Posts Tagged ‘Banana’

English Gramma(r) and sharing a banana.

January 3, 2019

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Is it true that todays bananas are getting bigger or am I shrinking, and the comparison is at fault? In any case, I now share the banana with Helvi. It is part of our morning ritual, as is our blood pressure measuring. This morning it was a nice 105 over 66 with a pulse of 82. I generally cut the banana with a large cleaver. Sometimes Helvi does it too but uses a smaller knife. After all that, we proceed with opening our pill boxes and take the first of a range of medications spaced out through the rest of the day. In between morning’s duties we sip coffee and tea between talk.

Part of my school education back in Holland was the learning of four languages. It was compulsory at that time for all students going through a high school. Learning English started at Primary school. After our family left Holland 1956, my school education stopped and since then my limited learning of world’s  language skills came through curiosity and reading. It was a case of self-educating and becoming an ‘autodidact’ as is sometimes called.

I was fascinated to read how the English language evolved. English is a typical product of illogicality. I remember as a schoolboy being annoyed that English words were not pronounced as they were written. It is baffling why the language lacks phonetics. Normal languages pronounce words as they are written, but of course, not in England.  The English language is just part of a culture steeped in Illogicality. Just listen to their parliament or Fawlty Towers. They are both the same. And then the circus of Brexit!

I was heartened to read in a book ‘The Lexicographer’s Dilemma, by Jack Lynch, that through the decades attempts were made to simplify English. George Bernard Shaw campaigned to make it more phonetic but with frustratingly little success. In 1906 the Simplified Spelling Board attempted to change the spelling of many words but it turned out even more complicated. Here below are just a few examples how this attempt made the English language even more strange and difficult.

autograf-autograph, biografy-biography, crum-crumb, dout-doubt, tung-tongue. etc

As one can see, the new way of spelling became even less rational. It added letters , mainly consonants, that are not used in speech. They remain unuttered and left unspoken. It is now totally out of the question to make English more phonetic with spelling reforms. We will just have to put up with an abundance of spelling mistakes that is common even amongst those having grown up with just English without the benefits knowing a second or third language.

English  despite it being a difficult and obstinate language, remains the world most spoken language. I like it for its complexities and nuances. It remains to be my favourite tongue. Yet, in my dreams I still speak Dutch.  That language hasn’t left but am unsure if expressing it would be now as fluent (or clumsy) as my English.

Who knows?

From Wiki; ” Phonetic, using a system of written symbols that represent speech sounds in a way that is very close to how they actually sound.”

 

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Australia before the arrival of garlic.

July 8, 2017
IMG_0920 the potato bake

The long lost Leek for potato-bake

Many upright and still standing older burgers of Australia  cast the occasional nostalgic look back to the Australia of the yesteryears.  They were uncomplicated years, and we stood up for Queen and country. One had the school assembly with the accompanying waving of flag and wafting through most schools was the sacred banana sandwich with at most a slice of Devon as close to Continental compromise,’  as  allowable under the White Australia policy. Till the seventies, all thing British were strictly adhered to. We were more English than the English and all enjoyed Yorkshire Pudding at Christmas and pulled crackers on New Year’s Eve.

https://www.google.com.au/#q=the+white+australia+policy+definition&spf=1499498124507

If I remember right it were the arrival of boats from Southern Europe in the fifties that spelt the beginning of the end of this peaceful Australia. True, we were already accustomed to the many from the Magyar background which Australia tolerated reasonably well, especially when they were found to be rather deft hands in Real Estate and building fancy Continental Restaurants.  In Sydney’s Double Bay one could already in those early nineteen-fifty years enjoy a real percolated coffee and with some calm discretion even order a goulash or some other European  dish. I remember an upright frumpy matron from outer suburbia of Wahroonga getting up calling for the headwaiter while pointing to the plate of steaming goulash demanding in a shrill voice to know why on earth it was so hard to put ‘ good clean AUSTRALIAN food on the table.

The Hungarians came from persecutions not that that prevented many Austrians and other  migrants from Slavic bordering countries claiming the same, even though some might well have held some rather dubious posts in the former Wehrmacht but at least they were white and that is what mattered above all else to Australia during those turbulently difficult  but yet yawningly placid years.

It were really the Italians and Greeks with their Garlic importations that changed the previous benevolent mood in Australia away from mother England and all things British. The first garlic clove was introduced by Luigi- Parresone of Palermo who started a fruit shop in Sydney’s Oxford Street. It was Oct the 30th, 1957, on a sunny afternoon, when garlic for sale was first spotted by an irate true blue Australian just coming out of the cinema which was adjacent to this fruit shop. This man had already loudly complained when the first of some cinema goers refused to stand up while the strains of ‘God save the Queen,’ were being hammered out on the Hammond Organ at the beginning of the film which was An Affair to Remember with Deborah Kerr. This refusal, together with the garlic proved too much to this upstanding Aussie.

It was later claimed that garlic and the Euro influenced refusal to stand up for the Queen that accurately predicted an ominous decline in our much beloved Anglo culture. This odoriferous garlic soon permeated throughout much of the good country of Australia and even reached Broken-Hill as early as 1959. It was said to have been introduced by Croatian migrants from The Snowy Mountains Scheme that drifted to the outback; first to Mount Isa and then to Broken Hill. They were difficult years and the police had to be called when battles broke out between  pro- and anti garlic mobs in King Street, Newtown. Brick were thrown, shops burnt and universities with professors seething with discontent..

Today, Garlic is totally accepted into the Australian cuisine and as much liked as the much beloved brown coconut encrusted Lamington cake during those earlier times. Indeed, we now enjoy food from all corners of the world. Vive le difference is now our catchcry.

The banana and Devon sandwich pervasively permeated primary schools remain a curious remnant from the past,

as was the final jettisoning of the White Australia Policy.

 

The Banana skin on the Doorstep of our Lives

July 1, 2013

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You either do what you want to do or spend your life just waiting for week-ends to come around. I think that pearl of wisdom might have come from a successful Austrian or Moldavian philosopher inside a mountain cave deep in thought and wholly absorbed in ‘Weltanschauung’ contemplation of the importance of doing nothing much except occasionally sweep out his cave.

It is all in the broom, some say. The broom that sweeps our lives of all the debris that never found any use in our lives. Lately I noticed the debris building up again. Has anyone noticed that shops now try and sell even more with big discounts on multiple items? You are urged to buy six loaves of bread and get 50 cents off for doing so. The latest that caught my eye is to buy scissors in packets of six. Six scissors?

What is there to cut still? Do peoples cut the cloth for a twin set or blouse, make boys trousers? My mum was a fervent cutter and sewer of the cloth with one of those pedal sewing machines. It was a ‘Singer’. Her feet would go up and down so fast; today it would be seen as an early form of rap-dancing beating the BigBang boys or even a Moon Walk.

My mum had one pair of scissors her whole life. Sometimes a man on a bike would come along. The bike would be put on its stand and knifes and scissors would be sharpened by him peddling the bike that drove a round sharpening stone on top of the handle bars.
This sharpening device has never been improved since. In any case nothing gets sharpened anymore. People chuck it all out and buy multiple sets of knives and scissors, six at the time. The happy shopper comes home with six loaves of bread and six pairs of scissors. It fills their lives, gives substance to an existence so thread bare that my mum’s Singer could well be in for a revival.

Those ideas of the past don’t easily let go. How come that people were more connected with sharpening knifes or scissors? Even enameled pots and pans were repaired with patches put into bottoms when rust had worked a pin-hole into them. Of course, it is nice we can afford to buy stainless steel that doesn’t’ rust but do we need to be so much on the rampage to consume? Why not take pride in a saucepan that has cooked meals for decades on end and try and keep it going as long as possible.

We used to have kind, friendly and benevolent relationships with all sorts of utensils. My mum’s green enameled milk bucket at the bottom of the stairs used to get filled by the milkman when ordered by my mum from above shouting ‘three liters to-day, please”. That bucket experienced entire generations of kids growing up. I can’t remember if this bucket followed us to Australia but I would like to think it did.

Our housed are now so full of everything. Cupboards piling over, scissors behind settees, drawers full of knives with a giant butcher block blocking access to the kitchen. Ikea boxes in the garbage bin. An Allen key looking forlorn, just cast away with all the other debris. We are groaning with debris.

We need a new broom.