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Tag Archives: Juliet Nicolson

Not rude at all!

Of course, by today’s standards it’s pretty mild. Nevertheless, if you told Great Aunt Sadie to ‘shut her trap” you’d probably earn a clip round the ear. Yet Juliet Nicolson in her book ‘The Perfect Summer’ tell us that this expression’s origin isn’t rude at all.

Because in 1911, with motoring in its infancy, cars were for the rich who could afford chauffeurs for their Rolls-Royces. And if one of these near extinct species was over talkative, then he would be instructed to ‘shut his trap’. This being the little flap between himself and the passengers compartment.

Mind you this was the least indignity that our automotive minion could suffer. For ladies annoyed at their directions not being heard above the engine would jab their driver in the neck with their umbrellas. But it’s ‘shut your trap’ we remember even if not the phrase’s origin. Proof then its not the meaning of words that is important – its their and our intention.

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Discovering times gone by

This afternoon, I did something terribly old fashioned. I just sat in the garden reading a book with a sun hat on. Old fashioned because everyone else seems to be doing something. In fact, it seems positively sinful to sit at home and enjoy the sun’s warmth. Actually, I was reading the witty an enjoyable ‘The Perfect Summer’ by Juliet Nicolson. Its a social history of the summer of 1911; the last beautiful season before the Great War. No wonder then it is subtitled – dancing into the Shadow. However, despite the growing storm clouds, there was something appealing about those years. In particular, the less pressured life when personal news came through the letter box and world tidings via the newspaper. No social websites, emails, mobile phones and satellite TV for them.

Of course there is much from that age that we would not tolerate for a minute today. Yet their pace of life with its weekly routine must beat our 24/7 obsession. Their seasons must have the pleasure of reacquaintance ship that our unbroken desire for the fruits of the globe dulls. Their joy at a perfect summer must have been greater than ours faced as it is with a constant stream of days that all seem the same in their rapidity of passing. So maybe we should,from time to time, bring some of the peace of nearly one hundred years ago back to our living of these frenetic times. Hopefully then we too will rediscover a perfect summer by visiting times gone just by being still.

 

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