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God Save the Village Green!

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My research is about big intellectuals (literally, in the case of G.K. Chesterton) who have an interest in little nations, little shops, and Little England (not to be confused with the sketch comedy show, Little Britain). As I was walking to the library today the most perfect song came on the shuffle that encapsulates their “Distributist” philosophy in song. The Kinks’ 1968 album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is wonderfully cohesive. It mourns the disappearance of English village life. And the song that best encapsulates the hamlet mood is “The Village Green Preservation Society” (with “Village Green” a close second for that title. The titles aren’t all that different–but, hey, I said the album was cohesive). Anyway here are some of those lyrics:

We are the office block persecution affinity.
God save little shops, china cups and virginity!
We are the skyscraper condemnation affiliate.
God save tudor houses, antique tables and billiards!

Preserving the old ways from being abused.
Protecting the new ways for me and for you.
What more can we do?
God save the village green!

Instead of feebly trying to explain what Distributism is, I should just give people the mp3 of this song. However, a few changes would need to be made to the song in order to reflect the groups’ anti-Semitic, anti-Communist, anti-Capitalism. Somehow I don’t think the Kinks would have jumped on board with an arguably fascist, third-way Catholic philosophy.

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July 4, 2008 at 11:11 pm

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Prohibition Post

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Yesterday was slow goin’ at the British Library, but I did find a rather amusing poem written in 1927 about prohibition in the United States.

Rhymes for the Times
Ballade of the Beerless, on the occasion of prohibition

The colonies are going dry,
The states from Oregon to Maine;
And even in the Isle of Skye
You have to drink the falling rain.
I am as thirsty as a Dane;
I hope I make the matter clear;
I’m ready for the dead of Cain;
I want a glass of decent beer.

The fitters in the workshop cry,
The sailor in the “Mary-Jane”,
The farmer in his field of rye
The smith, the soldier, and the swain;
The waggoner upon his wain;
The tinker, tailor, scribbler, seer
Are crying out, but all in vain;
“I want a glass of decent of beer.”

I want to know the reason why
Our ancient liberties are slain;
What secret, mute conspiracy
Compels a nation to abstain;
I’d like to understand the gain
If dope is substitute for cheer,
And want to malt suggests cocaine;
I want a glass of decent of beer.

Envoi.

Prince, you have magnums of champagne,
Fermented in the golden year,
Madeira, sherry straight from Spain.

I want a glass of decent beer.
-Maurice Baring, 1927

And on that note, today I got an email announcing the graduate bar will now be serving absinthe.

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July 1, 2008 at 9:29 pm

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Freak on a Leash

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Today as I was coming back from my run, I saw in the distance a man with a tiny animal on a leash. As I approached, I thought it was a chihuahua. Then I saw that the creature had an extremely long tail. So  then thought the man had some sort of crazy  raccoon squirrel on a leash. Then the thing started to run faster toward me. And then it ran at me on its two hind legs.

I was astonished and kind of scared. Anyway, I asked the man trailing behind his pet, “What is that thing?”

“It’s a meerkat.”

I should have asked him a lot more questions after getting that response. But I was frightened so I just ran back home.

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June 28, 2008 at 5:47 pm

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Pedestrian Dangers

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Oxford is hard to figure out. The housing system, the library system, the idioms people use. Everything. And I feel even dumber than usual. But the fact that I need to ask for help repeatedly from librarians, superintendents or service staff, is only a blow to my pride, and not a blow to my person.

For a physical reminder that I am completely out of my element, I need only step outside. I have successfully avoided getting hit by a car by sticking to sidewalks and being triply vigilant when I cross the street. But this has not helped me avoid bike traffic. Now, even in the United States, where people are all in agreement about what side of the street to ride on, bikes pose a problem in areas with high pedestrian (and vehicle) traffic. Here the streets are narrow and the population is so international that there is not consensus on how to negotiate traffic as a pedestrian or peddler. This is a combination for collision. Do bikers pass on the left like in the States? Or do they pass on the right to mimic auto traffic? This confusion also manifests itself in how people walk the sidewalks, but it is far less tricky because everything is slower.

The point is this: I have been yelled at by two bikers in two days. I am really trying not to interfere with any body’s ride, but, let’s face it, pedestrians always have right of way.

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June 26, 2008 at 8:14 pm

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From Across the Atlantic

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Well, so much has happened since I last blogged. I have traversed three states, two countries, and three time zones. And now I’m in England–Oxford to be exact.

England is full of charming phrases. Today I did not go to an ATM to get money, but a “hole in the wall,” which is cute because it is adamantly non-technological.

Unfortunately I can already tell that this cute comes at the price of efficiency. Not that the ATMs aren’t efficient. The one I used seemed fine. But everything here is so decentralized, which might preserve the character of a place more than streamlining and integration, but it also means that I need to accumulate 5 different library cards because I have to register separately at every library.

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June 25, 2008 at 3:47 am

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Been there. Done that.

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June 19, 2008 at 5:16 am

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I got this email today…

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Date:  Saturday, June 7, 2008
 
Incident: Black Bear Sighting
 
The Department of Public Safety is alerting community members about a reported sighting of a black bear in [redacted]. The bear was seen by [redacted] Police at about 9 a.m. today.  In addition a bear sighting was reported in [redacted] and [redacted] on Friday, June 6, 2008, in the evening hours….

…The bear did not come into contact with any person, nor did it present any threat. Do not approach the bear or attempt to feed it.
 
If you see a bear, please contact the [redacted] Police,… the University’s Department of Public Safety, or dial 911 and give the exact location of the animal.  Leave the area calmly and slowly.

 

My question is this: would the police have arrested the bear if it were white?

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June 7, 2008 at 6:32 pm

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