Monday, July 28, 2014

Answer phone

My dear elderly friend who died on St Swithun's Day always used to answer her phone thus: "Dursley 3307!"  How many people do you know who still answer their phone saying its number?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Corax and Teisias

Corax (Greek for "crow") of Syracuse who lived in the first half of the fifth century BC is said to have been the first Greek teacher of oratory or, to use its Greek name, rhetoric. His most famous theory is The Doctrine of General Probability which states that people believe what they think is likely to be true, for example, that a small man would not have beaten up a much larger man.
Teisias was a famous pupil of Corax. Teisias asked Corax to waive his teacher's fee until Teisias had won his first lawsuit. However, Teisias avoided going to court. Corax then sued Teisias for the fee, on the rationale that whoever won the court case, Teisias would have to pay the fee. Teisias then claimed that if he lost the case he wouldn't have to pay because he still wouldn't have won a lawsuit and if he won there would be no penalty because he'd be awarded the money. The judge then threw them both out of court calling them "a bad egg from a bad crow."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


My friend is doing a survey: whom would you choose as the most inspirational orator you have come across and why? Answers please!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thought of the moment

When sorrows come, they come not single spies
But in battalions.
Now onto the 12th death of the year so far...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Poem of the day

The Lady With The Sewing-Machine
Across the fields as green as spinach,
Cropped as close as Time to Greenwich,

Stands a high house; if at all,
Spring comes like a Paisley shawl — 

Patternings meticulous
And youthfully ridiculous.

In each room the yellow sun
Shakes like a canary, run

On run, roulade, and watery trill — 
Yellow, meaningless, and shrill.

Face as white as any clock's,
Cased in parsley-dark curled locks — 

All day long you sit and sew,
Stitch life down for fear it grow,

Stitch life down for fear we guess
At the hidden ugliness.

Dusty voice that throbs with heat,
Hoping with your steel-thin beat

To put stitches in my mind,
Make it tidy, make it kind,

You shall not: I'll keep it free
Though you turn earth, sky and sea

To a patchwork quilt to keep
Your mind snug and warm in sleep! 

Edith Sitwell

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Malaysia Airlines again...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris is an excellent read. The facts of the Dreyfus case which rocked France in the 1890s are beautifully presented by an array of colourful characters and the tale told is gripping: a real page turner. Emile Zola, the most famous protester of Dreyfus' innocence, died in an accident in 1902, aged 62. His friend Anatole France said this at his funeral:

"Before recalling the struggle undertaken by Zola for justice and truth is it possible for me to keep silent about those men bent on the destruction of an innocent man?...

How might I remove them from your sight when I see
Zola rising up, weak and disarmed, against them?
Can I hide their lies?
It would silence his heroic righteousness.
Can I hide their crimes?
That would conceal his virtue.
Can I silence the insults and calumnies which they have pursued?
It would silence his reward and honours.
Can I hide their shame?
It would silence his glory.
No, I will speak.
Envy him: he honoured his country and the world by a vast and a great act.
Envy him, his destiny and his heart gave out the greatest.
It was a moment of human conscience."