The French/English dictionary, which I use when reading upstairs, is of an early vintage. Hence instances of usage, which might not be so widely in evidence to day. Do the French still eat thrushes and ortolans, or even blackbirds? I read: Faute de grives (thrushes) on mange des merles (blackbirds). Meeting yet another slow blackbird this morning, when I was visiting the dustbin, it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to eat it, let alone a thrush. But it occurs to me that if we were a thrush or blackbird-eating nation, this morning's encounter would have been a lot less dozy, as the blackbird sat on a fence a meter or so from me, and seemed to believe every word I said, while I spoke gently to it, and assured it of my good intentions.
On the train a youngish woman complains on her mobile phone: "This weekend she went out and got so drunk, she couldn't get in ... she was too drunk to get the key in the lock. She's 34. I'm not her mother. I'm pissed off with her."
You can't read Shakespeare for long without finding something that would ring a political bell in England today.In Cymbeline, Cloten, the oafish stepson of the English king, Cymbeline addresses an emissary from imperial Rome, who demands a tribute, with the following words: "Britain's a world by itself, and will nothing pay for wearing our own noses." I guess they would have gone down as well with an audience in the time of Elizabeth l as they must do, at least with eurosceptics, in the time of Elizabeth ll.