outside, grey Manchester skies loom over damp pavements. Inside, my own mood is equally dark.
Yesterday evening I was preparing to eat a meal whipped up from an ancient can of beans and a residual piece of gammon that I discovered lurking at the back of the freezer. A phone call from acting captain John, Reed, of East Cheshire Chess Club. Are you playing tonight? he asked.
I avoided a sarcastic answer such as ‘no I’m cooking my dinner’. My surprise was genuine. I don’t think so I said.
You should be, we are playing at Stockport. John sounded weary, rather than head-banging angry. I left out excuses or protestations of innocence. The ghastly truth had struck home. I had missed a league match against the toughest of opponents in the Stockport league. I had let my friends and colleagues down. I could get over straight away, I said rather pathetically, turning off the oven.
Silence from my phone.
I was calculating that I would already be running out of time, even if I could break the speed limit and reach Stockport before my clock left me with a little time to play the game. John broke the silence. I’ll cancel the game then he said. I would be recorded as a no-show. I turn the oven back on. Later, the meal was to taste disgusting. Soon I will learn the consequences of my no-show. I must find a way of making amends.
News Headlines of the Week Monday 13 February Balloon hunting season continues. Pentagon releases statement saying no evidence found of UFO activity. Chiefs win Super Bowl. Radio 5 Live transmits game live overnight to listeners in The U.K. National Trust finds fewer clothes moths feeding on treasures. [Guardian news item]
Tuesday 14 February Earthquake one week on. Humanitarian efforts turn to the millions of survivors in need of shelter food and water. Intense fighting continues in Ukraine. News reports given less coverage. New Zealand’s climate extremes continue. A state of emergency has been declared due to impact of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Wednesday 15 February Russia believed to have intensified its military efforts in Ukraine, readying aircraft to join the conflict. Rishi Sunak says Britain is ‘ready and able’ to engage Russia if needed. Presumably with NATO and EU cooperation. Least surprising news. The three mysterious flying objects shot down in Project Balloon have been assessed as ‘benign’. Breaking news. Nicola Sturgeon to resign as Scotland’s First Minister
Thursday 16 February Nicola Bulley went missing 20 days ago during a routine riverside walk. Lancashire Police criticised for revealing in a press conference personal details of her vulnerabilities. Centrica (British Gas owner) reveals record profits of £3.3 billion with little evidence of them feeding into consumer bills. More dates of railway operators strikes announced in the buildup to the Easter holidays.
Friday 17 February Hope is developing of a resolution to the consequences of the Northern Ireland Protocol, one of the clunkiest efforts to make Brexit work. In Turkey, over a hundred arrests have been made in connection with illegal construction on buildings, contributing the death toll after the recent earthquake. In Ukraine, President Zelenskiy rules out any concessions over territory in any eventual resolution to the conflict.
Saturday 18 February Rishi Sunak has to deal with the EU, America’s commitment the the power sharing in Northern Ireland and the DUP unionist party over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Of these, the DUP has gold standard intransigence in ‘no surrender’ negotiations. Sporting headline. A Qatari consortium of unrivalled wealth states its interest in buying Manchester United Football Club. Likely to result in human rights issue being introduced by activists and football supporters. Sunday 19 February Sunak continues his efforts to resolve the difficulties of the Northern Ireland border repositioned in the Irish Sea by the Brexit settlement negotiated by Boris Johnson Boris Johnson helpfully suggests how to succeed by pursuing his own uncompleted plans interrupted by his removal as Prime Minister. China is to outline a plan for peace in Ukraine on the anniversary of the start of the conflict next week.
Tudorama Teaser of the Week
Where did the sentence ‘now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party’ originate? Was it Karl Marx, Revolutionary Groucho Marx, Wit and comedian Charles E Weller, Author of a history of the typewriter? [Answer below]
Twitter Wit and Wisdom @TollyTB I once invented a new microphone , but I received some really bad feedback
@EssexPR I do not believe I hold any extreme views, much of what I’ll say on here & on TV is what the majority will be thinking, many might not say it, because of jobs or fear of silly labels from accounts on here, but they’re thinking it & probably saying it around friends/family. @Jogi83659514 It’s funny how extremists always think they are talking for a ‘silent’ majority. It’s hard for them to believe that most DON’T think like them.
@Cleckylad Old jokes revisited. Policeman to driver ” Excuse me sir, this is a one way street” Driver “I’m only going one way” @oologist Other scenarios are available… Policeman to driver ” Excuse me sir, didn’t you see the arrows?” Driver “I didn’t even see the Indians!”
The answer is Charles E Weller, author of a successful book about the early history of the typewriter. He came up with a training exercise for young typewriters. Yes, in the early 1900s, the users of typewriters were known as typewriters. Weller came up with the sentence as a practice drill. Later, the sentence was modified to read Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. This works out as the required seventy characters (counting the fifteen spaces between words and the full stop to give a classical full line of type. Incidentally, another even more famous typing exercise is The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog This is an example of a pangram, a sentence containing all the letters of the alphabet, and thought to be useful for typing practice.
This week the books are selected from Stockport Library readers’ choice
A Three Dog Problem. Her Majesty the Queen Investigates, by S.B.Bennett A Gambling Man, by David Baldacci The Innocent, by Harlan Coben
For Younger Readers and Listeners The Cat on the Mat is Flat, Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton. 6+ Here they come: frogs, logs, bogs, dogs, cogs and flag-waving hogs. LS
Next Week’s Newsletter Don’t miss the report on peaceful resolution of a conflict involving Tudorama staff and an irate motorist. Other world news, China’s peace plan for Ukraine, Sunak’s (and Johnson’s) plans for the Northern Ireland border.
Shortly after I started reading the article, I had that feeling which accompanies everyday creativity. There is something very interesting being reported. The information would make the basis for a study of creativity.
I begun the task in the hope of finding how creativity may play a part in well-being.
My working notes are provided here for such a study. They are very much in research notebook form. Each post will report 10 items for subsequent analysis
TR 20 February 2023
Tom Hennessey 100 RAF pilot Respecting other people and listening to them.
Dorothy Marley 100 executive secretary. Avoiding hurting people. Feeling good about yourself.
Pat Bishop 101 drama director. Being involved with people. Trying new things.
Edward Toms. 102 army officer a sense of humour involved with others, especially significant others
Amelia Mendel 106 actor having an interesting life engaged with others
Doris Martin typist keeping an active mind doing things having family
Nurse and activist 105 moderation keep your family together don’t be stuck in the past
Fernando winemaker read and remain curious don’t get lazy be active
Nikki 103 Air Force and hotel manager
Accept challenges. Plenty of reading. Get up early
A teacher. Plenty of fun and laughter
The first ten
Dangerous to judge prematurely. I shall be making my own conclusions up but not publishing them yet.
Where did the sentence ‘now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party’ originate?
Karl Marx, Revolutionary Groucho Marx, Wit and comedian Charles E Weller, Author of a history of the typewriter?
The answer is Charles E Weller, author of a successful book about the early history of the typewriter. He came up with a training exercise for young typewriters. (Yes, in the early 1900s, the users of typewriters were known as typewriters. Weller came up with the sentence as a practice drill).
One good idea leads to another
Later, the idea was modified to read:
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.
This works out as the required seventy characters (counting the fifteen spaces between words and the full stop to give a classical full line of type.
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
Incidentally, another even more famous typing exercise is
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
You may already know, or worked it out for the first time. ‘The exercise ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’ is an example of a pangram, a sentence containing all the letters of the alphabet.
Puns are great examples of every day creativity. Checking on its meaning, I learned that
‘ Pun (also called paronomasia) is a play on words or the humorous use of a word emphasizing a different meaning or application. They have been called by some “the lowest form of humor” ‘.
A Sniffy Attitude
This rather sniffy attitude has not prevented the survival of puns to the present day from its 18th century critics. I started collecting puns from Twitter some months ago and discovered a disproportionate number were being produced by a few punsters. One such goes under the Twitter label TollyTB who describes himself as a bacon, butty munching ex-rugby player older than the pyramids application order. He adds that oval balls are harder to juggle.
A Conversation with a Master Punster
I’ve recently found myself in Twitter conversation with Tolly after the following tweet
@TollyTB I once invented a new microphone , but I received some really bad feedback.
@Tudortweet One of your top tweets. Do you make then up, or pass them on?
@TollyTB Some are my own, but as with many jokes, there’s a large amount of rehashed ones.
@Tudortweet Bonus point for honest answer. Do you do standup?
@Tollytweet I occasionally stand up, but prefer to lounge on the sofa.
@Tudortweet Thought I could squeeze another out of you. How about a rugby one after the weekend’s fantasy matches?
@Tollytweet Pen rugby club v Crayola Rugby club. Result: A draw.
Twitter can be a mirthless medium. We need a few more punsters like Tolly TB to get the groan content a little higher.
The Welsh rugby team heads for Scotland after a traumatic beating in Cardiff by Ireland last week.
There was a time when Scotland were Wales’s bunnies. And there was a time when Wales reigned supreme as the Northern Hemisphere champion rugby players. This was the era when the competition was for the Triple Crown. The four teams competing were Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales.
Welsh Rugby was at its height
This was the time when Welsh rugby was at its height. But even then, in the 1950s and 60s a trip to Murrayfield was not undertaken without trepidation.My own memories are of glorious victories at the Arms Park against England and Ireland, but losses to unfancied Scottish teams at Murrayfield.
Scotland remained the whipping boys of the four nations competing for the triple Crown. Their reputation as weakest team continued when France joined in the tournament.
But then Italy was introduced into the club, and immediately became the whipping boys, providing Scotland with one team at least which they had chances of beating.
This relatively stable status quo remained for some years. but recently the balance has changed. France and Ireland are now rated numbers one and two in the world, seized supremacy over the long time number one from New Zealand, closely followed by the other southern hemisphere teams Australia and South Africa.
England could claim bragging rights over the northern hemisphere teams after their much vaunted World Cup victory.
A new order emerges
Last weekend, a new order began to emerge. Ireland demonstrated its superiority over Wales, leaving the land of my Fathers humiliated and shellshocked.
In contrast, Italy ran France close and showed they had closed the gap between themselves, and the other nations.
But the big surprise of the weekend was a stunning victory by Scotland over England. The world order in rugby has changed completely.
And so it came about that Wales is heading for Murrayfield, the underdogs for maybe the first time in living history.
Book lovers on social media have drawn attention to the rise in books banned from American schools as a result of what seems to be a growing and orchestrated movement. The Banned Books Week is ‘the annual event celebration of the freedom to read’. It is sponsored by a wide range of literary organisations.
The campaign began in 1982 to celebrate the rirst amendment (specifically the right to freedom of expression, and encourage the protection of controversial materials. But now, four decades later, book bans are on the rise, according to a new report from the free speech nonprofit organisation PEN America.
According to the report, “More” is the operative word for this report on school book bans, which offers the first comprehensive look at banned books throughout the 2021–22 school year. This report offers an update on the count in PEN America’s previous report, Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students’ First Amendment Rights (April 2022), which covered the first nine months of the school year (July 2021 to March 2022). It also sheds light on the role of organized efforts to drive many of the bans. Many Americans may conceive of challenges to books in schools in terms of reactive parents, or those simply concerned after thumbing through a paperback in their child’s knapsack or hearing a surprising question about a novel raised by their child at the dinner table. However, the large majority of book bans underway today are not spontaneous, organic expressions of citizen concern. Rather, they reflect the work of a growing number of advocacy organizations that have made demanding censorship of certain books and ideas in schools part of their mission.
“These groups probably do not necessarily represent a range of beliefs from our democracy,” PEN America’s Jonathan Friedman, one of the report’s authors, tells Education Week’s Eesha Pendharkar. “So they’re having an outsized impact in a lot of places on what it is that everybody gets to read.”
Such groups have played a hand in many of the book bans that took place over the last school year; 20 percent of bans can be directly linked to their work, while they appear to have influenced an additional 30 percent.
“This is a concerted, organized, well-resourced push at censorship,” Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of PEN America, tells the New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris. “[The effort] is ideologically motivated and politically expedient, and it needs to be understood as such in order to be confronted and addressed properly.”
The most disturbing fact to emerge is the list of the ten most banned books from American schools. They represent, arguably, a pretty good ‘must read’ list for any school library.
To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D.Salinger The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain Slaughter-House Five, by Kurt Vonnegut One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey Animal Farm, by George Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Lord of the Flies, by William Golding Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
Several are masterpieces, dealing with the dangers to any culture that seeks to restrict freedom of expression.
Unloved January departs with few fond memories captured in the world’s headlines. Anyone who committed to a dry January now has the choice of continuing in abstinence, or raising a glass to a return to former drinking habits. Research suggests the latter to be the more widely preferred option.
Puzzle of the week From a pub quiz: Name the members of the Gang of Four who disrupted British politics and issued the Limehouse declaration? Answer below
Monday 30 January 2023 News reflects on the damning report by Sir Laurie Magnus on Nadhim Zahawi’s conduct and his immediate dismissal by PM Rishi Sunak. Multiple deaths at Taliban suicide bombing in Peshawar Mosque.
Tuesday 31 January Miserable economic news to end the month. Britain projected growth assessed as worse performing industrialised country for 2023 by the International Monetary Fund. Israeli-Palestine violence worsens with fears of another Intifada (uprising). Latin American political protests are also continuing in Peru, Brazil, Haiti and Bolivia.
Wednesday 1st February Around 500,000 workers take strike action today. Teachers join the ranks of other Union members. Dominic Raab is the latest political figure facing censorship for unacceptable behaviour, through multiple accusations of bullying of staff. In Australia, the hunt for a tiny radioactive capsule ends successfully. ‘Needle in haystack job’ the newscaster said.
Thursday 2 February Bank of England raises interest rates, but predicts a shorter shallower recession. A kind of ‘could be worse’ announcement. Shell reports record $40 billion profits, and says it will pay tax in the U.K. for the first time for several years. Curious sports story. Welsh Rugby is banning the singing of Delilah during the rugby international on Saturday. The WRU is currently mired in allegations of a toxic culture of misogyny.
Friday 3 February America monitoring a Chinese balloon over Montana as a possible spy satellite, or a wayward weather instrument. Shell’s bumper profits result in pressure on the British Govt for tougher windfall taxes.
Saturday 4 February Man pleads guilty to treason Chess errors by top players linked to air pollution, according to a study in the prestigious Management Science journal. Man pleads guilty of treason over crossbow attempt on Queen’s life. Penalty no longer death meted out in any of various gruesome ways in past ages.
Sunday 5 February The Chinese balloon story ended in a political incident as the balloon was designated a hostile act by a foreign power, and was shot down by the might of America’s military powers of the coast of North Carolina. In England, ephemeral former PM Liz Truss launches her comeback campaign, saying she had the right ideas of borrowing to fund growth through tax cuts, but her plan has been sabotaged by powerful left-wing forces. Another hostile act from a powerful enemy?
Wit and Wisdom of Twitter
Several of our readers, some even beyond close relatives, have encouraged Tudorama to continue with this feature. So …
@TollytB Breaking: Cat eats ball of yarn, and gives birth to a litter of mittens.
@Joannah_Hardy ‘Yes, I poured coffee on the American boss. Yes, I told him it improved his shirt. Yes, an ugly scene followed. But, no, I do not accept this outweighs my contribution to the Team Away Day in 2019 when we beat accounts at paintballing and you said I was a valued team member’
@starbie99 on @Nextdoor : “met a lovely woman in the cafe this morning. Her sweet dog was very poorly. It had found the end of a joint in Kensington Gardens Marijuana is highly toxic to dogs. They are attracted by the smell and even a tiny amount can kill them. Please spread the word”
@Tudortweet Wonderful comedy sketch on Newsnight with Lord Baker defending the Prime Minister but with multiple interruptions from his phone, which defeated all attempts by Baker and the hapless presenter to turn it off.
@TollyTB If I boil my funny bone, does it become a laughing stock?
Answer to This Week’s Puzzle
The Gang of Four were Labour Party moderates who broke away and formed the SDP which later resulted in today’s Liberal Democratic Party. If you got all four you have an excellent memory, or should get out more and take up a hobby outside of politics. The SDP was founded on 26 March 1981 by four senior Labour Party moderates, dubbed the “Gang of Four’ Roy Jenkins David Owen Bill Rogers and Shirley Williams
Victory City by Salman Rushdie As might be expected, the novel, completed before the attack on its distinguished author, is an impressive work of imagination of the ancient Indian empire of the 15th century. On my To Be Read list. TR
The other Bennett Sister, by Janet Hadlow Jane Austin fans will find a new take on their favourite stories. RA
Young Person’s Books
There’s nothing faster than a Cheetah, by Tom Nicoll, illustrated by Ross Collins. Unless it’s the rhino on roller skates, or maybe the rocket-powered rabbit … GS
Influential, by Amara Sage ‘Internet Famous’ Almond Brown learns the hard way about being an internet celebrity and discovering how to escape from its cruel side. YA, maybe 14+ NA