Monthly Archives: July 2016

Commonplace Thoughts of a Residual Welshman: Coming Home

coffee mug-assassinsYou get up every morning, you go to work, you try to be as nice as you can to your co-workers, one of whom is that grumpy one—not the curmudgeon who is curmudgeonly simply to be funny, to preserve the appearance of a crusty persona, who has a coffee mug with an ominous warning such as those given below (my personal favorite is “Good morning, I see the assassins have failed” or, really, the one with the little bird)—but rather, one who is genuinely a grouch. The one you have verbally to dance around, you have to be careful what you say and, in fact, even when you say what you’re sure is the right thing, he—usually he—or she will find fault, will turn something positive you said or did into something negative by what seems to you deliberate misinterpretation. Indeed, probably most of us, have someone with whom we work around whom we have to be especially careful what we say, whether that person happens to be especially politically correct, seemingly alwaycoffee mug-aholes waiting to pounce with (at the very least) a disapproving look because something slightly un-PC drifted from the barrier of your teeth, or because they are the boss and they want everyone to know that they are the boss. They want everyone in the office or on the floor to know that you are below them, that they outrank you. Add to this a steady state in which you can’t have a good idea; add to that, if you do, they might just appropriate it for themselves.

Now if you’re not able to relate to that previous paragraph at this moment—for example, if you have a job for which you don’t dread going to work or even dread going into that certain person’s cubicle or workspace—then count yourself exceptionally lucky. And count yourself luckier yet if you can’t recall ever having that experience, if you’ve always had the kind of charmed existence whereby which you’ve gleefully gone to work without the slightest angst over organizational squabbling, never thinking “Gosh, did I say the right thing?” when you left someone’s office.

coffee mug-jugdingBut I doubt many have that charmed of an existence. And for those of us who do not, then once the day is done, once we have done our job and followed our calling to the best of our ability that day in our comportment, words, and deeds, then the whistle blows, whether literal or figural, and it is time to go home. And there is nothing quite like coming home at the end of a long day, if indeed you have a home to go to, if you have someone there for whom you care and who cares about you. And somehow just knowing you have a home, a place where you’re appreciated just for being you—with all your faults, foibles, and fears—gives you strength to carry on, and renews your inner being so that you can get up the next day, take a deep breath and head off to work again with a fresh attitude, a broadening smile, and a hope for a better day, even with your crusty old boss or difficult co-worker.coffee mug-nope

Based on conversations I’ve had with friends whom I know not just in America but in many places in this dark world and wide, it seems to me that the world these days is caught up in the first paragraph. I mean that both literally—most of the folks I talk to have that person at work before whom they find themselves having to be especially accommodating and speak especially carefully—and metaphorically, for the world seems to be in a deleterious state. Maybe it has been heading that way for a long time now—I don’t know. But however that may be, it most certainly is in a negative funk. And here’s an idea why this may be the case: the world has lost a sense of home. Or perhaps it is rather merely that notion of home has eroded; when I say eroded, I do not mean that it has just changed, but I mean that it has declined, deteriorated. It has become a stuffy place, its air has become stale, its aura less than welcoming.

coffee mug-sshhHow so? Let’s start with what makes a home: that’s a family. Though a family is of course not specifically a physical space, it is nonetheless a place where you can breathe, catch your breath, take a deep breath for fresh air again. I spoke yesterday to a friend who has a twelve-year-old daughter. He loves his daughter and spent last Saturday with her. “Wonderful,” I said. Gingerly I queried about the rest of his family, but carefully suspecting that because he spent the day with his daughter that he was divorced—for otherwise he would have said “we” (meaning he and his wife) had spent the day with the child. As I suspected, he is divorced. He has a girlfriend; they’ve been dating about four years. She lives in Rome, he in Viterbo. They see each other once or twice a month, usually on a weekend.

Now I thought about his situation—and someone might say, “Who are you to judge?” and that person might well be right, but thinking about someone’s situation is not necessarily “judging” anyone—and as I thought about it, this occurred to me: inasmuch as his daughter lives with his wife (in Vetralla, a town or two away), he has no one to come home to. He goes to work, interacts with his co-workers, probably puts up with the one that no one gets along with, and then doesn’t have anyone to go home to. Maybe he has a dog or a cat, but not a person to talk to. And while someone might object and say not everyone feels the need for someone to talk to, I would suggest that the indivegetablesvidual’s perception of need and the actuality of need may be different. Not everyone thinks they need to eat green vegetables. One can do fine with merely bread, meat and potatoes for quite a long time; but green vegetables are indisputably good for you and virtually everyone except children knows one should eat them, if they are available.

I’d like to close with another aspect of coming home that is missing from my friend’s life and from many lives: church. Church is a kind of spiritual home, a place that, for all its faults (just as a family has many faults) provides something like a larger home for a family or individual. Indeed, for single folks, divorced folks and for others who for whatever reason are alone, church can take over the role of refuge that family provides. You can go to church and come to know others there who can help you through the rough times. They, too, likely have bosses or co-workers who are difficult. They, too, know what it means to be lonely. They, too, know what it means to struggle with faith, to feel abandoned by God even th

Stockton church
Elaine Jakes’ church, Stockton Presbyterian in Stockton, NJ, whose services offer inspiration

ough we most certainly are not. And they can pray for you, with you, and over you. They can help you breathe. They become your family. Elaine Jakes rediscovered this reality late in her life at Stockton Presbyterian Church.

I leave you, my reader, with this final thought, not that work can be a drag and you should find some kind of relief, but rather that we all find challenges in the work to which we have been called, and we should seek inspiration to face those challenges. The root of the Latin word for “breathe” is in the middle of inspiration. Fresh air, a refreshing breeze can be found in family and faith. Go home, and breathe.

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Commonplace Thoughts of a Residual Welshman: Italian Toothpaste

Italian toothpasteIt is not only Italian toothpaste that teaches you that variety is the spice of life. A brief story will illustrate this point. I met my father only when I was in my mid-forties. I had managed to live out the majority of my life as the son of Elaine Jakes, a person so vivacious, so sui generis, so unique that there is a book written about her even though she was a mere schoolteacher. I say “mere” because most schoolteachers—or at least schoolteachers from Neshaminy District’s Cherry Street (later Oliver Heckman) School—don’t have books written about them. And it was this schoolteacher, whose piebald life tapestry, whose robust embrace of diverse cultures, whose predilection for atypical choices, first taught me that variety is the spice of life.

Then I met my father, and I soon learned that interestingly enough he had a boat named The Spice of Life. By the time he died—he and Elaine, who had not seen each other since they were 25 years old, died but two days apart in May of 2011—The Spice (for that is the foreshortened name by which the eldest of my younger brothers, Scott, calls the boat) was my father’s most precious earthly possession. Now I say possession quite pointedly, for I exclude his beautiful family, his charming wife, Nan, and the four brothers whom I never really knew (though I’ve now met a few times) along with his extended family.

But to return to variety being the spice of life. The boat by that name is a beautiful vessel, nearly all mahogany, if I am not mistaken, though of course I could be, as I saw it but once. That vision of it came at the Clayton boat show in Clayton, New York, on the St. Lawrence Seaway. thousand islandsIt was a privilege for me to tag along with my father and brother Scott, to see what my brother’s life must have been like in a boating family. A far cry from the spice of life that my mother had shown by her randomness, but a beautiful alternative—a fine family, and a wonderful weekend for me and, I think, for my brother, father and Nan, as well.

Sadly, I haven’t a picture of my father’s boat, but I have found a picture of another similar boat that at least captures the spirit of the kind of vessel about which I am speaking. Sadly, this one features a beautiful boat marred by bad Latin, as the boat’s name should read mahagony boatSenex Turpis, “Bitter Old Man” (but more on that and erroneous tattoos another time). This is not the type of plastic hulled boat that a real boatman might disdainfully call “Tupperware.” Rather, it is a carefully crafted vessel, a boat meant to last for years, to run about on the seaway belonging to Saint Lawrence, allowing its pilot to visit Canada on occasion or to go to the inlet where my father’s ashes and those of his brother, Hollis, are scattered.

But I return to Italian toothpaste, which is where we started. If one should have boring parents, which I clearly did not—The Curious Autobiography records 9781480814738_COVER.inddhow Elaine bought a monkey, which she bedizened with a dress and called my sister, even though it turned out to be a boy and thus actually my brother—one can learn from something as interesting as Italian toothpaste that variety really is the spice of life. The picture I think tells the story pretty well, though Marvis makes many more flavorsscotch toothpaste beyond these, including Jasmine. And I’ve learned, too, of Scotch Whiskey flavored toothpaste, but I’ve never seen nor tried it (nor been tempted to try it).

In the end, I suppose one’s mother, one’s father and indeed one’s toothpaste teach the same lesson: variety is the spice of life. And if one wants some of that spice, one should then seek actively after such variety in this life, seek to embrace those who are diverse. Seek not sameness but difference. Were we to do that, I think we would be living like the wise carpenter from Galilee, who taught that the “different” (a Samaritan) could do far better than the “religious” in a story about a man who was mugged, beaten and left for dead; or a woman at a well, who had never found a source quite like that wandering and solitary Rabbi. It would not be the issue of a certain color of skin particularly mattering, but a person’s soul and view of the world that mattered. But I’m talking about Italian toothpaste, I’m talking about the spice of life, whether a boat, or monkey or a way to clean your teeth. (By the way, I’m suspicious of that six proof toothpaste; I suggest you stay away from the whiskey, especially before your morning commute.)

riggs,scott,hr
H.R. Jakes (center) with his brother (Scott) and their dad.

Commonplace Thoughts of a Residual Welshman: Suggestive Weirdness

C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis

In the second chapter of what is perhaps his most renowned piece of apologetic narrative, C. S. Lewis writes, “Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed.” How sadly true this rings these days in light of the tragic events in France and Turkey.
        Yet Lewis is not speaking about current events, not really, for he immediately goes on to say, “That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel that we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing that anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.”
         Lewis continues, in Aristotelian fashion (as he often does in Mere Christianity) to parse out the question of God, dividing opinions about the divine into Epicurean/Nietzschean/Hegelian terms (i.e., non-existent or at least non-interventionist, detached, beyond good or evil) on the one side, to conceptions of God connected with justice, righteousness, etc., on the other. In this latter group he places Islamic, Jewish and Christian thought.
        Bdonkeyefore I left for Europe, as I walked my dog one last time I was thinking of another idea, not so much about God as about strangeness, which dovetails with the “twist” that Lewis mentions in the above citation. In the story of Balaam and Balak from the perhaps not-too-often-read book of Numbers in the Old Testament, more often known as the “story of Balaam and his ass,” Balaam is summoned by Balak, the king of Moab. Though he is warned explicitly by his talking donkey about going to Balak’s court, Balaam nevertheless complies with the regal summons. After Balaam’s arrival in Moab, Balak requests, presses, even tries to trap Balaam into pronouncing a curse on the Israelites (Numbers 22:6-17).
       To grasp fully the implications of Balak’s insistence that Balaam make that curse, one has to recall that in the ancient world curses were really a big deal. Although nowadays I but rarely hear of anyone pronouncing a curse on another person—though it still does happen and is not hard to find on the Internet. In antiquity these were staunchly

idrusus001p1
Germanicus

believed to bring ruin and disaster on the accursed. The third heir to the Roman principate, Nero Claudius Drusus, who was known with the agnomen by the adopted name Germanicus Iulius Caesar, or simply Germanicus for short, died under a curse before he could ever take the imperial reins (described vividly by Tacitus in his Annales 2.69). Some Greek inscriptions—a famous one, for example, from the island of Thasos[1]—even offer instructions about how to get out from under a self-pronounced curse. We have thousands of curse tablets, too—i.e., shards of broken pottery with nasty little curses written on them. Socrates was the victim not only of a death sentence pronounced on him unjustly by the Athenian court but was the subject of many such curses written on potsherds and cast into wells in Athens.[potsherds2] Even in the period of the Renaissance/Reformation, Martin Luther (probably impishly, inasmuch as it comes from his Table Talk [671]) put a quite nasty sounding curse on whoever happens to love the work of Erasmus—and he did so in Latin, no less—followed shortly by a further playful quip, “Whenever I pray, I pray for a curse upon Erasmus” (Table Talk, 672).
       But what I am calling “weirdness” and what brings us back from the rare dinner party conversation about ancient curse tablets or the rivalry between Luther and Erasmus to the more likely breakfast-time (and at any rate more edifying) conversation about C.S. Lewis is theastonishing behavior of Balaam. I do not mean the fact that in this story the ass can speak or even what it says, but rather what Balaam himself says, which I shall cite at this blog’s end. When urged, compelled, downright bullied by Balak into cursing, Balaam nevertheless blesses. And that, it occurred to me as I walked my dog, is what is really strange about this story and what is weird about God, for that matter, as I understand him from Holy Writ. Such weirdness, simply put, is that blessing, an unusual thing to do, is a recurrent theme. To wit, St. Paul expands upon this unusual point of view in his epistle to the Romans (12:14-17), “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep… . Recompense to no man evil for evil.”
       When I say unusual, I mean it is simply because I do not feel like blessing when I am wronged. I do not feel like blessing when I am bullied. In fact, I rarely feel like blessing anyone at all. And this to me seems to be the “you could not have guessed” factor that C.S. Lewis is speaking about. It has nothing to do with a debate about Jesus’ miracles or political hot-button issues or even the hot-button issue of whom one should vote for in any election, let alone one as confusing as the next American election. Rather, this teaching, which in a sense goes back to a man known better for his ass than his counterintuitive stubbornness, is central to the New Testament narrative. It must have astounded his disciples when he said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor,’ and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45). The same theme is even more riveting when it turns up among the words of Christ on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
       These are all, it seems to me, very weird teachings, what Lewis calls “that queer twist.” Yet someone might object: “They do not sound that weird to me! After all, the Bible is a religious book. Why should you be surprised to find pietistic teachings in it?” Yet the notion of “religious” alone does not necessarily evoke such profoundly counterintuitive teaching. In fact, the Bible itself is often indicted for its violence, as accounts of rape and incest are recorded there, as are many a war, many a battle—wars often advanced to claim a land for the Jews at the expense of Canaanites or others already inhabiting those regions. Add to this that one of the more memorable verses recorded by Moses is, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:23). And other spiritual books outside of the Bible speak of just retribution, using violence to achieve justice and to right human wrongs on behalf of God. Yet Christianity turns this formula on its head: “Pray for your enemies.” “Bless, and do not curse.”
       In closing, I present neither proof of God nor of Christianity. Rather, I offer here merely an observation indebted to C.S. Lewis’ comment; my own is based not on Balaam’s talking animal but on Balaam’s own speech: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent; hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received a commandment to bless: and he hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it” (Numbers 23:19f.). In these turbulent, violent and inhuman times, may Balaam’s ancient but quite excellent summation offer us a path to sanity and healing in a world gone mad.

 


[1] Russell Meiggs and David Lewis, A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions to the End of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford Clarendon, 1969), entry no. 83; on the notion of being foresworn, cf. A.J. Graham, “An Ellipse in the Thasian Decree about Delation (ML 83)?” American Journal of Philology 110 (1989): 405–12.

[2] Inscriptiones Graecae 3.3 Appendix, Defixionum Tabellae [=DTA], 7, 10, 97, et al.

Commonplace Thoughts of a Residual Welshman: While the World Has Its Way


Reagan quote“I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life.” —Ronald Reagan

This quote is one of Ronald Reagan’s most famous. I would love to be able to assert its veracity unequivocally. I would love to pip something in passing like, “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.” And though you will see that, if I can’t bring myself to agree with Robert Browning, in the end I will agree at least with some of what the former president says here.

Yet while I wish I could say that the world is a good place, I simply can’t. I can’t when I read a news article about a gentle soul like Lamiya Aji Bashar, an 18-year-old Yazidi girl who was held and sexually abused by her ISIS captors. Her story was a headliner in a number of news outlets; you may already know it. Shrapnel from a landmine that went off as she successfully escaped her last abuser cost her vision in one eye. Yet she remained thankful that she had escaped at all. It was impossible for me to read her story without my soul convulsing. It is impossible to write this this without my soul doing so again.

But let me return to Ronald Reagan’s quote. Though his first sentence suggests otherwise, it soon emerges that what he really means is that mankind is not so good as the president is purporting, after all. For when he says in his second sentence that right will always triumph, he clearly implies a struggle. And the reason for a struggle is because of the badness, the wrongness that right must prevail against.

women and ISISYet in this life, right does not always prevail. How many petty dictators exist today? In how many countries is human thriving and creativity deliberately oppressed? In how many cultures are women viewed merely as property, a commodity to be used, abused, and cast aside? They are told that their sole function is to have babies or worse, merely to be objects of men’s desire. In some cases, the milder ones, they are ordered to cover themselves when they breastfeed; in other cases, not at all mild, they are told they have the wrong religion, are told to cover their entire bodies, in others, are often denied a proper education; in others, are prohibited from driving.

Some of my friends think I’m going too far when I say that were a young man to ask me for my daughter’s hand in marriage I would say, “No, for I don’t own her. You and she must make that decision.” Is that going too far? Perhaps, but there’s a point behind it. That aside, in regard to the litany of abuses that precedes this panoply of pedantry and many more unstated cruelties toward women, children and even men, if humankind were fundamentally good, surely this would not be the case. But we are not fundamentally good. We are seriously flawed.

Seriously. A friend of mine even says we human beings are depraved from top to bottom. And he just might be right. Whatever goodness abides in us from our Creator was corrupted thoroughly by our first parents. And if you don’t believe that, well then believe this: you and I are pretty screwed up. We are part of that very human race that took the eye and, worse, the innocence of a sweet girl in northern Iraq. We have made our own immoral decisions. We must own up to our own perverse evil if we are to do anything at all about the evil perversity of the world. It’s too easy to point (or flip) our finger at religious zealots. It’s a lot harder to point the finger at ourselves.

Let’s just say we do decide to do that, to admit that we are a part of the problem. Then what? Well, let’s look at the last bit of Reagan’s bon mot: “… right will always eventually triumph. And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life.” If theWales win over Belgiumre are truly purpose and worth to every person’s life, which I am certain is the case, then what about the words leading into that idea, “right will always eventually triumph”? This isn’t a matter of the recent victory of Wales over Belgium or the unfortunate loss of Wales to Portugal, or the basketball victory of the slightly outmatched Cleveland Cavaliers over the Splash Brothers (who have since added a third) that we’re talking about here. No, Reagan’s words are about the looming human problem of right against wrong, good versus evil. And as I mentioned at the opening of this blog, triumph implies a fight, one harder than anything a sports team, even a noble one, can engage in.

So where amidst all this gloom does this leave us, even while the world has its way with those who cannot defend themselves? Perhaps it actually offers us a clarion call to engage in the struggle to protect and rescue the innocent, not to stand idly by while the helpless are tortured and abused. Some say, “America cannot be the world’s police force.” I say merely that, “what is right will always eventually triumph. And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life.” And each and every life has a name. The one about whom I have written, about whom I had to write in this blog, is Lamiya Aji Bashar.

Lamiya


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Commonplace Thoughts of a Residual Welshman: Kingston upon Hull and Est! Est!! Est!!!

You would think that, being in Italy, I might want to write yet again about Italian food. You might think that the time has come to stop skating around culinary delights here and just come right out and describe a sumptuous feast. I could, perhaps, talk about my time at the lovely Le Naiadi Hotel, Teresa and her lovely daughters at the front desk, or its superb restaurant located on Lake Bolsena; and I could describe the gentle and warm Giustino and his tireless restaurant staff, the superb pastas they prepare and serve, the tasty secondi, accompanied each night by the superlative local vintage Est! Est!! Est!!! That white wine, Montefiascone, is truly remarkable. Somewhat full-bodied (for an Italian white) local production, it preserves just a hint of sweetness amidst a dry background.

Fugger tomb
Tomb of Bishop Fugger

The story goes that a twelfth-century German bishop by the name of Johann Fugger, a wine aficionado, en route to Rome in A.D. 1110 for the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, had instructed his attendant, Martin by name,[1] to go ahead of him to identify the finest wines for the cleric to enjoy. The servant would, according to the legend, write on the door of an establishment with good vintage the Latin word for “it is (good wine).” When the servant found Montefiascone he knew he had found an excellent vintage, and rightly (according to my taste, as well) wrote “est” thrice.[2] Of course, the idea that exclamation points were added to emphasize the wine’s goodness is an anachronism, as exclamation points had barely begun to evolve beyond the Latin evocation “io” (a cry of joy recorded in ancient Latin texts that eventually would be transformed into an exclamation point by shifting the ‘I’ above the ‘o’—but was not found widely in manuscripts as such until after the twelfth century). So taken with, even sidetracked by their fine discovery of the wine, were they that Father Fugger and minion Martin never made it to the coronation.

Lake Bolsena
Lago di Bolsena, Italy

But I should get back to the reason I am not going to write about the delicate taste of Montefiascone or the truly fantastic food here in Italy or even the loveliness of Lake Bolsena, a place that it is my first time to visit. That reason is, of course, Brexit, England’s rebellion and unexpected break with the European Union. No, I am not going to get into the politics of that exit—I have my own opinion, and it is as farraginous as it is tiered. Nay, rather I would speak about the courage behind the vote rather than the vote itself.

A recent poll of the denizens of the city of Kingston upon Hull (aka Hull), a town located on the east coast of central England that serves as the gateway for European trade,[3] showed that they, among all Brits, were especially in favor of the UK’s break with the Europeans. The reasons for it are multifarious, but not to put too fine a point on it, I think the people of Kingston upon Hull are at bottom hoping to keep England British. That may indeed be too fine a point; it may be too monolithic an explanation. But it may also be right. The open border policy that the UK has had now for many years and its cred busoncomitant trade agreements have essentially promulgated the dissolution of the British way of life. When’s the last time you heard a “Cheerio!” or a “Pip pip!” or even a “Chin up, then!”? When I am in England I very much miss hearing these things, expressions that once characterized British parlance. At least the occasional “Cheers!” survives.

Now someone might say that such an argument is merely reductionist and that I and all the folks of Hull need to face the fact that the world is changing. Now while that person would surely be right about the world changing, the people of Hull have bravely decided that it can simply change a little more slowly. They cast a vote meant to put the breaks on the rapidity of global change; they voted, nearly three to one for an attempt to preserve the remnant of English culture. And whether you think it’s realistic or not, whether you agree with the risk of doing or not, well that’s another matter, and not the point of this blog. Rather, the point of this blog is that at least one important aspect of Hull’s vote and the vote of the rest of the UK was an attempt to preserve cultural identity.

9781480814738_COVER.inddAnd that is one of the major themes of the Curious Autobiography: that the peculiar ways, the timeless values, the enduring faith that we inherited from our forebears (in my case Welsh forebears) are worthy of being preserved, that they do in fact have meaning, and that hastily and heedlessly tossing them out—particularly for the hope of mere financial gain, even if that is only part of the motivation—is, well, for lack of a better word, heedless. Heedless, yes, and dreadful, too. And yet though it has resisted losing its Britishness, Kingston upon Hull remains, according to The Guardian, ungentrified.[4]

But I say, “Bully for Hull!” and “Bully for Hull’s bravery!” As for whether it will prove to be wise or not[5] and what indeed Brexit will mean for the world, time will tell. But the courage it takes for a single town located at the cross of the Humber and Hull to resist democratically a world telling you that its cultural identity is no longer relevant and that money and the global economy is the only thing worth pursuing, well that is a courage worth commending.[6] Until next time then, I offer you a warm “pip pip” and in the face of the terror that has ruined lives of innocent folks in Istanbul in the last few days, a sincere “chin up!” And to my friends in Hull, I shall close with a “cheers,” one set to the clink of a class of, if you can find it, Montefiascone’s best, Est! Est!! Est!!!Est.est.est wineVino di Montefiascone, Est! Est!! Est!!!


[1] “Curious Legend Surrounds Naming Italian Wine,” NYT (1980), rpt. Bangor Daily News, Apr. 15, 1980 [https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=CHg-AAAAIBAJ&sjid=tVkMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2888,6318448&dq=est+est+est+di+montefiascone+wine&hl=en].

[2] Tom Stevenson, The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia (2005) 286. Wine encyclopedia

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/oct/30/hull-the-city-that-gentrification-forgot

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/oct/30/hull-the-city-that-gentrification-forgot

[5] Some are certain that it is national suicide: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/is-brexit-national-suicide/ and likely to lead to a recession: http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/28/news/economy/uk-economy-brexit-taxes-spending-austerity/index.html. Yet others see benefits: http://time.com/4381865/brexit-trump-global-economy/

[6] I realize that there will be some who will make the opposite argument, namely that it is greed in fact that drove the Brexit vote. I simply answer them in this way: even a less-than-well-informed voter knows that dissolving trade agreements is not likely to promulgate further trade. Nay, the real motivation behind this vote was cultural, not monetary. You’re welcome to disagree, of course. Though I have never been to Hull and I can’t speak from firsthand knowledge of that town, I have a strong hunch that I am right about this. I would love to hear from my British readers on this matter. See also https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/the-sunny-side-of-brexit-staycations-set-to-rise-133358961.html