Hmm, perhaps not quite the way it might be done

A British grandmother has bought the apartment in Portugal where Madeleine McCann vanished for half the asking price.

Kathleen Macguire-Cotton, who is in her sixties, is believed to have bought the apartment in Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve for just £113,000.

Identical properties in the Ocean Complex have been on sale for £255,000.

Mrs Macguire-Cotton revealed she is often offered money by passersby to see inside the flat, but has always declined requests out of respect.

I could imagine a pretty penny to be made from organising such “looks”.

Actually, given the publicity, a living or two could be made I would have thought.

Doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

The Met Office is warning of significant disruption from gale-force winds and heavy rain in much of Britain as the balmy start to the week is due to be blown away by Storm Doris.

Doris? A storm called Doris?

Names are very strongly associated with fashion and thus the age and class of the person with that name. Commonly, a name will start out as a Royal one – or more recently very well known in some other manner – and then move down the classes over the years.

Yes, OK, Doris Day, Doris Lessing, but the current position of the name in the British iconography is about right for a great grandmother of no great status or position in life (other, of course, then being the matriarch). It’s just difficult to think of a Storm Doris, what, a storm of teacosies and chilblain plasters?

Yes, this does help

In short, it has proved a spectacular fall for a cheerful young Englishman who seemed to have been born with every advantage, although his mother insisted yesterday that reports her son had access to a £250m trust fund were “ridiculous, absolute rubbish”.

Cottrell was expelled from his boarding school, Malvern College in Worcestershire, and never went on to university, but he proved such a hit at Ukip headquarters in London that no one suspected he might be in trouble with the law.

His mother claimed her son, who will be sentenced in early March, was coping “surprisingly well” with prison life. “I think it’s the boarding school [experience],” she said.

Can’t recall where I first saw that joke though. Decline and Fall?

Lovely little piece

So we all know who is next in line to the throne. But who is last in line?

If a few thousand people would just disappear, Ms. Vogel would be leading a far more enchanting life. She would be the queen of England.

Everyone knows that should 85-year-old Queen Elizabeth II die, her son Charles, if living, would succeed her. Second in line is Charles’s son Prince William, whose wedding to Kate Middleton Friday will be a global media event. William’s little brother, Prince Harry, is No. 3.

Ms. Vogel, 38, holds a different distinction: By the account of some genealogists, she is the last person in line to the throne.

And she’s rather got one English bit down pat, understatement:

“I can lean back and relax,” she said in an interview, pleased at the very remote prospect of having to preside over 16 sovereign states anytime soon. “It is really very comforting that one doesn’t have to worry about Great Britain.”

Can have that effect on me too

His second cousin was Ann Romney, whose husband, Mitt, was the Republican nominee in 2012. When the US TV show 60 Minutes came to the valleys to examine the roots of the Romney family, they visited Llangynoed Church, where several of Ann Romney’s antecedents are buried, and found that Evans had laid on a full Welsh choir whose singing left Ann in tears.

Not the good sort of tears though. Welsh choirs, too loud, too often and flat.


Finally forgiven!

He is joined on the list by other famous names including Ken Dodd, who is knighted at the age of 89.

He’d have had it 15 years ago if it weren’t for that tax thing.

The point of his act is that this goes on for 3 and 4 hours. There’s no one great joke anywhere. But just this stream for hour upon hour.

The advice is not to drink anything for a couple of hours before the show…

And I’m sure there’s a better clip out there than this if anyone would care to find it.

Sir Ken said: “I’m very proud, I’m very, very happy and full of plumptiousness. I feel highly tickled.”

This is a seriously terrible idea

Every public office-holder may have to swear an oath of allegiance to British values, Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, has signalled.

The loyalty pledge would be expected to cover elected officials, civil servants, and council workers.

Bugger off matey.

We’re British, we don’t do that. We don’t salute the flag, have a pledge of allegiance, all those things more insecure foreigners do.

This just in from Britain’s space program

A meat and potato pie has been sent “into space” attached to a weather balloon.
The pioneering delicacy was launched from Roby Mill, Wigan, at about 11:30 GMT ahead of the World Pie Eating Championship next week.
The aim is to see if its journey up to 100,000ft (30km) changes the molecular structure of the pie making it quicker to eat.

Yes, quite:

Bill Kenyon of Ultimate Purveyors from St Helens, who were commissioned to make the pie, said: “This is the first step to enable mankind to consume pies with more elegance and comfort.
“Neither the sky, nor the pie, should be the limit.”
He added: “This pie will be tested to the extreme. It’s structural integrity will be tested against the potential rigours of being served by a grumpy pie lady from Wigan or being transported for delivery in a pie van that hits a pothole in Hindley.”
It is thought the pie will freeze on its ascent and will be cooked as it reaches “massive speeds” on re-entry.

There really is only one appropriate reaction to this stirring news, isn’t there? Makes you proud to be British.

Via Matt L

Not that I’m a fan of Louise Casey but

Muslim communities remain isolated even after decades in the UK because men keep marrying foreign wives, a Government adviser has warned.

Dame Louise Casey said that there is a “first generation in every generation” phenomenon in Muslim communities which is acting as a “bar” to integration.

The review also accuses Labour and local authorities of having “ignored or even condoned” harmful cultural traditions for fear of being branded “racist or Islamaphobic”.

That all seems fairly sensible.

And we’d probably not really say “Muslim” but more Pakistani and possibly Bangladeshi, no? First cousin marriages and all that?

Local community spirit spotted – and God Knows Calne needs something

Faced with the annual headache of explaining to a class of eager pupils – and their even more eager parents – that there can only be one Mary and one Joseph, many teachers take a few liberties with the other roles, often casting a small army of angels, shepherds, wise men.

But now one town has taken that unofficial British tradition to a whole new level, inviting the entire population to join in – and earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records in the process.

Previously perhaps the best claim to fame of the town of Calne, near Chippenham in Wiltshire, was the fact that the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once lived there.

But now it can legitimately claim to rival lapland as the world’s Christmas capital, after persuading a record breaking 1,254 people, all of them residents of the town to dress up in traditional nativity play costumes as either wise men – or women – shepherds or angels.

While most of those taking part made their own costumes, preparations created a town-wide shortage of bed sheets.

The local launderette, Laundromagic, stepped in providing dozens of sheets, while a sewing group sprang up in the local pub, the White Hart, making costumes for weeks in advance.

But with less than an hour to go until the record attempt, organisers realised they were still around 100 sheets short, prompting a desperate dash around houses on the town’s Green asking residents to rifle through their laundry cupboards to meet the shortage.

To radically increase the numbers from here the trick would be to have three thousand wise men. Not something you’re going to find in Calne of course but Bath could rustle up that to travel from the East, from say Sydney Gardens to the Abbey Churchyard where the scene itself is played out.

One advantage of that route being that there aren’t too many pubs along it, meaning it would still be the Christmas spirit motivating.

So the ghastly little oiks need protecting from their betters, do they?

Working class students at an Oxford University college are to get a ‘class liberation officer’ to protect them from bullying and patronising comments.
Last week students at St Hilda’s College voted to create the new post, backing a motion that said working class students suffered from ‘microaggressions and classism at university’ and needed more support.


From out ever popular series, Questions In The Guardian We Can Answer:

The pursuit of happiness: could a ‘happy city index’ end Bristol’s blues?

Obviously not, it’s sodding Bristol, right? Nothing’s going to work, is it?

The African ancestry of Queen Charlotte

Sounds a little unlikely:

In spite of its roots, we are apparently still perfectly comfortable using the phrase, even though royal blood has probably been mixed for centuries. There have been Africans throughout Europe since at least Roman times, and marriages between European royals, with their fondness for black servants, slaves and extramarital reproduction, make it unsurprising that Queen Charlotte, wife of George III – described, in an era when slaves were omnipresent, as “ugly”, with a dark complexion and flared nostrils – may well have had some African heritage.

Chattel slavery of negroes was actually rather uncommon in Northern Europe. Very uncommon in fact. Especially in insignificant German Duchies. As we’re told:

Claims of African ancestry[edit]

Margarida de Castro e Sousa genealogy and descent.
In a 2009 episode of the PBS TV magazine, Frontline, Mario de Valdes y Cocom claimed that Charlotte may have had African ancestry and speculated that Scottish painter Allan Ramsay emphasized the Queen’s alleged “mulatto” appearance in his portrait of her to support the anti-slave trade movement.[38]
Valdes incorrectly said that an early-19th-century medical practitioner, Baron Stockmar, was Queen Charlotte’s personal physician and that he had described the Queen as having a “mulatto face” in his autobiography.[38] In fact, Christian Friedrich Freiherr von Stockmar was personal physician not to Queen Charlotte, but to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1816, at the time of Leopold’s marriage to Princess Charlotte of the United Kingdom.[39][40]
On the PBS website page for this episode, Valdes interprets an excerpt of a poem reproduced there as attesting to Charlotte’s African features,[38] but it clearly refers to her as descended from the Vandals, an East Germanic tribe.
According to Valdes, Queen Charlotte’s African contribution could have been inherited three to six times over from one ancestor nine generations removed, Margarida de Castro e Sousa, a 15th-century Portuguese noblewoman, who traced her ancestry to King Afonso III of Portugal (1210–1279) and one of his mistresses, Madragana (c. 1230–?). Critics of Valdes’ theory point out that Margarita’s and Madragana’s distant perch in the queen’s family tree – nine and 15 generations removed, respectively – makes any African ancestry that they bequeathed to Charlotte negligible.[41] in any event, Charlotte shared descent from Alfonso and Madragana with a large proportion of Europe’s royalty and nobility.[41]
Madragana was perceived by Valdes as African because she was described as a Moor by a single author.[42] This is denied by most other authors,[43][44][45][46][47] that point out that Madragana was most likely a Mozarab: an Iberian Christian living in the Iberian Peninsula when it was under Muslim control.


So might Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III, described as having broad nostrils and a wide mouth, and as being “brown of skin all over”.

Belgians? Not really, no. 12th century Belgians?

And then we get to the real point here:

If Harry was previously oblivious to the complex world of race and identity, he’s about to get a crash course. News of his latest relationship threatens to bring Britain’s simmering, unresolved issues with the myth of royal racial purity into the open. Markle may have found peace in the grey spaces of mixed identities, and has spoken of both her positive experience of blackness and the negative – seeing her mother called the N-word, and being passed over for acting roles by an industry that regarded her as too black to play a white role and too white to play a black one.

Nobody’s going to give a fuck. Damn, if we can accept the Middleton’s there’s nowt to worry about, is there?

Subs at the Times really should get onto this one

october 29 2016, 12:01am, the times
Why does prejudice against some accents persist?
oliver kamm

Everyone knows that it’s pendant, not pedant.

Every English speaker has an accent. And almost every English speaker has an accent that can be tied to a region. I say “almost” because of one highly unusual British accent that isn’t geographically identifiable.

As to the actual argument it’s not unusual at all. English has, rather more than many languages, a great selection of regional accents, that’s entirely true. They’re geographically concentrated in a manner that can surprise foreigners. Try telling someone from the West Coast of the US that you can tell not just the postcode (BA1, BA2) but the subset of the postcode (BA2 1xx is Twerton and very, very, different from BA2 2xx and so on) of someone from Bath within four words of their mouth opening and they’ll be astonished. You can’t really tell the difference between LA and SF by accent alone. German varies so as to be different languages across Lander but not so much between villages.

But what everywhere has is a national “educated” accent. One that betrays no hint of regional or local origin.

The unusual thing about English is the extreme locality of many accents plus their sheer number, not the existence of a single non-regional one.

At which point fun story from past comments here. When Arnie movies are in German they on’t use Arnie to do his own stuff. Because the Terminator sounding like some very, very, rural yokel from the edges of civilisation in Austria just doesn’t cut it.