John Walsh: btw

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The Independent Online

Uh-oh. We really must be in trouble. "Sub-prime" and "credit crunch" have just entered the Oxford English Dictionary. They're Americanisms, and they're a bit weaselly ("sub-prime" means "sub-standard," not just "less than the best") but they're here to stay. Also granted full OED status is "fascinator" meaning the feathery frou-frou clamped to some ladies' heads at Ascot, "freegan" (a person who lives off discarded food) and "sleb," a contemptuous reference to celebrity. The term "bling-bling," meaning ostentatiously worn fashion jewellery, joins "jiggy," "phat" and "breakbeat" in the hip-hop lexicon. It was coined in the 1990s by the rap team Cash Money Millionaires, one of whom, BG, released a single called "Bling Bling." "I just wish I'd trademarked it" said a rueful Mr G.

* Some might detect an irony in the experience of the Tory adviser Danny Kruger, as reported in The Spectator. He and his wife were leaving a north London flat after viewing it for rent, when the owner spotted that his moped was being stolen by a gang of hooded teenagers. Kruger and the man gave chase and were rewarded with punches, occasioning a black eye and a cut lip. Yes, he is the Danny Kruger who wrote that "hug a hoodie" speech for David Cameron, advocating a softer approach to violent crime. He seems to have changed his mind. "My main memory is of the spit-filled mouth of the little rat-faced boy who punched me," he writes. Not at all huggable, really.

* Madame Tussauds has just opened a wax museum in Berlin, where the key effigy will be of Adolf Hitler in his bunker shortly before the end of the war. He is not striking a Führer pose, nor poring over a map of Europe, nor trying to have sex with Eva Braun. He is shown seated at his desk looking thoroughly pissed off. Obviously tact dictates that he couldn't be shown in triumphal mode, for fear that he'd become a magnet for neo-Nazis. But to display him as a small-time loser seems to be historically dishonest. It won't, of course, stop the crowds of visitors who want to be photographed beside the effigy. Not that you can, because the museum forbids it. You can pose for a snap beside Angela Merkel though.

* The noble amphitheatres of ancient Greece were built to last. But 2,500 years later, they're in a state of serious dereliction because of the combined forces of Wrigley's spearmint, Manolo Blahnik and Marshall sound equipment. The country's Central Archaeological Council is seeking to ban chewing gum, spiked heels and loud amplifiers from the outdoor theatres at Epidavros and elsewhere, before they do any more structural damage. "We find ourselves regularly cleaning kilos of chewing gum from the Herod Atticus Theatre," said a woman architect, "It's an amazing and awful situation." Wearing high heels to an outdoor show is, she says, "like taking a hammer and splitting the blocks apart". Inviting Motorhead to perform probably didn't help either.

* Once, funeral music meant a mournful burst of the "Dead March" played on a chapel organ. Sometimes, "Abide With Me" would be sung, but that was it. Now, as cemeteries and crematoria become more user-friendly, chart hits are allowed while the coffin is borne away or consigned to the flames. According to managers at the Centennial Park cemetery in Adelaide, some selections are pretty heartless: "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC is strongly favoured, as is "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. The schlocky "My Way" and "Wonderful World" still head the list, but they're challenged by Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead" from The Wizard of Oz, and "Hit the Road, Jack" by Ray Charles. None of which holds a candle, in my view, to the greatest checking-out song of all, "Closing Time" by Leonard Cohen (right).

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