Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 300

300 posts!

Wow, that’s A LOT of writing! Hooooorah and smashing and super and brillopads and amazeballs and awesome and yeah and wowsers for me!

How many more chapters can I get written....?!

How many more chapters can I get written….?!

Blog reading at Barnes and Noble

Well, crowds flocked in for the reading!
Not really! But there were a few, and very fun it was too.

Barnes and Noble Discovery Friday

Barnes and Noble Discovery Friday

It was quite amusing as some lovely Brit blog followers turned up, as well as my American chum Tony, and we stood around talking about all sorts of British/American conundrums for a quite a while, until I remembered I was there to read some stuff, so read I did and people passed by wondering what on earth I was wittering on about, and it took me back to the very beginning of our journey here, reminding me of all the funny things and cultural differences that we have encountered… mail boxes, stink bugs, residents’ associations, accents! Ah, America, you are a scream!

Getting ready to read (with HOT tea)

Getting ready to read (with HOT tea)

I was definitely capitalising on my British accent today….and how apt that this article on BBC’s Mind the Gap was published this morning! Totally guilty of all this, and more (getting pulled over by the cops…. ;) ).

The War of 1812 still resonates 201 years later…

A British blog reader, based in Maryland, was telling me he has issue with this War of 1812 in the USA – you know the one…..where we Brits LOST.

In Maryland you are issued with licence plates for your car which state THE WAR OF 1812 proudly above your licence number. For a Brit, this is pretty hard to swallow. WE LOST THAT WAR!!!!!

IN YOUR FACE, BRITS!

IN YOUR FACE, BRITS!

So, he told me, every time he gets issued with new plates for his car he uses his old one that does not say this (don’t know what it says but it definitely does not have any reference to a WAR THAT WE LOST!).

JFK Assassination, 50 years

Everyone is the USA is talking about the 50 year anniversary of JFK’s assassination today.

That fateful day in Dallas

That fateful day in Dallas

The Washington Post reports:

‘From a street in downtown Dallas to the shores of Cape Cod, a somber nation paused Friday to remember John F. Kennedy 50 years after the young, handsome president was gunned down in an open-top limousine.

‘A half-century later, the assassination still stirs quiet sadness in the baby boom generation that remembers it as the beginning of a darker, more cynical time. The anniversary ceremonies reflected that solemnity, with moments of silence, speeches by historians and, above all, simple reverence for a time and a leader long gone.’

The Baltimore Post Examiner staff have put this article together about memories of that day in Dallas about the assassination – if you read anything about it today, read this.

It’s fascinating because it showcases American folks’ memories of where they were and how they felt. Truly, you must read it because they are touching and tender and make you realise how much this event affected a nation…..

I felt numb…..
I’d just come back from looking at posted grades from a philosophy class at Miami University. I, along with another student, Ray Fish, Aced it. When I got back to my dorm, several women were in the living room crying. The whole place was muted and solemn and silent. I felt numb, but not as devastated as a lot of people. My father had died suddenly earlier that year and that was truly devastating. Karen DeWitt.’

JFK's funeral

JFK’s funeral

Cracker/s….another interpretation

So, we’ve gone on about Christmas crackers a great deal. It was brought to my attention that in the U.S. the word ‘cracker’ means something completely different… Bring on Wikipedia!

‘Cracker, sometimes white cracker or cracka, is a derogatory term for white people, especially poor rural whites in the Southern United States. In reference to a native of Florida or Georgia, however, it is sometimes used in a neutral or positive context and is sometimes used self-descriptively with pride.’

"A pair of Georgia crackers" as depicted by James Wells Champney from The Great South by Edward King, 1873

“A pair of Georgia crackers” as depicted by James Wells Champney from The Great South by Edward King, 1873

‘There are multiple explanations of the etymology (big word!) of “cracker”, most dating its origin to the 18th century or earlier.

One theory holds that the term derives from the “cracking” of whips, either by slave foremen in the antebellum South against African slaves, or by rustics to guide their cattle. Those white foremen or rural poor who cracked their whips theoretically became known as “crackers.”

‘Another whip-derived theory is based on Florida’s “cracker cowboys” of the 19th and early 20th centuries; distinct from the Spanish vaquero and the Western cowboy. Cracker cowboys did not use lassoes to herd or capture cattle. Their primary tools were cow whips and dogs.

‘The term “cracker” was in use during Elizabethan times to describe braggarts. The original root of this is the Middle English word crack meaning “entertaining conversation” (One may be said to “crack” a joke; a witty remark is a “wisecrack”). This term and the Gaelic spelling “craic” are still in use in Ireland, Scotland and Northern England. It is documented in Shakespeare’s King John (1595): “What cracker is this… that deafes our eares / With this abundance of superfluous breath?” (I like this one, because I love The Bard and he did make up a whole load of words!)

That dude was clever

That dude was clever

‘An alternative theory holds that the term comes from the common diet of poor whites. The 1911 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica supposes that the term derives from the cracked (kernels of) corn which formed the staple food of this class of people.’

So there we go – make your own mind up! ;)

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5 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 300

  1. Andy says:

    Congrats on the 300 milestone and keep ‘em coming. I always look forward to reading (and getting a good laugh out of) each and every one. They really are brillopads! Cheers! :-)

  2. Pat and Pam says:

    Loved the stuff about “cracker” — I am totally fascinated by language and words!

  3. Dan says:

    Congrats on your 300th post, Claire. That’s quite an impressive number and I’m looking forward to reading many, many more :)

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