Chai Why? The Triumph of Tea in India : "But whereas I initially supposed tea-drinking to be as Indian, and perhaps as old, as the Vedas, I have come to know that it is, in the longue durée of Indian history, a very recent development; one that (in many parts of the country) did not much precede my first visit, or that even followed it."
Shedworking is a daily updated guide for people who work in garden offices and other shedlike atmospheres. There is also a book on the subject. [more inside]
UK Space Agency launched with a logo that "looks uncannily like the logo for the British Rocket Group, a scientific body from Doctor Who." It's mission is to develop British space technology, "[b]ut this will have to be done through unmanned space activities, because for the foreseeable future the UKSA will not have enough resources to reverse the decision, taken by the Thatcher government in the 1980s, that Britain will not pay for manned space flights... planned expeditions to the International Space Station will be funded by the country's partners in the European Space Agency."
Odd pronunciations of proper names (in the UK and Ireland). See also this Wikipedia list, assuming Wikipedia recovers sometime in the near future. Sadly, neither list helps with the pronunciation of Raymond Luxury Yacht. (Inspired by the poll and a recent episode of QI).
Timelines: Sources from History is a decade-by-decade visual index to the holdings of the British Library from the 1210s to the present.
Space: 1999 (1975-77) is a British sci-fi series, the last production of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson who were first recognized for their work in "Supermarionation." This series saw the end of the couple, with Sylvia Anderson leaving the show at the end of the first season. She was replaced by Fred Freiberger, who brought in some Star Trek sensibilities and attempted to cater the show more to the American action-adventure audience. A third season was planned but not produced, and left the series unfinished, ending on an episode that was "like bad Shakespeare, or worse, bad Star Trek." Fans still support the show in many forms, even creating a semi-official fan-produced mini-episode entitled Message from Moonbase Alpha to bring some completion to the series, which was shown on September 13, 1999 at the Breakaway: 1999 convention. Another group of fans has recently taken to updating the whole series, to bring Space:1999 into the future. [more inside]
(NSFW) So Much For the Stiff Upper Lip. Slate writer gets jiggy wit the history of Georgian Britain's aristocratic sex clubs.
"It is the business of educated people to speak so that no-one may be able to tell in what county their childhood was passed." Despite efforts by Victorians to eradicate them, dialects of English in Great Britain continue to vary greatly, much to the consternation of many traditionalists. But a recently acquired archive is giving new insight into old dialects--some of which no longer exist. Recorded in a WWI prisoner of war camp on shellac disks, the archive was part of an effort by German linguists to study regional variation in the English language. A report by PRI's The World includes a brief synopsis--and a powerful rendition of a beloved Scottish ballad by a homesick soldier.
The Works of Swede Mason: "Jeremy Clarkson," "Get in the Back of the Van," "Jungle All The Way," "Bill Wyman's Metal Detector," "Put the Lotion in the Basket, *" "Got The Sucka," "The Gobshite, *" "Squashed Thingy," "Spare Me The Madness," and the pair of tracks based on Neighbors deaths "Coffee And Croissants" and "Todd....Dead." [more inside]
Conquerors 2009 “There are many underhanded ways of making your conker harder. The best is to pass it through a pig." World Conker Champion – Charlie Bray. The World Conker Championships are on this weekend. All the action from last year. previously   In other news, a cure for bleeding canker has been found, with a welcome side effect, leaf miners don't like having garlic breath.
Every evening since July 2nd 1928*, at precisely eight o'clock, the Last Post has been played under the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres, "Wipers" as it was known to British tommies), Belgium. The ritual - performed by buglers from the local fire brigade - honours British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the five battles at Ypres in the First World War. Today is the 27,888th day of the Last Post ceremony. [more inside]
Charlotte and Branwell Brontë wrote many of their stories of Angria on tiny sheets of paper in nearly microscopic handwriting. This particular example consists of four sheets of notepaper folded into sixteen pages. The individual sheets are approximately 4 ½ inches long and 3 5/8 inches wide, and the entire text contains about nineteen thousand words.
Charlie Brooker, host , columnist and inspiration for Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee is an overall snarky bloke. He has his own tribute song and a brilliant TV review programme Screenwipe. [more inside]
Gordon Waller of British duo Peter and Gordon had died at 64 Gordon Waller, from the British duo Peter and Gordon has died of cardiac arrest in CT this past weekend. The songs I really like to listen to from them was the one Paul McCartney wrote "A World Without Love" and "True Love Ways". Sad to hear he's passed.
Mrs. Slocombe is no longer free. Actress Mollie Sugden has died at 86, after a long illness. Best known as the irascible Mrs. Slocombe in the long running British sitcom "Are You Being Served?" who famous cared a great deal about her pussy.
This entrancing 17-minute film compiled from footage of British folk celebrations was put together in honor of a new project created by set designer Simon Costin. Finding much of his artistic inspiration in the folklore of Great Britain, Costin wondered why there was no national center or museum dedicated to studying and collecting these traditional customs. So he's decided to start one, The Museum of British Folklore, and is launching the project this summer by outfitting a 1976 caravan and traveling to folk festivals around the country. The expedition is intended to build interest in the museum project, and to collect and document some of the surprising variety of more than 700 annual, seasonal, often pre-Christian festival celebrations that continue to this day. [more inside]
Time to listen to Bird Song Radio - A 'filler' radio station that played on DAB radio in the UK until this week has been pulled from the air, much to the chagrin of thousands of listeners. Reportedly, Terry Pratchett is a fan, saying "There's something about the sound of the outdoors that adds texture to a room. It cools the room down, makes you feel relaxed." [more inside]
Colin is a new British horror film told from a Zombie's point of view. It was made for £45 and apparently it went down well at Cannes . Peter Jackson's first film Bad Taste did a similar thing. This documentary features Jackson's parents talking about taking the film to France.
In 2000, the British Film Institute voted Fawlty Towers number 1 on its list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. Perhaps an even greater tribute, numerous real-life lodgings have named themselves after it. Next month, Connie Booth - now a practicing psychotherapist in London - will break a 30 year silence about the show for a televised special. [more inside]
British jobs for British workers? Workers at a Total refinery in north Lincolnshire walked out in protest over an Italian firm importing Italian and Portuguese workers to complete an expansion. Since Wednesday, the walk out at the Lindsey refinery has snowballed into a mass industrial action across the UK. The majority of the strikes and protests have been by energy workers, though some in other sectors (steel) hit by closures and vulnerable to job offshoring have joined the action in solidarity. Brown's government is trying to respond, without much success.
The Consultative Group on the Past released its long awaited report today, discussing strategies to build trust and dialogue between communities and heal wounds in Northern Ireland. Part of the strategy was compensation and inquiries to be funded jointly by the British and Irish governments, to the tune of £300K. The report's presentation was interrupted by deeply angry protesters. Some were upset at the idea of financial compensation for the loss of human life. Some were incensed that families of paramilitary members killed in the Troubles were to receive equal compensation to bystanders caught in the crossfire. Some comments on the report from public figures, and from the Program Director of Amnesty International's NI office.
The Letter of Last Resort. At this very moment, miles beneath the surface of the ocean, there is a British nuclear submarine carrying powerful ICBMs ... there is a safe attached to a control room floor. Inside that, there is an inner safe. And inside that sits a letter. It is addressed to the submarine commander and it is from the Prime Minister. In that letter, Gordon Brown conveys the most awesome decision of his political career ... and none of us is ever likely to know what he decided.
The Guardian is knocked for six by American sport references in British media Creeping cultural imperialism? The effect of internet media from foreign news outlets? Or just Guardian handwringing about something no one else notices? Is British media alone in this trend?
At the time of its production, it was the most expensive British TV series ever made. In addition to highly regarded special effects, it had one of all-time great theme songs.(previously)
The Great British Sandwich is a 'collaborative web project' to build the world's tallest sandwich, one ingredient at a time. It began picking up inedible layers early (20th from the bottom is Cat Hair, 38th is an iPhone 3G) and is now
almostover 400 layers including the Higgs Boson, Child's Tears and All the Turtles. via the Ridiculant
Before moving on to House (Laurie) and being bloody awesome (Fry), even before Jeeves and Wooster, but after Blackadder I think, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry appeared in an amazing sketch show called A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Fry, in particular, has a way of taking any bit of linguistic madness at all and turning it into something that sounds almost respectable.
To start off, these are calculated to make your brain explode: Tricky Linguistics and Part 2, Buying an Engagement Ring, and The Haircut [more inside]
To start off, these are calculated to make your brain explode: Tricky Linguistics and Part 2, Buying an Engagement Ring, and The Haircut [more inside]
The great British guitarist Davey Graham died Monday at 68. Every aspiring acoustic guitar player who came of age during the 60s knew of Davy Graham, composer of Anji and inventor of the DADGAD tuning. His own records were never commercial smashes, but his influence was felt by all his contemporaries in the world of folk music and by legions who came after who knew nothing of him personally. The Guardian has a brief obit and assembles a fine video tribute .
The Stone Roses are set to reform. It's almost 20 years since they released their extremely fine album creatively titled The Stone Roses. The band that was a big part of the Madchester movement have been bumping into each other at Manchester United games and no doubt seeing the money that the footballers are making decided it was time to regroup. The rumours are not certain, but some say it is 75 percent likely and media reports everywhere indicates it is probably happening. [more inside]
A less glamorous anniversary passed with little fanfare yesterday: 50 years since the opening of the first stretch of the humble British motorway, the 8-mile two-lane Preston Bypass, which now forms part of the M6. The occasion was celebrated by the official opening of an 5.8 mile M6 extension, closing the "Cumberland Gap", allowing commuters to make the entire 400 mile journey between Glasgow and London by motorway. The total length of motorways in the UK totals around 2200 miles.
As laddish 'landfill indie' bands take over the British charts and the previous vanguard of art-school bands trouble the mainstream less, the old debate on class in pop music rears its head once again.
"No other country could have produced the Specials. Terry Hall grew up with Jamaican culture as well as English culture, that’s the only way The Specials could have happened. If you listen to American ska bands, they don’t sound authentic, it's like surf music with reggae mixed with it." Tricky talks about Englishness.
Ever wonder what a quocker-wodger was? Just what did they mean when they said that you were all kippers and curtains? Worldwidewords.org has the answer. "More than 1600 pages on the origins, history, evolution and idiosyncrasies of the English language worldwide." Word geeks, say goodbye to the rest of your afternoon.
Land of the Free, home of the geek. Steven Schofield takes photos of british sci-fi fans, dressed in character in their homes. He treats it as 'found' photography, which seems to illustrate the subjects vulnerability. The title of the work is Land of the Free - and illustrates how American culture infiltrates, with the ironic edge of questioning the idea of the freedom of choosing to copy the look of these fictional characters. via kottke
Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar, has won her discrimination case after refusing to conduct same sex civil partnerships. " Islington Council cared too much about the "rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual" community, the panel ruled. "
Canadian expatriate (and Metafilter member) stavrosthewonderchicken has a detailed and depressing look at the impact of the mountain pine beetle in Northern British Columbia, where a perfect storm of "forest fire suppression, clearcutting (and subsequent replanting), [and] global warming" has led to the destruction of over 130,000 square kilometers of forest.
42 days and a resignation. The day after the British Labour government narrowly won a parliamentary vote to extend the time that the police can hold people for questioning without charge from 28 days to 42 days, Tory frontbench MP David Davis has resigned his seat. David Davis is a senior member of the main parliamentary opposition party - who strongly opposed the 42 day bill - and has stepped down to fight a by-election for his own constituency to start a debate over "the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government". [more inside]
British Literature Blogs is the brainchild of six British literary bloggers. Each working hard at bringing readers to forgotten or overlooked books, our BritLitBloggers decided that combining their latest blog entries together in one place would highlight the breadth and depth of British literary blogging.
Listen my children and you shall hear, Of the midnight ride of Sybil Ludington - While most Americans have heard of Paul Revere, many have not heard of Sybil Ludington and her midnight ride. 231 years ago today, she rode 40 miles at night to warn the colonial militia that the British were burning Danbury, Connecticut.
What's one of the best ways to break into UK radio? Hospital Radio of course! There are over 408 radio stations in the UK that originate from hospitals. Fully staffed and loaded with volunteers, they are a lifeline to patients and produce modern, original programming. Who got their start on hospital radio? Hundreds of legends in the UK radio industry! Including Chris Moyles, Scott Mills, Jacqui Oatley, and Heena Tailor.
Say you do a job and retire in or before 1996. Your coworker retires after 1997. Coworker gets six times more pension and you're asked to leave the country. Sounds unfair? Not to the British Government. [more inside]
LugRadio is a fortnightly British radio show that takes a relaxed, humorous look at Linux and open source.
The 'bullet magnet' is back. I can't believe that the British press kept a secret for so long (10 weeks is a miniature eternity in journalist time). It was supposed to last six months... I also can't believe that the odious Drudge has broken yet another big story. Was it all just a PR stunt? [more inside]
For the past 50 years, The British have made some of the funniest Comedy TV Shows. Come inside for A Video Chronology of The History of British TV Comedy. [more inside]
God's Waiting Room is a British documentary about the daily struggles of Haji Taslim Funerals, the first European Muslim Funeral Directors, and how they work to honor the requirements of ancient faith while cutting through the red tape of modern death. [more inside]
Virgin Trains embarks on a new campaign. Richard Branson takes a new direction in getting people to think about global warming and using British rail. More here.