Every fool in Bakewell: Ruskin’s rant refuted

Ruskin (and food critic Matthew Fort) on the beauties of Derbyshire

John Ruskin - a self-portraitJohn’s Ruskin’s complaint at the desecration of the Derbyshire Dales featured in The Guardian on Saturday. ‘Every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half-an-hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton,’ Ruskin thundered. ‘Call me a fool,’ Matthew Fort wrote, ‘but I can see any number of good reasons to be in Bakewell…. How many towns the size of Bakewell, I wondered, could boast a Tiroler Stüberl, Austrian Coffee Shop & Sausage Importer?’ The answer, I suspect, lies in the large number of tourists who flock there – those same ‘Workmen and Labourers of Great Britain’ whom Ruskin addressed, perhaps, and their womenfolk? Continue reading “Every fool in Bakewell: Ruskin’s rant refuted”

Happy Birthday, Bill!

Shakespeare’s birthday boat on the Thames

Shakespeare's birthday bargeLiterary Connections made the pilgrimage to Bankside on Shakespeare’s birthday on Wednesday and was rewarded by the sight of a miniature (and appropriately stagy) Elizabethan theatre sailing up the Thames in the evening sunlight, announced by the sound of trumpets (or were they sackbuts?) and drums. You can, I hope, see something of this in the photograph. It was hardly Cleopatra’s ‘burnish’d throne’ but impressive enough to entertain the crowd on the riverbank and sufficient to make us feel touched by a little of the Bard’s magic for the evening.

Synthetic St George: is this the end of chivalry?

St George stalks the streets – with artificial roses

St George's Day roseIt is not only phonics that are synthetic these days – even the English rose is artificial. The one you can see here is an example. The English rose is not a reference to the daughter who is wearing it (delightful though she is, of course) but to the flower. Driving through Mottram in Longdendale on Saturday (19 April, so it was not even St George’s Day), we were greeting with the surreal sight of a man dressed as St George (that is, the St George of Daily Express mastheads and comic books) handing out red roses to drivers waiting at the traffic lights. Continue reading “Synthetic St George: is this the end of chivalry?”

Taking it too literally?

Use and abuse of the word ‘literally’

BBC correspondent David Willey reported on the Today programme this morning that the Pope had met a group of men and women ‘whose lives have literally been destroyed’ by abuse in the Catholic Church. This took place in ‘the residence of the Papal Nuncio in Washington’ which is not, I understand, in the afterlife (‘that undiscovered country’, etc). David Willey was therefore stretching the definition of ‘destroyed’, surely, to add ‘literally’ as an intensifier? (If you’re quick, you can hear him for yourself here.) Continue reading “Taking it too literally?”

The orthographic conscience has been awakened – and it’s on a mission

Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL) is on a mission across the United States: could it happen here?

Alerted by Andrew Mueller’s own blog in The Guardian today, I’ve been delighted to discover that there’s a Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL) in the United States. Furthermore, they are not content to sigh over greengrocers’ apostrophes or groan over bad grammar – they are crossing America from West to East, equipped with marker pens, stickers, white-out and a zeal to remove every aberrant apostrophe and correct every misspelling. They seemed to be having some success: on 11 April, for example, they report on their Typo Hunt Across America blog: ‘Typos Found: 170; Typos Corrected: 100’. Continue reading “The orthographic conscience has been awakened – and it’s on a mission”