Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Laughing Policeman. NOT.

Remember Peter and Jane?

Of course you do. Well, if you're over 40 anyway. Whatever became of them? "This is Peter. This is Jane. Peter likes Jane. Jane likes Peter..." etc. The banality of it all makes you laugh in retrospect, doesn't it?  But they actually produced hundreds of these famous little books and I'm quite sure I enjoyed reading them in my time.

The Peter and Jane series, one of the more than 60 series actually produced, was based on a very limited set of key words to help very young children to learn to read. Other popular series include the Well Loved Tales, Tootles the Taxi, What to Look for in Spring (etc.), and the extremely popular How It Works and How To... books explaining common modern appliances and useful processes. See below for two highly practical new titles in the updated series...

Well things have changed, the world has moved on, and a bit of updating was sorely needed. These have been published on plenty of websites already but we make no apologies for sharing them here just in case you missed these gems the first time round. So here we offer you a sneak preview of some pages from the new version of the People at Work: The Policeman title. Click on the open page images for a larger version. Enjoy.

As with many classic children's book series, there's now a mini-collectors' industry based around these titles, with fanatics desperately on the look out for the rarest ones, such as The Impatient Horse, The Tinkers Wig and the timeless (well, kind of) Adventures of Wonk series.

Apparently the youngest Ladybird author was little Jayne Fisher, woh started her Garden Gang series at the innocent age of six. I'm a bit nervous that the new publisher responsible for the images above is going to get hold of the Garden Gang books and do something horrible with them. Shudder.
Other titbits of useless info include the fact that Spike Milligan and Paul McCartney have contributed to the series and that around 660 individual titles are likely to have been published.

The rarest book of them all, according to The Wee Web website, could be an early computer handbook, and I quote:
"Wee do however consider the rarest book of them all to be 'The Computer - How it Works' (1971) - this is not the standard issue but rather a private publication that was especially produced for the Ministry of Defence in 1972. The M.O.D specifically asked for the book to be published in plain covers and without copyright information as not to embarrass their training staff!"
If you want to see some of the pages I left out from the new version of The Policeman, visit this page, and if you want to see what's currently (and really) on offer, then check out the Ladybird site and wallow in some sort of nostalgia.


Hotch Potch English: "The SNAIL" ~ The Laughing Policeman. NOT.
Created & written by Sab Will
Copyright 2010 Sab Will / Hotch Potch English ~ The Unique English Language Website
More creative Sab: Paris Set Me Free

Friday, 26 March 2010

Cold Toads (the things we do for love)

The things we do for love...

I certainly can't claim this as an original, but if it provokes an original laugh or smile I'll consider my efforts worth something...

'So let me offer you, at about fourth hand, quite the most enjoyable item of news to come my way during the past week.

I heard it from my colleague Libby Purves, who read it in The Times newspaper, which got it ultimately from Dr L. Fairchild of Duke University in North Carolina and it concerns toads.

The female toad, unaware of spiritual values, likes her mate big. But because she normally pairs in the dark, she has only one way of judging. The bigger the toad, the deeper his croak. However, there's a complicating factor, because a cold toad gives a deeper croak. Male toads therefore cunningly make for the coldest corner of the pond to deepen their croaks, and a female, who thinks she is mating with a large, warm toad may in fact have been deceived by a small, cold one.

However, things do not stop there. Since all the male toads are trying to chill off as much as possible, the large ones tend to win in the end and take over the cold spot. Indeed, says Dr Fairchild, many of the smallest toads are forced right out of the pond and are obliged to sit on the bank where (since it is warmer out of the water than in, even in North Carolina) the small toads' croaking becomes even shriller and less enticing.

But there is still some consolation for the warm weaklings. For in order to get into the pond the females do, of course, have to run the gauntlet on the bank where, says Dr Fairchild, the small males make the most of their opportunities. It shouldn't be long before the large toads learn to lurk on the bank and shut up. The problem now is how to...'

And there it is. The terrible trials of the toad and his interminable attempt to get his tail over (if toads have tails, that is).

The following videos have only tenuous connections with the above story, but they DO involve toads, so don't expect anything more...
As usual, let me know what you think, in the comments section below.


Comments are, as ever, very welcome on The SNAIL!

Hotch Potch English: "The SNAIL" ~ Cold Toads: the things we do for love
Created & written by Sab Will
Copyright 2010 Sab Will / Hotch Potch English
More creative Sab: Paris Set Me Free
Visit Hotch Potch English ~ The Unique English Teaching Website

Monday, 8 March 2010

Hello! We're Talking About Language

A touch of linguistic genius...

...from today's Dr House, or more rightly his erstwhile comedy duo partner, the flamboyant Mr Stephen Fry.

It really is a virtuoso performance from the erstwhile comedy duo partner of Hugh Laurie, and towards the end of this short clip the proverbial jaw is tempted to drop at the absurd cleverness of it all. How could he have really memorised all of that stuff he manages to spout endlessly from his mouth - it's almost too much for the average brain to take in. Great. Stephen Fry even has an entertaining blog if you enjoy his style.

Obviously we'd love to feature other similar examples of linguistic genius, absurdity or a pleasing mixture of both (why not?) so if you have any suggestions for The SNAIL then do drop me a line and I'll credit you in full at the time of publication.


Comments are, as ever, very welcome on The SNAIL!

Hotch Potch English: "The SNAIL" ~ Hello! Today We're Talking About Language
Created & written by Sab Will
Copyright 2010 Sab Will / Hotch Potch English
More creative Sab: Paris Set Me Free
Visit Hotch Potch English ~ The Unique English Teaching Website

Thursday, 4 March 2010

One For The Culture Vultures

Classic French Poetry: analysis*

Et qui ri des curés d'Oc ?(1)
De Meuse(2) raines,(3) houp ! de cloques.(4)
De quelles loques ce turque coin.
Et ne d'anes ni rennes,
Ecuries des curés d'Oc.
(Fernand d'Antan - attrib.)

An automated (and unfortunately rather wanting) translation renders this in English as:

And who laughs at the priests of Oc?
From Meuse groove, houp! blisters.
Of who wrecks this Turkish corner.
And of neither asses nore reindeers,
Stables of the priests of Oc.

(1) "Oc" (or Languedoc), is an ancient region of France, with its capital at Toulouse.
(2) "Meuse", or Maas, River, 560 miles long, traversing France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
(3) "Raines", old French for frogs (from the Latin, ranae)
(4) "cloques" are warts.
The poem in French is considered a graceful tribute to the monks of Languedoc, who were a humble and holy group. The poem goes on to warn that those who laugh at the monks will have frogs from the Meuse River jump at them and give them warts. They were so humble that their Turkish Corners are made of rags, and they didn't indulge themselves with fancy mules or reindeer. (See also below)

* And if you believe that, you probably haven't got the hang of The SNAIL yet!

There is, of course, another way of translating this mediaeval masterpiece. You simply say it in a pretty apalling English accent and a tickle in the corner of your mouth and it seems to bear a strange resemblance to...

Hickory dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
And down he ran,
Hickory dickory dock!

Ahh, erudite wags - ya gotta love 'em.
Hotch Potch English: "The SNAIL" ~ One For The Culture Vultures
Created & written by Sab Will
Copyright 2010 Sab Will / Hotch Potch English
More creative Sab: Paris Set Me Free
Visit Hotch Potch English ~ The Unique English Teaching Website
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