The English

Well, yes, but, but…..

England’s steepest street has been named by the Ordnance Survey for the first time as as a hill in Bristol, where residents tie their cars to lampposts to stop them from rolling away.

Bristol’s residential Vale Street has the steepest gradient in England with a slope of 22-degrees.


While the hill may be tricky it does have its upsides. Katherine Haddow, who lives on the street, added that the slope gives home-owners the advantage of a “completely un-obscured” view across the city.

Well, it gives a great view over Brislington which might not be all that much of an advantage. Still, they can see the Bath Road from there. You know, the route out of Bristol and off into civilisation.

We sure this is right?

‘Ey up duck’ is not a phrase often associated with inhabitants of Jordan, Syria or parts of Africa.

Yet for asylum seekers living in Bradford, not only has learning how to ‘speak Yorkshire’ has become an integral part of English lessons – it may also be the solution to bridging the north-south divide.

Forster College, which is part of Bradford College, is running 12-week courses in Yorkshire dialect for mature students “to improve their spoken English”.

‘Ey up’, ‘ta love’, ‘I’m off t’shops’, and ‘flippin’ ‘eck’, are just some of the words and phrases which are taught to help them understand everyday conversations and to feel like they fit in with the local community.

Dunno. Might not نريد بعض المحبوبين فتاة صغيرة؟ aid a little more. Or maybe کچھ پیاری پیاری لڑکی چاہتے ہیں؟?

Headmaster notices Mick Jagger of a popular music combo

Public schoolboys speak “mockney” to hide their privileged education, a former headmaster has claimed.

Barnaby Lenon, ex-headmaster of Harrow School, said its pupils, as well as Etonians, kept the habit years after leaving school.

“There has long been a tendency for schoolchildren at private schools to adopt their own language, and certainly with an emphasis on mockney,” he told The Sunday Times.

“It continues into adult life. George Osborne and Tony Blair are both prone to lapse into Estuary English so they resemble the Kray brothers rather more than the private school background they come from.”

Mr Lenon said the ex-chancellor and the former prime minister did not “appear to be upper-class, because being upper-class these days is not a good thing”.

Erm, yes?

Middle class people do middle class things

Terrible, innit?

He said a large proportion of bursaries were handed out to the “squeezed middle” – children of doctors, lawyers and owners of small businesses – who can no longer afford to pay fees in full.

“The majority of means tested bursaries will be topping up the squeezed middle who can’t afford £40,000-a-year fees,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“We are going back to the demographic profile that used to send their children to the local independent schools when I started in teaching – local solicitors, GPs, people who run family businesses, local farmers, people in the armed forces from the rank of, say, major upwards – the middle classes. They are being squeezed out of private education because of affordability.”

How appalling.

I don’t think so Miss

Why I’ve decided it’s OK to accept an MBE from the Queen
Ms Dynamite

T’ain’t Brenda who decides who gets the MBE. Nor near all gongs – it’s politics which does. The Victorian Order is hers, so also, umm, Companion of Honour? Or is it Order of Merit? There’s a committee at Number 10 which decides on the rest.

And you’re going to be very lucky indeed if it’s Brenda who pins the MBE on you. Might find it’s a more minor royal, possibly even as Deputy Lord Lieutenant.

And, umm, yes, we do expect the English to know these things.

Does England actually have any Roma?

A little it here:

A time bomb’: how social tensions are rising in a corner of northern England
Roma and British Pakistani communities are increasingly divided over problems of crime, litter and antisocial behaviour


Eighty miles away in Liverpool, Gill Furniss made plans to leave the Labour party conference, missing Jeremy Corbyn’s speech. As the local MP, she could see that the fight had the potential to reignite long-running tensions in Page Hall – especially if, as chatter at the school gate suggested, the fight had begun when a Roma girl pulled off the headscarf of a Muslim classmate.

Roma. Now, I’ve worked in Czech where there are a lot or Roma. Here in Portugal there’re quite a few – had a little horse fair at the end of the road a few weeks back. Here there’re still those living out of the back of a cart etc.

The thing is, does England actually have Roma?

Travellers, sure, the Irish kind of which have been shown to be a little different from the average Irish population but not much. But actual Roma? North Indian genetic stock and all that? Migration across Europe in the past couple of thousands years? Entirely different language group etc?

I don’t know which is why I ask youse guys.

British agriculture is still largely indigenous

More than half of students admitted to 23 universities are from ethnic minorities.

The startling statistic is revealed as The Sunday Times today becomes the first newspaper to compile a university league table for social inclusion as part of its Good University Guide.

Nearly three-quarters of the student intake at Aston and Bradford universities are from ethnic minorities — while at Harper Adams, a largely agriculture-based university in Shropshire, the figure is 0.8%.

British agriculture has probably been largely indigenous since the passing of the Beaker People in fact….things can be slow to change out there. Even the Normans only changed who owned, not who farmed.


£1 polystyrene pumpkins branded ‘total madness’

“I think it’s totally unnecessary and total madness,” said Emily French, owner of Foxes Farm Produce in Colchester which sells thousands of pumpkins every autumn.

My word, you do?

And why not?

Seems rather more useful anyway:

More A levels in PE than French as pupils drop European languages

PE is now more popular than French at A level, a sign of the sharp decline in European languages being studied.

Only 8,713 candidates took French, this year’s results show, down 8 per cent in a year. In 1996 French was one of the most popular A levels, taken by 22,718 students. A total of 11,307 took PE this year.

After all, we’ve always found it more useful to thrash a Frenchman than speak to him. Enjoyable too.

Sure, why not?

The earliest Britons were black-skinned, with dark curly hair and possibly blue eyes, new analysis of a 10,000-year-old Somerset skeleton has revealed.


The results show, contrary to popular belief, that the founding generations of Britons owed more in appearance to Paleolithic Africans, from whom all humans descend.

Scientists said they show that commonly understood racial categories are historically only “recent constructions”.

Sure. Lighter skin is an evolutionary adaptation to northern climes.

Dr Yoan Dieckmann, from University College London, who took part in the project, said: “The historical perspective that you get just tells you that things change, things are in flux, and what may seem as a cemented truth that people who feel British should have white skin, through time is not at all something that is an immutable truth.

“It has always changed and will change.”

And yet that’s a different point. Isn’t it now? Something of a logical leap from “early Britons were black skinned” to “mass immigration ain’t no thing.” Note that my comment is purely about the logic on display, not the assertion itself.

Yes it was, and?

Half a century ago, Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation took BBC viewers on a tour de force of Western culture, setting a standard for arts broadcasting and educating a generation along the way.

This year, the 21st century version of the landmark show is to turn a critical eye to the history of British civilisation, questioning whether it is built on “looting and plunder” and who, really, are the barbarians.

Anyone want to try and name a non-autarchic civilisation that wasn’t built upon plunder?

Wrong side of the Pennines

Newlyweds spend their wedding night in (separate) police cells after the bride spat at a police officer during the reception at their local pub
Neill John Draper, 44 and Keira Andrea Draper, 39, got married on December 22
But the couple spent their wedding night at a custody suite in Barrow, Cumbria
Police were called to their reception at the Farmer’s Arms pub, in Ulverston
The bride launched a foul-mouthed tirade, called officers ‘pigs’ then spat at them when she was handcuffed

If this had happened in ‘Toon it wouldn’t even make the papers, would it? Or, perhaps, as a “the newly married couple spent their first night of wedded bliss in the traditional manner” story?

Do stop being an idiot, please

A few years ago, I interviewed Nicola Roberts, the best member of Girls Aloud, to talk about her underrated debut solo album Cinderella’s Eyes. She discussed what it was like to be on Popstars: The Rivals, the TV singing competition that predated The X Factor and gave birth to the band. What stood out most to me was how it felt for her to ricochet between two worlds. She was 16 and split her time between TV studios in London, and hanging out at the chippie in her home town of Runcorn. She remembered being taken to a fancy dinner at an expensive restaurant where none of the girls could understand the menu. She had to ask the head of Universal Records: “What the fuck’s coriander?”

It doesn’t take much to get me on to Girls Aloud, but I thought of that particular anecdote when I saw the State of the Nation report by the Social Mobility Commission this week. Its findings are a sobering confirmation of what is apparent to anyone whose world is not centred on London or the slim area surrounding it. Social divisions are deeply entrenched in British society, and social mobility, this notion that you can be born “disadvantaged” and step outside of such circumstances given the right opportunities, increasingly looks about as achievable as the UK’s chances of walking away from the EU without self-destructing in the process. Alienation and resentment are growing, and for rural, coastal and formerly industrial areas in particular, the outlook is grim.

Good grief, you’re never going to get anywhere if you keep insisting that class in the UK is an economic matter.

We regard plumbers as working class (rightly or wrongly) and lawyers as very middle class indeed. Provincial plumbers make rather more than provincial lawyers. Coriander or not is a social matter, income an economic one. Not grasping this but then wanting to talk about class in Britain just ain’t ever gonna work.

So, to ask some foreigners

Is this true?

Our universities, the NHS and the BBC: three things that the rest of the world admires about Britain. It is no coincidence that all of them derive their values and ethics from outside the marketplace. If we want to ruin them, the quickest way is to bring in the values of finance and business – of profiteering from students, sweating academics and handing riches to the management.

Is this what is admired? Sorry, these three are?

I’ve lived most of my adult life abroad and I’ve most certainly heard people praise some parts of the university system – and not all of it, not by a long way. The BBC? Meh, other than parts of the World Service in repressive regimes not really. And no one, no one at all, I’ve met has said that they admire the NHS.

But to ask any foreigners who read here?

Something I have directly experienced though is our reputation for honesty. Not that it’s true or anything, but one day, when working in a country without any real rule of law or anything, I sealed a $300,000 deal on a handshake. The seller would be entirely and wholly at risk for the full amount for about two weeks as the export was made, arrived, checked, then paid for. No letter of credit, no bank guarantee. Just my handshake. Because, as everyone knows, when an Englishman gives his word… worked with me for I just couldn’t let the side own if people really do believe that.

But that is my personal experience. Bowler hats and London busses and all that – old maids cycling to communion, warm beer. It just ain’t that trio Chakrabortty is blethering on about.

This will be very amusing indeed

Malia Obama’s boyfriend has been revealed to be a former British public schoolboy who met the former first daughter at Harvard University.

Rory Farquharson, a former head boy at the prestigious Rugby School, was linked to Barack Obama’s eldest daughter after footage emerged appearing to show them kissing during the Harvard v Yale American football game.

Just the idea of the airheads populating American news reporting attempting to pronounce that name. Even I’m not sure how the family actually does it but I would guess something close to “Farson.” There’s an amusing little blog there in clips of people trying to say it…..