The English

Whippet or wippet?

Some folks here are opening a new pub. Which they’re calling “The Wippet”.

Now you and I know that it’s really “whippet” for the dog breed. But before I go and jeer at them (they are not native English speakers) is wippet an allowable spelling or are they just wrong?

Err, no Telegraph, really, just no

The nearby town of Bruton was already beginning to draw artists, musicians and designers as a weekend retreat when Hauser & Wirth opened the showroom, along with holiday rentals and an artists’ residence at Durslade Farmhouse, in 2014.

Soon, Bruton found itself described as the “new Notting Hill” in the pages of British Vogue, no less, with luminaries such as theatre impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh, fashion designers Alice Temperley and Phoebe Philo, filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson and legendary photographer Don McCullin setting up home there.

Six years on, the picturesque town at the western end of the Cotswolds has become the most searched-for destination for prospective property buyers. Searches for property in the area leapt by 72 per cent this year, according to new data from Rightmove, the UK’s biggest property website.

Bruton? Cotswolds?

No. Blimey, it’s only one over from Shepton Mallet. Lordy be, it’s close to Frome. We might say it’s by Cranbourne Chase, or even the Dorset Downs, but the Cotswolds stop well north, up by Bradford on Avon at the very latest.

A little image of England’s class divide

Two obituaries today, one of Nobby Stiles, one of JJ Williams. The second being a sporting generation younger than the first but equally dominant in his chosen game.

But the conjunction of the two leads to an observation. I’ve never actually seen film of Nobby playing. Not knowingly at least, although I’m sure I’ve seen a clip of the ’66 final at some point. Whereas JJ was one of those that I spent the 70s watching. Sitting on the sofa, father in his armchair, us both twitching in excitement and bemoaning the English inability to hold a pass.

This isn’t just about a function of decades though. Rugby was and is, in England, a middle class game, among players and watchers. There are regions where this is not so – Cornwall for example – but it is largely true across the country. Football, until the late 90s at least when it became reverse fashionable, was a working class game.

Wales is very different in this, or at least used to be in the period I’m talking about.

Of course, all the English – and most of the Welsh – know this already as it’s rather in the bone. For outsiders though. It would be entirely common that if Nobby hadn’t been in that World Cup Final then generations of an entire layer of society would have no idea who he was or even have known of his existence. Despite being a European Cup winner, League etc. Equally, there are generations of a very much larger layer of society who didn’t – and don’t – know who JJ Williams was even as that Nobby ignorant layer regards him as one of the greats.

Of course, this is normal in that followers of one sport will know the players in that sport and etc. The point being made here being that in England, until recently, those mapped so closely over class backgrounds. Indeed, which sport you followed was one of the definers of class……

Oooooh, excellent!

The headmistress of the UK’s “strictest” school in Wembley Park has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Katharine Birbalsingh, co-founder of Michaela Community School, has been made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to education.

Should be a KG of course……

A little note about assortative mating

So, in the honours list. Looking at the DBEs (which is where we would see such a thing).

Three of the 12 who gain the DBE were already “Lady” summat. And “Lady their husband’s surname”, not “Lady I’m the daughter of a duke”.

Sure, hardly amazin’ or anythin’ but it does tend to support that idea of assortative mating, dunnit? The incidence of those gaining a title under their own steam plus also being married to someone who gains one is rather higher than the incidence of titles among the population more generally.

Sure, we could say that it’s just that the same sort of group collect all the rewards of the society. But that’s still assortative mating.

Not sure what to think about this:

Order of St Michael and St George (Knight Grand Cross) GCMG Sir David ATTENBOROUGH OM CH CVO CBE

Possibly that that’s quite enough? Or perhaps wot, no KG?

Easy enough to carry on with

All is fair in love and cod war. And with the EU’s coastal states under pressure to give way on Britain’s demands for greater fishing catches in its waters post-Brexit, any old argument is worth a try.

When the issue of the future access of European fishing fleets was being discussed by EU ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday the Belgian government’s representative, Willem van de Voorde, made a notable intervention.

To the confusion of some, and the delight of others, the ambassador cited a treaty signed some 350 years ago by King Charles II which had granted 50 Flemish fishermen from Bruges “eternal rights” to English fishing waters. It was an important historical footnote illustrating the long relationship between Belgian fishermen and British waters, Van de Voorde suggested.

Cool. So, 50 fishermen – if there are that many in actual Bruges, and not Zeebrugge – gain access to British waters. Limit ’em to late 17th century technology and we can stand tall as peeps who keep their word then, right?

How glorious a world this is

This is fun:

Sally Redman-Davies, peashooting world champion, 2018 and 2019

OK, so that’s a pub that has a go one weekend a year. What fun. But this is glorious:

I started in about 1993. A friend was building a lawn mower to race, so I thought I’d build one, too. I went to a garden centre in Woking and bought an old scrap mower: it was just a pile of bits, but I’ve never looked back.

I didn’t do very well for the first couple of years, so I spent six months building myself a new mower: a 24-inch Atco, and it was perfect. Working as a mechanic by day definitely helped. The mower handled really well and just kept going and going. No one beat me for five or six years.

The sport has four categories. Group 1 is for those really old-fashioned cylinder mowers that you walk up and down your garden with; the gearing is changed and the racers run behind their mowers. Group 2, the category I race in, features roller-driven mowers – the kind you might see groundsmen cutting cricket pitches with, only with a towed seat attached to them. The engine is also modified, so it revs a bit faster. It’s like riding a motocross bike, with handlebars, throttle and brake levers; it’s just that your backside is right next to the ground. A group 3 machine is a sit-on garden mower of anything up to about 14 horsepower, while group 4 mowers are effectively bonneted tractors.

An entire grouping and system and league and world championship of lawn mower racing.

One could pretend to be serious and talk about how we clearly have multiple systems of social standing and thus are not that singly hierarchical society so moaned about.

Or we can be human about it and simply revel in the glories that our fellows proffer us. Yes, of course it’s absurd and ain’t that glorious?

If we can just consider this for a moment

Prince Harry and Meghan call to end ‘structural racism’ in Britain

Hmm, well.

The world is ‘created by white people for white people’, says the Duke of Sussex

Well Harry, possibly lucky that. Because if the wipipo weren’t around then presumably the world wouldn’t have been built. We’d be in some other world that didn’t include all those things built by said wipipo. Build your own list of what that world wouldn’t have.

But more specifically, let’s think about this structural bit. Half caste bird turns up from abroad, becomes Duchess and gains royal title. And we’re racists?

Excuse me

‘It’s not sensible in a pandemic’: cancel Halloween, officials advise

Halloween is not in fact an official event, devised or declared by government or those who would rule us. Rather, it’s a pure and entire invention of the little platoons out there. Who will be the people to decide whether it goes ahead or not.

These tossers really are claiming that we should have their permission to take the kids around to see the neighbours.

Lions with flamethrowers, there is no other answer.

Well, no

Belgian king’s daughter fights for right to call herself a princess
Delphine Boël, whose mother had affair with ex-king Albert II, also wants to take her father’s surname

The surname, sure. But the title? Nope, titles move with and only with legitimacy.

At least that’s the sensible and English way of doing it, what J Foreigner gets up to is a bit more mysterious.

Is it who cares? Or Diddums?

The BBC is facing a major backlash from Scottish nationalists after it said it would no longer routinely broadcast Nicola Sturgeon’s daily press conferences on TV….

If the demented porridge wogs weren’t complaining then clearly we’d have the world set up the wrong way. And if they are complaining then, well, who gives a ……

How super!

Um, almost the entire Scots Wikipedia was written by someone with no idea of the language – 10,000s of articles

It gets delicious too:

That view was backed up by the chief scientist at text analytics company Luminoso, Robyn Speer, who noted that several large language detectors use Scots Wikipedia as a reference.

“I believe that the cld2, cld3, and fastText language detectors all have Scots (sco) as one of the languages they claim to detect, and all of them are getting their belief about what Scots is from Wikipedia,” she noted.

In other words, fake Scots language is rapidly becoming real Scots online. And all because of a prolific apparent non-Scot.

Well, we know it’s The Guardian but still

Shouldn’t they know what the capitalist exploiters and their lackeys wear?

It is the most famous self-introduction from any character in movie history. Three cool monosyllables, surname first, a little curtly, as befits a former naval commander. And then, as if in afterthought, the first name, followed by the surname again – for all the world as if we needed it narrowed down, and wouldn’t recognise one of the world’s most famous fictional brands. Sean Connery carried it off with icily disdainful style, perhaps at the baccarat table, in full evening dress with a cigarette hanging from his lips.

Evening dress – certainly back then even if matters are a little more louche these days – means white tie, not the black tie we see Bond in.


And definitely not that abhorrence that we sometimes see Americans in – black tie with wing collar. Gaaah!

The Telegraph used to know this sort of stuff

But the feuding, double dealing and murder depicted in the Scottish play has been superceded by a real-life battle at Cawdor Castle between one of the earl’s descendants and his stepmother.
Colin Campbell, the seventh Earl of Cawdor, was enraged after the dowager duchess Lady Angelika Cawdor, applied to build an events, exhibition and banqueting venue in the castle’s garden.

Quite how the widow of an Earl becomes a dowager duchess is unknown. She is, of course, a dowager countess.

And why not?

Australians call for freedom of movement as part of post-Brexit trade deal
Agreement could be stepping stone to ‘Canzuk Union’ between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and UK

A goodly step toward recreating that freedom of movement within the Empire pre-196wheneveritwas. Also neatly sidestepping the Friedman problem of free movement and a welfare state. If the free movement is between places of roughly equal wealth – and thus roughly equal welfare states – then that problem is solved.

After all, with the EU free movement, no one was worrying about hordes of Dutch, or Germans, arriving.

Dunno about this, dunno

Not sure if it’s me being oversensitive or that the headline writer here has a tin ear:

Workers cancel family trips home amid fears Poland is next on quarantine list

It’s just that conjunction of “workers” with “Polish”. Take it either way, workers state of the old or the new idea that they are indeed the industrial proletariat imported etc.

Just sounds odd in a way I’m not really explaining…..

Holy Lord, seriously?

Restaurateurs are hoping the scheme will boost a struggling sector. Hawksmoor, the high-end steak restaurant chain, said it received 5,500 bookings in six hours after it advertised the “best steak and chips in Britain” for a tenner (it reduced the cost of a 300g portion of rump steak and chips from £30 to £20 before applying the discount).

£30 for steak and chips? And that’s rump?

I’ve been out of England too long, obviously, given my surprise at that number. I’d expect dinner for 2 including the wine for that. Actually, we do go for – lunch, agreed – for two for significantly less than that. Including the wine, coffee, amuse guele and tip.