Resist and endure

October 22, 2017

 

resist

 

So here I am trying to extract some benefit from my challenging experiences at the Blue Keys Hotel, Southampton.

The first question is about being required to produce a passport or driving licence to check into a hotel in the UK as a British citizen.  This is very unusual (I have come across it twice on 40 years or so of travelling as an adult) and there is no statutory basis for it.

The Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972 states:

4.—(1) Every person of or over the age of 16 years who stays at any premises to which this Order applies shall, on arriving at the premises, inform the keeper of the premises of his full name and nationality.

(2) Every such person who is an alien shall also—

(a)on arriving at the premises, inform the keeper of the premises of the number and place of issue of his passport, certificate of registration or other document establishing his identity and nationality; and
(b)on or before his departure from the premises, inform the keeper of the premises of his next destination and, if it is known to him, his full address there.

That sounds stupid but at least does not include British (or Irish) citizens.

The next question is about the law of contract.  The hotel’s advertisement on their website or TripAdvisor constitutes a proposal which the prospective guest accepts by booking.  Neither side can then change the contract unilaterally–I am far from certain that the hotel can do it by a confirmation email.  It would certainly at the very least have to offer free cancellation.

If the hotel insists on ID in their original advertisement, that’s fine from a legal standpoint.  But they know their clientele better than you do, and if they are so suspicious then maybe you had better stay somewhere else.  If they introduce additional requirements not in the contract and refuse to provide the contracted service on that basis, then you can sue them for breach of contract.  In that case, they will be obliged to pay an amount sufficient to put you in the same situation that you would have been in had they provided the service, so that would include the cost of phone calls, taxi to another hotel, room in that hotel…

On the level of common sense, I think the best way of dealing with such situations is to put the onus onto the other side:

–Why are you asking me that question?

–That is a very unusual request.  Can you explain it please?

–I do not remember that requirement in the confirmation email.  Can you show me a copy please?

–Can you show me that requirement in your advertisement, please?

Failing that, just say No.  Never surrender!

Disclaimer:  The materials appearing in this posting do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether expressed or implied is given in relation to such materials.

 

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Insignificance, Arcola Theatre 19 October

October 21, 2017

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Photo from Arcola Twitter

I arrived here just in time-the young woman at the ticket desk spoke to someone to hold the door a further minute for me.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

So, The Professor (who we know is Einstein) is sitting in his hotel room and The Senator (wwki Joe McCarthy) comes in to demand he testify the following day.  Then The Actress (wwki Marilyn Monroe) wants to demonstrate the Special Theory of Relativity with some toy trains, but she calls it the Specific Theory.  It is all rather unengaging because Einstein as a character (with a character) is just not there.  Then The Ballplayer (wwki Joe DiMaggio, who was married to wwki Marilyn Monroe) enters and the scenes with him and Monroe are much more dramatic, standard kind of Arthur Miller stuff.

OK, so we came to the interval.  Perhaps the play was on because we now had Trunp as a kind of McCarthy, or just a celebrity.  Then our group missed the signal (if there was one) to go back inside so we had to be led in to sit at the back but the house was pretty empty anyway when

McCarthy is threatening to take away the papers with Einstein’s calculations, but everyone calls them calculus not calculations then Monroe offers him herself or her money not to do that.  Then Einstein and Monroe get to discussing the quantum theory of the 1930s as though it still meant something when she was getting her skirt blown up around her legs all day for numerous retakes.

Monroe suffers a miscarriage and Einstein feels guilty about the bomb.  The world maybe comes to an end outside, or maybe he is just remembering.

At the end, I did not understand why the sexiest woman in the world would need to batter men with words in an unrelievedly rushed delivery and bored my companions by saying it was supposed to be physics not maths Einstein was doing and once you had got the ideas straight you could get the research student to do the calculations.

It made you think, if only about the mistakes…

 

A Challenging Experience at the Blue Keys Hotel, Southampton

October 20, 2017

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So I arrived at this place and tried to check in, but occupying a room I had already paid for turned out not to be so easy. I was met with a demand for identification–either passport or driving licence-and told this requirement was in the confirmation email. It wasn’t. A work pass was kind-of accepted with ill grace. Then there was a question about whether I had driven–somehow, without a licence-that was just a question the computer asked.  Silly me.  It was my job to answer questions, not think.

I went to the room and was informed I had to go downstairs again to get the code to use the WiFi. Which didn’t work. There was a lot of stuff in the room in a refrigerated drinks cabinet that gurgled loudly. To prevent you sleeping. But no sign of what any of it cost. Like the passport and the code for the non-working WiFi, you were supposed to know in advance.

 

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The keys were not blue

When I returned at 11 o’clock that evening the front door was locked.  I had two keys.  Neither of them would go in the lock.  A search revealed no sign of any other door or of for instance an emergency phone number.

All seemed lost, but then a kind person came and shone her phone light on the lock and I managed to operate the lock.

Apart from being told off for pouring coffee from the full jug I got off fairly lightly in the morning.

One of those places which is probably perfectly OK if you have the telepathic power to accommodate yourself to the proprietors’ mindset (and in advance).

Agonising death

October 19, 2017

minsk1

My attention was caught by this Belarusian cigarette packet on the streets of South London, probably by the word ‘Minsk’ in Latin script.I suspect that is what the Belarusian consumer would notice too. We also have ‘Superslims’ in English and a customs stamp which makes it all look all right, and then an emaciated photograph resembling an X-ray with ‘Agonising death’  written on it in Russian, which probably also counts as prestigious in Belarus.

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The other side has ‘agonising death’ in Belarusian and ‘Minsk’ in Cyrillic characters together with ‘Superslims’ once again in English, which is of course were the prestige is. Apart from that, catastrophic warnings tend not to work because the addressee smokes a packet of cigarettes, does not drop dead, in fact feels perfectly OK, and then starts to discount them more and more until it’s too late.

A pretty comprehensive example of ineffective tobacco control I would say–I wonder how much tax they collected from it…

Svetlanivsk

October 18, 2017

stanislaviv

So you may well ask why Ivano-Frankivsk is named after Ivan Franko, who had nothing to do with the place, rather than Svetlana Alexievich, who was born there. Svetlanivsk would be close enough to the original name of Stanislaviv after all.

catherinei

Catherine I in Ekaterinburg

I thought the largest city to be named after a woman for achievements in fields other than getting married and giving birth must be Ekaterinburg (Catherine the Great). But it turns out to be named after the wife of Peter the Great instead…sad, that…

Otherwise for largest cities named after females, there’s Adelaide (whoever she was), Los Angeles (Queen of the Angels, a title of BVM), Chandigarh (Chandi, a goddess).

I suppose if you were to allow Los Angeles, by the same token the largest city named after a man would be São Paulo, or after that Ho Chi Minh City sounds quite convincing.

That looks interesting…

October 17, 2017

giselle

…things I ought to remember not to forget.

Antigone:  https://www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk/events/antigone

Pravda:  http://www.sbf.org.uk/_app/stbridefoundation/preview/theatreshows/pravda

The Slaves of Solitude: https://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/whats-on/2017/the-slaves-of-solitude/

Leningrad Symphony:  https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/96419-london-philharmonic-orchestra-leningrad-symphony-2017

La tragedie de Carmen: https://www.wiltons.org.uk/whatson/358-la-trag-die-de-carmen

Semiramide: http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/semiramide-by-david-alden

Giselle:  http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/giselle-by-peter-wright

Nine years in the life of a book club

October 16, 2017

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We present some thoughts on ten years in the life of a book club, as we also presented to students of English in Perm.  The poster above sensibly avoids using the term ‘book club’, which might at one stage have been a way of buying books cheaply by post.

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The rules above may seem more elaborate than many book groups, but they are actually quite sensible. Having someone responsible for the book tends to result in better choices than when it just emerges out of vague discussion–I’ve known a number of book groups to be killed of by a couple of poor choices that way, while giving marks out of ten leads to slightly more focussed discussion than merely saying ‘that was nice’.

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The generally female, middle-class and younger-middle-age composition of the group will come as little surprise, though the ‘little’ here may be more of a London thing.

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What was chosen tended to be novels by male English-language authors set in the UK or the US more or less in the present.

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The top 3 choices (in terms of average mark) were as given above…

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…while some other things were less successful.  What you need is books that will engage readers’ interest just because they are people.

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And the overall points were as given above. J. G. Ballard once said that when he was ypong what got published depended on male taste, since they were the ones with the money, whereas now it was women in book groups who generated sales. English-language countries do seem to be resistant to translated literature but they constitute a very large market which means one can be a professional writer and do nothing else in a way which is very difficult elsewhere.

Of course, one also has to respond to the demands of the market, which can lead to caution, conservatism and conformism whereas if one has some other source of income one is freer to write what one likes. Russian naming conventions as in Anna Ivanovna, Anya, Anyushka and so on all being the same person in different registers caused problems, as did the background especially in Bulgakov, which was of course not the Soviet Moscow of Bulgakov’s time but rather something that might hopefully be allowed for publication…

Some pictures from Swansea

October 15, 2017

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Swansea at night

Attempting to make Swansea look glamorous (as above) is quite difficult.

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Scar

Swansea does tend to resemble a far-flung suburb of Liverpool, as is illustrated by the scar I acquired in street combat.

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Houses

This was about the clearest picture I took of houses-clinging-to-side-of-valley Wales

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River view

This imitation-Newcastle waterfront was quite nice…

The worth of foreign languages in Paris

October 14, 2017
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Some mandarin-related data from Paris

So, we extend our previous study in London to consider indeed.fr and Paris. The table below shows results tabulated as previously for London

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Jobs in Paris involving foreign languages

So, there were 1364 postings mentioning ‘polonais’ with a total estimated yearly salary of 29.35 million Euro and an average salary of 29,185 Euro.  ‘Overall here’ refers to the 12 language names listed while ‘Overall jobs’ is all the postings on the site.

We can also express this in terms of percentages referred to ‘overall jobs’, as below:

171014t2

Data from Paris in percentage terms

Here, we see that 0.52% of the overall job postings mentioned ‘polonais’, and they had an average salary that was 13.1% higher than for the ‘Overall jobs’.  35% of postings appeared to mention a foreign language and for 30% that language was English.  We can compare this with data from London in the same format:

171014t3

Data from London in percentage terms

There is a great difference in the worth of Polish (probably genuine) and of Turkish–probably due to small numbers, and you get very different results with [la langue] turque.  Italian and Japanese subtract value in both capitals, while Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese add value in the two of them.

Overall, the language-related jobs have a salary premium of 4.6% in Paris as against 17.3% in London.

The clearest conclusions are:

i)  there are far more jobs possibly requiring a foreign language (English!) in Paris than in London;

ii)  there seems to be a far higher premium for foreign languages in London than in Paris.

 

 

 

 

Greek at Madingley Hall

October 13, 2017
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Picture from Madingley site

Janet Watson has written:

Cambridge University’s Institute for Continuing Education offers weekend residential courses in Classical Greek for Beginners’, Intermediate and Advanced levels, and will meet three times this academic year at Madingley Hall, just outside Cambridge. There will be a course for absolute beginners at the weekend of November 3-5, with the opportunity to progress through the basics of Greek grammar over subsequent weekends. For further information on all levels, see:

http://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/courses/search/subject/languages

We gave an overview of the Madingley experience in relation to New Testament Greek:

This course took place over the weekend, from Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime. There were 7 teaching sessions of 90 minutes each: one on Saturday evening, four on Saturday and two on Sunday. Six of these sessions consisted of the students in turn reading two or three verses aloud and translating them, while in the after-dinner talk on Saturday the lecturer gave a talk on ‘Acts and the Classical World’. […]Participants were very enthusiastic about the course (and about Madingley Hall in general) and several had already been on many previous years’ editions of the same course.

We have also shared our experiences regarding Greek Lyric Poetry, Odyssey XI, Agamemnon (Part 1) and Agamemnon (Part 2).

Hopefully this information will help interested readers work out what it’s all about…