The British Character : Has It Changed? #2

And here’s another character familiar in the modern era –

Don’t write to The Times, Madam!  Film it on your camera ‘phone and upload it to YouTube!  You’ll go viral in no time!

Today, of course, the squirrel would be grey, not red.  Perhaps they aren’t capable of such tricks.

One Million Fairly Similar Words For Snow

Experts are claiming that this weekend’s snow event is already the best-documented since records began, with almost half a million tweets, fifty thousand blog posts and over a million photographs already available on the internet, not to mention innumerable Facebook updates.

A future historian of everyday life, writing from the year 2112, will have this to say –

“It’s quite hopeless, from my point of view.  As with every aspect of everyday life since the invention of social media, there is simply too much evidence and I don’t know where to start.  In future I’m going back to the seventeenth century, where every scrap of evidence is invaluable.”

And here’s my contribution to the white noise and light … this lunar, deep-sea object is a poppy in the backyard, Saturday night –    


(Stop it! You’re making it worse! – A Future Historian)

Follow Me On Twitter (or not – it’s entirely up to you)

After years of Twitterscepticism, I have resolved to dip a tentative toe into the Twitterstream, so, if you’d like to subscribe, I believe the application form is to the right as you look at it.

As I currently have no mobile equipment that allows me to Tweet on the hoof, or much idea of how I can use it constructively, my Twittering is likely to be of a fairly passive nature to begin with.

I shall be publicising my posts on this blog via Twitter (if I can get it to work), following a few of my favourite bloggers, and perhaps a few stars of the Twittersphere, such as the belligerent QPR midfielder-philosopher Alain de Barton.  

Plus of course, James Taylor (the noted gourmet).

“Weasel trappers may be lurking in your area” : the last words of the Emperor Napoleon

This blog always endeavours to maintain a tone of civility, to keep alight a small beacon of sweetness and light in a darkening world.  But elsewhere on the internet, I am afraid to say, a rather different attitude sometimes prevails. 

I offer as for your consideration this exchange, conducted on the discussion page of the Wikipedia entry devoted to the Empress Josephine.  A Lena Synnerholm of Sweden has, not for the first time, shared, at some length, her strongly-held belief that the last words of the Emperor Napoleon were not, as usually reported “France, Army, Head of the Army, Josephine” .  Instead, she believes –

“They heard a sound coming from his moth (sic) but it was more like a music instrument than a human voice. Today it is thought to have been due to gases from an over-pressurised stomach escaping though his throat. Consequentially, there was no intention behind it. Most likely the last thing he said before he died was: “Give me my chamber-pot.””

Instantly an anonymous Frenchman leaps to the defence of the honour of La Patrie, La Gloire and so on.  I think, to get the full benefit, you have to imagine this being said in the voice of Kenneth Williams as Robespierre –

“Here we go again. The relentless witch from Märsta, Sweden desecrating yet once more the great Napoléon. Her comments and totally negative influence on all of the Wiki pages dealing with Napoléon is an unbearable plague. Self-proclaimed expert, she makes historically fallacious claims solely motivated by some inexplicably vapid rancor towards the Bonaparte family. Having read a couple of vulgarization books recommended by Oprah’s Club is vastly insufficient to claim expertise. Your deeds are those of an aging homely wretch, afraid of the crowds, confined to an unsanitary loghouse lost remotely in the cold nordic deserts of an ever so sad country. Enough with you already, Miss Synnerholm. Go plague another site. Your obdurate, opinionated, and crooked claims sully the memory of the Emperor of the French in the most unwelcome way. Be sure to keep your ugly nose inside your room this winter. Weasel trappers may be lurking in your area. Greetings to the royal family of whom you remain a subject, and whom benefited largely from Napoléon’s grandeur. The Bernadottes were no more than empty-handed peasants covered in louse when Napoléon ordered them out of France, after having offered them a few acres of ice and snow in a distant glacial land called Suède. Do not forget who gave you your kings.”

Not nice at all.  But Miss Synnerholm is not one whit abashed.  She refutes the Frenchman’s attack, point by point, in a numbered list.  I don’t have the space to reproduce the lot, but here are her answers to some of his wilder allegations (I think this is best imagined in the voice of Peter Cook’s Sven, the lonely Norwegian fisherman) –

“5. I don’t know about any “Oprah’s Club”. I have no contact with any such organisation.

6. I am 26 years old and do not seem much older. Some people have even mistaken me for younger than I am!

7. I am not afraid of crowds. Most leikely, I have even smaller personal space than most Swedes.

8. I live in a 33 square metre apartment with linoleum floor, drainage and water supply.

10. In Sweden we don’t trap Mustelids in the wild: we breed them in captivity. However, this is controversial due to the conditions under which the animals are kept.”

Told, I think.