Thursday, 30 December 2010

Tidings of comfort and joy

No, we had that one in the cookhouse a few days ago.

On a similar theme is the remarkable anagram devised for a crossword clue by that great compiler John Graham ("Araucaria"), who will be 90 in the New Year: O hark the herald angels sing the boy's descent which lifted up the world (5,9,7,5,6,2,5,3,6,2,3,6).

If you need a hint, I can tell you that you probably heard these twelve words more than once in the last week.

Yes, that's right: While shepherds watched their flocks by night all seated on the ground.

But my favourite crossword clue is this one, which is much easier to solve:  "-"   (1,6,3,1,4)

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Just for kissing

By all means make the most of mistletoe over the next few days, but pay no attention to the claims of the pathetic remnant which used to call itself the Liverpool Homeopathic Hospital but is now just a "department" at the Old Swan Health Centre. On its website it states that it runs "a complementary cancer clinic offering treatment with homeopathic remedies and Iscador". 

The manufacturers of Iscador assert, probably illegally and certainly without justification, that their product is a "mistletoe cancer treatment", the most frequently used of all such remedies in the world. Mistletoe, of course, has no connection with homeopathy, but quackeries generally support each other; the association of these two stems from one of the loony beliefs of the mystic quack Rudolf Steiner, who considered that mistletoe was a cancerous disease of trees, and therefore that, on the homeopathic Principal of Similars, cancer in humans could be cured by injections of a substance obtained from mistletoe.

The ancient pagan myths about mistletoe are more interesting and much more likely to be accurate than this pernicious drivel.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Monday, 13 December 2010

Brown Study

Amazing what a top embalmer can do.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Perfect for those with a short attention span

It is a truism that many top film-makers spend lucrative if uncredited time working on television commercials. It may be sad to think that their consummate talents are being devoted to trying to persuade people to buy one brand of toilet paper rather than another, but it is not entirely a waste: in a bad week on TV there may be more pleasure to be had from the occasional amusing commercial than from most of the dross purporting to be entertainment.

Here are three examples of advertisements currently appearing which, quite inexplicably in some cases, I have enjoyed watching:

1. A double-glazing company has a series of vignettes following the making of a commercial  to promote their services; most of these are fairly feeble and become tedious with repetition, but there is one in which the director asks the cameraman "How was it for you?". The cameraman, clearly a decent if boring fellow rather like Laura's very nearly cuckolded husband  in Brief Encounter, replies, with an ineffably lovely smile, "Oh yes, going really well, isn't it?".
Now, this is a very unlikely exchange between two film professionals, and I cannot explain why it makes me feel warm all over.

2. A supplier of fitted kitchens have a new version of their ad which features a male and a female dancer prancing around a fitted kitchen. This is serious high-class stuff—arabesques, glissades, fouettés, battements, pliés, tours en l'air, that sort of thing.
It is all completely pointless and tells you absolutely nothing about the ease with which their cupboards open or the quality of their worktops, but is a joy to watch.

3. This one begins with a rear-three-quarter shot of a girl's feet and ankles; she appears to be standing naked in a field. The camera moves upwards past her bare calves, knees, thighs and a pair of admirable buttocks then, as it moves further up, she turns her face towards us, gives a shy smile and, horror of horrors, we see that she has a tooth missing!
This brilliantly conceived and executed commercial has been made with a view to persuading us to buy some kind of product which stops your teeth falling out.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Has he or hasn't he?

Sly innuendo is not something you expect to encounter when you consult the Oxford English Dictionary.

However, in announcing the publication this week of the new version of the OED Online, its editor has given this question as an example of the kind of thing it can answer: Would Prince William have 'joined giblets' with Kate?

For the benefit of those sad individuals who cannot afford the subscription and do not belong to an English library or other institution which gives you free access to the OED, I will tell you what I found in the Historical Thesaurus now incorporated with it.   The answer is 'No, not yet'.  (To join one's giblets means to get married.)

On second thoughts, this is probably not the only instance of impropriety to be found in the great work. I haven't looked for others, but scattered among its thousands of pages there must surely be more examples of suggestive interpretations, definitions or etymologies. If anyone can find some and pass them on to me, I shall be happy to publish a list for the gratification of the more prurient of my readers.

I am referring of course only to gentle indelicacies. Everyone knows that the OED, aiming to be comprehensive in its coverage of the English language, contains on almost every page a plethora of explicit obscenity. I won't have any of that sort of thing in OMF: if you are keen on this, you will have to take out a second mortgage or join a library so that you can subscribe to OED online and search it for filthy words.