Tuesday, February 7

Latin Memories

It is not often the Gnome's classical education is called on in an everday situation, but just occasionally it turns out to have been a useful investment by his parents. Although long dimmed by the passing of time, he does have a smattering of Latin, learnt at the hands of the ever-so strict Mr Charles, whose response to any hesitation to provide an appropriate conjugation of a verb such as evinco (evinco, evincere, evici, evictus if the Gnome recalls correctly) met with a disproportionately violent assault on the knuckles with a 12" wooden ruler.

Today of course, one could report this to the the United Nation Security Council who would provide supportive words and quite possibly a threat of military action, but at the time no such redress was available to 11 year old schoolboys. Indeed, considering the malevolent glee that Mr Charles took in graphically describing the cruel and unusual punishments meted out to Roman legionnaires who transgressed in some fashion, perhaps the Gnome and his fellow pupils of Form 3G were lucky to have been let off with only the occasional reddened knuckle.

But the Gnome digresses. The reason he is bringing up fond memories of school boy Latin is the recent 'brainstorming' session he attended to come up with new names for a company attempting a rebranding exercise. Anyone who has attended these things will know they begin with long awkward silences where nobody wishes to look foolish by suggesting a name that is immediately decried by their peers as ridiculous and without any redeeming features, so the Gnome always feels obliged to set things rolling (as - so long as his company keeps paying him - he has little concern if clients think he is a moron).

This is where the Latin comes in, for it can provide words that sound impressive to marketing executives who know no better. After a few Latin words were aired and discarded, the group moved onto the idea that their company would be best served by naming it after a colour, but with the added psuedo-credibility of translating it into Latin.

And that's when everyone turned to the Gnome and asked him to reel off colours in Latin.

Now, in every other language he has studied, colours were right up there at the front of the basic text book, hovering just after vocabulary to describe things you find in a classroom. Thus, within a few weeks, the eager pupil can ask questions along the lines of 'Where is the yellow ruler?', 'Please could you pass the orange book?' and 'Tell Smithers he has a green bogey hanging out of his nose.'

But for the life of him, the Gnome could not remember ever being taught the Latin words for colours, and he sat there, helpless in the glare of his clients, with his reputation as a classically educated expert on the Latin language in tatters.

Friday, February 3

Danish Flag Exports Rise

The Gnome has no wish to get involved in the controversy over the cartoon images of the Mohammed, but does wonder just how so many people across the Muslim world are getting hold of Danish flags to burn?

Where are they coming from? Surely producing Danish flags is a rather specialist area, particularly when it comes to producing them for an angry populace to set ablaze. He supposes there may be an underground flag factory in some forgotten corner of the West Bank, but surely their production line is hard wired to cater for the more regular displays of American, Israeli and British flag burning?

He can imagine the calling of an emergency management conference to respond to the changing circumstances - "Gentleman, it has come to our attention that there is a significant growth opportunity for us - buy in additional stocks of red dye and find me a designer who knows what the Danish flag looks like"

If no such factory exists, then surely the most likely source of these flags is Denmark itself, although having lived in Copenhagen for about a year, the Gnome can't recall ever seeing anywhere selling them.

How does the modern flag burner reconcile the possibility that he is supporting the economy of the very country he is supposed to be boycotting by buying their flags from them in the first place?

The Gnome hopes the reprinting of the cartoons doesn't spread to other Scandinavian countries, otherwise there will be the additional complication of using Swedish matches to light the flags...

Wednesday, February 1

Closer to the Truth

Have you ever had one of those bizarre moments when on talking to someone you realise they could hold the answer to one of your most confounding questions?

The Gnome recently attended a meeting where, being the gregarious person he is, he started talking to another participant. Having assuaged his human desire for knowing names, job titles and reasons for attendance (just two souls adrift in a corporate world of free coffee and bagels apparently), he discovered she worked in the building directly opposite his apartment.

Now the Gnome realises his regular readers are few (or quite possibly non-existent) so for those who stumbled here by a drunken slip of the keyboard let him refer you back to an earlier post regarding the strange habits of Orange Man.

It turns out his companion worked on the 25th floor of Orange Man's building, just one floor below the object of the Gnome's attention. Surely, there was a possibility that she could throw light on the matter of his prediliction for the colour that gave him his name?

Alas she did not know of him, but although the sudden outburst of entusiastic questioning about such a strange topic soon made her edge nervously away on the premise of talking to someone else, she did first reveal the floor was occupied by PR consultants working with famous rap artistes such as Blobby Dib Dob, Floozy K and Potz N Noodlz (the Gnome apologises for not being particularly au fait with such characters and as such may not have transcribed their sobriquets with complete accuracy).

Could it be the Man in Orange is simply displaying gang colours?

The Gnome will continue to investigate, but in the meantime, if you recognize the office in the picture you could help, for this is the lair of the Orangeman...

Embroidery Capital of the World

Could anyone here name the 'Embroidery Capital of the World'? The Gnome doubts it, so feels he should put you out of your misery. It is in fact Union City, New Jersey. A road sign on leaving Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel proclaims it so.

Apparently, Union City has been the 'Embroidery Capital of the World' since 1872, leading the Gnome to ponder from whom they took the title in that fateful year, and how they have managed to hold on to it for so long.

Is it an annual competition - akin to the America's Cup - with qualifying rounds until two worthy contenders emerge to battle for supremacy in a series of tense, emotionally charged stitching battles? If so, why are the general public uninformed of such a titanic clash? The drama of international cross stitching and needlepoint needs to be laid bare for all to see.

Once this step is taken, it can only be a matter of time before we have pro-celebrity embroidery with public voting to remove the team who foolishly used an Algerian Eye stitch when custom would have suggested a Crow's Foot instead.

Olympic recognition would surely follow - the Gnome can only imagine the improvement to the opening ceremony if the flags of all nations were embroidered rather than mere dyed canvas.

Perhaps one day in some alternative future there will be legions of fans queueing to get a glimpse of their embroiding heroes in action, posters of the more aesthetically pleasing competitors adorning teenagers' bedrooms, questions asked in Parliament as to why Britain cannot produce embroiders to compete at the highest level...

The Gnome feels moved to caution Union City residents. Do not be complacent in your 134 year grip on the title of 'Embroidery Capital of the World' - your reign may soon be challenged...