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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Elements Of Eloquence

Review of a new book on English style that champions rhetorical elegance over plain words. “The shiniest piece of information I picked up is that, in English, adjectives go in this order: Opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose-noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac” (Metered Paywall) (720 words)

There Are Many Ways To Shear A Pig

Glorious fugue provoked by Vladimir Putin’s verdict on the Edward Snowden affair — “It’s like shearing a pig; plenty of squealing but not much wool”. If international affairs are to be conducted in proverbs, world leaders should stock up on gnomic statements. “The fire is never without heat. A quiet conscience sleeps in thunder. There’s no sun without shadow. Acorns were good till they found bread. Ah, yes, how true” (900 words)

Papal Election: There Will Be Smoke

Brisk backgrounder on the rules and customs of the Conclave. “Even when the Sistine Chapel was used for elections, the cardinals did not sleep in it, but in cells drawn by lot in adjoining buildings. Today the cardinals stay in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, a kind of clerical hotel near the Vatican railway station. They can talk during meals”

Dying Considered As One Of The Fine Arts

Victorians loved a good deathbed, but we’ve forgotten art of dying. “The two or three dry runs I have experienced, which turned out not to be the real thing, seem in retrospect to have been handled amateurishly”

Royal Fairy Tales

Royal marriages have rarely gone smoothly. At least one partner has usually been unfaithful, or drunk, or Catholic, or German. That should not stop us wishing Prince William and Kate Middleton well

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