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Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Princess Behind the Dessert

Charlotte russe is a dessert invented by the French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833), who named it in honour of his former employer George IV's only child, Princess Charlotte , and his current, Russian employer Czar Alexander I (russe being the French word for "Russian"). It is a cold dessert of Bavarian cream set in a mold lined with ladyfingers.
Alternative to this is a Charlotte Royale, which has the same filling as a Charlotte Russe, but replaces the ladyfinger lining with Swiss roll.

New York City version

Charlotte russe was also a dessert or on-the-go treat popular during 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. It was sold in candy stores and luncheonettes throughout the five boroughs of New York. It consisted of a paper cup filled with yellow cake and whipped cream topped with half a maraschino cherry. The bottom of the cup is pushed up to eat.

The Cartoon Character behind the Sandwich

A Dagwood sandwich is a tall, multi-layered sandwich made with a variety of meats, cheeses and condiments. It was named after Dagwood Bumstead, a central character in the comic strip Blondie, who is frequently illustrated making enormous sandwiches. According to Blondie scripter Dean Young, his father, Chic Young, began drawing the huge sandwiches in the comic strip during 1936.
Though the actual contents of Chic Young’s Dagwood sandwich remain obscure, it obviously contains large quantities and varieties of cold cuts, sliced cheese and vegetables, plus additional slices of bread. An olive pierced by a toothpick or wooden skewer usually crowns the edible superstructure. “Dagwood sandwich” has been included in Webster’s New World Dictionary, and “Dagwood” (referring to the sandwich) has been included in the American Heritage Dictionary.

English Monarchs: George IV's Marriages

King George IV "Prinny" was a controversial figure in British history. As a young prince he fell in love with an older Roman Catholic, Maria Fitzherbert, and married her in secret. The marriage was soon discovered by his father George III and dissolved under the Royal Marriages Act which would not allow a marriage without the consent of the king. By his early 20's Prinny had become a profligate gambler, drinker and deeply in debt. He finally fulfilled his obligations and married Caroline of Brunswick in 1795 with pressure from his father who would only help him with his outrageous and ever mounting debt if he agreed to the marriage. Although the two were very ill suited they produced a daughter, Princess Charlotte, in 1796 and promptly separated. He did have his own following, but most of British society sympathized with Caroline.
By 1811 Prinny's father George III was deemed unqualified to continue his reign due to an ongoing bout of madness caused by porphyria. He was appointed Regent at this time and continued to rule in this vein until 1820 when he ascended the throne when George III died. One of the greater political follies he made was denouncing the Catholic Emancipation Bill for Ireland which he had originally strongly supported.
By the end of his life, George was a laughing stock and suffered from many health issues and illnesses. He rarely appeared in public and became a recluse. He died at Windsor castle on June 26, 1830. Although he was touted one of the most infamous rulers of England he did leave England with a few of its more well recognized architectural structures, including Buckingham Palace and Brighton Pavilion.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Poison in History and Literature

Historically speaking, Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519) is reputed to have handled poison skilfully. It was easy for Lucrezia to seduce men since she looked very sweet. She is described as having heavy blonde hair which fell past her knees, a beautiful complexion, hazel eyes which constantly changed colour and a natural grace which made her appear to "walk on air":  these were the physical attributes that were highly appreciated in Italy during that period. She had three husbands, who were chosen by her father and brother. She was accused of murders of which there was never evidence. It was rumoured that Lucrezia was in possession of a hollow ring that she used frequently to poison drinks. Lucrezia was also said to employ a chef and a poisoner (two separate people) full time to take care of her guests in the family dining parties.
In the history of mankind there have been numerous examples of male serial killers. Those murderers simply killed their victims with no apparent reason, that is, for the sake of doing it. This has not been the case as regards women. It seems that in order to kill, women always need a reason. Call it passion, revenge or self-defence, the reason is always present
It also seems that when women kill they also do it in a very subtle way: they don't want their hands to get dirty so most of the times they use poison! Besides, poison has certain advantages for women: it is easy to get and no physical force or expert knowledge is needed to use it.
A strange case of "sexual poisoning" took place during the reign of Louis XIV in France. The king had a lover called Madame Vallière. Eager to get the king's exclusive atttention, another lady, Madame de Montespan, consulted the famous witch La Voisin (whose real name was Catherine Deshayes Monvoisin). La Voisin gave Montespan some magic love powders with aphrodisiac effects. As a result of this "sexual poisoning", Montespan became the king's favourite and got rid of Vallière but at the same time Louis' sexual appetite increased and he had to get two new lovers to satisify his sexual needs. 
One of these new mistresses, Madame Fonatges, mysteriously appeared dead in 1681. It is believed she died as a consequence a a black magic spell cast by La Voisin at the request of Montespan. The affaire des poisons or Affair of the Poisons was a murder scandal in France which launched a period of hysterical pursuit of murder suspects, during which a number of prominent people and members of the aristocracy were implicated and sentenced for poisoning and witchcraft. La Voisin said that de Montespan had bought aphrodisiacs and performed black masses with her in order to gain the king's favour. She had worked with a priest named Etienne Guibourg. There was no evidence beyond her confessions, but the bad reputation followed these people afterwards. Monvoisin was sentenced to death for witchcraft and poisoning, and burned at the stake on February 22, 1680. Montespan, however, was banished from the palace and continued her life unmolested afterwards. 
Poison has always inspired artists. In fiction it is worth mentioning the poisoned apple that SnowWhite is given by her stepmother disguised as a witch. In his short story The Landlady, Roald Dahl portrays an innocent-looking lady who uses arsenic to kill her victims, all of them handsome young boys. The landlady has an unusual hobby and this is to stuff all her pets when they "pass away".
Many years later, during the First World War, Agatha Christie worked in a hospital, where she acquired the detailed knowledge about poison that was going to be so useful for her to write her detective novels. It is believed that the poison most frequently used by Agatha in her works was arsenic. Agatha married Archibald Christie in 1914. In 1926 came a great shock when Archie told her he had fallen in love with another woman and wanted to leave her. Instead of killing her husband by using poison, Agatha chose to disappear for some days, When she was found, she alleged having lost her memory but the truth about her disappearance was never discovered. Agatha later married archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan, who was fourteen years younger than her. Their marriage was happy in the early years, and endured despite Mallowan's many affairs in later life, notably with Barbara Parker, whom he married in 1977, the year after Christie's death. 

Phrases from Victorian Times: Think of England

Close your eyes (or lie back) and think of England is a British mainly humorous expression. It means that if you close your eyes and think of England when you have sex with someone, you do not enjoy it, but do it because you think you should.
Just close your eyes and think of England. He'll never notice.
The phrase is believed to have been used by Victorian teachers and mothers when they advised young women what to do when their husbands had sex with them. The phrase is often used humorously now when something is happening to a person but they do not like it and have to accept it.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Agatha Christie's Murders by Poisoning

Murder by poisoning was the theme of more than half of Agatha Christie's novels, plays and short stories. She once said "Give me a decent bottle of poison and I’ll construct the perfect crime". Arsenic was her favourite poison. It is a semi-metallic element (or metalloid) with the atomic number 33 in the periodic table. Arsenic used to be easily obtained from fly papers and rat poison, thus it was a very popular choice for poisoners in the past. It is said to have been the favourite poison of the Borgias as well.

Agatha Christie learned a lot about poisons from her work as a dispenser in a hospital pharmacy during the First World War so naturally the plot of her first book involved murder by poison. The poison she employed in "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" was strychinine.
"The Mysterious Affair at Styles" was published in 1920. In her autobiography, Agatha Christie wrote "since I was surrounded by poisons, perhaps it was natural that death by poisoning should be the method I selected". Her first victim, Emily Inglethorpe, died a very painful death – "The convulsions were of a peculiar violence, Dr Wilkins...they were quite tetanic in character". Strychnine is a poisonous alkaloid obtained from the seeds of the nux vomica tree. The symptoms include agonising convulsions and death is usually due to asphyxiation resulting from continuous spasms of the respiratory muscles.

In "A Pocketful of Rye", Rex Fortescue died of taxine poisoning which was administered to him at breakfast in his marmalade. Taxine is a poisonous alkaloid found in the foliage and berries of the yew tree, which grows in England.
Rex Fortescue lived at Yewtree Lodge, a house with "large numbers of clipped yew hedges", the source of the poison. "… she didn’t mean to murder anybody, but she put the taxine in the marmalade. She didn’t think it was poison, of course" (Miss Marple).

Rex Fortescue wasn’t the only victim in "A Pocketful of Rye". His second wife, Adele, was also poisoned, not by taxine, but by another poison which can also be obtained from plants. The murderer slipped which cyanide into her tea.
"Mrs Fortescue was still sitting on the sofa, dead. Beside her was a tea cup a quarter full and in the dregs of it was potassium cyanide." Cyanide can be obtained from the seeds of certain stone fruits such as apricots and wild cherries and the seeds of fruits of some members of the apple family.

Ella Zielinsky, actress Marina Gregg's social secretary, in "The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side", died by inhalation of prussic acid.
Prussic acid is also known as hydrocyanic acid (a derivative of cyanide). Ella Zielinsky suffered from allergies and used a nasal spray for relief. "She inserted the nozzle into one nostril and squeezed. The warning came a second too late … her brain recognised the unfamiliar odour of bitter almonds … but not in time to paralyse the squeezing fingers …"

In "The Pale Horse", a very unusual form of poisoning (thallium) was employed. The symptoms of this type of metallic poisoning include nervous and gastrointestinal disorders and rapid loss of hair.
According to Dew’s Agatha Christie Mystery website, readers of "The Pale Horse" have subsequently recognised the symptoms of thallium poisoning, resulting in the saving of at least two lives. In one case, a nurse recognised the symptoms in time to save the life of an infant. In another case, a man was prevented from trying to kill his wife. This website also cites the case of a detective who realised thallium was the cause of the mysterious deaths of six other men. He subsequently identified the murderer, who later confessed to the crimes.

Another unusual form of poisoning was used in "Death in the Air" (also known as "Death in the Clouds"). While on a short flight, Madame Giselle, a French moneylender, is murdered by a poisoned thorn. Madame Giselle (also known as Marie Angelique Morisot) was poisoned by a thorn dipped in the venom of the South African boomslang snake. The venom of the boomslang is more potent than that of the cobra and causes death by haemorrhage. "The woman’s head lolled over sideways. There was a minute puncture mark on the side of her throat".

It is possible that many readers cheered when the nasty, sadistic Mrs Boynton was poisoned in "Appointment with Death". She was poisoned with an overdose of the heart medication known as digitoxin.
Digitalis is a substance obtained from the dried leaves of the common foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and used as a drug that strengthens contractions of the heart muscle for patients suffering congestive heart failure. Digitoxin and digitalin are among the most commonly prescribed forms of digitalis. It must be prescribed and monitored with great care because there is not much leeway between the effective dose and a lethal dose. "And Mrs Boynton already suffered from heart trouble?" "Yes, as a matter of fact, she was actually taking a medicine containing digitalin." … "D'you mean … that her death might have been attributed to an overdose of her own medicine?"

In "Three Act Tragedy" (also known as "Murder in Three Acts"), Reverend Stephen Babbington, Sir Bartholomew Strange and Margaret De Rushbridger are all dispatched by a poisonous alkaloid derived from the leaf of a plant. The poison employed was nicotine.
Nicotine is found throughout the tobacco plant, particularly in the leaves. Depending upon the amount consumed, nicotine can cause nausea and vomiting, headache, stomach pains, convulsions, paralysis and death. "My goodness … I’ve only just realized it. That rascal, with his poisoned cocktail! Anyone might have drunk it. It might have been me". "There is an even more terrible possibility that you have not considered", said Poirot … "it might have been ME".

Coco Courtenay’s death was caused by a fatal dose of the addictive cocaine in "The Affair at the Victory Ball".
Cocaine is a white, crystalline alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant (Erythroxylum coca). When taken in small amounts, cocaine produces feelings of well-being and euphoria, along with a decreased appetite and increased mental alertness. When taken in larger amounts, and with repeated use, it can produce anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, chronic fatigue, mental confusion, paranoia, and convulsions that can cause death. "Her maid … admitted that Miss Courtenay was a confirmed taker of the drug and a verdict of accidental death was returned". Of course it wasn’t - but the murderer was not as clever as Poirot!

Literature: The Bloomsbury Group

The Bloomsbury group was the name given to a literary group that made the Bloomsbury area of London the centre of its activities from 1904 to World War II. It included Virginia Woolf , Leonard Woolf (Virginia’s husband), E. M. Forster , Vita Sackville-West (Virginia’s friend and lover), Roger Fry , Vanessa Bell (Virginia’s sister), Clive Bell (Virginia’s brother-in-law) , Adrian Stephen (Virginia as Vanessa’s brother) John Maynard Keynes, and Lytton Strachey, to name only a few. The “Bloomsberries”, as the members of the group were called, often met to talk about their own writing, other people’s writing, painting, love, politics… They also helped each other with their work.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was a British writer who was an important member of the Bloosmbury Group and is admired by feminists. Her novels, such as To the Lighthouse and The Waves, use the style called Stream of Consciousness, and she is regarded as one of the most important English writers of the 20th century.

Lytton Strachey (1880-1932) was a British writer who was a member of the Bloosmbury Group and is known especially for his book Eminent Victorians, which describes the lives of four famous 19th century country people in a humorous and not very respectful way.
It must be acknowledged that the Bloomsbury Group has often been more admired for non-literary reasons; indeed, the Bloomsberries shared the desire to challenge the strict Victorian social norms, and demonstrated a sexual freedom that was ahead of their time. Some members had bisexual tendencies, such as Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, who were lovers.
The Bloomsbury Group was rather elitist and exclusive. It has been highly criticized for its snobbishness and selfishness. The group was also reproached with its pacifism during the First World War.
Despite the numerous critics that were aimed at it, the Bloomsbury Group has had a wide-ranging influence, both in art and in society, even though that influence remains highly controversial. The Bloomsberries did play a significant part in the advent of a new modern world.

Poppies: The Flowers of War

Poppies are plants that have brightly coloured flowers, especially red ones. For British people, the poppy represents the soldiers who died in the two World Wars, especially World War I, because these flowers grew in the fields of France, where many soldiers were killed in battle. People buy red poppies made of paper and wear them on their coats on Remembrance Day, which is often called Poppy Day, to show respect for all the people who died. The deep-red colour of poppies makes them a suitable symbol standing for the bloodshed caused by war.

Remembrance Day is the Sunday closest to November 11th, when each year people in the United Kingdom remember all the people who were killed in the two World Wars. In recent years the custom of observing two minutes silence on the 11th November has been revived. All over the country there are special church services and special ceremonies at war memorials. In London there is a ceremony in which the Queen and the leaders of the main political parties place a wreath (a circular arrangement of flowers) on the Cenotaph (a large war memorial). The money collected by selling red paper poppies on Remembrance Day is given to charity organizations that help people who suffered in the wars. There is a similar occasion in the US and Canada called "Veterans Day".

The Symbolic Significance of Poppies

The poppy stands for the power of sleep and forgetfulness which possesses humans after death and before rebirth. In Greek mythology the poppy is an attribute of Demeter, the goddess of fertility and identified with her symbolically.
In Russia a girl is said to be "as pretty as a poppy", while "to remain a poppy" is to remain an old maid.

Poppies in Art

Long before the Poppy became a symbol of war, many Impressionist painters used poppies as their inspiration. They depicted them in their plein-air (in the open air) landscape paintings.
The French painter Claude Monet painted things that were around him. He wasn't trying to 'say' anything. In his famous oil painting called Poppies Blooming, he was simply illustrating his wife and son walking in the blooming poppies of a field in Argenteuil, a northwestern suburb of Paris.

Spinach: Was Popeye Right?

Popeye the Sailorman is a character in a US cartoon strip and cartoon films. Popeye is a sailor who smokes a pipe, and when he eats cans of spinach, his muscles immediately grow much bigger and he becomes very strong. When Popeye underwent a muscle-busting transformation whenever he scented a whiff of spinach most people laughed at the artistic license, but it looks like the effect was based on fact, not fiction. A team at Rutgers University led by Ilya Raskin has found that spinach contains steroid-like compounds that boost the growth of muscle cells.
Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the team explain how they extracted chemicals called phytoecdysteroids from the plant and then treated muscle cells in the dish and even live rats with them. The muscle cells speeded up their growth by about 20%, and the rats became stronger.
Although a human would have to eat over a kilo of spinach each day to obtain enough of the chemical to achieve any kind of body-building effect, these plant-steroids are exciting for another reason: they seem to be able to exert their growth-promoting effects but without binding to the chemical docking stations normally exploited by anabolic steroids. This means that they could be able to achieve beneficial effects in the body but without the side effects associated with anabolic steroid use - including voice changes, acne, hairiness, mood disturbances and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Spinach isn't probably going to make you as strong as Popeye, but it does contain important vitamins and antioxidants that are beneficial to the body During studies during the 40s or 50s people discovered that spinach was significantly more rich in iron than any other vegetable, and from then on, the "Eat your spinach!!!" cliche was used. Little did they realize that there was actually a misplaced decimal point in the data, making the spinach seem more iron rich than it really was. That aside, spinach IS an iron rich food, but not nearly as much as people have seemed to think all this time.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Women & War: Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in war factories during World War II, many of whom worked in the manufacturing plants that produced munitions and materiel (= the equipment, apparatus, and supplies of a military force) . These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who were in the military. The character is considered a feminist icon in the US.
The term "Rosie the Riveter" was first popularized in 1942 by a song of the same name written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. The song became a national hit. The song portrays "Rosie" as a tireless assembly line worker, doing her part to help the American war effort. A riveter is a worker who inserts and hammers rivets.
Rosie the Riveter was most closely associated with a real woman, Rose Will Monroe, who was born in Kentucky in 1920 and moved to Michigan during World War II. She worked as a riveter building bombers for the U.S. Army Air Forces. Monroe achieved her dream of piloting a plane at the age of 50 and her love of flying resulted in an accident that contributed to her death 19 years later. Monroe was asked to star in a promotional film about the war effort at home. The song "Rosie the Riveter" was popular at the time, and Monroe happened to best fit the description of the worker depicted in the song. Rosie went on to become perhaps the most widely recognized icon of that era. The films and posters she appeared in were used to encourage women to go to work in support of the war effort.
The image most iconically associated with Rosie is J. Howard Miller's famous poster for the American power company Westinghouse Electric, titled We Can Do It!, which was modelled on the middle Michigan factory worker Geraldine Doyle in 1942. Doyle helped the American effort in World War II by working at a local factory in 1942. It was there that she met graphic artist J. Howard Miller, who used her portrait on his iconic poster. Geraldine Doyle didn't know she was the model for Rosie until 1984, when she came across the 1942 photograph in Modern Maturity Magazine.

Cars in Gatsby's Times: The Ford T

The Great Gatsby, the book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, features cars extensively. The Ford Model T is a type of car which became popular in the 1920s. It was an American car built between 1908 and 1928 by the Ford Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan. It is one of the most important cars in history because it was one of the first cars to be sold for very little money, making it easy for people to travel from place to place.
Before the Model T, most cars cost lots of money. Only people with lots of money could afford them. Even Ford's cars before the Model T cost a lot of money.
The man who owned the company, Henry Ford, heard about meat being packed on an assembly line, which moved meat from worker to worker so that the meat could be cut up. No one had ever thought to use an assembly line to put cars together. Ford knew that if he built his cars on an assembly line instead of one at a time like other cars, he could make a car that anyone could afford and would be built like cars that cost more money. He also knew that he could pay his workers lots more money. Henry Ford was born in 1863 and died in 1947. He became one of the US's richest and most successful businessmen. He is also known for saying "History is bunk".

Did you know?

Detroit is a city in the US district of Michigan. It is an important centre for making cars, and the Ford, General Motors and Chrysler car companies are all based there.

Royals in the Kitchen: Edward & Wallis Club

A club sandwich, also called a clubhouse sandwich or double-decker, is a sandwich with two layers of fillings between 3 slices of bread. It is often cut into quarters and held together by cocktail sticks. The traditional club ingredients are usually turkey, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise served on toasted white bread.
The Club Sandwich was a favourite of former King Edward VII and his wife Wallis Simpson. In fact, she took great pride in preparing this sandwich.
Edward & Wallis Club is a true British club which makes an excellent lunch. The ingredients are:
Yorkshire butter, extra thick mayonnaise, Crisp shredded lettuce, creamy Lancashire cheese, chicken breast, Cumbrian pancetta, Italian vine tomatoes, freshly milled black pepper
red velvet beetroot, carrot, parsnip & sweet potato crisps.

Edward VIII (June 23, 1894 - May 28, 1972) was King of the United Kingdom from January 20, 1936 until December 11, 1936. Edward was born in White Lodge, Richmond Park, London.
Edward abdicated (resigned) the throne because he wanted to marry the American Wallis Simpson. Simpson had been married twice before. As King, he was Head of the Church of England and the Church did not support divorce at the time. After abdicating as king, he was Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor.
As King, he was head of all of the British Orders of Chivalry. After he abdicated, his brother, King George VI made him a member of all of the orders again.
The Abdication Crisis is the period in Britain in 1936, in which King Edward VIII was forced to abdicate so that he could marry Wallis Simpson, an American who had been divorced . According to the law, he was not allowed to marry a divorced woman and still remain king.

Art & History: The Portrait That Was Destroyed

Graham Sutherland (August 24, 1903 – February 17, 1980) was an English artist. From 1940 Sutherland was employed as an official artist in World War II, as part of the War artist Scheme. He worked on the Home Front, depicting mining, industry, and bomb damage.
Sutherland also painted a number of portraits, with one of Somerset Maugham (1949) the first and among the most famous. When Winston Churchill was in his eighties, Sutherland painted his portrait, which had the look of a befuddled bulldog. Churchill openly reviled the work, and the portrait was destroyed: it was burned on the orders of Churchill's wife out of anger only a year or two after its completion...
The controversial portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, which Churchill himself hated because he said it 'makes me look half-witted', was commissioned in 1954 by past and present members of the House of Lords and House of Commons, and presented to the great statesman as a celebration of his eightieth birthday at a ceremony in Westminster Hall on November 30, 1954.

Women & War: Vera Lynn

Dame Vera Lynn (1917- ) is an English singer who was very popular during World War II. She was known as the "Forces' Sweetheart" and entertained soldiers with songs such as "We'll Meet Again" and "The White Cliffs of Dover". Lynn was born Vera Margaret Welch on March 20, 1917 in East Ham, London. Later she adopted her grandmother's maiden name Lynn as her stage name. Her father was a plumber and Vera grew up with her parents' Cockney accent, which she has never abandoned. She began singing at the age of seven in a working men's club.
Lynn married clarinettist & saxophonist Harry Lewis in 1939, the year World War II broke out. In 1940 she began her own radio series, "Sincerely Yours", sending messages to British troops stationed abroad. In this radio show she & a quartet performed the songs most requested to her by soldiers stationed abroad. She also went into hospitals to interview new mothers & send messages to their husbands overseas. She toured Burma & gave outdoor concerts for soldiers. In 1942 she recorded the song "We'll Meet Again" while making the film of the same name. The nostalgic lyrics ("We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day") had a great appeal to the many people separated from loved ones during the war, and it became one of the emblematic songs of the wartime period.
Lynn was appointed an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1969 & a DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1975. In 1976 a charity dedicated to funding breast cancer research was founded, Lynn being its chair & later its president. In 2002 at the age of 85 she became the president of the cerebral palsy charity SOS & hosted a celebrity concert on their behalf at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

* Vera Lynn and Pink Floyd

• Pink Floyd wrote a song called "Vera" for their 1979 album The Wall; in the film based on the album, a Christmas song "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot" by Vera Lynn is played over the opening credits.
In the live version of The Wall, Is There Anybody Out There: The Wall Live 1980-1981, "We'll Meet Again" opens the concert before the show starts. It serves as a link between band member Roger Waters and his father, who was killed during World War II.

* Vera Lynn and Language

• A Vera Lynn is cockney rhyming slang for a skin, which is a cigarette paper.
"Buy me some veras and 10 Marlboro Light when you pass the newsagents."
• Vera Lynn is also cockney rhyming slang for words chin and gin and the drug heroin.

Colours of World War I: Soldiers' Uniforms

British Soldiers

British soldiers wore khahi or "service drab". The tunic of coarse serge was buttoned to the neck. Above black leather boots, puttees (cloth strips wound round the legs) extended from ankle to knee.
At the start of the war soft forage caps were worn, but in in 1916, the famous round steel helmets appeared. British infantrymen were expected to carry equipment which totalled a third of their own weight. In fact, they usually carried around 35 kilos and were greatly overloaded.

French Soldiers

At the beginning of the war French soldiers were very smartly dressed. Over their red trousers they wore dark blue capotes (long cloaks) and their headgear was a red or blue flat-topped forage cap or "kepi".
Before the end of 1914, this had been repaced by a more modest blue-grey uniform. French troops carried an awesome 39 kilos of equipment and this included a long unwieldy bayonet.

German Soldiers

The pikel-haube or spiked helment was the best-known feature of the uniform of the German soldier. His uniform was "field grey" worn with knee-length "jack boots". It was not until 1916 that stahlhelms, helmets which gave added protection to the neck, were first used.

The army officer behind the poster

Horatio Kitchener (1850-1916), who was also known as Lord Kitchener, was a British army officer. He fought successfully in the Boer War. During World War I, he was responsible for buiding up the British army, and his picture appeared on a famous poster with the words "Your country needs YOU. Join your country's army, God save the King".
In 1916 Lord Kitchener sailed the cruiser HMS Hampshire for his diplomatic mission to Russia. The Hampshire struck a mine laid by a German U-boat and sank west of the Orkney Islands. Kitchener, his staff, and 643 of the crew of 655 were drowned or died of exposure. As his body was never found, a number of conspiracy theories were put forward. Some claimed that Kitchener was assassinated, or that his death would have been convenient for a British establishment that had come to see him as a figure from the past who was incompetent to wage modern war.

The Colours of War: Military Camouflage

Camouflage is a type of clothing, fabric covering, or painted pattern used by militaries and armies to make it harder to see soldiers and weapons such as artillery guns and military vehicles. Camouflage clothes, fabric coverings, and paint use a coloured pattern of several colours that is designed to blend in with the surroundings. Camouflage patterns are also used for hunting clothes.
Camouflage became an important part of modern military tactics when the accuracy of rifles and cannons improved at the end of the 1800s. But armies continued to use bright colours and designs until the 20th century. During World War II camouflage became a common feature in military uniforms. As well, many military vehicles such as planes and trucks were painted with camouflage patterns.
Different countries use different types of military camouflage patterns.

Types of camouflage patterns

Camouflage patterns used in desert areas, are beige and light brown. Camouflage patterns used in forested areas, mix different green and brown colours. Camouflage patterns used in urban areas mix grey, white, and black colours. Camouflage for snowy areas use white colors to blend in with the snow. There is also night camouflage, which includes different shades of black and dark tones of greys.

Military Colours: Khaki and Olive Drab

Khaki is a dull yellowish-brown colour used especially for military uniforms. The word khaki originated in 1857, from the Urdu word khaki, which literally means "dusty," from khak "dust," from Persian. It was first introduced in uniforms of British cavalry in India (the Guide Corps, 1846) and widely adopted for camouflage purposes in the Boer Wars (1899-1902).
Olive Drab refers to any of various shades of greenish brown, much used as a camouflage colour in the armed forces. The word drab was first used in 1686, meaning "colour of natural, undyed cloth," from Middle French drap. Apparently it is not related to the earlier word meaning "a dirty, untidy woman" (c.1515), which seems to be connected with Irish drabog, Gaelic drabag "dirty woman," and perhaps with Low German drabbe meaning "dirt."

Literature & Politics: The Mitford Girls

Diana Mitford
The Mitford girls were six sisters (Deborah, Jessica, Nancy, Diana, Unity and Pamela) that belonged to an aristocratic English family. Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) was a British writer who wrote novels and other books about the British aristocracy. Her best-known novels areThe Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. She helped to popularise the "U", or upper-class, and "non-U" classification of linguistic usage and behaviour. Two of her sisters, Diana and Unity, became involved in right wing politics. They greatly admired Adolph Hitler and Diana married the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley.    
Deborah Mitford
Jessica Lucy Freeman-Mitford (September 11, 1917 – July 22, 1996) was an English author, journalist and political campaigner. She gained American citizenship in later life. Jessica (always known as "Decca") renounced her privileged background at an early age and became an adherent of communism. She was known as the "red sheep" of the family. J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, reviewed Mitford's book of letters, Decca, in the Sunday Telegraph in 2006. Rowling stated in 2002, "My most influential writer, without a doubt, is Jessica Mitford. When my great-aunt gave me Hons and Rebels when I was 14, she instantly became my heroine. She ran away from home to fight in the Spanish Civil War, taking with her a camera that she had charged to her father's account. I wished I'd had the nerve to do something like that. I love the way she never outgrew some of her adolescent traits, remaining true to her politics – she was a self-taught socialist – throughout her life. I think I've read everything she wrote. I even called my daughter [Jessica Rowling Arantes] after her."

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Colour: Effects & Meanings

A link which includes issues related to colour such as:
Symbolism & Emotions
Effects on the Body
Effects on Vision
Color Chatter
The Color Police
Color Tales

Especially recommended section: Color Matters for Kids.

Cool Link in English:
Color Matters

Special Vocabulary: Hands & Feet

English-Spanish Glossary: Hands

acrylic nails: uñas esculpidas
ball of the thumb: eminencia tenar
clippers: alicate
cuticle: cutícula
fingerprint: huella digital
index finger: dedo índice
knuckles: nudillos
little finger (Am. E. pinkie) meñique
middle finger: dedo medio
nail: uña
nail brush: cepillo de uñas
nail file: lima de uñas
nail scissors: tijerita para uñas
nail varnish (Brit. E.) / nail polish (Am. E.) esmalte de uñas
palm: palma de la mano
ring finger: anular
wrist: muñeca

English-Spanish: Feet

ankle: tobillo
arch: arco del pie
athlete's foot: pie de atleta
big toe. dedo gordo del pie
bunion: juanete
chilblains: sabañones
club foot: pie equinovaro
dedo en martillo: hammer toe
espolón: calcaneal spur
flat feet: pie plano
foot fungus: hongos
foot odour: pies malolientes
foot powder: polvo pédico
footprint. huella del pie
heel: talón
ingrown nail: uña encarnada
instep: empeine
plantar wart: verrugar plantar
sole: suela del pie
toe: dedo del pie
toenail: uña del pie

Types of baths & bath products

Types of baths 

bubble bath - a bath in which you add something to foam and scent the bath water 

mud bath - a bath in warm mud (as for treating rheumatism) 

footbath - a small bathtub for warming or washing or disinfecting the feet 

hip bath, sitz bath - a bathtub in which your buttocks and hips are immersed as if you were sitting in a chair and you bathe in a sitting position 

sauna - an invigorating bath originating in Finland in which the bather is subjected to hot steam, usually followed by a cold plunge or by being lightly beaten with birch twigs 

Turkish bath - a type of bath in which the bather sweats freely in hot dry air, is then washed, often massaged, and has a cold plunge or shower 

Terms related to the word "bath" 

Bathing beauty is an attractive young woman in a bathing suit, especially one taking part in a beauty contest. 

Bathing cap is a cap worn in a swimming pool, mostly by women, to keep the hair dry. 

Bathing machine is a wooden hut on wheels pulled down to the sea to allow bathers to dress and undress, used in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Bathing suit (also bathing costume) is an old-fashioned word for swimsuit. 

Bath mat is a washable mat used in a bathroom to protect the floor from water. 

Bathrobe is a garment like a loose coat worn before and after having a bath. 

Bath salts are mineral salts that are added to bath water to soften it and make it smell nice. 

Bath towel is a large towel to dry yourself after a bath.

Food & Cooking: Types of Sauces

arrabbiata: tomato sauce with hot chilli
béchamel: white sauce (milk thickened with a butter and flour roux)
bolognese: finely minced meat, tomato and garlic sauce
carbonara: smoked bacon, egg, cream and black pepper
filetto: tomato, garlic, oregano, olive oil
four-cheese: mozzarella, gruyere, fontina, provolone
neapolitan: tomato, garlic, onions,. basil, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, peppercorns, cloves, and mushrooms
pesto: basil, garlic, pinenuts, olive oil and pecorino cheese
pomodoro: tomato, garlic and basil sauce
puttanesca: tomato, garlic, hot chilli, anchovies, capers
vongole: clam, parsley, garlic and olive oil

Did you know?

The béchamel sauce is named after Marquis de Béchamel, a French financier and steward (one who manages another's property, finances, or other affairs) of Louis XIV. The white sauce acquired its name from him for he perfected an ancient type of sauce made from cream originally made by François Pierre de la Varenne (1615–1678), cook of marquis d'Uxelles.

Sandwich Slang

There are a number of other words that can be used in the place of the term sandwich.
Sarney or Sarnie - England
Butty - England
Bap - England
Barmcake - Staffordshire, England
Brotwanger - Germany
Grainy Bread Trap - Tasmania
Malty Doorstep - New Zealand
Sanger - Australia
Le Sand - France
Sanduba - Brazil

Did you know?

The largest sandwich ever made was made by Wild Woody's Chill and Grill, Roseville, Michigan. It weighed 5,440 lbs.

Special Vocabulary: Sugar

English-Spanish Glossary 

Sugar-related terms:
brown sugar: azúcar negra
caster sugar: azúcar extrafino, azúcar de lustre
powdered sugar (also known as confectioner's sugar or icing sugar): azúcar impalpable
sugar beet: remolacha azucarera
sugar bowl: azucarera
sugar cube: terrón de azúcar
sugar daddy: viejo verde
sugar tongs: pinza para terrones de azúcar
sugary: empalagoso

All About Apples

Expressions with the word apple

*American as apple pie 
to be typically American 
A small house with a white picket fence is supposed to be as American as apple pie. 

*in apple-pie order 
Fig. in very good order; very well organized. 
Please put everything in apple-pie order before you leave. 
I always put my desk in apple-pie order every evening. 

*sure as God made little green apples 
absolutely certain. 
I'm as sure as God made little green apples that he's the one. 

* An apple a day keeps the doctor away. 
Prov. Apples are so nutritious that if you eat an apple every day, you will not ever need to go to a doctor. 
Remember to take an apple in your lunch today. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Grandma always fed us lots of apples when we visited her. She believed that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. 

* apple of discord: 
a cause of disdagreement, argument, hatred, etc.

* apple of someone's eye 
Fig. someone's favourite person or thing; a boyfriend or a girlfriend. 
Tom is the apple of Mary's eye. She thinks he's the greatest. 
John's new car is the apple of his eye. 

* apple-polisher 
Fig. a flatterer. 
Doesn't that wimpy apple-polisher know how stupid he looks? 
Everybody at my office seems to be an apple-polisher but me. 

* apples and oranges 
Fig. two entities that are not similar. (Used especially in reference to comparisons of unlike things.) 
You can't talk about Fred and Ted in the same breath! They're like apples and oranges. 
Talking about her current book and her previous bestseller is like comparing apples and oranges. 

* Big Apple 
New York City. 
We spent the weekend in the Big Apple. 

* How bout them apples? and How do you like them apples? 
What do you think of that? (Often used to express admiration, as in the first example; bout is short for about.) 
Tom: I got first prize! Mary: Well! How bout them apples? 
Joe got a job as a newspaper reporter. How do you like them apples?

* motherhood and apple pie 
Fig. an often parodied sentiment expressed about allegedly quintessential elements of American home life. 
Fred is so old-fashioned. Everything about old times is good to him. He's all motherhood and apple pie. 

* rotten apple 
a single bad person or thing. 
There always is a rotten apple to spoil it for the rest of us. 
Tom sure has turned out to be the rotten apple. 

* rotten apple spoils the barrel 
Prov. A bad person influences everyone he or she comes into contact with, making them bad too. Helen is the rotten apple that spoils the barrel in our office. Everyone sees her come in late to work and take long coffee breaks, and they think, "Why can't I do the same?" 

* She'll be apples. (Australian informal) also She's apples. (Australian informal) 
something that you say in order to tell someone that they do not need to worry and that everything will happen as it should 
'What if it rains for the wedding?' 'Don't worry, she'll be apples.'

* upset the apple cart 
Fig. to mess up or ruin something. 
Tom really upset the apple cart by telling Mary the truth about Jane. I always knew he'd tell secrets and upset the apple cart. 
Special Vocabulary: Apples

Types of apples

cooking apple
an apple that one eats cooked.

eating apple
an apple that one eats raw.

crab apple
a small sour apple, often used to make jelly.

green apple
an apple of this colour, when young or unripe.

Common varieties of apples

bright red winter apple, very good in quality, and easily shipped.
Golden Delicious
a large, yellow skinned apple and very sweet to the taste.
Granny Smith
a sour tasting green apple.
McIntosh Red (or McIntosh, colloquially "Mac")
apple with red and green skin, a tart flavour, and tender white flesh.
Royal Gala
a pink-red dessert apple and is therefore usually eaten fresh.
Red Delicious
a deep-red type of apple.

Food and drink made from apples

apple butter
a highly concentrated form of apple sauce, produced by long, slow cooking of apples with cider or water to a point where the sugar in the apples caramelizes, turning the apple butter a deep brown.
apple crumble (Am. E. apple crisp)
a dessert consisting of baked apples topped with a crispy crust.
apple dumpling
a sweet food made of pastry with fruit inside it.
Am. E. a spirit (a strong alcoholic drink) made from apples.
apple jelly
a clear, quite solid jam containing no pieces of fruit, seeds, etc.
apple pie
apples cooked in pastry.
applesauce (or apple sauce)
a sauce that is made from stewed and mashed apples.
apple strudel
a sort of cake of Austrian origin, made of light pastry, with fruit inside.
a beverage made from apple juice.
stewed apple
cooked slowly and gently in liquid.

All About Wine

Idioms with the word Wine

Wine and dine: to entertain or be entertained with a meal and wine:
We wined and dines them until late into the night.
The cliché "wine, women, and song" is a rhetorical figure of a triad or hendiatris (Hendiatris ( a figure of speech used for emphasis, in which three words are used to express one idea). A modern version of this tripartite motto is "Sex, drugs and rock and roll". The terms correspond to wine, women and song with edgier and updated vices. The term was popularised by the hippies, and composed by Ian Dury in his 1977 song of the same name.
The phrase "days of wine and roses" means a period of happiness and prosperity. It originally comes from the poem "Vitae Summa Brevis" by the English writer Ernest Dowson (1867–1900):
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

Special Vocabulary: Wine

Wine is an alcoholic drink made from grapes
white / red wine
It can also be made from fruit
apple wine
Table wine is wine intended for drinking with a meal, especially wine that is not very expensive.
A wine bar is a type of bar that serves mainly wine and also usually provides light meals. Wine-coloured is an adjective which means “having the colour of wine”
a wine-coloured dress

Common varieties of wine

Cabernet Sauvignon red wine is wine having a red colour derived from skins of dark-coloured grapes grown especially in the Bordeaux region of France and northern California.Chartreuse: strong sweet green or yellow alcoholic drink.
Malbec: a red wine made from Malbec grapes.
Merlot: red wine made from the Merlot black grape.
Marsala: a sweet strong wine from Marsala in the island of Sicily.
Muscatel: a sweet light-coloured wine made from a grape of the same name.
Port: strong, usually sweet dark Portuguese wine, usually drunk after a meal.
Sherry: a pale or dark brown sweet or non-sweet strong wine from Spain.
Sparkling wine: giving off bubbles of gas.
Champagne is the most expensive type of sparkling wine.