I know that regular readers will be hoping, that unlike my other 93 posts on this blog, I may get to the point quickly. After all from the title, the post is clearly about style, and what could be more stylish than a quick, to-the-point, blog post?
Now, I don’t mean to divert us all sideways here, but just in case some of you don’t have a working knowledge of the Old Norse language, I might just explain the word “Finnvitka” in the title.
- Oh, and as an aside, Old Norse is great for these compound words. You might think a newcomer like German is all fancy with it’s “Schadenfreude” and “Schwangerschaftverhütungsmittel” but Old Norse is the original for them. It’s worth learning. Vikings were such dubious navigators at times that you still might bump into a lost contingent making landfall in Pattaya Beach and attempting to storm a pancake stand for plunder. And if you’re the only one who speaks Old Norse, then it’s your chance to be a hero, and probably get free pancakes for life.
Anyway, to return to “Finnvitka”.
As those of you who haven’t had to read through all that guff because you read Old Norse at University level already know, “Finnvitka” means “To perform magic in a particularly Finnish manner”.
Note it’s important to get that second “n’ in. Magic that might finish you off is different to a magic that is subtly Finn-nuanced.
Anyway, I apologise for that diversion. Where was I?
That’s right. I was getting to the point.
Whew! I nearly diverted there to make a clever little sidebar about comparing the point of a Viking sword with the point of my story, but I took an enormous swig of Sikkim Temi and the moment was lost.
Back on track.
So, way back over 1500 years ago, there were already words about style.
Really, “Finnvitka” is the forerunner of many instances of using an ethnicity and a “something else” to paint a word picture.
For example: If we use the word “Weimar” we probably mean a city in Germany. If we say “Weimar Republic” then we usually refer to the period following the German Revolution at the end of World War until the rise of Nazism. Fair enough.
If we say “cabaret” we might think of someone doing a Liza Minelli impersonation with a three-piece band in front of 30 people in a small venue, as that seems to be a very 2012 view of such antics. They might be great or they might be rubbish, but there’s always 30 people.
But add the two together and – “weimar” and “cabaret” that is, leave Liza out of this – and you get Weimar Cabaret, a word picture that brings us visions of smoke-filled faded ballrooms, black stockings, mispronounced consonants “(I wuv you, my leetle wixen”) and if we are talking any film set in the 1930, one hero undercover and a room full of Nazis.
- As an aside, when I was growing up, cabaret music was often referred to as “60/40″, which grew from a concept that bands would play 40% old standards to make their performances more acceptable to a wider audience, along with 60% more “modern” music.
- As an aside to an aside, when I was a struggling musician in my teens, I was told that 60/40 meant that the drummer was 40 and the bass player was 60. Whilst I knew that was a joke, I didn’t know the actual reason until I just looked it up.
- As an aside to that aside to the original aside, when I describe myself as “a struggling musician”, that may infer I was young and talented and trying to carve out a living, whereas I was actually struggling with having no discernible talent and being too lazy to put in the practice, whilst living a comfortable existence.
- At the risk of plunging into a further, further, further aside, it’s ironic that I met Lady Devotea in 1984 and joined her cabaret band, which was not 60/40, did not feature any Liza Minelli impersonations but was in fact mainly playing music that was then current, plus some classics. So I guess cabaret might indeed mean different things to different people, because to me it means Lady Devotea belting out Billy Joel numbers with an amazing voice, a Yamaha DX-7 and leopard skin patterned tights. And love.
Good Lord, I’m suddenly four asides deep. Where the hell was I?
I’ll just reach for that Temi and have another deep slurp. That usually brings me back to where I should be.
Why is my Temi cold? Is that the time? Good Lord, time flies when you’re having fun. Fruit Flies like bananas.
So, all of the above brings me to my point.
Or does it? I know we have a rich storytelling history with all that “Beginning- Middle -End bit, but it’s not essential. Many writers have got away with being pointless. In every sense.
I’ll just make another tea. Talk amongst yourselves.
Ok, I’m back. I’ve just made a Jim’s Caravan. I have used boiling water in a spotted teapot. Three “digitally weighed” grams. (This means I picked up what I thought was three grams, using the digits on my right hand.) I put in the amount of water that my optical measuring device recorded as “just right”. And I brewed it for precisely three minutes, based on the internationally recognised “that feels like three minutes” method.
I even took a picture. Here it is:
The teapot is named “Purdy” after the mother of the 101 Dalmatians, in case you wondered.
The mug has dragonflies on it. It’s a bit of a family symbol – usually represents Lady Devotea’s father Jim, whom we have immortalised with this very “Jim’s Caravan” blend.
He passed away 15 years ago today.
- As an aside, I’m wondering how many of you are unhappy with the way I made it. No precision on the measurements? Steep too long? Too short? Don’t like the colour? Why the mug the size of a small car?After all, this is Tea Trade – there are some serious tea geeks here. And yet it’s my style. My way. Not Finnvitka but Devoteavitka, because it’s a lovely cuppa.
Anyway, let me get to the point.
Whoops. looks like I already did, in that last aside. In purple, in case your eyes glazed over. Glazed. Like a doughnut. mmm…