philmophlegm: (Flag)
This Oxford University study is fascinating. I've read books on this subject before that came to similar conclusions, but I think I'm right in saying that this is the most detailed study so far:

There's all sorts of interesting stuff revealed. For example:

  • There's no real 'celtic' ethnic group. There is more genetic diversity between different culturally celtic groups than you'd expect.

  • Bernicia was clearly a thing, Rheged definitely so. Perhaps more surprisingly, so was the Kingdom of Elmet.

  • Cornish and Devonian populations are genetically distinct, and the boundary is pretty much the River Tamar (the modern boundary between the Duchy and the county). We live just on the Cornish side of the border. Most people I know from Devon wouldn't dream of living in Cornwall and vice versa. Clearly these attitudes have been around for almost 1500 years!

  • I wonder to what extent this signifies that the Cornish are an earlier population and to what extent they are Breton immigrants.

  • North and South Welsh populations are similarly distinct.

  • However, there seems to be an English marcher population stretching from the Severn Valley right up to the Wirral. Wasn't expecting that. Interestingly this population (marked with a purple cross on the map) also has three other very specific locations away from the Welsh frontier - one on the Isle of Wight, one in Kent vaguely near Maidstone and one in what might be Scunthorpe. Interesting.

  • Vikings can't have fancied local women much - there are almost no Norse genes. The one exception is (predictably) Orkney. (I'm assuming from the map that they didn't include Shetland and possibly also the Isle of Man.)

  • There's a clear link between Catalonia and North Wales.

  • There is a distinct 'English' ethnic group, but it only covers part of modern England. The line between the 'English' and the rest of the country is broadly where it was in 600AD which perhaps suggests that areas of 'England' beyond that line are conquered territories that were never truly settled.

philmophlegm: (You're Hired! Final 2010)

Young people lack workplace skills, say British Chambers of Commerce. Schools don’t do enough to engage with the business community, in my opinion. Many are only interested in academic success, sport, music and drama, and think about employability skills once a year if that. So this survey comes as no surprise to me.

This is exactly the sort of thing they should be teaching in schools.

'France is finished', says John Lewis MD.

Come on, it's long overdue. Surely there should be a knighthood for Jeremy Clarkson.

The speech that Mrs Thatcher cancelled after the Brighton bombing. The language seems quite Tolkienian- ‘dark shadow’ etc, only she’s talking about union thuggery and Labour corruption, not orcish thuggery and Sauronic corruption.

Odd images from Google Earth.

Psychological research? Reach for the Monster Manual! (Incidentally, you can buy the new 5th edition Monster Manual for £29.99 from The Shop on the Borderlands...)

This BBC Cornwall news story is nowhere near as exciting as its headline suggests.

philmophlegm: (kithill)
...which is on the Cornish side of the Tamar and (I think) near a minor battle. Cornwall was overwhelmingly Royalist.

A lazy young roundhead from Luckett
Used to carry his gun in a bucket
The road into town
Was held by the Crown
He couldn't be bothered, so **** it.
philmophlegm: (Conway Stewart)
On Saturday, I was interviewed by a freelance journalist claiming to be working for the Mail on Sunday (a right wing weekly newspaper, for my non-British readers).

It was in response to this article in Sunday's Observer (a left wing weekly newspaper, for my non-British readers) in which the now Chancellor of the Exchequer was revealed to have been friends with some people who once had a fight in a restaurant. It was also revealed that when he was at university and he ran for the position of Junior Common Room entertainments representative (or 'Entz Rep'), he broke college election rules by a) having five different posters instead of two and b) actually asking people if they would vote for him.

My connection with Mr Osborne is that we were in the same year at Magdalen College, Oxford. He did Modern History, I did Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

My connection with the journalist is that he had previously probed me for information on another dirt-digging foray into Mr Osborne's university past. That time, the Mail had apparently been told the story that George had started out doing PPE but had switched to Modern History because he found PPE, especially Economics, too difficult. Clearly, this would be somewhat embarrassing for the person in charge of the British economy. I did enjoy the idea that Modern History is a sort of cop-out degree for those people not brilliant enough to handle PPE, especially as my wife [ profile] bunn did Modern History at Oxford, but I knew that the story wasn't true. I checked with another Magdalen PPEist I'm still in touch with and he confirmed that George did History from the beginning. And according to the journalist, that story was quashed essentially on my say-so.

So kudos to the newspaper that checked its facts and was prepared to drop a story that was good, but wasn't true. And somewhat less kudos to the newspaper that used a full page photo of George Osborne looking stern to illustrate a story that only indirectly concerned him. You have to read some way into the article before you get to this paragraph:
"I think George was mildly alarmed. He was enjoying the food and wine, enjoying watching the football, and I just remember him looking at me with raised eyebrows at what was going on. I never saw him take drugs."

Anyway, the journalist seems a nice bloke, and he's only doing his job, so I gave him some vague stories, said I didn't really know him, but remembered the name, gave him the names of some people who might have known him better and showed him my matriculation photo, in which George has very silly floppy hair (but then he did go to a public school and this was 1990). I don't think he expected to get even that much out of me, and I certainly didn't remember the restaurant fight. The journalist was on his way back from Dawn French's house (she was at the restaurant with Lenny Henry in the early 90s when the fight broke out) and I think just stopped by our place on the off-chance.
philmophlegm: (serval)
This upcoming film by Cameron Crowe and starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson is based on the true story of a bloke called Benjamin Mee who bought our local zoo (Dartmoor Zoo, just outside Plymouth). We asked him to come along to the You're Hired! final to be our guest speaker, and he was brilliant. (Unfortunately I missed most of his talk because the guest speaker is basically there to occupy the contestants while the judges are deciding on the winners. I did speak to him later, and he's keen to get involved more in this year's competition. We're even thinking of holding the final there next summer.

philmophlegm: (Kjetil)

It was only a small one (although it squealed loud enough that we thought it was a dying rabbit from the living room). One of two cats brought it in. Big, impressive-looking Kjetil (see userpic) is usually the culprit when it comes to rabbits, but he seemed scared of it. While it was running away from bunn, me and my two wellies* the rat ran towards him and Kjetil dashed out through the cat flap. Yamamayaa on the other hand (our smallest, weediest, but fiercest cat**) went for it and had to be pulled out from under the open dishwasher door. I'm pretty certain that this was Yama's prize. Hunting rats is of course not a bad thing for a cat** to do, but I would prefer that he killed them and ate them outside rather than bringing them into the kitchen to play with them.

* This is by far the best way to catch small rodents that come into the house.
** I say cat. That (literally) isn't entirely true since he's about one eighth Asian Leopard Cat. He may also be about one eighth pit fiend.


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