When Vice President (ial candidate*) Tim Kaine announced that “Humans don’t like change” he overlooked the fact that actually we introduce, create and endorse change all the time. In the political sphere, the Ancient Greeks created democracy but the right to vote was limited to a very select and limited group. In the nineteenth century, democracy in Britain began to include a wider range of voters but still only half of men were eligible to vote.
By 1918, all men were enfranchised and the size of the electorate grew from 7 to 12 million. Women were included for the first time but only if they were over 30 years old. By 1928 , women’s rights had changed again and came in line with their male counterparts: both could now vote if 21 or over. This changed yet again in 1960 when the age was lowered to 18. Even today, convicted serving prisoners are not allowed to vote and there is a movement to lower the age limit to 16 so the meaning of “universal” suffrage is constantly changing.
Like it or not, we’re surrounded by statistics. Car mileage consumption, acceleration rates and comparative top speeds fill advertisements and motor magazines. According to a Greek study, 47% of 2,500 adults were found to be less likely to develop heart disease when closely following a Mediterranean diet. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are six times more likely to affect men than women. We are told that some toiletries can make skin softer with the results proven by 87% of a tiny sample of only a couple of hundred. Our teeth can become whiter and stronger with the validation and recommendation of dentists the world over citing their observed evidence.
Headaches back pain and stomach relief are guaranteed supported by the evidence of clinical test results (or so we are led to believe). We’re even excited when a drumming rabbit outperforms its rivals by 250% because it has a particular brand of battery stuffed in its back and are relieved in the knowledge that one particular lager refreshes the parts that others could not reach.
Let’s face it, we love speed. We like to go that bit faster on motorways, hoping there are no police cars around. We doubtlessly rejoiced when Roman chariots raced around The Coliseum and we glowed with national pride when The Cutty Sark sailed from London to Melbourne in a record breaking 61 days, especially as she had lost the tea clipper race of 1872. This sail powered record persisted as the world welcomed the arrival of steam ships and the route was shortened due to the opening of the Suez Canal.
We were ecstatic when Donald Campbell added the land speed record to his water speed record in 1964. We marvelled at The Flying Scotsman reaching a speed of 100 m.p.h. in 1934 and that The Mallard zoomed from London to Edinburgh, a journey of 352 miles in just 8 hours achieving a top speed of 125 m.p.h. beating the 1936 German world record holder of the day. This summer at The Rio Olympics, we not only want to see Great Britain win gold medals but also see Olympic and world records broken. Continue reading →
Language is a code. Like all codes, if you know the rules, you can understand what’s being said or written. At times, however, some people don’t want you to understand what they’re saying and employ techniques to deceive or keep secrets from you.
They use obscure jargon and complicated technical terms knowing full well that their vocabularies are beyond us. They deliberately use new words to cause confusion whilst allowing their own little cliques to understand what is meant. Teenagers are particularly good at doing this to conceal from their parental generation exactly what they’re up to. Just think of the slang names given to drugs, sex and music and you get the picture. Continue reading →
Before the Second World War and right up to the late 1960s, most of the fresh fruit and vegetables consumed in this country were grown here and harvested seasonally. Strawberries appeared at this time of year just in time for Ascot and Wimbledon, ready to be doused in lashings of cream.
The asparagus season has always been short: it started in May and whilst featured on restaurant spring menus, asparagus slipped into our kitchens often to be over boiled, ending up rather mushy. Jersey Royals were anxiously awaited at the end of April and were greeted just as enthusiastically as the French welcome their Beaujolais Nouveau in November. Some produce such as potatoes and apples have long been safely stored to give almost year round availability Continue reading →