Not The Target Market

Language

Honey for the Ears

Every day I check the news and every day ads pass before my eyes or over my ears and I think “Boy, I am just about the most Not The Target Market that anyone could be,” and then the next day comes with its news and ads and I find am even morer not the target. And it’s always louder than the day before.  I don’t know if this is to make everyone feel included (you know how you always shout at people who don’t speak your language) or if it’s just to bludgeon us all to death so we stop protesting.  I am reminded here of the Dorothy Sayers novel The Nine Tailors in which the villain is (accidently) murdered (spoiler alert) by being locked into a bell tower while a peal is being rung.  He is overwhelmed by the sound and dies with face contorted in horror. (more…)

Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?*

A few days ago I was re-reading Angela Thirkell’s The Brandons. For pure escapism into a lovely cloud cuckoo-land, Angela Thirkell can’t be beat. Her novels take place in the fictional English county of Barsetshire, which is where Anthony Trollope set most of his books. Thirkell took Trollope’s Victorian characters and wrote about their descendants in the 1930s through the 1960s.

 I read the following and I laughed out loud. Delia Brandon, about 20 years old, is speaking at a tea party that includes her mother, her [male] cousin Hillary (about 24 years old) and the vicar, Mr. Miller. (more…)

Pictures of Perfection Make Me Sick and Wicked*

The pressure to have a perfect house, perfect garden and perfect children used to arrive only once a month with the latest home/lifestyle magazine. The beauty of these old-style guilt trips was that they were eminently ignorable and small-scale. Only a few “perfect” families, houses or gardens were on display each month. And when you tossed the magazine, you were done with them. (more…)

P.G. Wodehouse: Entertainer and Educator

I have wondered for a long time why P.G. Wodehouse is left off high school or college syllabi. Now that students demand to be entertained rather than educated, Wodehouse would seem to be a natural fit as he certainly entertains. The beauty is that a clever teacher could also sneak in some education.

In 1939, Hillaire Belloc, no slouch himself when it came to writing and thinking, wrote: “Writing is a craft … Now the end of writing is the production in the reader’s mind of a certain image and a certain emotion. And the means towards that end are the use of words in any particular language; and the complete use of that medium is the choosing of the right words and the putting of them into the right order. It is this which Mr. Wodehouse does better in the English language, than anyone else alive…” (emphasis in the original) (more…)

First Words

The Moose’s articulation is starting to coalesce.

He is a chatty little guy and if you listen you can hear “Mama,” “no,” “dog,” “cheese” (his favorite food), “juice” (we enjoy a decaf Arnold Palmer at lunch), “all done,” “yum” and “up” among the general non-stop flow of syllables. He calls The Hunter “Ga Ga.” He understands everything we say. He has been rooting through my bookshelves and is fascinated by English Made Simple.  He carries it from room to room. He is ready. (more…)

A Jonah Day

Jonah Crab claws

A “Jonah Day” is called a Jonah Day because of Jonah in the Old Testament. To recap: Jonah refused to do what God wanted (go east to Nineveh to preach repentance.) Instead he rushed onto the first ship could find heading west. (more…)

The Case of the Missing Editor

Or I Can’t Believe This Moo Book Was Actually Published.

The young Moose, at 18 months, likes to read his books. At the moment he is a big fan of anything by Sandra Boynton, Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Kevin Lewis and Who Goes Moo?, a touch and feel book published by Make Believe Ideas, Ltd., with no author credited. Probably they were too embarrassed by the final product to admit it came from anyone on their staff. (more…)

There are Yankees and then there are The Yankees

Recently The Son, who has always been independent minded, posted a picture of himself and The Moose. The Moose was dressed in a Yankee’s shirt and there was an immediate outcry because of all the teams the immediate and extended family supports – the Red Sox, the Nats, the Giants, the Cubs, the Mets, the Twins – the Yankees are not among them. (more…)

Better Be Without Sense Than Misapply It As You Do*

In Memory of JANE AUSTEN, youngest daughter of the late Revd GEORGE AUSTEN, formerly Rector of Steventon in this County. She departed this Life on the 18th of July 1817, aged 41, after a long illness supported with the patience and the hopes of a Christian. The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her and the warmest love of her intimate connections. Their grief is in proportion to their affection, they know their loss to be irreparable, but in their deepest affliction they are consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her REDEEMER. (Jane Austen’s epitaph in Winchester Cathedral)

Jane Austen died 200 years ago today. Much has already been written about her and so much more is pouring forth in commemoration of this anniversary. A great deal of it is complete nonsense and utter rot. (more…)

Grammar Tip: Use Does Not Equal Utilize

Consider this line from Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse:

“Her ladyship wishes you to convey it to its destination personally, realizing that, should she entrust it to the ordinary channels, the gift will be delayed in its arrival beyond the essential date.”

No one talks like this. Certainly not in the 21st century and I doubt very much in any preceding one, either. P.G. Wodehouse uses this hyper-correct and overly formal style as a signature for Jeeves, his hyper-correct and overly formal ‘gentleman’s personal gentleman.’ When reading a Bertie and Jeeves novel, you don’t need the tag “Jeeves said” because you know it’s him speaking. Every time. (more…)