to fail to reach a desired or expected amount or standard, causing disappointment:
August car sales fell short of the industry's expectations.
Edinburgh's Hogmanay party has been under way for days
Forecasters have warned that night-time temperatures will fall below zero in many places across the UK as revellers welcome the new year.
Party-goers in Edinburgh will need more than Hogmanay cheer to keep warm with lows of minus 5C expected.
In London 400,000 people are expected to attend a fireworks display, while Elton John is playing at the 02 Arena.
A range of free events have been planned for Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle as well.
Sub-zero temperatures are also forecast for northern England and Wales, while many other areas could also see the mercury plunge.
But revellers going to fireworks displays might not get a clear view, with mist and freezing fog forecast in some areas.
Claire Austin, forecaster with MeteoGroup UK, said: "It is going to be quite cold in most places but the good news is that it is staying dry and winds are going to be generally light."
But there is unlikely to be any let up in the cold weather for the first day of 2009.
Ms Austin added: "There will be some mist and cloud around in the morning.
"Central and eastern areas will see lots of cloud but western regions, such as Western Scotland and Wales will see the best of the bright sunny weather.
"It will be a little bit milder in the East but still temperatures are unlikely to get above 4-5C anywhere.
"It is still looking like it is going to stay pretty cold over the next couple of days with weekend temperatures of around 2-3C and minus figures overnight."
In London police are gearing up for one of the busiest nights of the year.
The Met's Supt Brian Pearce urged people to plan their night in advance and to take extra care after consuming alcohol.
He added: "Hundreds of thousands of people used to travel to central London when there was nothing for them to see or do.
"Now with such a world-class fireworks display being staged the centre of town is more popular than ever before.
"Sadly, not everyone sets out just for a fun night out. There are those criminals who will use the cover of crowds to commit crime, so help yourself by keeping a close eye on all your belongings."
Tube services will be running all night, but the authorities have warned people may need to queue to get into stations because the demand will be high.
And on Thursday more than 400,000 people are expected to head into London for the New Year's Day Parade.Organisers said the traditional spectacle aims to breathe fresh air into London by helping visitors beat the credit crunch and start the year healthily.
| Thomas Becket |
Meets His Demise
An example of the Cavalier style can be seen in the painting "Charles I, King of England, from Three Angles" by Anthony van Dyck.http://www.answercentral.com/main/Record2?a=NR&url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavalier
Auld Lang Syne is sung at New Year’s throughout much of the Western World. Yet most people are unsure of exactly what it means, likely because it was written in Scots by Scottish Poet Robert Burns.
So, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Scots celebrate New Year's Eve for nearly a week. But do cityfolk and country cousins ring in the year the same way?
Report: Jodi Breisler
In Great Britain, a symbol of life in the country is slowly dying out. The decline of the signal red telephone boxes has been gradual, but with more and more people hooking up via mobile phone, the end is in sight.
在金融海嘯下，不少消費者都勒緊褲頭，令零售業步入寒冬。店舖為求促銷，不惜以瘋狂大減價作招徠。在倫敦三條著名的購物街，各大百貨 公司均在聖誕節過後進行割價大傾銷，諸如Gucci、LV及Prada等名牌貨品均減至半價發售，部分貨品更以一折至三折割喉價清倉，造成五十萬人大迫爆 的場面，打破歷來拆禮物日的銷售紀錄。有百貨公司更錄得單一小時營業額高達一百萬英鎊，令人咋舌。在牛津街的Selfridges百貨公司，在聖誕日的午 夜過後，即拆禮物日凌晨二時起，便開始有人在店外排隊，到店舖早上九時開門營業時，便有數千人一湧而入，要勞煩保安協助控制人群秩序。其中排頭位的一名二 十一歲華裔青年，他的目標是Gucci的手袋，結果他順利以三百鎊購得原價六百鎊的心頭好。
It was "deeply regrettable" these meetings had not taken place before the T5 opening, the report said. The opening of T5 revealed serious failings on the part of both BAA and BA.
The disruption at the opening of Heathrow's Terminal 5 could have been avoided if union concerns were listened to, MPs are told.. Page last updated at 18:09 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 19:09 UK
"That [Harold Pinter] occupies a position as a modern classic is illustrated by his name entering the language as an adjective used to describe a particular atmosphere and environment in drama: 'Pinteresque' "–placing him in the company of authors considered unique or influential enough to elicit eponymous adjectives. Susan Harris Smith observes: "The term 'Pinteresque' has had an established place in the English language for almost thirty years. The OED defines it as 'of or relating to the British playwright, Harold Pinter, or his works'; thus, like a snake swallowing its own tail the definition forms the impenetrable logic of a closed circle and begs the tricky question of what the word specifically means" (103). The Online OED (2006) defines Pinteresque more explicitly: "Resembling or characteristic of his plays. … Pinter's plays are typically characterized by implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses." The Swedish Academy defines characteristics of the Pinteresque in greater detail:
Pinter restored theatre to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretence crumbles. With a minimum of plot, drama emerges from the power struggle and hide-and-seek of interlocution. Pinter's drama was first perceived as a variation of absurd theatre, but has later more aptly been characterised as 'comedy of menace', a genre where the writer allows us to eavesdrop on the play of domination and submission hidden in the most mundane of conversations. In a typical Pinter play, we meet people defending themselves against intrusion or their own impulses by entrenching themselves in a reduced and controlled existence. Another principal theme is the volatility and elusiveness of the past.
Over the years Pinter himself has "always been very dismissive when people have talked about languages and silences and situations as being 'Pinteresque'," observes Kirsty Wark in their interview on Newsnight Review broadcast on 23 June 2006; she wonders, "Will you finally acknowledge there is such a thing as a 'Pinteresque' moment?" "No," Pinter replies, "I've no idea what it means. Never have. I really don't.… I can detect where a thing is 'Kafkaesque' or 'Chekhovian' [Wark's examples]," but with respect to the "Pinteresque", he says, "I can't define what it is myself. You use the term 'menace' and so on. I have no explanation of any of that really. What I write is what I write."
Once asked what his plays are about, Pinter lobbed back a phrase "the weasel under the cocktail cabinet", which he regrets has been taken seriously and applied in popular criticism:
Once many years ago, I found myself engaged uneasily in a public discussion on theatre. Someone asked me what was my work 'about'. I replied with no thought at all and merely to frustrate this line of enquiry: 'the weasel under the cocktail cabinet'. This was a great mistake. Over the years I have seen that remark quoted in a number of learned columns. It has now seemingly acquired a profound significance, and is seen to be a highly relevant and meaningful observation about my own work. But for me the remark meant precisely nothing.
Despite Pinter's protestations to the contrary, many reviewers and other critics consider the "remark", though "facetious", an apt description of his plays; for example: "Asked what his plays were about, Harold Pinter once notoriously quipped, 'the weasel under the cocktail cabinet'.… Although Pinter later repudiated this remark as facetious, it does contain an important clue about his relationship to English dramatic tradition" (Sofer 29); "Mr. Pinter … is celebrated for what the critic Irving Wardle has called 'the comedy of menace,' or as Mr. Pinter once joked, 'the weasel under the cocktail cabinet' " (Brantley, "Harold Pinter"; cf. "A Master of Menace" [multimedia presentation]).
In December 1971, in his interview with Pinter about Old Times, Mel Gussow recalled that "After The Homecoming [Pinter] said that [he] 'couldn't any longer stay in the room with this bunch of people who opened doors and came in and went out. Landscape and Silence [the two short poetic memory plays that were written between The Homecoming and Old Times] are in a very different form. There isn't any menace at all.' " Later, he asked Pinter to expand on his view that he had "tired" of "menace", and Pinter added: "when I said that I was tired of menace, I was using a word that I didn't coin. I never thought of menace myself. It was called 'comedy of menace' quite a long time ago. I never stuck categories on myself, or on any of us [playwrights]. But if what I understand the word menace to mean is certain elements that I have employed in the past in the shape of a particular play, then I don't think it's worthy of much more exploration."
Among the most-commonly cited of Pinter's comments on his own work are his remarks about two kinds of silence ("two silences"), including his objections to "that tired, grimy phrase 'failure of communication'," as defined in his speech to the National Student Drama Festival in Bristol in 1962, incorporated in his published version of the speech entitled "Writing for the Theatre":
There are two silences. One when no word is spoken. The other when perhaps a torrent of language is being employed. This speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it. That is its continual reference. The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don't hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its place. When true silence falls we are still left with echo but are nearer nakedness. One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.
We have heard many times that tired, grimy phrase: 'failure of communication' … and this phrase has been fixed to my work quite consistently. I believe the contrary. I think that we communicate only too well, in our silence, in what is unsaid, and that what takes place is a continual evasion, desperate rearguard attempts to keep ourselves to ourselves. Communication is too alarming. To enter into someone else's life is too frightening. To disclose to others the poverty within us is too fearsome a possibility.
I am not suggesting that no character in a play can never say what he in fact means. Not at all. I have found that there invariably does come a moment when this happens, when he says something, perhaps, which he has never said before. And where this happens, what he says is irrevocable, and can never be taken back.
In his "Presentation Speech" of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature to Harold Pinter, in absentia, Swedish writer Per Wästberg, Member of the Swedish Academy and Chairman of its Nobel Committee, observes: "The abyss under chat, the unwillingness to communicate other than superficially, the need to rule and mislead, the suffocating sensation of accidents bubbling under the quotidian, the nervous perception that a dangerous story has been censored – all this vibrates through Pinter's drama."
Power and turf are always at issue in Pinter. You get to see in his plays how much the anatomy of our emotional entanglements is built on ever-shifting questions of who's up and who's down.
Whether the conflict is over primacy in a Darwinian family struggle ("The Homecoming"), control of the memories of long-ago events ("Old Times") or the psychological upper hand in a metamorphosing love triangle ("Betrayal"), his works are taut battlefields. Unlike Beckett, though, whose seminal plays such as "Waiting for Godot" are placed in barren, metaphysical landscapes, Pinter's tend toward cozier, bourgeois surroundings. In his hands these spaces seem as raw and terrifying as any heath.
Audiences do, at times, engage in head-scratching over Pinter's peculiar rhythms. As noted by Peter Hall, a friend who directed many of his 30 works for the stage, the playwright's eccentric cadences were challenging for actors, too: the long silences, shorter pauses and brief hesitations were ubiquitous features of his scripts. "The actors had to understand why there were these differences," Hall explained in his 1993 autobiography. "They chafed a little, but finally accepted that what was not said often spoke as forcefully as the words themselves."
Over time, Pinter's work became more overtly political, and his vehemence drew controversy. (As a young man, he claimed status as a conscientious objector.) He was outspoken in his outrage at the invasion of Iraq, and described in a speech in 2005 his reaction to the policies of the Bush and Blair administrations as arousing nausea.
Pinter saved his subtlety for his dramatic voice. His blink-of-an-eye 1988 play "Mountain Language" painted in four short scenes the terrors of a regime that stripped a minority population of its freedom, its dignity and finally, in banning the speaking of its language, even its words. To one who used them to such captivating effect, this truly would have seemed a crime against humanity.
Harold Pinter, prospector of 24-karat drama in the tension-racked spaces between words, died in London on Wednesday, at age 78. With his death, the pool of contemporary playwrights of international literary stature has been all but drained dry.
Although he expressed the views of a pacifist, Pinter wrote as if he held his finger on the pin of a grenade. In modernist classics such as "The Homecoming," "Old Times" and "No Man's Land," he devised characters who spoke in elliptical asides and enigmatic bursts. Violence of some nature was never out of the realm of possibility, even in his quietest plays. For Pinter was a connoisseur of subtext, of letting a story unfold on a living room set while a more savage one simmered in the crawl spaces of the mind. His characters routinely rattle each other with what never gains utterance.
His stark black-comic sensibility and economical use of language owed much to Samuel Beckett, the father of existential 20th-century drama. It was a debt that Pinter, who got his start as an actor in postwar Britain, readily acknowledged. When the Nobel Academy gave him the prize for literature in 2005, the act affirmed his link to Beckett, who had won it 36 years earlier. That they are among the few English-speaking dramatists to have received the award speaks to the nonpareil influence they both wielded over the style and force of the modern theater.
Playwright Shinobu Hashimoto, who turned 90 this year, reminisced about his father, who loved theatrical performances, in a recent issue of the weekly Shukan Asahi magazine.
A restaurant-bar owner in a small town, the elder Hashimoto staged several productions every year in his spare time. But one play he never cared for was "Chushingura," a popular, partially factual feudal tale of 47 ronin masterless samurai avenging their disgraced lord and master by capturing and executing Kira Kozukenosuke, the man responsible for the downfall of their clan.
The younger Hashimoto recalled his father saying, "Just one samurai going against 47 foes would make an exciting story. But where's the excitement in 47 young fellows conspiring to kill just one old man?" As a boy, Hashimoto was quite impressed by his father's unconventional sense of value.
Dec. 14 marked the 306th year since the 47 ronin from Ako (a part of present-day Hyogo Prefecture) accomplished their vendetta. People like Hashimoto's father are apparently few and far between, and "Chushingura" still remains a popular play today.
If the 1,000-year-old "Genji Monogatari" (The Tale of Genji) is a literary gem that should be considered a national treasure for its refinement, "Chushingura" is undoubtedly a gem of popular literature.
Kira is virtually portrayed as Public Enemy No. 1, but he has defenders. For one, there was novelist Kikuchi Kan (1888-1948), who wrote a novel titled "Kira Kozuke no Tachiba" (Kira Kozuke's position). In the scene where Kira is huddled in a coal shed, hiding from the avengers, he laments in indignation, "Should (the avengers) capture and kill me, I'll be branded forever as a villain. ... Whatever I have to say will all but be vilified by those who preach the moral rectitude of this vendetta." I must say Kira makes a legitimate point.
There are "villains" within the ranks of the Ako ronin, too--namely, the "traitors" who refused to participate in the vengeance. For instance, Ono Kurobei, who was said to have stood up to Oishi Kuranosuke, who masterminded the plot, is portrayed as a total loser.
Ono must have had perfectly legitimate reasons or excuses of his own for wanting out, but the public in any era is ever eager to label people as simply "good" or "bad."
A haiku poem by Tenko Kawasaki goes: "Hot sake/ Shared by men/ Who sat out the vendetta." The men referred to here are obviously ronin from Ako, but the poem also reminds me of the sort of pathos felt by Japanese company workers today.
From time to time, many Japanese think their own thoughts about "Chushingura." The story, with its climax set in December during the Genroku Era (1688-1703) of the Edo Period (1603-1867), is as much of a national treasure as The Tale of Genji.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 14(IHT/Asahi: December 22,2008)
British broadcaster Channel Four says it has invited Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deliver a Christmas message on television this year as an alternative to Queen Elizabeth II's annual address. The channel says it picked Ahmadinejad because relations between Iran and the West were likely to be a key global issue in 2009. Channel Four's head of news and current affairs, Dorothy Byrne, said the station wanted to offer viewers "an insight into an alternative world view". Channel Four has invited a high-profile figure to present an alternative Christmas message every year since 1993. Relations between Britain and Iran are strained, particularly over Iran's disputed nuclear programme, which Ahmedinejad vehemently defends.
全世界都慶祝聖誕節，不過講氣氛，還是歐洲更勝一籌。倫敦早在11月頭，巿中心內的主要購物街，包 括Regent Street、Oxford Street等，都已換上閃爆的燈飾，而在Carnaby Street更有一個巨型飛天雪人亮相，猶如從天而降，在半空中起舞，帶給大家一個最難忘的聖誕節。
早 在11月頭，倫敦巿中心內多個人氣據點，如Regent Street、Oxford Street、Bond Street、Covent Garden、Leicester Square和St Christopher's Place等，已逐一亮起璀璨燈火。當中又以今年11月6日正式亮燈的Regent Street聖誕「飛星」燈飾最早亮起。Regent Street一向是倫敦著名的名店街，名店林立，如Hamleys、Aquascutum、Hoss Intropia、Cafe Coton等都可以在這裏找得到，不過聖誕期間來到Regent Street，雙眼除了要＇實櫥窗外，還要抬頭望天，因為這裏的聖誕裝飾一向很有名，繼前年的「沖出水世界」和去年的「Unity粒子彩球燈」後，今年則 以「飛天大星星」為主題，一粒粒橫跨四條行車線的大星星，高高吊在半空，閃爍不停，燦爛奪目！
逛完Regent Street，還可以到附近至In潮流街Carnaby Street，這裏有多個雪人，而且不是普通雪人，而是飄浮在半空的巨型雪人，幾乎霸佔了街的上空，造型很可愛，配上身旁無數雪花，很有聖誕氣氛，不過站 在雪人之下，也有點擔心，雪人好像胖了一點，會不會突然在我頭上爆炸？那豈不是變成「超級無敵爆波波」！
The noun has 2 meanings:
The adjective potty has 3 meanings:
Meaning #1: (British informal) trivial
Meaning #2: (slang) very drunk
Synonyms: besotted, blind drunk, blotto, crocked, fuddled, loaded, pie-eyed, pissed, pixilated, plastered, slopped, sloshed, smashed, soaked, soused, sozzled, squiffy, stiff, tiddly, tiddley, tight, tipsy, wet
Adrian Mitchell, a prolific British poet whose impassioned verse against social injustice, racism and violence was often declaimed at antiwar rallies and political demonstrations, died Saturday in London. He was 76.
He had been hospitalized for pneumonia, which may have brought on a heart attack, said his agent, Nicki Stoddart.
Mr. Mitchell, a spiritual descendant of William Blake, Walt Whitman and Bertolt Brecht, combined ferocity, playfulness and simplicity, with a broad audience in mind, in his poetry, plays, novels, song lyrics, children’s books and adaptations for the stage. His voluminous output included white-hot tirades against the Vietnam War, rapturous nature poems, nonsense verse and children’s tales of a wooly mammoth who returns to the modern world.
“Mitchell is a joker, a lyrics writer, a word-spinner, an epigrammist, a man of passion and imagination,” the art critic and novelist John Berger once wrote. “Against the present British state, he opposes a kind of revolutionary populism, bawdiness, wit and the tenderness sometimes to be found between animals.”
Mr. Mitchell was born in London and attended private schools. In 1952, after completing his national service in the Royal Air Force, an experience that, he said, “confirmed my natural pacifism,” he enrolled at Christ Church, Oxford. His original plan to train as a teacher fell by the wayside as he was drawn into a circle of poets that included George MacBeth and A. Alvarez and became literary editor of the magazine Isis.
After leaving Oxford in 1955, Mr. Mitchell worked as a journalist for The Oxford Mail and The Evening Standard in London. He also began performing at poetry readings and taking part in left-wing political work. “I think a poet, like any other human being, should recognize that the world is mostly controlled by political forces and should become politically active to,” he told the magazine Contemporary Poets in 1991.
His early poetry, nearly all of it political, in highly structured verse forms, relied on simple, democratic language. “Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people,” he wrote in the preface to his first substantial collection, “Poems” (1964). His later poetry, often loose and improvisatory, included more personal subject matter. Much of it was written for children. Poems like “To Whom It May Concern (Tell Me Lies About Vietnam),” which he first read at a rally in Trafalgar Square in 1964 and has updated over the years to suit changing events, helped establish Mr. Mitchell as British poetry’s voice of the left.
The poem begins:
I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.
In 2003, the socialist magazine Red Pepper anointed him Shadow Poet Laureate, an appropriate title for the author of the collections “Peace Is Milk” (1966), “Out Loud” (1968), “Love Songs of World War III” (1988) and “Heart on the Left” (1997).
He wrote many plays and adaptations for the stage, for adults and children. Most notably, he collaborated with Peter Brook on two productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Peter’s Weiss’s “Marat/Sade” (1964) and the antiwar play “US” (1966), for which he wrote seven song lyrics.
He also wrote “Tyger” (1971), a play about William Blake, and the song lyrics for Peter Hall’s stage version of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” And he edited “Blackbird Singing” (2001), a collection of Paul McCartney’s poetry and lyrics.
At his death Mr. Mitchell had just completed three works to be published next year: “Tell Me Lies: Poems 2005-2008” (Bloodaxe Books), the children’s collection “Umpteen Poems” (Orchard Books) and “Shapeshifters” (Frances Lincoln), a retelling of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.”
His first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Celia Hewitt; three daughters, Briony, Sasha and Beattie; two sons, Alistair and Danny; and nine grandchildren.
In a 2005 poll conducted by the Poetry Society, Mr. Mitchell’s “Human Beings” was voted the poem that people most wanted to send into space in the hope that it would be read a century later. “It is about the joy of being human, but that doesn’t mean that it’s against animals or alien beings,” Mr. Mitchell said. “When it goes into space and it’s read by aliens, I’d hate for them to think that it’s anti-alternative life forms.”
Dec 18th 2008
From The Economist print edition
FOR the 300,000 or so British youngsters putting the finishing touches to university-application forms over the Christmas holidays, it is decision time. Which institutions to choose? Which of the myriad alluringly (and sometimes improbably) titled degree courses? Weighty decisions, no doubt, but evidence is mounting that the more crucial choices were made two years earlier, when students picked which three or four subjects they would continue to study until leaving school.
According to research published earlier this month, many may have chosen the wrong ones, and damaged their chances of getting into a highly regarded university. Policy Exchange, a centre-right think-tank, looked at the A-levels offered by successful applicants to a group of 27 very selective universities—some ancient, some modern—and concluded that, despite the fact that all subjects are notionally equal, in reality admissions tutors think more of some than of others.
A tenth of all A-levels are in art and design, or drama, film and media studies—but only a twentieth of those taken by students who gained places at top universities. They were also less likely than the average A-level candidate to have studied psychology or sociology, and more likely to have studied maths or a science. The think-tank concluded that although only two universities, Cambridge and the London School of Economics (LSE), openly list the A-levels they are less keen on, others have similar, unstated, biases. They should come clean, it said, in order to avoid penalising students whose schools (or parents) are not wise to the unwritten distinction between “hard” and “soft” A-levels.
Admissions tutors told the researchers that they were dubious about certain subjects not because they were too easy but because they were a poor preparation for their institution’s courses. Research-intensive universities offer more science and language degrees, and fewer in media studies and the like. So one possibility is that the distinctive profile of the students admitted to elite universities is simply a matter of students picking the right universities for the subjects they are interested in.
Running counter to this reassuring interpretation is a recent analysis of A-level results by researchers at Durham University. They compared the relative difficulty of every subject, and found that no matter which method they used, some subjects really did turn out to be harder than others—so much so that a candidate could expect a result two grades higher in the easiest subject than in the hardest (see chart). The widespread perception that sciences are particularly difficult turned out to be correct—and the order in which subjects were ranked matched closely the perceived preferences of selective universities. Applicants with a clutch of A grades in sociology and similar subjects may be bright; those with As in physics and French are pretty sure to be. That means an admissions tutor can be more confident that the latter are able students, says Robert Coe, the lead author of the study.
All this leaves tutors in a quandary. Coming clean about which A-levels they think best prove students’ abilities risks provoking politicians: “We simply do not recognise the label ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ A-levels,” says Jim Knight, the schools minister; and the frankness of Cambridge and the LSE over the subjects they look down on made them no friends in high places. But secrecy is not fair, as students are misled into choosing supposedly nonexistent soft subjects—and are then at a loss to understand why they missed out on coveted university places, despite their high grades.
The Geffrye Museum in east London is a hidden gem, a showcase for the changing styles of living rooms in English middle-class homes. Visitors walk through time, via the 11 living rooms in its permanent exhibition that show everyday interiors dating from 1600 to the present.
Visiting is always a treat, but Christmas is the very best time to go. From Tuesday until early January the Geffrye's rooms will have a festive air, as the staff put up accurate period decorations and display the Christmas food of the time.
There's also a programme of events, focusing on celebrating a Victorian Christmas, including card-making workshops and a talk about 19th-century Christmas food.
The Geffrye's deputy director, Christine Lalumia, is an art historian who, after 18 years at the museum, has become an expert in the evolution of Christmas in England. “Christmas as a celebration can be viewed almost as a social phenomenon,” she says. “Some generations have emphasised the religious aspect; others have played it down. It means many things to many people. At some points, food will be extraordinarily special; at others it will be just a throwaway.”
Lalumia says the staff never impose their own sense of Christmas jollity and colour where it didn't exist – during much of English history, Christmas was a subdued affair. Not so for the late Tudors and Stuarts, who celebrated hard, from Christmas day to Epiphany, in a riot of adults-only feasting, bawdy dancing and games. New Year's Day was the highpoint of the festival. Food historian Kate Colquhoun says: “There are account books from Tudor manors showing what was laid in for the 12 days of Christmas ... though the highly spiced meat and fruit dishes were luxury winter foods, not simply Christmas dishes.”
So the museum's first room, “A Hall in 1630”, is decorated with evergreens (a pagan symbol of hope and fertility that early Christians adoped to symbolise everlasting life). And the table is heaped with colourful sweet and savoury dishes, forming the second course of the New Year banquet.
There is perfectly reproduced crystallised fruit and endearingly, wonkily reproduced walnuts and eggs and bacon. It turns out to be deliberate: “Tudors just loved visual games with food – they loved making one thing look like another thing,” Lalumia says. The walnuts and eggs and bacon are in fact very accurate modern reproductions of the fake food that Tudors loved to display, made using sugar paste (or sugar plate as it was then called).
Sugar was very expensive in 1630, and a huge treat reserved for special occasions. By the end of the 17th century, sugar was far cheaper, and the mixed sweet and savoury course shown in this room became the “dessert” course we still have, with no savoury component.
Oliver Cromwell's Puritan government banned Christmas by an act of parliament in 1647. Lalumia has “never believed for a second that people ever stopped celebrating at home”. Although the ban ended in 1660, from the late 17th century onwards, Christmas went out of fashion. In the 1695 room there are still simple decorations, and anchovies and olives to eat that would have been offered to guests along with punch.
But by 1745, an early Georgian parlour is decorated with only a garland and a few sprigs of evergreen. The only bright colours in the room are two jellies in tall glasses – one orange and one yellow – that have been offered, along with a glass of wine, to a guest who has arrived too late for supper. By the end of the 18th century, there's no hint of Christmas as we know it, although the table is set for a dinner of “rost [sic] beef and plum pudding”, served together – plum pudding only became a separate course from the mid-19th century.
Beef was widely served by the middle classes as the central dish of the Christmas dinner until well into the 19th century. (Turkeys had been available in England since Tudor times, but the habit of eating turkey dinner on Christmas day took hold only once the railways were built, and allowed easy transportation of these big birds for large families.)
From the 1830s room onwards, the colour and volume of decorations return, topped off by a magnificent centrepiece Twelfth Night cake, and from then on Christmas was “absolutely a full-on Christian festival”, according to Lalumia.
It also became the Christmas we still celebrate today. The custom of a family Christmas tree really took off after the royal family was pictured around one in 1848.
Many of the Christmas rooms at the Geffrye Museum look incredibly attractive, and it's hard to pick a favourite. Even the experts find it hard to say which historical period boasted the best Christmas celebrations and food.
Colquhoun, who will be speaking about Victorian food at the museum on December 4, says: “The Middle Ages were another high point – with the festivities culminating on Twelfth Night, with boar's head and brawn, mince pies, roaring fires in the great halls. In an age before freezers and microwaves, before fridges and processed foods, the significance of a surfeit of meaty richness in the middle of sterile winter cannot be over-emphasised.”
Meanwhile, Lalumia says she would either “snuggle in with the Edwardians, who celebrated with joy and gusto just before the real consumer explosions of the later 20th century” or “travel back to the late 16th century, which had such an emphasis on sharing and goodwill. I love that period's strong links between Christmas and nature.
“I love elements of winter solstice, fighting off the dark and cold and hunger with fire and light and feasting and dancing.”
The Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, London E2. Tel: 0207-739-9893. Admission free.
Kate Colquhoun will be talking about Victorian food as part of the museum's family evening ‘Find Your Festive Spirit', with carols and a Christmas-card making workshop. Thursday December 4, admission free.
Full details at www.geffrye-museum.org.uk
杰夫瑞博物馆的副馆长克莉斯汀•拉鲁米亚(Christine Lalumia)是一位艺术史学家，18年的博物馆工作生涯，令她成为英国圣诞历史沿革的专家。“圣诞庆典几乎可视为一种社会现象，”她说，“某些时代强 调宗教方面的意义；其它的则更世俗化。它对不同的人有着不同的意义。某些观点认为，圣诞食品有着超乎寻常的特殊性，另一些则认为可有可无。”
拉鲁米亚表示，工作人员绝不凭空掺杂个人对圣诞节喜庆和多彩的感受——在英国的大部分历史中，圣诞节是一个有节制的事件，不像后来的都铎时代和斯图 亚特时代那样狂欢，当时的圣诞节到主显节期间，人们沉浸在一场少儿不宜的欢宴中，其中充斥着艳舞和暧昧的游戏。元旦是节日的高潮。食品历史学家凯特•科洪 (Kate Colquhoun)称：“都铎时代庄园的账本显示了在长达12天的圣诞节期间所需的食品……尽管加了大量香料的肉类和水果盘并不仅仅是圣诞大餐，也是整 个冬季的奢侈食品。”
这里有晶莹剔透的水果，复制得相当完美，还有核桃，鸡蛋还有熏肉，它们的复制手法惹人喜爱但却不太靠谱。而这些都是刻意所为：“都铎时代，人们钟爱 在食物上玩视觉游戏――他们喜欢把一样东西做得看上去像另一东西，”拉鲁米亚说。实际上核桃、鸡蛋还有熏肉都是现代复制品，它们非常精确地模仿了都铎时代 人们喜爱陈列的假食物，那是用糖浆（当时称为糖盘）制成的。
奥利弗•克伦威尔(Oliver Cromwell)的清教徒政府在1647年通过一项国会法令，明令禁止圣诞节。拉鲁米亚“从来不相信，人们曾经停止在家里庆祝圣诞”。尽管禁令在 1660年取消，但自17世纪末以后，圣诞节就不再流行。在1695年的房间里，仍保留了简单的装饰，还有凤尾鱼和橄榄，与潘趣酒一起用来招待客人。
圣诞是对温暖和快乐的庆祝而到了1745年，早期乔治时代的前厅仅用花环和一些常青树枝装饰。房间里唯一的亮色是两只高脚玻璃杯中的果冻（一个橙色，一个黄色），与 红酒一道用来招待没有赶上晚餐的客人。到18世纪末，据我们所知已经没有任何圣诞的迹象，尽管晚餐餐桌上还有一道“烤牛肉和梅子布丁”——梅子布丁直到 19世纪中叶才成为一道单独的圣诞菜。
If a week is a long time in politics, a year is usually no time at all in the Church of England. But this has been a long year for Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
He had the General Synod vote on women bishops and the 10-yearly Lambeth Conference at Canterbury, both held in high summer and respectively threatening to destroy the Church of England and the Anglican Communion as we know them. Neither of these cataclysms came to pass.
Critics will be divided over the extent to which Dr Williams is to be credited with holding these ancient institutions together. But one thing he is surely to be credited with is holding himself together.
In the first half of the year, he was widely said to be holed beneath the water-line; he was an out-of-touch and dithering academic, who lacked any sense of leadership when what Anglicanism needed was a firm hand on the tiller.
There will be those who hold to that opinion at the close of the year; they will not always be dispassionate observers, of course, since many of them will have a vested interest in the seat of “power” shifting from the Canterbury to the evangelical-traditionalist southern hemisphere, where Africa leads the hard-line reaction to twenty-first century social developments.
But to those who say that Dr Williams is a dialectical vacuum, a silent irrelevance on the peripheries of our issues, there has been an answer in recent months. He has found his voice. At a time of unprecedented economic crisis, when the futures of the developing and developed worlds are empty canvases, we might expect our spiritual, moral and religious leaders to have something to say – and Dr Williams has responded.
Last week, he likened Government policy on public spending to “an addict returning to a drug”. Today, in the Daily Telegraph, Dr Williams warns against the dangers of sticking to political principles at all costs, a road that at its most extreme leads to the kind of abomination that was Nazi Germany and a mindset in which people’s lives are disposable and sacrificed on the altar of those principles.
Dr Williams evokes “the pensioner whose savings have disappeared, the Woolworths employee, the hopeful young executive, let alone the helpless producer of good in some Third-World environment” as some of those who could be sacrificed to economic or political principles.
Whatever we think of his analysis, he is “speaking the truth to power”, as the Quakers are fond of saying. That is a vital role for an Archbishop of Canterbury in this climate and we should welcome that he is doing so.
See A. Stephenson, Anglicanism and the Lambeth Conferences (1978).
(本報訊)英國大學的最新研究評估考核（Research Assessment Exercise, RAE）結果已經公布。有過半受考核的英國大學被認為達到「世界領導級水平」或者「環球大學中的優秀地位」。英國高等教育撥款機構將按照考核結果決定每所 大學所得的研究撥款總額。最新的考核排名榜顯示，劍橋大學（University of Cambridge）擊敗英國最古老學府牛津大學（University of Oxford）奪得了研究水平最高的頭銜。兩所大學之間在這方面的競爭已經維持了多年。 緊隨兩所古老大學之後的是倫敦的幾所高等院校，包括：倫敦政治經濟學院（London School of Economics）、帝國理工（Imperial College），以及倫敦大學學院（University College, London）。根據現行研究撥款辦法，這些名列榜首的院校將可以獲得總數達15億鎊的撥款中的最大份額。研究評估考核由一個共有67不同範疇的專家小組 負責。他們包括來自世界各地研究資料使用機構，例如：藥廠等。負責審核水平的專家為每個項目打分，最高的是4*級（世界領導級），最低的是1*級（國內承 認水平），其中有54%被認為達到「世界領導級水平」或者「環球大學中的優秀地位」。專家小組共審核了22萬項不同的研究成果，從純學術的研究到應用技術 都包括在內。排名結果將影響有關大學在未來五年內所得的研究撥款。負責評核工作的專家堅持說，他們所使用的是最高的審核標准。不過，不少學者對這個評核辦 法表示不滿。部分人也投訴某些大學故意隱藏一些學術研究成果沒有那麼好的學者。按照規定，所有參與計劃的大學可以自行選擇上報哪些研究項目。一些學者批評 說，這種做法導致互相辱罵和激烈競爭，情況尤如選美會後台一樣。一些批評人士同時指出，審核過程應該包括每家院校提交審核的項目的負責學者在校內全部學者 中所佔的比例，這樣才能保證評分公平。在這次評核中，共有159家英國大學和院校提交了研究項目供審核。The Research Assessment Exercise is conducted jointly by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland (DEL). The primary purpose of the RAE 2008 is to produce quality profiles for each submission of research activity made by institution. The four higher education funding bodies intend to use the quality profiles to determine their grant for research to the institution which they fund with effect from 2009-10. Any higher education institution (HEI) in the UK that is eligible to receive research funding from one of these bodies is eligible to participate in the exercise.
評估英國大學研究成果的“研究評估活動”（Research Assessment Exercise, RAE）本來將在今年12月公佈，其結果影響到每個英國大學的研究排名。不過英國大學可以在評估活動中“做手腳”，把大學裏沒有研究成果的研究人員隱藏起來，將這些研究人員排除在評估物件之外。
此前，英國高等教育統計局（Higher Education Statistics Agency, HESA）已經開始收集各大學研究人員的詳細資料，這些資料能夠凸現哪些大學在評估活動中“動了手腳”。
但是，高等教育統計局表示，他們被迫停止收集這些資料，因為英格蘭高等教育基金管理委員會（Higher Education Funding Council for England, HEFCE）規定不明，導致一些大學不清楚哪些研究人員必須列入考核。