To find that Carla Bruni calls President Sarkozy by the nickname chouchou ("little cauliflower") is endearing, if only because it's hard to imagine Sarah Brown doing the same – no matter how much of a legume we may think her husband. Nicknames perform a humanising function: they give grim, unsmiling public figures a cute counter-identity, just as stern teachers in junior school are given nicknames to subvert their awful authority.
It's good to know that Michelle Obama refers to her husband as "Pumpski" though nobody has a clue what it means. Maybe it's something rude, as with "Rosebud", William Randolph Hearst's nickname for his mistress Marion Davis, or, more precisely, for her clitoris. It's nice to know Winston Churchill was "Pug" to Clemmie, while she was his "Cat." How odd to find the sainted Lady Churchill shares a nom d'amour with Lillian "Pusscat" Crawford in The Archers. Celebrities seem more approachable when we know they have names bestowed by their spouses. We think better of Sting after being told that his wife Trudi calls him "Pookie," after the pathetic winged rabbit in the 1945 children's book (I recall that he gets less pathetic, and his wings grow huge, ahem, when he meets Belinda the woodcutter's daughter.) Guy Ritchie used to call Madonna "Madge" when they were together; now it's more likely to be "It..." And did you know the Duke of Edinburgh has a name for the Queen? Apparently, it's "Cabbage." Nom d'un chien! So that's where Carla got the idea.
Do aviators wear Aviators?
Uniforms are rarely on-trend. A Co-op fleece or a policeman's helmet will never be a fashion staple, but what about the lucky few with groovy workwear? "Do aviators wear Aviators?" Slate.com asked recently and the answer is yes, they do. And the classic Ray-Ban (named because they banish sunlight for squinty pilots) has become a seasonless classic, even for those without their wings. Then there are Barbours, whose democratisation from Lord of the Manor to Lily Allen has helped towards ending Britain's feudal system. What next, hi-vis jackets and hard hats? Possibly – Prada sent waders down the catwalk while Miu Miu showed tabard-like aprons. Trout farmers and dinner ladies will be mollified, at least.
Shove affair gone sour
It ranks alongside a 147 at snooker or 180 at darts as the pinnacle of sporting achievement. But the thrill of scoring a perfect five at shove ha'penny could be lost to future generations after the last remaining league called it a day because young people prefer pool. The object of the game, which has been played in pubs since the 15th century, is to propel a pre-decimal ha'penny so it lands between the lines of nine oblongs etched onto the board. Opponents take turns to despatch their five ha'pennies using outstretched palms in a bid to become the winner by landing three separate coins in each zone. The enduring appeal of the game lies both in its simplicity and its skill, and, of course, the fact it can be played while drunk.
Jonathan BrownReuse content