3rd May 1998
Our cover model Roshan displays an outfit by Nilhan Seneviratne of Human and Nature Majestic City.
Picture by Anurudha Medewattegedera
By Afdhel Aziz
Hot on the heels of George Michael’s outing, comes the slightly less shocking news that Tony Blair has been hiding a far more embarrassing fact - at school he was nicknamed Emily. Contemporaries of Blair at Fettes College, the Edinburgh school Blair attended from the age of twelve onwards, revealed that he received the moniker because of ‘his girlish appearance.’
A former schoolmate says ‘Emily became one of a group of cherubs who received favourable treatment because of their looks.’ I believe in Colombo the current slang term is ‘gala boy.’ The ribbing stopped when Tony, sorry Emily, asserted his masculinity by dating the first girl who ever joined the all-boys school.
The future Prime Minister did have to undergo his share of public school humiliation - polishing shoes and belt buckles until the owner could see his face in it. If not, they would be thrown back into his face.
However, when Blair graduated to the sixth form, he got his very own fag, a new boy who had to run errands for the older pupils. Blair’s old ‘fag,’ now a Scottish novelist named Ross Leckie claimed that ‘When Blair was a house prefect he used to demand not only that his boots were polished, but also the soles too’ - perhaps a sign of his future autocratic tendencies. Apparently he and the headmaster used to have furious arguments over the length of his hair, which was deemed too long. Now that Emily’s looking a little thin on top he probably longs for the days when it was glossy and long..........
With British film-making booming with hits like ‘The Full Monty, their products are now being seen around the world. Unfortunately, in the many new places where English-language films are being made, the problem of translating the title into something local audiences will understand has proved to be somewhat of a sticky one - with China being the largest area of concern. For instance, ‘The Full Monty,’ a comedy about six unemployed British men who turn to stripping as a profession (going the ‘Full Monty’ means getting completely butt naked) has rather unflatteringly been translated to ‘Six Naked Pigs.’
Oliver Stone’s ‘Nixon’ painted an even more unflattering picture of the former President by having its name changed to ‘The Big Liar’. That romantic epic ‘The English Patient’ would apparently have translated into Cantonese as ‘The Sick Englishman,’ a title which would presumably not have attracted a lot of young lovers; so the distributors emphasized Ralph Fiennes mysterious character and promptly changed the title to the far more intriguing ‘Do Not Ask Me Who I Am - Ever!’ And the plotline of John Woo’s action movie ‘Face/Off’ was completely given away by having its name changed to ‘Two Heroes Stealing Each Other’s Faces.’ But the one who has undoubtedly come off the worst is Mr. Jack Nicholson, whose Oscar award winning performance in ‘As Good as it Gets’ as the neighbour from hell, has been unceremoniously rewarded by having its name changed to Mr.Cat Poop............
At the moment I’m writing this article, the weather in London is going berserk. It’s April, supposed to be the month of spring and lambs and crocuses and love and all that other good stuff. Unfortunately, outside it’s snowing - big, thick, gulag-type stuff that wouldn’t be amiss in Siberia. Actually that reminds me of something else that I was meaning to tell you about. It is well-known that the Eskimos have hundreds of words to describe snow - since that seems to be the defining element in everyone’s life.
Well, one enterprising Englishwoman set out to find out how many words the English had for the defining element in their lives: mud. You might be surprised to find that there are actually 313 . Here’s just a few of them - clabber, claom, cokyr-mete, gutter, limus, lutulence, moil, slobber, slubber, sleck, slutch ,sploosh, fanc, groot and grummel (the last three sound like a Dutch law firm).
There’s also a whole bunch of mud-related words like ‘wasel’ (to trample in mud), ‘besmotter’ (to splatter with mud) and ‘antigropelos’ (leggings that protect legs against mud). Though somehow I can’t imagine British mums yelling to their kids ‘ Sarah, don’t wasel, you’ll besmotter your antigropelos and I’m not doing any more washing this weekend’..............
My darling daughter,
A few days ago I went for a party - now don’t smile but when my creaking old bones allow me, I love going for parties - they are such fun and you do meet the most interesting people.
Anyway, this party I went for was organized by one of my friends as a farewell for her young son and his family who were going abroad. Most of your friends were there, a number of them with their young families. Everything was going on quite well when suddenly Shanthini started an argument with her husband, apparently he had got late to come home from work, and wasn’t Shanthini furious. She berated him, and the poor boy was feeling quite embarrassed.
Most, of your friends were aghast, and some tried to silence her, but it was of no avail, “You all think he is a wonderful person, I am the one who knows what he really is. “It was as if the floodgates of some dam had broken loose suddenly.
l felt sorry for Amal, who tried to smile off her accusations, but when it appeared as if nothing could stop her, he left the party - and I wondered sadly whether he had left behind his marriage too.
Later when I spoke to Shantini she argued that she was quite justified, but I think daughter whatever the reasons, no -one has the right to humiliate another in front of others - this is more so with regard to a husband and wife. Before society became so modernized even within the family if an argument took place between husband and wife it was after the children were in bed or away from the house. Never did you hear a husband or wife blasting each other in public, to do so was regarded as demeaning to oneself.
I think, daughter, whatever anybody says about a liberated society, those old patterns of behaviour safeguarded one’s self respect, and protected the family from outside innuendoes and disparaging comments. I know you will say that it is wrong, but there were certain wives who even tolerated in silence the various lapses of their husbands, and upbraided them only in the sanctity of the home rather than ridicule them in public in order to safeguard the marriage and provide a safe home for the children. Today the young seem to think that whatever they have to say, their angers and annoyances should be displayed in public, regardless of the hurt and unhappiness they cause. I am sure, daughter, it would be good for them to remember that one should not wash one’s dirty linen in public - an useful bit of advice given down the generations! 1 often think what most of the young generation need is a little bit more of self-pride and self discipline.
Shanthini felt she was being frank but she did not realise that public functions are not places to display temper tantrums or ridicule the person one professes to love. Maybe the old -fashioned idea of love had much more to commend itself for it also implied faithfulness, and somehow daughter, I think, Shanthini by her outburst was unfaithful to her husband. Do you agree with me ? I hope you do. One day when you marry, whatever the disagreements you have with your husband let them be settled within the walls of your own house, not broadcast for the world, for even as the world may perhaps sympathize with you, it would also laugh at your lack of self-control.
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