Tuesday, May 24, 2011
This Associated Press story on senior citizen surfers gives hope to all of us that we will be able to continue to enjoy our favorite pastimes in old age. (Sadly, for myself this will not be true as my favorite pastime is staying up past 8 p.m.) Unfortunately, the story leaves out the oldest of these blue-haired boardsters, James "Jimmy" "Duke" "Flippy" "Moondoggie" "Yahtzee" Poseidon of Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A. This geriatric wave-glider is a spry 106 years old and has been surfing since he was 7. I spoke to him via short-wave radio to ask about his legendary career as a surfer, his current form, and agrarian reform in sub-Saharan Africa, which he was surprisingly knowledgeable about for a senile old pipeline-rider.
Earl: James, tell me about how you got started surfing?
James: What's that? Speak up, boy, I can't hear you!
Earl: TELL ME ABOUT YOUR START AS A SURFER!
James: Eh! What's that you said?
(2 hours later)
Earl: James, now that you've found the battery for your hearing aid, tell me about how you got started surfing?
James: Oh, you can call me "Slinky", all my friends do.
Earl: I wasn't aware that Slinky was one of your nicknames.
Slinky: What's that? Oh, yes all the ladies call me slinky because of the way I tend to tumble down stairs.
Earl: I'm not a lady.
Slinky: In that case, call me "Jimmy".
Jimmy: Unless you're not actually a surfer yourself.
Earl: Well, actually no, I don't surf.
Jimmy: Then call me "Flippy".
Earl: Why "Flippy"?
Flippy: Cause if you're not a lady or a surfer Sonny, all you'll get is the bird from me.
Earl: Can we just do the interview?
Flippy: Oh, all right...
(45 minutes later)
Earl: Is he awake now? OK... "Flippy", tell me about how you got started surfing?
Flippy: Well, back in 1901, I was a boy traveling on a schooner to Hawaii and the ship was blown up by a left over landmine from the Spanish Civil War.
Earl: Wait a minute. How did a leftover land mine from the Spanish Civil War wind up in Hawaii?
Flippy: Dag-nab-it son... ain't you ever heard of the Gulf Stream? (Earl sighs) Anyway, I was in the water, about to go down for the 3rd time, when a piece of wood from the ship floated by. I grabbed it, climbed on board and rode that thing down through the Waimea pipeline and to shore. That was my first wave and one of the best ones I ever caught.
Earl: And you've been at it ever since?
Flippy: Yup! Except for a brief sabbatical between 1937 and 1957 when I was a world class jai-alai player.
Earl: Tell me Flippy, what was your most memorable experience as a surfer?
Flippy: What, getting blown up at sea and riding a splintered plank through the surfboard hell that's the "Pipe" ain't good enough for you?
Earl: I mean after that...
Flippy: Oh...well, that'd have to be the time I whacked ol' Adolf Hitler over the head with my surfboard.
Earl: Hitler? Really?
Flippy: Yup! I was doing an exhibition at Rostock, on the Baltic sea, in 1932 and some dad-burn fool of an idjit was body-surfing in the exhibition area. At first I thought I'd surfed down old Charlie Chaplin, until this guy starts cursing at me in German.
Earl: You didn't know it was Hitler?
Flippy: Not until the war. I've still got the surfboard though, and it's still got the dents.
Flippy: Yeah, I was pretty much a hothead back in them days and when he interrupted my exhibition I beat the crap out of him with my board and shouted "I got your City Lights right here pal!". They said that after wards, if someone said the word "surfboard" to him, he'd fall to the floor in a fetal position and suck his thumb for hours.
Earl: Speaking of celebrities, did you know famous surfing legend and Olympic swimming gold medalist Duke Kahanamoku?
Flippy: Oh, yeah! Nice guy. He and I ran over each other with our boards dozens of times. I got the nickname Duke because we looked so much alike, 'cept for my goatee, and the fact that he was six inches taller and 30 pounds lighter than I was in those days...and I was bald too.
Earl: What was your best trick on the surfboard?
Flippy: Well, besides bashing Nazis on the head with my board, I use to do the Charleston while catching a big wave.
Earl: The Charleston? Wasn't it difficult to keep your balance?
Flippy: Difficult? Hell, I fell off the board every time! But for half a second each time, it was pure magic!
Earl: Flippy, they tell me you're still surfing today.
Flippy: Yup, I'm going for 100 years of surfing and I've only got about 9 months to go.
Earl: That's very impressive. Tell me, what's the most difficult thing about surfing for a man of your age?
Flippy: That's an easy one...getting my motorized wheelchair on the board!
And so we wished James "Jimmy" "Duke" "Flippy" "Moondoggie" "Yahtzee" "Slinky" "Hitler-Beater" "Hang Two-Wheeler" "Tiberius" Poseidon all the best. May he surf on for years to come.
Monday, December 11, 2006
We don't allow comments on The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas, because quite frankly some people are simply vulgar (you know who you are). However, here on my own little personal blog, anything you say will be just between you and I, and the lawyers, and your mother, who's been asking where you are and why you never visit anymore.
Also, I've decided to allow comments because I seldom have time to publish anything over here. So, this way at least someone will occasionally add to the tally.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Oh, hello. If you've stumbled here by chance (read: Next Blog) there's absolutely no pornography here at all. Check out The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas.
Oh, there's no pornography there either, you naughty person. It is however, where we do our daily humour thing, those of us who show up.
This lovely little page you're looking at has a few of my longer pieces (that doesn't mean what you think it does, you little pervert). So, feel free to look around before bopping on over to DOUI.
Friday, October 21, 2005
I've been neglecting this site in favor of DOUI (and my real job, which involves weather, supermodels, and chickens.) So here's a little piece I wrote with local papers in mind. For those who know, "soccer" in the piece means "football," which is what everyone outside the U.S. and Canada call it.
When the discussion turns to sports, as it often does with a group of males under the age of 150 who aren’t busy ogling women, inevitably someone will proffer which sport it is that excites them most. They will speak wistfully of childhood encounters with athletes both legendary and surly, often the same people. They will grunt and nod and scratch, especially if the sport is baseball, and wipe a tear from their eyes. Then, I will take my turn, and the conversation will then turn ugly as I am suddenly confronted by a plethora of sneers, raspberries, other faux bodily noises, and rapid reflexive scratching from the baseball guys. This is because I am a soccer fan.
By now, even the most backwoods cold-war era survivalist nut has heard of the sport. It’s only the most popular one in the world, the one played by more nations than there are in the United Nations and called football by all of them except us, Canada, and animals, who refer to it as “Yahtzee”. It’s one of the most popular sports played by American youths these days as well. Yet, there is a class of extremely prejudiced people, let’s call them the average American sports writer, who respond to the word “soccer” as though someone had just taped over their video of Super Bowl XXXVI with an episode of “Trading Spaces” or surreptitiously switched their beer for a mimosa.
I recently read a column by a writer whose name I have since forgotten (so I will refer to him as Maurice) that suggested that the reason some American kids play soccer is because they are too uncoordinated to play other sports. As if it takes real coordination to fling a small hard ball at someone’s head or to grab a football and run directly into a pile of kids made up of everyone on the field including a couple of over-anxious team dads. Maurice suggested that soccer was a way to get kids out of the house between piano lessons. Maurice is apparently as familiar with soccer as Bobby Knight is with apologies. If he were in the game they would have left the tackle from behind in just for him.
Soccer of course is that sport that people play with their feet, where if you want to stop a ball coming out of the air at full speed, which for adults would be up to 40 to 60 miles an hour, you have to do something other than just reach out and grab it with your mitts. Soccer players do this and more. Some kids are able to keep the ball in the air, juggling from foot to knee to head, while the average soccer-hating sports writer would inevitably lodge the thing in his mouth, the only legal maneuver in the sport they could pull off after the throw in.
Of course they offer all the lame excuses for their soccer bigotry. Some say there’s not enough scoring. Of course, these same individuals could sit through a 22 inning 1-0 baseball game, ended on a bases loaded balk and marvel the next day in a column about the “pitchers’ duel” they witnessed the night before. People complain about the violence that is reported in some soccer loving countries. I invite each of these individuals to spend the evening in the streets of a major domestic metropolitan city or college town the night of a big championship win or loss to prove their point…unarmed.
My own suspicions as to the source of soccer hatred are two fold. The first is that soccer doesn’t satisfy the mania Americans have for sports statistics. I’m sure you know what I mean. “Well, Johnson is batting only .120 in situations with the bases loaded, against left-handers with migraine headaches, on windy days with a southwesterly cold front, in Eastern division cities in July, when attendance is under 10,000, under the lights…and there’s the swing, and it’s out of here for a grand-slam.” And yet America continues to lag behind in math education!
The second is ignorance. It is said that people hate what they cannot understand. The tax code proves this point, but I digress. The most common gripe with soccer is the offside rule, the one that says that an offensive player must have two people even with or between them and the goal when the ball is passed to them. That’s it. That’s the rule that has twisted many an otherwise astute sportswriter into BBQ-sauce stained knots. There’s no calculus involved, just a simple matter of where the player is when the ball is passed. Yet, many of the same people who contort with discomfort when this is explained to them can explain themselves, without notes, all possible variances of football’s illegal shift rule.
Of course fear is at play here also. Fear that if soccer catches on that their precious games will fall by the wayside putting shoulder pad and catcher’s mask manufacturers out of business everywhere. They forget that America is a big country with arms larger than George Foreman’s and room for lots of sports (although if tennis disappeared tomorrow I’d never notice) and that soccer will only add to the great sporting atmosphere and lucrative merchandising that already exists. So says this soccer Fan-do.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Some Questions I’d Like Answered
1. Just what branch of the military did Colonel Saunders serve in?
2. Is “Beefaroni” a real Italian word?
3. Is there anyone alive who can explain the rules of jai-alai?
4. Does “Coke” have coal in it or cocaine, or a combination of the two?
5. How does the fact that Scientology was developed by a science fiction writer give it credibility? (Related question: Do Scientologists have a sense of humour?)
6. If you hit a bad golf shot in Spain, do you shout “Cuatro!”?
7. What is it about skunks that make some people want to have one as a pet, the stench or the rabies?
8. Just which planet in the Orion constellation was Yul Brynner from anyway?
9. In the correlation between brain damage and helmetless motorcyclists...which comes first?
10. Is it true that the sound of Desi Arnez’s laugh could shatter cinderblocks from up to 40 feet?
11. When postmen go berserk and start shooting, how is it that their first targets aren’t dogs?
12. What does Dave Barry do for a living?....No, really? A very funny guy, but how does he earn his money?
13. When you smell flatulence, aren’t you just inhaling air that has resided in someone else’s colon? On second thought, don't answer that.
14. How to you tell the difference between someone holding up the “peace” sign, the “victory” sign and the “gimme two pints, mate” sign?
15. If “two’s company” and “three’s a crowd”, is four “two companies” or “a crowded three”?
16. Shouldn’t water polo be played with horses or is it played with horses and we can’t see them because they’re underwater?
17. Was Jesse Jackson one of the Jackson Five? Did he write the lyrics to ABC? Is that why he rhymes so well?
18. Why don’t the swimsuit contestants in the Miss America Pageant ever swim during the pageant? Are they all aquaphobic, or is the body tape they use to keep the suits in place non-water repellent?
19. Just what the heck is the frequency, Kenneth? And what’s on that channel anyway, the Psychotic Network?
20. Do the Academic Deans at the University of North Carolina ever get ticked off because Dean Smith, the former basketball coach, gets called Dean even though he’s not one?
21. When Bob Dylan sang, “Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man...play a song for me”, what was the guy supposed to play...Bolero?
22. Did the person who invented bell bottom jeans have really big ankles?
23. Are people who practice body-piercing just trying to say,” I enjoy pain very, very much” or do they just wish they had ears all over their bodies?
24. Getting back to Yul Brynner, is it true that he was the only passenger of the “Roswell” spaceship?
25. What’s the deal with donuts and cops? Do the donuts remind them remind them of handcuffs?
26. Do people change lanes without signalling because they're brainless cretins, or do they just think the rest of us really like surprises?
27. Do you find people who ask a lot of questions annoying? What about people who make lists?
Sunday, March 20, 2005
I reached this conclusion through the careful, rigorous, and extremely intricate scientific process of pure intuition, a process that coincidentally has been honed to perfection by television weathermen through the ages.
To be a weatherman you must have two very important skills. First, you must be able to point to a very large and empty blue area as if the state of Texas were actually there. In reality, the viewers at home are actually seeing the state of Texas, or possibly Montana depending on what the engineer has been drinking. This happens through a complicated electronic process that goes by the very technical name of the “blue-screen process”. (The process is also referred to as “chroma-key” but most television technicians reject this name on the account that it makes their job sound as though it has something to do with processing discount photographs in under an hour.) This process is actually the least ridiculous thing about a weatherman’s job, but it is the most ridiculous thing about television technicians’ jobs, especially considering that in some cases the “blue” screen is green. In this latter case the process is called the “green-screen process”, proving once again that television is a fount of creativity.
The second skill is even more important than the first. You must, as a practising television weatherman, have the ability to completely forget anything you may have said in the previous 12 hours. Very skilled weathermen who live in places like Hawaii or Arkansas, where the weather has been known to change every 15 minutes, have gotten this skill down to whatever amount of time has passed since the previous weather broadcast. On the Weather Channel, some of the announcers are reportedly incapable of remembering anything except the phrases “...And now for your local forecast”, “Drive carefully”, and “How’s the weather out there Jim?” followed by the kind of grin only found elsewhere amongst people whose parents were close familial relations.
The reason this second skill is particularly important is due to one glaring fact of existence. It is impossible to predict what the weather will be at any given moment in time. The exception of course, is if you are a pensioner with rheumatism in some extremity of your body, in which case you can detect a drop of rain within 300 miles.
Because the weather is impossible to predict, civic-minded individuals realized the potential for panic amongst a weather-obsessed public and so the job of “television weatherman” was invented. It was also invented because the local evening news has about a 7 minute gap that would otherwise be filled with inane banter between the news presenters about their dental bridgework, weekend plans to go camping, or how amazingly spectacular lava lamps are in the dark, but that is another sad, sad story.
So, in reality, the whole concept of the weatherman is a ruse to calm a desperate, weather-obsessed public and silence blithering desk jockeys. One can quickly divine this by observing weather broadcasts. For example, I recall the night before a certain George Washington’s Birthday in Washington D. C. hearing a weatherman confidently assure his audience that the nation’s capital was in for a light snow of one to one-and-a-half inches. The next day, with the city buried under two feet of snow, this particular weatherman could take solace in knowing that he would be unable to drive to work that day. I must give credit where it is due though as he did say it would snow.
A more average example goes something like this: Monday night, a weatherman informs his viewing audience that there is a 99% chance of rain on Tuesday. This causes thousands of golfers to cancel tee times and plan on actually going in to their medical and law offices the next day. The next day the weatherman then appears on television brightly commenting on the cloudless 70 degree weather that was present all day. Occasionally the more audacious among them will actually accept the credit for how the weather turned out (usually when offered by some vacuous co-presenter eager to fill minute gaps of silence) as though they had spent the previous night in a small plane desperately seeding westward cloud formations, instead of rummaging through their closet in their undergarments looking for an umbrella and rain slicker.
Thirty to forty years ago this kind of uncanny inaccuracy was understandable. In the days before satellite weather tracking, the weatherman was the television equivalent of an ancient shaman trying to define the temper of the clouds. The only difference between the two was that weathermen wore loud suits and offered on-air birthday greetings to centegenarian shut-ins whereas shamans (or is it shamen?) wore colorful attire that helped them to stand out and showed tremendous respect for the tribal elders. All right, I admit there’s no real difference, with the possible exception that the average shaman was probably more accurate than any weatherman has ever been.
However, in our present age of technological wizardry (see the aforementioned blue-screen effect), each and every television weather broadcast is backed up by the dazzling spectacle of satellite imagery. This imagery allows weathermen to demonstrate conclusively that the earth is covered with clouds. In addition, it gives them a wonderful excuse to make even more shamelessly inaccurate forecasts backed by federally funded aerospace technology.
The logic is that if a mass of clouds on the radar over say, Western Georgia, is moving in the general direction of say, Atlanta and if the people in Western Georgia are experiencing say, rain, then it is absolutely natural to expect that Atlanta will see rain sometime within the next few hours. This type of prediction is often followed by a phenomenon known as the chaos effect, but which I like to refer to as “the reason weathermen screw up so much”. The effect often consists of the previously mentioned clouds suddenly switching direction similar to the way most parakeets do when they suddenly smack into a pane of glass. A second common effect of the chaos/weathermen screw up factor occurs when the mass of clouds suddenly disappears as though they had accidentally wandered into the path of a David Copperfield special.
These events would be bearable enough if not for that peculiar invention called the “long range forecast”, also known as “the weekly forecast”, and known in Las Vegas as “easy money for anybody betting against the weatherman”. Asking weathermen to determine the state of the weather over a five to seven day forecast is after all a bit like using the prophecies of Nostradamus to hit the correct Powerball numbers. It’s simple logic really. How can you presume to predict what the weather will do in five days when you have been clueless over the previous five years as to what it will do seconds after the station has switched over to its syndicated broadcast of “Home Improvement” for the evening. The only stable five-day forecast I’ve ever heard of is the one for those in the Death Valley area: “We’re expecting hot weather and no rain all week, so put away those umbrellas and get ready for some fun in the sun!” Despite their positivism, this is as good a reason as any to send all weathermen to Death Valley.
Like it or not though, the television weatherman serves a useful purpose in society. He or she allows the viewer at home to express their frustration at their frail and all too human lack of control over the natural elements. Many people usually express this in words that are often referred to as “French” (but which, if you use one, any Frenchman will assure you are not by smacking you in the head with a wheel of brie). The television weatherman (weatherwoman, weatherperson, weatherbeing) thus fills a vital need in our society as an object of enduring scorn, and, until we can train dogs to predict the weather with the same accuracy they demonstrate for earthquakes, will likely be with us for years to come. Let them know when your birthday is though and they will announce it on TV. I suppose that’s worth a little good will.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
These days, politics, and the growing suspicion both here and in Gaul that Jacques Chirac is a giant weasel disguised as a human being, have soured things a bit.
Anyway, I know a few Frenchmen myself, and they are very nice, considerate, and thoughtful persons, whose company I enjoy...even if one of them runs circles around me on the football pitch. Which reminds me to add that I am also an Arsenal supporter who thinks Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera, and Robert Pires, not to mention the mercurial Arsene are fabulous. (Stew's a Spurs guy...nobody's perfect.)
The following article is not reflective of them, but of a recent mindset here in the States. It's from 2003 as well. Enjoy.
Introduction to “An American’s Guide to France” (Revised)
(Editor’s note: I’ve added some changes to reflect the current political situation. We don’t want to end up like the friggin’ Dixie Chicks. Please note the *edits* and [additions].)
*Ah,* France*!* […] Land of *romance* [adultery], *passion, fine* [a moderately regarded] cuisine, and *the *arts! What American traveler hasn’t always wanted to *visit* [avoid] the land of *Lafayette and DeGaulle* [Robespierre]? What *vacationer* [simpleton] hasn’t longed to view the *majestic* peaks of the French Alps [albeit second-rate when compared to the Rockies], the grand and *inviting* [topless] shores of the Riviera[, even if Monaco is the finest part], the lush[es] *vineyards*, and the *illuminated* [tobacco clouded] and *illuminating* [incessantly rude to the point of boorishness] streets of her capital, Paris?
In this edition, we’ll help you *get ready for* [endure] what will surely be *the journey of* a lifetime[‘s regret]. We’ll tell you how to make the necessary preparations so that your trip will be a *pleasant and *swift one, but also one in which you’ll be able to sample from a variety of all that this wonderful *Gallic* [Garlic] nation and her [un]pleasant and *friendly* [hairy] citizens have to offer [in the unlikely event you should care to do so].
From booking your flights with the *major and* minor air carriers [such as Air Saddam] that all have routes to France, to choosing from hundreds of *sumptuously regal* [obtusely maleficent] hotels and restaurants that regularly *earn the highest world rankings* [feature rude and condescending waiters Ed. Note – this one was actually supposed to be in the original version], to visiting *all* [one] of the most famous museums and historical landmarks renowned across the globe, we’ll *guide* [warn] you every step of the way.
This guide is also carefully designed to help you avoid any [of the normal] difficulties that you *may* [would otherwise] encounter due to the differences between France and the U. S. We cover key travel and customs regulations [including how to gain easy visas by using Iraqi surnames], as well as driving laws and regulations [as if there were any]. We’ll also help you get the most out of *currency exchange and* the use of credit […always use credit as the Euro and all it stands for are completely unreliable].
This guide also contains the best *times of the year and* day for visiting the most popular French attraction*s such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre’* [ EuroDisney]. We’ll also give you the run down on how to see *the best* [some] shows and get into *the best* [some] eateries.
France is a *beautiful* country, with a long *and colorful* history. The Romans invaded France [(being the first of many)] before the birth of Christ and since then France has had many *rulers* [despots], both beloved (*Charlemagne, Louis XIV, De Gaulle* [Napoleon]) and infamous (*Napoleon*, [Chirac]). The events of French history themselves are as memorable and numerous as her leaders. Who can forget *landmark* [telltale] moments such as the storming of the *Bastille* [Maginot Line] or such battlefields as *Orleans, Reims, etc…* [Agincourt, Waterloo, etc…] Almost every village has markers that are [grim] reminders of episodes from this *storied*past.
The nation’s history *is* also *underscored by the wealth of geniuses from every realm of* [includes] the arts*: painting (Monet, Van Gogh), music (Bizet, Berlioz), sculpture (Rodin), and film (Trauffaut, Renoir) *. The arts are on display year round. The Cannes Film Festival, for example, attracts [left-wing, unpatriotic] actors, directors, and great [foreign] films from around the world to the [did we mention topless] French Riviera culminating in the awarding of the Palme D’Or. The Paris Opera House hosts a variety of *classical and cutting edge works* [ghouls – see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical], and the Georges Pompidou Center not only houses radically new works of modern art but has been called one itself [but modern art is crap as we all know. I mean come on, who really gets Kandinsky and Pollack anyway, and Warhol is just a big drug-addled fraud. Ed. Note - OK I may have gone overboard a bit here… I’ll shorten it in the last rewrite]!
*Great c* [C]ooking *reached its culmination* [can be found] here as well with the development of famous dishes like *Chicken Cordon Bleu, Beef Bourguignon, and Coq au Vin* [snails in butter]. France can lay claim to countless of the world’s great foodstuffs, including *Roquefort, Brie, and Camembert cheeses, Hollandaise and Béarnaise sauces, baguettes, and the croissant* [freedom fries]. In addition to foods, the French have the world’s [second] most famous wine tradition in the world [behind California]. Champagne not only refers to a wine made in France, but the region it comes from! [?]
France also has many *notable* sporting events to attend each year [but not the Super Bowl of course]. [Because they apparently can’t grow a decent patch of grass, t] *T*he clay courts of the French Open attract *the world’s best* tennis players, while the entire nation plays host to the *premier* [only] cycling event in the world, the Tour De France[, also known as the Lance Armstrong Invitational]. For the sportsman who prefers to be a participant instead of a spectator France has numerous quality golf courses[, for the continent at least,] and tennis facilities, plenty of recreational water sports[, such as water polo and diving for cheese], and traditional pastimes such as fencing for the adventurous [traveler who enjoys body piercing].
There’s [some] shopping to be found in France as well, with a[n] * dazzling* array of *unique* shops and markets where you can find *the finest of * [some] *goods and* souvenirs. Paris is also the world capital for fashion [and backstabbing, self-profligating diplomacy] as well and one can hardly *walk* [run] down a street there without passing a boutique [or call girl] that sports the latest [ridiculously overrated] styles and the most famous designers[, with the notable exception of Mr. Levi].
What guide would be complete without mentioning the romantic lure France, and in particular Paris, has held for *lovers* [fornicators] throughout the generations. From the *brilliant* [blinding] evening lights of the Champs Elysees to *cozy* [overcrowded] sidewalk cafes, couples can find a place to *wander, to embrace, to kiss* [fornicate], and to feel *together and somehow alone in* [watched by] a city of millions.
Yes, we know that you’ve picked up this guide to *experience all that and more, and so* [burn it in disgust, but] we’ve tried to pack as much information *and more* inside as you could ever possibly *hope for* [need, in the hopes that you will take out your frustration on the guides to Belgium and Germany]. We hope that after reading through our guide carefully [and not burning it] that you will be able to have the trip that you have dreamed of, a magical adventure in a country of love, passion, class, and adventure [that is the United Kingdom]. * Ah, * France*!* […]*Enjoy her many treasures! * [You could do worse!]