A Cup of Brown Joy

My father drank coffee, my mother always, always drank tea. Back then, coffee was a drink for (ahem) adults—Starbucks was just a gleam in its founders’ eyes; you just didn’t see teenagers carrying around cups of coffee. So when I was in my early twenties, I took it up. Coffee.

Some years ago, though, I was advised to give up coffee for health reasons. (I still have coffee every once in a great while, for a treat.) Tea was OK, though. And by then I was seeing the Irishman, so I made the switch and never looked back.

Since then there’s been quite a renaissance in tea consumption in the United States. So it’s astonishing to me when I sit down in a restaurant, order tea, and am brought a huge box of … herbal teas. There might be some Earl Grey. But Earl Grey is a very distinctive flavor; it’s OK, but I have to be in the mood. For me, Early Grey ≠ tea. And herbal tea … well, that’s just flavored hot water.

No, I want a Cup of Brown Joy. If you’re a tea drinker, that pretty much describes it, yes? I can’t take credit for that line; that goes to Professor Elemental, he of this delightful video.

How do you take your tea? I like mine black. When I’m working I’ll make a whole pot, slip a cozy over it, and have several nice, hot cuppas.

“So when times are hard and life is rough
You can stick the kettle on and find me a cup”

Breakfast: banana, scone, bacon … and a cup of brown joy. :)

Breakfast: banana, scone, bacon … and a cup of brown joy. 🙂

Accents: Some Folks “Got” It, Some Folks Don’t

I have always been fascinated by accents. My parents were Midwesterners—which still mostly sounds like the least accent-y accent in the States (to me)—but my father was in the air force, so we moved around a lot. When we moved to the island of Newfoundland—with many of English and Irish ancestry—I heard real dialect for the first time. “Sit here, luv,” some friend of my mother would say. I’d never heard love used like that; Midwesterners use different endearments.

So I was delighted when I stumbled on a series of “How to do a [you name it] accent” videos done by Gareth Jameson, a voice coach. Here he does a Geordie accent. This link will take you to all sixteen of Jameson’s videos: Cockney, British, Russian, Spanish, South African, New York, Welsh, Geordie, South American, American, German, Australian, French, Scottish, Irish … and how to lose your native accent.

The key to any accent, Jameson says, is to identify the specific sounds that only occur in that accent, that can be identified as different from other sounds. Maybe so, but I have “accent blindness”—I can hear ’em, but I just can’t do ’em. I really envy people who can.

There are lots of accent videos on YouTube, including this one I saw a few years ago (language warning—it’s funny but profane, so sensitive ears should refrain). But the one I’ve really enjoyed isn’t about accents at all—it’s a commercial for (wait for it!) PooPourri. Filled with British scatological slang, it’s performed in a posh English accent, and it made me scream with laughter. Enjoy!

Lights Out

The day after my 3 August post, there was another World War 1 commemoration in England. Germany declared war on France on August third; on the fourth, the German army invaded Belgium, and the United Kingdom and Belgium entered the war by declaration.

“The lamps are going out all over Europe,” said British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey on the evening of the third. “We shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

In memory, Britons were urged to dim their lights between ten and eleven o’clock on the evening of the fourth. I found this a very moving demonstration.

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. © Daily Mail.

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. © Daily Mail.

The events of the day were covered extensively in photos—in this online article from the Daily Mail and this one from the Guardian (and a photo gallery here).

What’s Goin’ On*

It’s the hundred-year anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1. Not particularly something one wants to celebrate but certainly should be meditated upon … not only because it was a terrible thing (nine million men died fighting it, and that’s only the beginning of the death and destruction) but because it’s a hundred years later and not much has changed.

The next weeks and months will be full of commemorations of one sort or another, but I wanted to bring your attention to one: The Tower of London Remembers.

The evolving installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, will be unveiled on 5 August 2014; one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.

Entitled ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, the installation is being created in the Tower’s famous dry moat. It will continue to grow throughout the summer until the moat is filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each poppy representing a British or Colonial military fatality during the war. (Emphasis mine.)

I’ve seen photos, and they’re spectacular and moving. Here’s one set of photos at Colossal: Art, Design, and Visual Culture.

Photo © Historic Royal Palaces 2014

Photo © Historic Royal Palaces 2014

Here is another collection of photos—completely different—at Buzzfeed.

It’s beautiful and sobering. If you’re in the area, you should definitely make an effort to see this exhibit.

* Father, father / We don’t need to escalate / You see, war is not the answer / For only love can conquer hate … (Marvin Gaye, All Cleveland, Renaldo Benson)