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Posts Tagged ‘British history’

Imitation Game

Sunday, March 15th, 2015
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get to watch this movie ! It’s great for the theme on The Idea of Progress

This a a biopic about Alan Turing famous for having created machines which can be compared to modern-day computers.

women’s rights : an interactive quiz

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

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Monarchy money

Friday, January 31st, 2014

In a recession, what price the monarchy? Most workers have had wages frozen for the past two years, and the cost of living has risen, so many are worse off in real terms. For the Royal Family, it’s a different story – George Osborne awarded the Queen a 5.2% rise (around £2 million) from next April, giving her an annual income of £37.9 million.  In return, her finances are subject to public scrutiny – and it seems that the Royal Household isn’t good at balancing their books – overspending by £2.3 million last year.

The Royal palaces are falling into disrepair and there’s only £1 million left in the kitty to patch things up. What’s to be done? At present, Buckingham Palace is only open for two months of the year – and it’s well known that the Queen loathes staying there, preferring to be based at Windsor (even with jets flying overhead).

Windsor Castle: The Queen’s favoured residenceShe also spends lengthy periods at the two huge country estates she owns, Balmoral and Sandringham. Buckingham Palace is used for official banquets and investitures, and when I attended a buffet lunch for successful women a few years ago, there might have been Old Masters on the walls,
but in the fireplaces were ugly two bar electric fires, the kind of thing my mum threw out in 1960.

By the way, we now have the third most expensive monarchy in Europe, after Norway and the Netherlands. Spain seems a bargain at £6.8 million a year. Mind you, the French presidency costs taxpayers a staggering £91 million – and they don’t even have a figurehead who wears fabulous clothes and a priceless crown!

I’ve got two simple ways for the Queen to cut costs – they are radical, but would send the right message to the electorate. Option one – all the Royals could live together in one London base. At present, they occupy Clarence House, St James’ Palace, Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace, meaning unnecessary duplication of security staff, cleaners, cooks, butlers, gardeners and footmen. Let them all fill up Buckingham Palace in one Royal Commune, they’d hardly run into each other. One kitchen for all. One centralized clothing care facility. One garage. A nursery for royal babies. You know it makes sense. The other palaces can be sold off or opened as tourist attractions. They all have country piles to spend the weekends in anyway.

Option two – the Queen could vacate Buckingham Palace altogether, and be based at Windsor, where investitures and banquets can take place. Then Buck House can be turned into a visitor attraction and conference centre, state rooms open all year round, along with the gallery. Weddings can take place in the chapel with brides paying extra for their Diana moment on the balcony (£1,000 for ten minutes). The kitchens can cater for big events, at a price.

The Queen is essential for tourism, but in the age of the theme park she needs experts to turn this white elephant into a money-spinner.



history of the English language

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
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The Queen and 60 years of change

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The King’s Speech

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

I hope you liked the movie which we saw last Friday.

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The real story of George VI The King’s Speech :

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And just for fun, the swearing scene :

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Lazy, arrogant cowards: how English saw French in 12th century

Monday, January 18th, 2010

A twelfth-century poem newly translated into English casts fresh light on the origin of today’s Francophobic stereotypes. Although it is meant to be an ‘entente cordiale’, the relationship between the English and the French has been anything but neighbourly.

When the two nations have not been clashing on the battlefield or the sporting pitch they have been trading insults from ‘frogs’ to ‘rosbifs’.Now the translation of the poem has shown just how deep-rooted in history the rivalry and name-calling really is.

Written between 1180 and 1194, a century after the Norman Conquest united England and Normandy against a common enemy in France, the 396-line poem was part of a propaganda war between London and Paris.Poet Andrew de Coutances, an Anglo-Norman cleric, describes the French as godless, arrogant and lazy dogs. Even more stingingly, he accuses French people of being cowardly, and calls them heretics and rapists.

It has taken David Crouch, a professor of medieval history at Hull University, months to complete the translation of what is one of the earliest examples of anti-French diatribe. The poem was written at a time when Philip II of France was launching repeated attacks on Normandy, taking advantage of in-fighting within the English royal family. Prof Crouch says that the poem is of great interest to historians because of its “racial rhetoric”, which was deployed by Anglo-Norman intellectuals in support of their kings’ bitter political and military struggle.

While rivalry between the English and their Gallic neighbours now only tends to surface at sporting occasions and European summits, the poem recalls battles between the two countries and describes the vices of the French in detail.

In one passage, it claims that “eating is their religion” and warns that dining with them is not a pleasant experience.

“A man who dines with the French/ should grab whatever he may/ as either he will end up with the nuts/ or will just carry off the shallots,” the poet writes.

“When they’re abroad they’re even more greedy/And shamefully gorge themselves at every table/Whenever they get near one.

“And whenever hosts have them in their homes/they realise the French are such men/So greedy and so avaricious/That he ought to drive them off with kicks.”

“Intellectuals were deployed to compose diatribes against the enemy,” said Prof Crouch.

“This poem was poisonously undermining the French and their national legend while promoting the legend of King Arthur.”

The poet refutes criticisms of King Arthur and celebrates a legendary victory over Frollo, the French ruler who is portrayed as lazy and incompetent.

“Lying flat out without stirring himself/Frollo got the French to equip him/For that is the way of the French/ Getting their shoes on while lying down,” he writes.

Having described at length the cowardly nature of the French, he even claims, wrongly, that Paris derived its name from the word ‘partir’, which means to flee.

He calls the French “serfs” and “peasants” in an attempt to suggest that they are a race without nobility, adding: “People remind them often enough about this source of shame, but they may as well have not bothered; for they take neither offence or account, as they know no shame.”

Using phrases reminiscent of the insults used by the French knights in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, de Coutances says the French “live more vilely than a dog” and calls them “rascals” and “mockers”.