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Now it's HIP shape and Bristol fashion!

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia

Banksy, the controversial artist and self-publicising graffitist whose escapades have made world news, has struck again, this time in his English home town, Bristol. He has painted a lifelike picture of a naked man fleeing from a woman's bedroom, while her fully-dressed husband searches for him. This domestic drama is depicted on the brick wall of a sexual health clinic. Opinion is divided on whether it should be obliterated as graffiti, or preserved as a work of art that's already a tourist attraction.

Anything to do with Bristol interests me, as my father attended Bristol Grammar School in the early 1900s. Michael Quinion, author of World Wide Words,  lives there, as do several regular readers who have written in our Guest Map.

As for the origin of the once-popular phrase "SHIP shape and Bristol fashion", in 1865 Admiral William Henry Smyth wrote in his Sailor's Word-book - an alphabetical digest of nautical terms, that it was used "when Bristol was in its palmy commercial days - and its shipping was all in proper good order." If you would like to see Banksy's latest opus, click on BBC.

Several other subjects discussed in previous editions of this e-book were in the news last month:

  • Akeelah and the Bee. In our last two issues, we've described a swarm of publications called The Bee. We can now add to the list a popular film called Akeelah and the Bee. Written and directed by Doug Atchison, it tells the heart-warming story of a smart 11-year-old girl who takes part (and naturally wins) a national spelling bee.

    A Word a Day guru Anu Garg, his wife Stuti, and their eight-year-old daughter Ananya (she's now nine) enjoyed viewing the film when it was screened in Seattle last month. In a further example of serendipity, a few weeks earlier Anu had supplied the words for a spelling bee in that other Emerald City. You can read Mark Deming's film synopsis by clicking on the All Movie Guide.
  • Natty Bumppo's book, Memoirs of a Kentucky country lawyer, was reviewed by Wade Hall in the Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal. "The current memoirs constitute a self-portrait of an aggressive civil libertarian who plants tomatoes and marijuana in his garden, and whose politics make him sound at different times like a Democrat, a Republican, a Socialist, a Socratic gad-fly, or worse, "Hall wrote. Read the complete review by clicking on NATTY.
  • Counting sheep. Beth Boyle has told us of an ancient English song, Old Molly Metcalfe as sung by popular BBC singer/songwriter Jake Thackray (1938-2002). Jake said: "In Swaledale, North Riding of Yorkshire, sheep farmers used to and some of them still do, count their sheep in a curious fashion. Not in the English way, one, two three, four five, but thus:

    Yan, Chan, Tether, Mether, Pip
    Azar, Sazar, Akka, Cotta, Dik
    Yanadik, Channadik, Thetheradik, Metheradik, Bumfit
    Yanabum, Chanabum, Thetherabum, Metherabum, Jiggit.

    "Having thus reached 20 they then take a stone in the hand, representing the sheep that's counted and if they have more than 20 sheep to count they begin again." You can read the remaining verses by clicking on OLD MOLLY METCALFE.

    Twenty-first century graziers use electronic counters to tally their sheep. When a jumbuck goes down the chute in a shearing shed it interrupts a light beam and the tally recorded on the counter increases by one. But in the old days, illiterate English shepherds made do with sticks and stones and a strange dialect.

  • The wrong Guy. Guy Goma, the 37-year-old Congolese IT expert BBC News 24 interviewed live on air by mistake for another Guy, is set to become a millionaire, says his agent. Guy Goma has already appeared in an ad for a TV company and has been flooded with offers, including book deals and a Hollywood movie.

Story first posted July 2006

Copyright 2006

Eric Shackle

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