What the world wants to know about Britain, part I’ve-stopped-counting

It’s time to see what questions the currents of the internet have washing onto our shores. 

Why? Because we’re in the midst of a global pandemic,I’ve gone ever so slightly out of focus, and yet the blog must be fed. So here we go. The questions appear in all their original oddity, and I feel free to make fun of them because I am 609% certain that the people who asked them haven’t stuck around long enough to read what I write. In other words, no human feelings were harmed in the making of this post.

I hope.

Irrelevant photo: Alexanders–a forerunner of celery, brought to Britain by the Romans as a vegetable and still edible although I admit I’ve never gotten around to trying them.

PANDEMIC QUESTIONS

corona virus vs bubonic plague

Before I try to answer this, I need to establish whether it’s one of those irresistible force vs immovable object questions, as in who’d win in a matchup between them, or one of those  which would you prefer if you had to make a choice questions.

Based on no evidence at all, let’s decide it’s the second. I’d go for the plague, myself. It’s curable these days and the question didn’t come with any fine print saying we’d have to be back in a pre-antibiotic century. 

funny sign for door coroba virus notice

Don’t. It’s not going to work. Especially if you can’t come up with some humor of your own and have to borrow other people’s. 

my husband is in self isolation but does not have corna virus do i need to stay away from him?

I’m not a relationship counselor, so take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt: I don’t think this bodes well for the relationship.

did the eyam isolation work

Define work, please. It didn’t save the residents of Eyam, but then no one thought it would. The goal was to save the people around Eyam. So yes, it worked. At great cost. It’s something we all need to keep in mind. Benefiting ourselves isn’t always the goal. The story’s worth reading if you don’t know it.

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE QUESTIONS

did the tudors smoke

Tobacco first arrived in England in 1586–or possibly earlier, but that’s the most commonly cited date. Elizabeth I–the last of the Tudors–died in 1603, so we’ve got an overlap here. She’s said to have had a puff or two in 1600, but I have it on good authority that she didn’t inhale.

By the 1660s, smoking had become common but by then the Tudors were very dead.

why is britain wonderful

I’d have said that any country’s wonderfulness is a matter of opinion. Wonderfulness isn’t something you can measure on an objective scale. 

the enclosure movement is enacted in england-1760 to 1832

Serious question–I’m impressed–but the enclosure movement wasn’t something that got enacted. It happened

how would beer be compared to england

Well, beer’s an alcoholic drink. England’s one of the component parts of the United Kingdom. That mismatch makes them hard to compare. If you’re in a bar, my advice is to go for the beer. If you’re buying a ticket, go for England. You’ll probably mean Britain, but you’ll be understood.

what do brits call cats

Cats.

what do the british call brownies?

Brownies.

why britain

Why not Britain?

legacy of the feudal system

A baffling habit of electing aristocrats with no identifiable skills that would make them competent in government. 

Me? No, I have no political opinions whatsoever.

is (gt) britain really going down the stank,asit seems

First, I’m going to need a definition of stank, not as the past tense of stink but as a noun. Lord Google had nothing to offer me.

After that, I’m going to need to know why whoever you are thinks it is. That’ll give me some vague idea about whether I agree. Are we talking about austerity destroying the infrastructure? Are we talking about the deplorable habits of resident American bloggers who don’t say please and thank you anywhere near often enough, not to mention the way they contribute to the adoption of words from that inferior dialect known as American English? Are we talking about kids today and everything that’s wrong with them? Y’know. Give me some specifics before we argue about how serious it all is. Or isn’t.

why was church of england referred as dark satanic mills in blake’s jerusalem

Nice try and I admire your subject, but he wasn’t talking about the church. The dark satanic mills were the mills–those early, deathly workshops of the Industrial Revolution that ate the lives of the people who worked there. 

when did berwick on tweed end the crimean war

Every time I assemble a set of search engine questions, I find at least one question about Berwick on Tweed being at war with Russia. And the more often I reprint them, the more of them I get, so I have no one to blame but myself–and possibly John Russell, who first got me writing about the topic. Berwick on Tweed has not been at war with Russia since the Crimean War. It didn’t end the Crimean War. It also didn’t start the Crimean War. You can read the tale here.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS QUESTIONS [yes, this gets a category of its own]

why do we cross sprouts

To get to the other side

what is behind the english obsession of brussel sprouts for xmas dinner

Timing. They ripen just in time for the holidays. The real question is, what’s behind the obsession with why the British eat them at Christmas. Everyone seems to be looking for some deep meaning. People, there isn’t one.

sprouts christmas why

The nation’s sprout-haters ask this pretty much every holiday season, raising their hands to the heavens as they cry out, “Why?” It doesn’t help. Someone dumps sprouts on their plates anyway, and they have to pretend to eat them.

why are brussels sprouts british

I’m tempted to say it’s because Brussels is the capital of Britain but someone’s going to take me seriously so let’s take the question apart instead: What does it mean for a vegetable to have a nationality? That its ancestors immigrated there legally, or before anyone started keeping records, so at least not demonstrably illegally? Or do other countries have to pay a tax when they eat the vegetable, or at least give appropriate amounts of thanks? 

Does it mean it grew there? Or does it just mean it’s eaten in that country? 

What, for that matter, does it mean for a person to have a nationality? Is it a real–as in, innate–thing or do we make it real by our conviction that it is real?

Oh, people, we’re getting in deep here and we’re still only at vegetables. We haven’t started on the fruit. In the interest of saving what little sanity some of us have maintained in the face of global pandemic, the incompetence of most governments, and the downright evil of some others. 

Where was I?

What I was trying to say is that I’m going to skip over the question in the interest of keeping us all marginally sane.

MYSTERIOUS QUESTIONS 

on way put kettle idioma

I’ve taken this apart and put it back together six different ways and still can’t make sense of it. Is someone asking about the idiom “put the kettle on”? If so, what’s “on way” got to do with it? Why is the world such a strange place? 

What does it all mean, bartender?

what does legend say while king alfred was there

It says, “Alfred, put the kettle on. I’m stopping by with some burned cakes.” You can read about that here, although I don’t think I mentioned the burned cakes. They are part of his legend, but they’re a relatively late addition and roughly as reliable as Washington chopping down the cherry tree. 

gower cottage brownies japan us

If these words have anything to do with each other, I haven’t figured out what it is. I suspect they’re part of a joke that starts out, “Five nouns walk into a bar…”

You’re welcome to leave the rest of the joke in the comments section. I’m welcome to censor your contribution if you go over the edge.

Where’s the edge? I don’t know yet but I’m sure we’ll find out and I’m sure it’ll be interesting.

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A delayed thanks to Autolycus for pointing me in the direction of last week’s post. You can find his blog here. He has a light approach that I enjoy.