Tuesday 20 May 2014

Some neck

Euradvice from a trusted source II (see I?)
A slight digression: There has been a bit of traffic on the blogosphere recently about the "thigh gap": the desirability of seeing daylight between the legs of women when they stand with their feet together.  Most people of my grannie's generation would put that down to rickets. What can be achieved easily with photoshop has now become so desirable that youngish women are handing over folding money to surgeons to liposuct tissue from their inner thighs.  Don't try this at home girls.  We now expect photographs of attractive women on magazine covers to be 'enhanced' to fit whatever mad standards of beauty are current in whatever culture we find ourselves in.  So celebrity pimples, cellulite, eye-bags, lip-fuzz or normal sag are tricked up so readers with real bodies feel gross and inadequate.

Unless you've been asleep for the last 4 weeks or live in Kentucky, you'll realise that we are, here in the EU, running up to a European election.  Depending on the day traditionally used for such matters, which varies among countries, elections are happening on Thursday 22 May (UK, NL), or Friday 23/05 (IE - note on Blobendar in kitchen), or the Saturday (LV, MT, SK) or finally on Sunday 25 May 2014 (all other countries). Except Czecho which gives a choice of voting on either Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings. In Ireland we are voting for MEPs but also for local County Councillors. Each and every election the candidates in this country print dozens, hundreds or thousands of posters on corrugated plastic sheets up to 1m squared. It adds a bit of a buzz to things for a few weeks and jangles up the landscape until the day after polling when they all get recycled sent to landfill. You have to wonder, though, what some of the candidates are about when they present themselves to voters.

If celebs can have their image tarted up - watch Jennifer Lawrence breathing heavily - why can't grossly obese politicians do something with their photographs before they print 1000 rather larger than life copies of their jowly head&shoulders.  Many of these fat men in suits have no necks - their heads sit monumentally on a trunk or plinth of flesh. How many chins does a chap need? Nobody would hold it against them if they chose a photo of their younger self, so long as it wasn't in a babygro. If they can tell a white lie on their perceived age would they not air-brush off some of the goitre? I'm sure it would achieve a few extra votes.  In my family we used to joke that deeply inbred people had no necks and teeny tiny ears. So there's that aspect of the message, too, especially in the remoter rural parts of the country.  It's all very well voting for your cousin Jethro but you don't need to bear his children.

I guess the most famous association of neck and politics occurred in Winston Churchill's speech to the Canadian parliament on 30 December 1941.  He related how 18 months previously as the Western front collapsed before the Nazi onslaught and the BEF had to be evacuated from Dunkirk, his generals had a final meeting with their opposite numbers in the French army which was on the point of surrendering.  The Brits assured the cheese-eating surrender monkeys that Britain would fight on regardless of what their erstwhile allies did.  When this was relayed to Marshal Pétain he predicted that the English would have 'their necks wrung like a chicken' within three weeks.  Churchill then paused for dramatic effect before saying "Some chicken" [laughter, applause] "Some neck" [general hilarity, roars of approval]. I should explain to my приятелі in Київ and Донецьк whose idiomatic English is not-the-best, that neck means cheek/gall/impudence. I don't want you to think that I agree with the Simpsons or Dylan Moran's clichés about the French and their army. Cue Le Boudin!  Ooops no, they're all Germans. Cue La Marseillaise! or La Marseilaise!!  Or with the lyrics clearly enunciated by Edith Piaf.

I should add that the meaning of neck has changed over the centuries. The Duke of Wellington was born in 1769, probably in Merrion Street Dublin, and grew up as Arthur Wesley. In 1798 changed his name to a more pretentious Wellesley when he was old enough to know better.  In 1796, en route for India with the 33rd Regiment, during a lay-over in Cape Town he paid court to Henrietta Smith a lively young gell from a good family.  Wesley wrote that she had ‘pretty little figure and a lovely neck’ because young gentlemen in that era didn't refer to the bosom of young ladies.

Electoral advice:  don't vote for anyone who is is wearing a tie on a size >18 collar.

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