Hysterical History – Part 2

A continuation of Part 1 – bringing us a little more up-to-date on the English Language, and History, through the eyes of teen students.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday.  He never made much money, and is only famous because of his plays.  He lived at Windsor, with his Merry Wives, writing tragedies, comedies and errors.

In one of Shakespeare’s famous plays, Hamlet rations out his situation by relieving himself in a long soliloquy.  His mind is filled with the filth of incestuous sheets which he pours over every time he sees his mother.  In another play, Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth to kill the King by attacking his manhood.  The proof that the witches in Macbeth are supernatural, is that no-one could eat what they cooked.

The clown in As You Like It is named Touchdown, and Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Writing at the same time as William Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes.  He wrote Donkey Hotey.  The next great author was John Milton.  Milton wrote Paradise Lost.  Then his wife died, and he wrote Paradise Regained.

During the Renaissance, America began.  Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America, while cursing about the Atlantic.  His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe.

Later, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and this was called Pilgrims’ Progress.  The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers.  Many people died, and many babies were born.  Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

One of the causes of the Revolutionary War was that the English put tacks in their tea.  Also, the colonists would send their parcels through the Post without stamps.  During the War, the Red Coats and Paul Revere were throwing balls over stone walls.  The dogs were barking and the peacocks crowing.  Finally, the colonists won the war, and no longer had to pay for taxis.

Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress.  Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence.  Franklin had gone to Boston, carrying all his clothes in his pocket and a loaf of bread under each arm.  He invented electricity by rubbing two cats backwards, and declared, “A horse divided against itself cannot stand.”  Franklin died in 1790, and is still dead.

George Washington married Martha Curtis, and in due time became the Father of Our Country.  His farewell address was Mount Vernon.

Soon, the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility.  Under the Constitution, the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms.

Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent.  Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin he built with his own hands.  When Lincoln was precedent he wore only a tall silk hat.  He said in onion there is strength.

Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope.  He also freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation.

On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in the moving picture show.  The believed assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposedly insane actor.  This ruined Booth’s career.

Meanwhile in Europe, the Enlightenment was a reasonable time.  Voltaire invented electricity and also wrote a book called Candy.  Gravity was invented by Isaac Walton.  It is chiefly noticeable in the autumn, when apples are falling off the trees.

Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children.  In between, he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic.  Bach died from 1750 to the present.  Bach was the most famous composer in the world, and so was Handel.  Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English.  He was very big.

Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf.  He was so deaf that he wrote very loud music.  He took long walks in the forest, even though everyone was calling for him.  Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

France was in a very serious state.  The French Revolution was accomplished before it happened and catapulted into Napoleon.  During the Napoleonic Wars, the crowned heads of Europe were trembling in their shoes.  Then Spanish gorillas came down from the mountains and nipped at Napoleon’s flanks.  Napoleon became ill with bladder problems and became very tense and unrestrained.  He wanted an heir to inherit his power, but since Josephine was a baroness, she couldn’t have any children.

The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East, and the sun sets in the West.  Queen Victoria was the longest queen.  She sat on a thorn for 63 years.  She was a moral woman who practiced virtue.  Her reclining years and finally the end of her life were exemplatory of a great personality.  Her death was the final event that ended her reign.

The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions.  People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine.  The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up.

Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men.  Samuel Morse invented a code of telepathy.  Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis.  Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species.  Madman Curie discovered radio.  And Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.

The First World War, caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by an anahist, ushered in a new error in the anals of human history.

 

Have A Drink On Me

Careful now!  Don’t trample anybody!  All I’m going to talk about is tea.  All you Americans can kneel facing Starbucks now.

Tea is actually enjoying a resurgence now, even in the United States.  Because of movies and TV, the ubiquitous coffee has been adopted by many Canadians.  Specialized teas, like special wines, mean that more and more folks are trying it, and staying with it.

The wife and I watch a lot of transplanted British TV, including some English police shows.  One takes place in Cambridge, and the police Inspector gets tea wherever he goes.  I could understand a female ex-policewoman, now living in a dock warehouse where she repairs boats, brewing him up a *cuppa*, for old times’ sake, but a society doyenne, living in a mansion big enough to need four servants, personally making and serving a pot, with biscuits, stretches credulity.  The catering services must be kept busy.  You can see steam rising from the cups and mugs.  That’s real live tea, take after take.

How people make and take their tea varies widely from person to person.  The British blogger, from whom I took the inspiration for this post, insists that his milk and sugar be added to the cup after the tea is poured.  The strength of brew/length of brew-time is also quite different across the tea-sipping spectrum.  An office manager I worked with claimed he drank tea, but used to go to the vending machine and pour himself a Styrofoam cup of 180 degree F. water, and dip a tea-bag in it twice – maybe three times, if he was feeling adventurous.  Weak tea??!  Dear Lord, the bag’s not even wet.  You need boiling water to make tea!

I shared an office with a Russian, who introduced me to Russian-style tea.  He had a tall cup which was like a glass, with a handle.  He also had a stainless-steel drinking straw with a sieved bulb on the end.  He poured loose tea-leaves into the glass, added boiling water, stirred with the straw, and then sipped his tea through it.  If he wanted a second glassful, he’d add a pinch of new tea-leaves and another cupful of boiling water.  When you sip tea from a cup, you take the coolest portion off the top, and mix it with air, to further cool it, as you take it into your mouth.  I know from experience that drinking hot liquids through a straw concentrates the heat and can easily burn your tongue.

Since the wife is allergic to milk products, she whitens her occasional coffee with non-dairy powder, or flavored liquids.  As Tim Horton’s continues to achieve the strangle-hold of being the Catholic Church of Canadian coffee-shops, one of the most common orders is for a double-double, a double shot of creamer and a double shot of sugar in the take-out coffee.  When we picked up a new container of Coffee-Mate powdered creamer the other day, we saw that they had come out with a new Double-Double blend.  No more fumbling for two dispensers.  This one does the double job in a single try.

My mother was Scottish, and believed in good strong tea.  When she began to make supper, the first thing she did was boiled water to make tea.  Then she’d start peeling the potatoes.  By the time the meal was served, you could almost tap-dance across the top of your tea, and you were well wise to stir in lots of milk and sugar, and then remove the spoon.  I’m sure there were days I could make one stand up in the cup.  If you didn’t take it out, you risked getting only the handle back, the rest being dissolved by the tannic acid.

I grew up used to strong tea, and was allowed to drink it from an early age.  In high-school I acquired a girlfriend whose family lived in an old brick farm-house, which had an add-on frame kitchen out back.  In the kitchen was a wood- or coal-burning stove.  Dad had to be to work at the factory by seven AM, so he was up by five-thirty.  He’d get the stove burning hot, to warm the kitchen in the winter.  They owned a 12-cup coffee percolator, but no-one in the house drank coffee.  They pulled the guts out of it and used it to make tea.

Dad would put a couple of tablespoons of loose tea-leaves in cold water, and put it on the stove to boil.  He’d pour himself a cup or two with breakfast, fill his thermos for break, and set the pot at the back of the stove and leave for work.  Mom would get the kids up after he left, add a bit of fuel to the stove, another tablespoon of loose leaves to the pot, fill it with water and bring it to a boil again.  Mom and the older kids would have tea with breakfast, and then off to school.

Mom might have a cup or two during the morning and then, just before lunch, she’d add more fuel, more loose tea, and more water, and boil again.  Dad and the kids came home for lunch and the pot nearly went empty.  Add more leaves and water.  Dad took another thermos for afternoon break, and Mom had a mid-afternoon cup.  Are you starting to get the sequence here?  Suppertime, more tea, more leaves, more water….and leave it to warm on the back of the stove.

The girlfriend and I would go skating or tobogganing.  Even just a cold walk home after a movie and Mom would insist that I come in and have a hot cup of tea to warm me before I headed home.  This was before Chernobyl, but I’m pretty sure this stuff glowed in the dark.  Then they’d rinse out the pot and start all over again the next day.  Tea and biscuits, anyone?