Just can’t get enough of listening to the Brits speak? Do you watch the BBC just to hear that impossibly posh accent? Now for a mere fifteen American dollars, you can actually hire someone to read a passage or poem with an English accent. Robert Charleston of oneloneenglishman.com puportedly offers his born-and-bred British voice to read whatever you want (of about 200 words), record it, and email you an mp3 file. If you prefer the female British voice, Robert’s sister Elspeth also offers her services for your listening pleasure.
Someone on Twitter recently pointed this website out to me. I have not tried this myself, so I can’t in all honesty recommend sending money in exchange for an English accent in your inbox. But it just goes to show you, Americans do love England! We are willing to pay money just for their accent! It seems a little ridiculous, but then again, they do have pretty great accents.
image courtesy alancleaver via Wikimedia Commons
No matter how many times I try to discover what Marmite is made from, I always come away with the vague sensation that whatever it is, it can’t be edible. Even the advertising slogan for Marmite is “Love it or hate it.” As if that, somehow, is meant to boost sales. Wikipedia tells me that Marmite is made from yeast extract somehow derived from brewing beer. From all sides, this “spread” looks like molasses mixed with tar with a hint of superglue. And yet, the Marmite website freely shares a recipe for a Marmite and cheese sandwich. Why do people punish themselves so?
image courtesy Malcom Farmer via Wikimedia Commons
Of course, I must admit I have not so much as smelled Marmite. I saw a tiny jar of it in my grocery store (all the way out here in Hawaii), but the close to $15 price tag turned my hesitancy into repulsion. Why pay three mocha lattes’ worth of hard-earned money for two ounces of “nutritious” sludge? Yet my ignorance of the true taste of Marmite, which some people seem to hoard and treasure with inexplicable passion, makes me reserve the right to further judgment in future. Dear Marmite, I will one day taste you in reality and expose your deficiencies and disgusting deceits to the world.
Here is one American’s (elmify on Youtube) reaction to Marmite:
I don’t know about you, but British music just seems to be on a different level than most American pop music. Maybe it’s the accents… or the Beatles…
It was hot summer night in Philadelphia. The city lights blotted out the stars, and the colored noise coming out of the speakers clouded up the humid evening with pure neon summertime. Keane concert at the Mann, August 7, 2010. Great day, that was. To top it all off, Tom Chaplin sang a brand new song for the first time in public: “Disconnected”. It instantly became one of my favorites. Just last week, Keane released their new album, Strangeland, and “Disconnected” is on the list, as well as “Sovereign Light Cafe”. The album is filled out with plenty of new songs as well, my favorite so far being “The Starting Line”. It feels like Keane has returned to its classic piano rock sound in this album, which I love. So be sure to check it out – I recommend the Deluxe Version if you just can’t get enough of Keane like me :)
Okay, so I am usually a purist when it comes to Jane Austen. For example, Lost in Austen: hated it. All those sequels to Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy happens to really be a private investigator on random murder cases do not appeal to me, not that I’ve actually read them. So I could be persuaded, but it would take a lot of Persuasion. haha, get it? Persuasion? I know, not funny.
Anyway, I’m not a big fan of meddling with original Austen text. But I have to admit, there is a new project on YouTube that not only surprised me, but also makes me pretty happy. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries takes the form of a video blog in which a modern-day Elizabeth tells the story of Pride and Prejudice. I really am surprised at how much I have been enjoying each episode. Charlotte is behind the camera, and occasionally her sisters stop by (only two actually – Mary and Kitty are, sadly, cut out of the script). Even though the videos are scripted, they feel natural, and I actually enjoy the modern interpretation. But instead of rambling on about how great this is, I’ll just show you. Here is the first episode:
The crackle of leaves at night … the breath of darkness … the hum of dreams awakening. Days have been long of late, and long in the coming. But pull through we will, we must. And though I live in the world’s “paradise”, I still find it a relief to escape to the misty bogs, the stone houses, the afternoon tea of England.
The book form of my latest Anglophile escape:
Father Brown stories by the renowned G.K. Chesterton. I’m really surprised how long it’s taken me to jump on the Chesterton wagon, and I’m glad I finally have. His witty words feel rather comforting in a embers-on-the-hearth kind of way. I confess his stories as stories aren’t as stimulating as I was expecting. When I think mystery, I think Agatha Christie. Father Brown is much more under the radar. I don’t feel shocked or excited when I read these stories, just amused, entertained, and mildly surprised.
On the screen front:
Masterpiece Theater on PBS is airing a new BBC edition of Great Expectations (by, of course, Charles Dickens). It is in two parts, and the first part is now available for viewing online at PBS. I really enjoyed this first part and wishing I could watch the second part tonight. I’ll have to wait until Sunday, but I am very impressed by this new version. The costumes – love them. The setting is gorgeous, that is, if you’re into barren wastelands covered in fog. The actors are good for the most part, though I can’t help but be annoyed by Miss Havisham’s tiny squeak for a voice. Overall, I recommend watching! But what’s this, yet another version with Helena Bonham Carter in the works? Sounds great to me.
Back to my palm trees for now…
Filed under Books, Movies
London is one of the oldest cities in the world. It has been the home of some of the most influential people in history. The city has fostered artists, musicians, authors, monarchs, and some of the greatest thinkers in the Western world. William Shakespeare, the father of English literature, once directed his ageless plays from London’s own Globe Theatre. Queen Victoria, ruler of a planet-encompassing empire, reigned from the city’s Buckingham Palace. London’s fame started centuries ago, and its character has remained strong throughout the years.
image courtesy Joseph Plotz
In circa 1173, biographer William Fitz Stephen wrote of his beloved city:
Among the noble and celebrated cities of the world that of London, the capital of the kingdom of the English, is one which extends its glory farther than all the others and sends its wealth and merchandise more widely into distant lands. Higher than all the rest does it lift its head. It is happy in the healthiness of its air; in its observance of Christian practice; in the strength of its fortifications; in its natural situation; in the honour of its citizens; and in the modesty of its matrons. It is cheerful in its sports, and the fruitful mother of noble men … If the mildness of the climate of this place softens the characters of its inhabitants, it does not make them corrupt in following Venus, but rather prevents them from being fierce and bestial, making them liberal and kind.
London over the years has seen waves of change, but to this day, its citizens are proud and happy to call the city their home. Even now, they embrace its history, its culture, its ever-vibrant life – at least, some of them do. In the following video, vlogger Charlie McDonnell speedily walks by many of London’s most famous sites, braving the drizzly rain and the Tube like every other happy Londoner.
Perhaps we American Anglophiles have good reason to love England. Our histories are closely connected, and England is a part of the American heritage. Take George Washington for instance. Our first President, a Founding Father, George Washington was one of our greatest leaders, guiding our country in its infancy. But few realize that, despite the fact that Washington led American troops against the British army, his ancestry is very English indeed.
The name “Washington” was derived from a village in England formerly known as “Wessington.” The first person to acquire this name lived in the 1200s. The Washingtons eventually spread out into Northamptonshire where Lawrence Washington built the renowned Sulgrave Manor in the 1500s. There, one of the entrances is adorned with the Washington shield: three stars over two stripes.
Look familiar? This symbol has now become the flag for Washington, D.C. and is even placed on the Purple Heart. But it is also said to be the basis for our very own American flag, the Stars and Stripes. The Washington coat of arms has been in existence since the 1300s, and it was placed in stained glass in Selby Abbey in Yorkshire in the 1400s. This window is said to be in commemoration of John Wessington, Prior of Durham.
image courtesy Tomasz Steifer, Gdansk
image courtesy derek dye
It was John Washington (1633-1677) who eventually emigrated to America. John was a trade sailor in the colonies, and after shipwrecking in the Potomac River in 1657, he ended up living in Virginia. He married Ann Pope, the daughter of a wealthy magistrate who gave them 700 acres of land in Westmoreland County upon their marriage. John eventually acquired 8500 acres of Virginia land by the time he died in 1677. Perhaps he never would have thought that in less than a hundred years later, the colonies would declare their independence and rise against the British monarchy, led by his very own great-grandson, George Washington.
Filed under History, Places