In this blogposting…* Le Blog à Pépère
* The Languid Goat
* St George’s Day
Wider still and wider...
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LE BLOG À PÉPÈRE
Serge has put three striking quotations on his blog 205. To see his blog, click on his image on this page and then on his blog name.
My favourite of the four quotes is the third…
’On a deux vies; la deuxième commence le jour où on réalise qu'on en a juste une..…’
‘We each have two lives; the second begins when we realise we have only one…’
Exactly and precisely right.
THE LANGUID GOAT
Thanks to everyone who’s sent me odd and occasionally baffling proverbs from foreign parts. Here’s a selection…
* Never board a ship without an onion.
* When the bed is small, lie in the middle.
* Why should a man without a head want a hat?
* He who lives longest has the most old clothes.
* Do not stab yourself just because you have a golden knife.
* It’s no use applying eye-medicine from a second-storey window.
* God preserve us from pitchforks for they make three holes.
They are from Holland, Spain, Chile, South Africa, India, Japan and Switzerland and, to be brutally honest, I’m not what moral lessons any of them are trying to teach us. Onions? Ships? Headless men? Golden knives? Pitchforks?
If you have any further contributions to our growing truckshunter digest of odd sayings, please email them to me.
And remember...peacocks may be grand but it’s duck feathers that keep us warm in winter.
In posting 446 I asked for reliable shortcake recipes and the redoubtable Jason, who - if memory serves me right - lives up in the border country, has sent me one. And it worked!
I have now spent almost an entire weekend getting fatter on proudly home-baked shortcake. At this rate, I’ll be applying for The Great British Bake-Off.
Thanks Jason - you’re a star!
SOMETHING INTERESTING FROM BELGIUM
I recently spent an evening with someone who had one of the most unusual pets I’ve ever come across.
She owned a hare.
It’s illegal - and also probably highly problematic - to keep a native British brown hare as a pet, but my host’s was a Belgian Hare, a type specially bred for, and well-suited to, a life of cossetted luxury - which is what this one was lucky enough to be getting.
He was an extraordinary animal - so beautiful to look at and to stroke. I could see quite easily that he was well worth all the love and affection that was being lavished on him.
Being close to him and petting him made me think, though, of all the British wild animals I have either never seen or only seen rarely.
I can remember seeing only two (living) foxes in my entire life. I have only seen a brown hare in the wild once. I have never seen a badger at all. Or an adder. I think I once saw a stoat in the fields above Crook - although it could have been a weasel (as the joke has it).
I’ve only seen toads 2 or 3 times and - incredibly - the same applies to hedgehogs, which are supposed to be common as muck. I’ve never knowingly seen a grass snake, a shrew, a water vole or a dormouse either.
This could, of course, be because I’ve spent 64 years walking round with my eyes closed. I prefer to believe, though, that it’s because we townies have become so divorced from the natural world that we wouldn’t know a buzzard from a brown rat.
I therefore propose that funds be found immediately for the establishment of a kind of British zoo. After all, none of the animals I’ve mentioned is remotely exotic. We should already know all we need to in order to keep a couple in captivity and they should all be easy to find.
And in any case, it shouldn’t be easier to see elephants, giraffes and ostriches in zoos than it is to see foxes, badgers and moles, which it seems to me are just as rarely seen by British people.
Get to it.
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ST GEORGE’S DAY
The English have never made a fuss about their patron saint’s feast day. Attempts to celebrate it are usually rather lily-livered and contrived. In Newcastle, there was a St George’s Day Parade, but it was held on April 20 rather than April 23 - a Saturday rather than a Tuesday (which would have disrupted the traffic).
The way we quite arbitrarily shift ‘celebration days’ has always made me proud to be English. We must be the only country on Earth not to celebrate May Day on May Day but on another day entirely - this year, we’ve decided that May Day is May 6.
We shifted Armistice Day from November 11 to the nearest Sunday to November 11 (and renamed it Remembrance Sunday) so that day-to-day lives would not be disrupted by two minutes’ silence. Honouring the Great and Glorious Dead mustn’t be allowed to get in the way of business - even for 120 seconds. It’s only in recent years that the British Legion has successfully lobbied for 'the silence' to be restored to its proper day.
Some public holidays really are ‘date dependent’ - like Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Americans wouldn’t mark Independence Day on ‘the nearest Monday to July 4’ and it seems ludicrous to me to celebrate St George’s Day on any day other than April 23.
I’ve written to the Queen (whose birthday in April we celebrate in June).
My thanks to Vivienne for pointing out that Google, of all people, made a decent job of marking St George’s Day by designing a special masthead for the occasion. As you can see, it’s pretty neat.
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