Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

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Pancakes

March 9, 2011

Ok, so for those of you who are on the ball you’ll realise that today isn’t Pancake Day.  Actually it was yesterday but I’m celebrating today.   Why? Well you see it’s simple really – my Dad is THE pancake expert.  Not just the pancake expert in our family but a pancake expert in the wider scheme of things too.  When he worked he used to be the official pancake maker on Shrove Tuesdays in his office, and spent a good part of the day mixing up batter, cooking up pancakes & tossing them in the air – complete in proper chef’s hat!

So obviously with an expert in the family it’s only right that I (along with the rest of my family) bow to his superior knowledge and skill and let him do the pancake cooking, don’t you think? 😉

So pancakes all round this evening it is then – yum! 🙂

Just lemon & sugar on mine please .. 😉

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Census forms

March 7, 2011

Well how exciting.  This evening I got home to find an A4 envelope had been delivered.  This isn’t just any old envelope, it’s the envelope which contains the census forms for the 2011 Census.  Many people might not be excited by this, but as someone who has been researching their own family history for a number of years, and who has spent many hours pouring over old census returns looking for snippets about my ancestors and insights into their lives, well for me it’s exciting.

I’m looking forward to filling in the forms in my own fair hand.  I won’t be completing them online because I know how great it is to actually see your ancestors own handwriting.  I just hope that there will be some ancestors who will be interested enough in finding out about me 100 years from now!

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World Book Night

March 5, 2011

Saturday 5th March 2011 was World Book Night and to mark this event one million books were being given away to readers around the UK.  Quite something I must admit.

It made me wonder about books and reading though.  I know of people that never read a book.  People that never pick up those leaves of paper bound together.  There really are people who just dont enjoy reading! :O That is rather shocking dont you think?  It’s not that they are not fans of fiction, or that they dont want to read factual content.  No, they just dont want to read!  Amazing huh?

Ok, so I dont read half as much as I should or would like to.  But that’s more an issue to do with my lack of free time or my bad planning of the free time I do have.  I can spend hours with my head in a book – actually in lots of books – when I’m away on my holidays and I find that reading really is a good way to spend time.  To be able to absorb myself in something else, to learn about other things, or to simply be entertained is priceless.  So World Book Night is a good thing in my opinion as it might just encourage a few more people to pick up a few more pieces of paper and learn about a few more things.

Maybe one day I’ll get around to writing my own novel, but in the meantime I’ve a bookcase full of books to get through and a Kindle full of books as well.

Happy reading people 🙂

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Brands

February 18, 2011

As a marketer I find it interesting just how easily brands becoming a part of our lives and sub-consciousness.  After all, how many of us in the UK talk about doing the hoovering?  How about googling something?  We’ve even started adopting brand slogans within our day-to-day lives: “because I’m worth it” “every little counts”.

Take today’s photo, I’m sure I don’t even need to tell you what it is.  I reckon if I told you I was at Costa you’d know just what I went for.  Similarly with other brands and shop names.  Many of them are just adopted into our vocabulary and lifestyles like a duck to water, so to speak!

There’s been talk this week about the issue of product placement – something which is common place on the other side of the Atlantic but which has not been allowed in this country.  But does blocking out the name really make a difference?  If you see a can of Coke with the name hidden, can you not tell that it really is coke?  Hasn’t the brand image already been seeped into your sub-conscious enough for you to recognise it without even seeing the name?

So does it really matter if we watch television dramas and see a bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup on the counter?  Will seeing a brand on television make us rush off down to the supermarket immediately, in search of the product for ourselves?  I guess there might be some people who are easily influenced, who will consider these “must-haves”.  But I think on the whole, that most of us will not even notice the brand names.  After all, they’re already an integrated part of our lives anyway, aren’t they?

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the best place to live is …?

November 4, 2009

world-mapok, so the results of the latest survey have just been released and the winner is …..

are you sitting comfortably?
are you ready for this? 
anticipation mounting?

<drum roll>

the winner is … Norway 🙂

Hmm, an interesting choice but one that I really can appreciate – or is that just from my skewed English perspective?  I see Norway as being a very clean country, with intelligent, good-looking people, a high standard of living and beautiful countryside.  And I’ve never even been there – but I really would like to go one day.  I want to see those fjords for myself, to look at those expanses of oh so white snow, to meet the people, to appreciate all that daylight in summertime – although I dont think I’d like the wintery months of darkness I must admit. 

But all in all, Norway’s not a bad choice in my opinion.   What do you think?

(To read what the BBC has to say about this, click here )

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and the millionth winner is …

June 10, 2009

wordsToday, the millionth English word has been unveiled. Suspense has been gathering all week – well ok for me it’s only been over the last couple of hours since I heard about this imminent announcement, but still 😉

To be honest, I’m a little disheartened to learn that it’s actually an American group who are going to make this decision.  Yes, American, those of the land of the free who regularly subject great injury & infliction upon our great English language.

Nonetheless, I did wonder what those powers that be would extol on us?  What would they deem to be a word worthy of being added to our potential vocabulary.  I say potential because apparently the average person actually only uses a vocab of about 3000 words!  Quite a waste considering the wealth of options which is seems are available.   Why say colourful when you can say iridescent? (I do like that word)  Why not use irascible instead of angry?  After all Shakespeare had a vocab of some 27,000 words and Victor Hugo, well he stretched his to some 45,000!

A few months ago I wrote about how it was now not pc to use Latin words in everyday life, that we are excluding people by doing so.  Are we not then pandering to those of a lower common denominator, not endeavouring to educate and inform and encourage them to extend their knowledge?  Hmm, if we carried on like that, we’d still be cavemen, using sticks & stones & dressed in rags.  No, I think it’s our duty to educate our children, to help them to become better than us, to increase their options & provide them with even better opportunities than we had.  Granted language might not be the only way to do this, but it’s a good place to start.

Anyway, back to the topic in hand.  That millionth word.  Are you wondering what it is yet? 😉

Well I’m pleased to announce that the newest word in the English language is …  wait for it  …

Web 2.0

Are you as underwhelmed as I am?

I must admit I was hoping for something a bit more original, something interesting, something which told a story.  But I guess this is very much a word of our times, isnt it?  In this techy age in which we live, we are constantly bombarded by new terminology and expressions, constantly seeing words introduced which illustrate the technology around us which we are learning to accept as everyday life.  After all, how many of us google? or surf? or even blog?  So I supposed – reluctantly- that Web 2.0 is another illustration of that world in which we live, of life today.

I’m passionate about words and language and all those things.  After all, they are the essence of communication, the very heart of our conversations.  I believe we should try to increase our personal vocabulary and learn more.  I would even go so far as to say we shouldnt just concentrate on English, but that we should learn other languages as well.  After all communication breaks down boundaries and what better way to communicate but to talk – but that’s a whole different post.

So go forth and talk and learn! 🙂

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trial by media

October 30, 2008

If you live in the UK, you cant fail to have heard all the uproar & commotion in the media this week about a rather foolish episode generated from a couple of British comedians.

I’m not agreeing with what they said or did but I dont think I’m the only one that thinks this has been blown totally out of proportion and an unbelievable deal has been made out of it, am I?

Ok, they were wrong. They did something stupid. They’re both old enough & wise enough – hmm or at least experienced enough – to know better. Their editors and producers should never have let these things be aired. There has obviously been a breakdown in communciation and what they believe to be acceptable has clearly overstepped the mark of the majority. But at the end of the day, is it really such a big deal that even the Prime Minister needs to get involved?!! That the leader of the opposition should be commenting on it as well? Hasnt the PM got more important things to be worrying about right now? And is this really anything to do with him or with politics anyway?

What I find interesting is, if it hadnt been for the media, would there really have been all this uproar and complaints? Would people have bothered to write in, to voice their opinions at all? I understand that when the programme in question was actually broadcast there were only a mere handful of complaints, a figure which seems to have escalted into the 1000s now. (It’s a shame more people dont get more involved in things which really need a voice to shout out & speak up for them.) In short, it’s the media itself which seems to have created all the hype and controversy over this – rather ironic that the BBC itself was partly responsible for harming some of its own in this way.

So, at the end of the day, should we really be making decisions & judgements based on the reactions of people who only learnt about this whole sorry episode by here-say? Should we really be intimidated by the pressure of the “mob” who, let’s face it would never have heard about this directly, partly because they are clearly NOT the audience for which this was intended. And in that case, does it really matter if this group of people do disapprove?

I’m not condoning what was said & I do agree that it was wrong. The presenters in question clearly overstepped the mark and should be shown the error of their ways. But does this really warrant the reaction & the media coverage that has been seen since? You might even say I’m contributing to this further. Well you might be right, but I’m far more concerned about the patterns which are evolving now, that “we” as a nation seem more worried about the opinions of groups of people caught up in the hype & aftermath.

Yes, this should be examined to determine how it happened and measures should be taken to ensure it never happens again. Yes, the presenters concerned should have their knuckles rapped. Yes, apologies should be given & attempts to rectify the situation should be made.

But no, we should never prevent that freedom of speech for which the west is known and we should never be pressurised into making decisions based on the actions or reactions of a group who are clearly able to shout loudly and who, at the end are only behaving this way because of what they have been told afterwards.

Maybe it is a generational thing. I don’t know. But my worry is that this is the short straw coming ever closer to numbing the voice of the media, as we determine that everyone must live up to our own expectations & should never say anything slightly controversial. And that it a rather slippery slope to be moving towards.

I find all of this a rather sad sign of the times. I just hope everyone concerned can learn something positive & constructive from this rather sorry affair.

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