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Friday, 02 July 2010


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"the Peninsula war": I hope that the error is yours, David, not the man from the FO's.

'Who, sir? Me, sir? No, sir. Him, sir'!

But what error exactly? Should he have written 'the Peninsula campaign'? Or is it the capital 'P' to which you object? Surely you cannot deny that Wellington's intelligence system in Spain and Portugal was exceedingly efficent?

"The Peninsular War", i.e. adoption of the adjectival form, you see, hallowed by decade upon decade of use.

I have to say 'dearieme' David's probably developed sensitivities for his Arkie Readin' audience - if Wellington hisself wrote it like that - keep it.

When an Arkie reads "Peninsular War" it sounds as if another more current war is about to be... er joined. Ceptin' it'll not be in no field and the major combatants will be lawyers astead of soldiers and the winner will be declared by whoever is a'sitting on the bench at the local divorce court.

Cor blimey, 'DM', "adjectival form" now you've condemned me to several hours inside Fowler's!

And 'JK', you're even more elusive than 'DM'!

Just as one would not say "The South Africa War" but "The South African War", one says "The Peninsular War". At least we did when I was at school, which is the test that essentially defines what is right.

To the Headmaster:

Thank you for pointing out the difference, hitherto completely un-noticed by me, between 'peninsula' and 'peninsular'. What a difference an 'r' makes as my OED confirmed! I have nearly finished my 100 lines,
Yours gratefully,
Duff of the lowest Lower Fifth.

Actually, 'DM', in writing this blog I am constantly reminded why even the best writers, and that obviously excludes me, need editors. The number of times I write something here, check it once, twice or even thrice before posting it, and yet the minute it goes up on the blog I spot at least two more errors. A sort of word blindness takes over, I suppose. Anyway, I really am grateful to anyone who points up my grammatical mistakes - even if, as in this case, it was actually someone else's.

BUGGER! I've just re-read my post and spotted that I mis-spelled Clausewitz's name. It must be the gin ...

Ciao David,
Thanks for your post! i totally agree with you.
May be you know by any chance, are there english speaking experts who are of the same opinion? May be you could recommend me some interviews that reflect the unbiased point of view that you and me share?

Alexandra, please, please, tell me that you are a young, long-legged, beautiful, blonde, Russian spy eager to please me so that you can carefully extract secrets from me. I assure you that I am possessed of very many secrets, but only if you are a young, long-legged, beautiful, etc, etc. If in fact you are the ex-Miss Tractor Factory Girl of 1957 - forget it!

hahaha, i can tell you whatever! but u're not the type to believe all the junk published) or are u?;)
p.s.: besides, our factory girls were not so bad! and they still excite your collectors to give out millions for the social realism lots on sotheby's;) about pro-Russian experts?)

Well done, Alexandra - I wasn't certain if you would appreciate my English sense of humour!

To be serious, I am not sure exactly what you mean by "pro-Russian experts". Now you ask me the question, I really do not know where to point you. During the Cold War there were dozens of so-called experts on the Soviet Union but since that has passed away - so have they.

You might find something here:

Or here:

To be honest, for the moment, Russia does not hit the headlines too much. Russia has stopped being a direct menace, too busy making money, I suppose - which is good. How long it will last I do not know but again, to be honest, I would not trust Medvedev/Putin as far as I could throw them. Sending swarms of spies to live undercover, and regularly sending bombers into British airspace to test our air defences, is not behaviour that helps engender good relations.

Sorry not to be more helpful but I hope you will stay around Duff & Nonsense - for the occasional laughs as much as anything else!

Thanks a lot, David!) long-legged spies are not that humorous;)))
i've found an interesting opinion on "worldaffairsjournal". the expert claims the whole story reminds a lot of a hollywood movie plot. that's what i meant! are there many people in the US who share the same point of view?)

One thing I have learned is that big bureaucracies are the same the whole world over. Thus, the CIA undoubtedly wastes billions of dollars for very little worthwhile product - dammit, they even failed to forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union! The KGB (or whatever they call themselves today) are much the same. When you think how much money that operation cost over the years, creating identities, buying houses, providing working capital - it's unbelievable! And for what? Nothing much more, I guess, than they could have deduced by just reading the papers! And anyway, the FBI found them out years ago so it was all for nothing so that even the possible recruits they spotted, have no doubt, been moved quietly into positions of no importance. I don't know about Hollywood, more like a French farce!

so you really believe they were spies???))

Alexandra, I would not call them 'spies', in the sense that they, themselves, were trying to be employed in sensitive places, or that they were seeking to recruit people who were (although some of them might have been doing those things - who can tell until the court cases come up). But as I said above, I suspect they were acting as 'talent -spotters', that is, looking out for people who because of their education and/or their background might in time rise to positions of importance inside the American government or big business. They would be looking for people susceptible to the temptations of sex, or money, or ideology. I rather discount the last one because Russia is no longer a communist state and today it has little attraction to extreme Left-wingers - although, of course, that would not stop 'handlers' (who would take over from the 'spotters') from pretending to be working for another country so that the recruit would never actually know the truth of who he or she was working for.

oh dear, you repeat what the US-press says word by word! don't you think it sounds a bit strange?)) i mean: why does Russia need to seek for "start-ups" "susceptible to the temptations of sex, or money, or ideology"?? i bet there are plenty of people in the US-high-society who have already got much more secrets to tell and are easily corrupted and keen on fast love. it were much easy to use them if needed than to wait a hundred years until a new "qualified" population rise in the US government and business...or won't rise)) besides, the FBI misreports so many things! They speak of some special education of the "spies" - actually the guys finished average Russian institutes - some even not in Moscow. these high schools are least expected to grow young "spies", believe me)) And then they say the have tracked the "spies" for 10 years....weird!... most of the "ring" should have been 18-19 at that time. and some didn't even live in the US all this time. Anna Chapman for example moved to the US only in February 2010) all this makes doubt the official version altogether

Well, Alexandra, in a hall of mirrors it is always difficult to tell truth from reality. What I do know for certain is that the FSB spies on America, and the CIA spies on Russia, and everyone else spies on them and everyone else! I suspect that much of it is a compete waste of time but regretfully it has to be done because occasionally you strike gold. I think of the numerous spies the KGB recruited in the Anglo-American atom bomb project in the '40s and '50s - that was a brilliant operation.

Anyway, how is life in Russia these days? You can tell me because I'm not a spy - honestly I am not! I must congratulate you on your English - not absolutely perfect but very, very close. What do you do for a living - and please don't tell me you're a spy!

hahah, worse than a spy!) i am a journalist: also collecting information on the USA and other countries, communicating with "important" people and making reports)) however they are read not only by SVR(KGB)-people, but all over country too) so, you see, i'm much more dangerous))
i agree with you: every big country spies on other big counties. but certainly not with the help of 18-year-old backwoodsguys) however, i appreciate the US PR-skills. FBI turned our quite ordinary compatriots into heros!))

I leave the last word to you, Alexandra, merely adding that I shall follow the court cases with interest to see what comes out, and even more, I shall look forward to the Hollywood film. Tom Cruise for the lead, and Meryl Streep as the Russian controller?

Anyway, I enjoyed our conversation and I hope you will continue to visit D&N although you are unlikely ever to meet anyone important here!

Alexandra, I have just read this:

Thanks, David!)) what do you think of the article?
i think it's high time we started the new super-blockbuster production!))

To be honest, Alexandra, I don't think anything very much about the article. Everything is speculation, and now I hear some scientist in prison in your country claims they are going to swap him for one of the 'American' spies!

As for the blockbuster production, tell your agent to get in touch with mine - no, no, not that sort of agent, I meant a Hollywood agent!

hahah, we can't deal without agents anyway!)))

Here's another, somewhat amused, look at this extraordinary tale of ineptitude:

"Curious" is exactly the word, in all its meanings!

thanx for a useful link! and have u seen this?
do u think it was the case?

this news is of interest too.;lst;1

it appears FBI and MI6 have got something on their mind too! "swapping" out 4 people who "are of interest" for them)) are there any interesting news of Sutyagin in Great Britain?

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