(The free, very sober bi-monthly English language newsletter.)
Gnarly Gnenglish

Copyright 2013 by Montgomery Phister, Jr.
Vol. 4 , No. 2 , May/June 1942,
10 Downing Street,London, England

Page 1

Interview with Prime Minister Winston Churchill!
He's Humorously Optimistic
Would you believe an American mother?
      We managed to reserve time to interview the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street (his headquarters and official residence), but he made us wait until two o'clock in the morning, when we would normally be in bed. His secretary explained that he was very busy (obviously), and that we would only be allowed 30 minutes just before he retired . We found him in the White Drawing Room, which, we knew, is often used for interviews. The walls are lined with beautiful works by English landscape painters. He told us to sit and asked what we wanted. This seemed a bit harsh, and we began to wonder whether the interview would go well.
      "If you wouldn't mind, could you please tell us something about your life. Our readers are of course interested in your views on the war, but perhaps we could begin with your early life."
      He frowned -- an expression we usually see in his photographs.
      "Well, let's get this over with, though I'm not sure whether anyone is really interested in my early, middle or late life.
      "My father, a very proper English Lord, Randolph Churchill, scandalized his family and friends by marrying an American. Her name was Jennie Jerome, and she was born in Brooklyn, NY -- hardly a dignified American address. She was remarkably beautiful at age 20, when Lord Randolph married her, and was known as a beauty all her life. I was born some months later. I was present at the time, but don't remember much about it.
      "I saw very little of my mother as I grew up. I loved her dearly, but at a distance. Then, as a grown-up, I found her most helpful discussing political matters. But I was, like all my peers, raised by a nurse. To Mrs. Elizabeth Everest I told all my hopes and troubles. I had some wonderful toys, I remember: 1000 toy soldiers, a working steam engine and a magic lantern that I used to put pictures on a wall.
      "Then, when I was seven, they sent me away to school. At first I hated it, but then I learned history, horseback riding, swimming, French and poetry -- so it wasn't so bad.
      "I nearly died at age 18 when I jumped off a bridge while my brother was chasing me. I fell 30 feet, and as a result was unconscious for three days and couldn't walk for two months.
      At age 19 I entered Sandhurst, the Military Academy -- after I twice failed the entrance exam. I went into the cavalry instead of the infantry because horsemen don't have to learn math, a subject I hated. When I'd graduated, I found the pay was abysmally low, so I started writing to supplement my income. When we were at war, I supplied newspapers with news about what was happening, and later I wrote books about these campaigns.
      "At that time Queen Victoria ruled an Empire so large it covered one quarter of the Earth's land surface. Canada and India were the biggest countries, but it included 380 million inhabitants all over the earth. We used to say, 'the sun never sets on the British Empire' -- still say it, as a matter of fact.
Today's Gnarly Weather
      The sun won't set today. This is, after all, the British Empire.
      "My first experience with war occurred when I was 22, in India and then in Egypt. A year later I resigned from the Army, thinking I might try for a career in politics. In 1900 I came back to England and almost immediately won a seat in Parliament.
      "A few years later I met Clementine Hozier, a great beauty, extremely bright and kind. We fell in love and were married in 1908. We had five children, four girls and a boy. My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade her to marry me.
      "The whole world wants to know," we began, "how you believe the war is going."
      "And you," he remarked, "represent the whole world?"
      We regrouped.
      "We, the Editors of and subscribers to the American newspaper Gnarly Gnenglish want to know how you believe the war is going,"
      The Prime Minister smiled.
      "That's better," he said, "and is a question I'll be glad to answer.
      "Until last year, the support we had from the United States was feeble, if you'll excuse the expression. Joseph P. Kennedy, the American ambassador to the United Kingdom told his friends that Germany would win the war. America was neutral, despite the dreadful things Adolph Hitler was doing in Europe starting in September, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. We British declared war, as did Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand. The United States declared neutrality, an act I had never before heard of. Soon the Germans invaded France, going around the Maginot Line, an armed position which was supposed to protect France from invasion. In June of 1940 they occupied Paris, and soon after the French surrendered.
      "Now what we've called the "Battle of Britain" began, with German planes bombing English and Scottish cities. The defense by the British air force, however, has been gloriously successful because of the use of radar, which Britain had developed in anticipation of German attacks. Our radar systems give our fighter pilots accurate information about incoming German bombers, which lets us attack and shoot them down. By May of last year we had won the Battle.
      "But it wasn't until March of last year that America really began to help, with your Lend-Lease program which let President Roosevelt ship us rifles, machine guns and other weapons to help us fight. We are most grateful, though we wish your aid had come sooner.
      "Meanwhile there were the Japanese. In 1937 they invaded China and in 1940 signed a war pact with Germany and Italy.
      "And then last December they made their terrible mistake: they bombed Pearl Harbor, and sank eight of your battleships, three cruisers and three destroyers, killing over 2300 Americans. They also bombed Guam, sank British ships near Malaya and invaded the Philippine Islands. Britain joined the United States, declaring war with Japan; and the US declared war on Germany.
      "The Germans are doomed."
      We told him we were sure he was right, thanked him and went on our way, honored to have talked with a truly great man.
Winnie Quotes
      Sir Winston was known for his ability to say the right thing at the right time using the right words. Here are some of his more famous quotations:
      "In those days he was wiser than he is now; he used to frequently take my advice."
      "I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is a much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place."
      "I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter." (on the eve of his 75th birthday)
      "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
      "It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations"
      "The empires of the future are the empires of the mind."
      "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
      "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put."
      "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
      "A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen."
      "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."
      "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
      "I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
      "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."
      "History is written by the victors. "
      "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."
      "There is no such thing as a good tax."
      "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
      "He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
      "The short words are best, and the old words are the best of all."
      "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."
      "Eating words has never given me indigestion."
      NOTE: For one reason or another (difficulty in finding a graphic program to replace the one which no longer works, my great age accompanied by a general loss of competence), I've decided to give up writing the Gnarly English newsletter. Thanks to you many subscribers who seemed to have enjoyed it over the years. The first issue (Gnarly Math) was published in 1999. This will be the last.
This Month's Riddle
     Q. What was it the Germans wished in 1892?
(Answer below)

Crash Blossoms
      Sometime back in 2009, there was a story in Japan Today about a young lady who played the violin, and whose father died in a 1985 crash of an airplane. The headline of the story read, "Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms"
      So people asked themselves, 'What in the world is a Crash Blossom, that this violinist was linked to?'
      The headline-writer meant that the violinist blossomed, not that she was linked to a crash blossom. If he or she had written "Violinist Blossoms after her Father Dies in an Airline Crash" everyone would have understood. But writers must keep headlines short, so mistakes like this often happen.
      For decades people found strange meanings in headlines, but now they had a name for such things: they started calling them Crash Blossoms. Here are some more examples:
  • Journalist Killed During Ceasefire Talks in Central America.
    Perhaps he was not quite completely killed? Just pushed around a bit?
  • Baby Born on Armenia Plane 'named after stewardess'.
    Was it the baby, or the plane that was named?
  • Woman abandoned as newborn searches for birth mother.
    Another baby in the news, this one searching for his poor mother.
  • Don't help old, blind council tells parking officers.
    Why should a blind council diss the old?
  • Buried Alive Fiance Gets 20 years in Prison
    Guess they had to dig him up...
    Answer to this Month's Riddle
               Q. What was it the Germans wished in 1892?
          A. That Winston Churchill had kicked the bucket when he fell off the bridge.
    (Back to top of page)
    School Days
          You may be named after Mr. Churchill, Winston, but nobody's going to buy you 999 more toy soldiers.
    The New Chloe
          We found Chloe wearing a very stylish dress with long sleeves that came down to her hands, and shoulders so broad we wondered whether she could get in the door.
          "Why are you all dressed up?" we asked.
          "This is the latest fashion," she replied. She twirled around, so we could see her sides and back. "Do you like it?"
          We knew that, when it came to a lady's appearance, the right answer is always, "I love it. Are all your clothes in this style?"
          She frowned at me, so I knew I'd asked the wrong question.
          "Of course they are. Do you expect me to be unfashionable? Do you think I want other ladies to look down on me because I'm wearing last month's clothes?"
          "No! No, of course not," we hastened to reply. "But no one could look down on such a pretty lady!"
          That seemed to please her, as I had hoped, so we went off to lunch, she apparently being satisfied that I was not a boor.
    Embarrassing Mistakes
          Almost every day you'll find
          Writers who are English-blind.
    • From an article about the Olympics: "She was unable to podium". "I'm just so happy to podium in this race." (To finish in the top three)
      Podium is a noun, not a verb. Of course we've always been changing nouns into verbs: If you're brave, you might tree a bear (chase it up a tree). And perhaps your mother told you to "Stop horsing around."
    • "You are trying to language your immature thoughts and feelings"
      There's no defense for this one!
    • "I could of eaten the whole pie!" (Could have, not could of.)
    • "All this criticism is effecting me very badly." Affect is always a verb. It means 'have an effect upon: alter, change, stimulate, distort, endanger. Effect can be a noun or verb. The verb 'effect' means to produce: cause or get or execute.
      So it should be "All this criticism is affecting me very badly". The criticism is changing me, not causing or getting me.

    Answer to Last Month's Puzzle
          Last month's puzzle read:
           Read Longfellow's poem The Arrow and the Song
    Now think about it, and try to understand what your mind is doing. Do you actually picture a real arrow? (Of course, now you are because it's been mentioned). Are you thinking of a friend? If so, which friend did you choose, and why? Are your thoughts complete sentences, or just words strung together?
           Probably the best question in this puzzle is the last.
           Have you ever thought about your thoughts? It's difficult to do, but it's one of life's difficult things that are really worth while.
    Where Words Come From
          Any word is just like you and me.
          All of us can boast a history.
          With words it's etymology
    • Family (n). From the Latin familia, meaning servants, or members of a household.
    • Love (n). From the Old English lufu, meaning friendliness, affection.
    • Minister (n). From the Old French menistre, meaning valet, servant, member of a household staff, minstrel.
    • Mother (n). From the Latin mater, meaning female parent.
    • Riddle (n). From the Old English raedan, meaning to advise, read, guess.
    • Style (n). From the Latin stilus, a stake, pen, mode of expression

Gnarly Gnenglish

Vol. 4 , No. 2 , May/June 1942,
Page 2
Singing Newspapers
      (In Paris in the 18th century about half the people were illiterate -- they could not read. Everyone knew the days' popular songs, however, so someone had the wonderful idea of telling the daily news by singing it in bars and cafes to the tune of songs.
      Here's an example applied to today.)

Should All Prime Ministers be Forgot
(To the tune of Auld Lang Syne )

      Should all Prime Ministers be forgot
      There's one that never will
      He was not one to just do naught
      Our great Winnie Churchill.

      He took his office at a time
      When things looked very bad
      But he was just the greatest prime
      Minister we ever had.

      He told the Nazis where they could
      Go. (Not a word to use.)
      We knew exactly where he stood
      Great Britain'd never lose.

      For auld lang syne, my dear
      For auld lang syne.
      With Winnie we will give a cheer
      For auld lang syne.       

Random Things
      In this section will be various ideas which don't have anything to do with writing or speaking English. I'll try to express them well.

      Perhaps I might look into the future, and imagine what I would remember about these times if I were looking back in the year, say, 2012.

      I would remember the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I was fifteen in '41, and my Mother, Father, Sister and I had just got out of bed. Mother was preparing breakfast, and suddenly we heard sirens. We lived in San Pedro, which was really Los Angeles harbor, and so we climbed the stairs and looked through windows out on the town. It was about 10 am, and we could see searchlights scanning the skies. Looking up, we thought we saw a plane caught in the lights, and anti-aircraft guns (which were located around the harbor) started firing away.
      Naturally, we turned on the radio; and so we learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
      There were both Navy and Army bases in the town, with Naval ships anchored in the harbor; and the military was, quite rightly, worried that San Pedro might be attacked. The next day's newspapers said that there had, in fact, been no airplanes over the harbor, and that the guns were firing at nothing.
      In the next few days all Americans of Japanese descent living on the Pacific coast were rounded up and sent to 'internment camps' in Idaho and other states, where they spent the war. This was a dreadful error since these folks were Americans, not Japanese, and many of their relatives living in other parts of the country joined the armed forces and served with honor and valour. All of my Japanese friends suddenly were gone.
      Most farms near my home were owned by Japanese. The summer after the attack I remember someone organized a project to harvest the tomatoes in these farms. There was a truck or two at the school, and volunteers climbed on and were taken to fields of tomatoes, which we harvested.
      The attack on California by Japanese aircraft and submarines was sensational in that it sold a lot of newspapers, but in fact little damage was done and few lives were lost.

This Month's Puzzle
      When did Winston Churchill make the speech which included the words, "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..."?
      There once was a fellow named Winnie
      Who lived far away from the Red Sea
            He dwelt on an island
            That shone like a diamond
      Too cold for the growth of a palm tree.
A Classic Poem

by Carl Sandburg

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Interesting Words
(Words in this issue which may be new to some.)
      (Note: definitions are often not complete sentences -- they may not have subject and verb.)
  • Abysmally (adv). In a terrible way
  • Cavalry (n) That part of an army that rides on horses
  • Infantry (n) That part of an army that walks
  • Inhabitant (n) Someone who lives in a particular place
  • Landscape (n). Scenery that can be looked at from a particular place
  • Optimist (n). Someone who looks on the bright side of things
  • Peer (n). Someone who is equal to others in some way.
  • Pessimist (n). Someone who looks on the dim side of things
  • Supplement (v). To add something to make up for a lack..
    Sam'll Answer
           How did it come to be that Mr. Churchill could write to well?

          He went to the best schools, of course: Harrow School and Sandhurst.
          But I expect the real reason has to do with his personality and innate ability. Some people just naturally express themselves well, because of or even in spite of their schooling and family.
    Commonsense Sentences
          Every Sentence Must Include
          A Subject and a Verb, there, Dude.
          Columnist Walter Murdoch writing in an Australian newspaper:

          A recent editorial in the New York Times, after suggesting that the English language may have to be rationed before long, remarks that "the mastodon style in official English is never a thing of beauty; it is a joke and becomes almost an offence when employed in communications addressed to scores of millions of plain people," and as an example of the mastodon style it quotes the official notice, "Illumination is required to be extinguished" which, translated into good English, means "The lights must be turned out"; the essence of such a notice being that it ought to be understood, not by some people, but by everybody. I remember seeing, in the streets of an Australian capital city, the portentous statement, "Expectoration prohibited." If I remember rightly, this notice disappeared after a time, giving place to "Don't spit" —the same thing, only in good English instead of bad.
          Good English means the language you use when you say exactly what you mean in the fewest, shortest, and simplest words that will convey what you want to say. Thus, "Bad as the weather was" is good English; "Despite the unfavorable climatic conditions" is bad English. When Browning says that "Nothing can be as it has been before," he is using good English; when you announce that "the restoration of the status quo ante is permanently impracticable," you are saying the same thing in bad English.

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