Television advertisements in the lead up to Australia Day on 26 January 2017 have been telling the Australian people to celebrate the day “how you want to”. It is an interesting message from the Australian government. A typical Australian reaction to it might be to ask, if now we are to celebrate it how we want to, what was the prescribed method beforehand? Another broad section of the community might wonder whether the day has ever been celebrated at all – isn’t it just another public holiday? But, taking it in good faith, clearly this message is intended as an open and friendly acknowledgement of the fact that, for many of the people of Australia in 2017, Australia Day is not what it once was. Although the Queen of England remains our constitutional head of state, in today’s multi-cultural, multi-faith community the observance of Australia Day as a celebration of its anniversary is becoming more marginalised every year. The fact is that, quite apart from the ancient claim of the aboriginal people, many countries and cultures can say they have had a part in the creation of modern Australia. Some have done so during the 20th and 21st centuries with contributions to culture, cuisine or the arts. Others have done so by virtue of a particular historical incident. Continue reading
After the First World War, many Americans feared that the Communist Revolution in Russia would spread to the United States. Fear outweighed rational debate, leading to a clamp down on civil liberties, with thousands arrested without warrants. In response, a small group of individuals set up the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In the years since then, the ACLU has evolved from a small organization to the nation’s principal defender of civil rights, playing a role in some of the most famous events in twentieth-century American history. Continue reading
By Alice Clarke
3rd year student of English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia,
Summer Intern, Cengage MarComms, Andover, 2016.
“Elbows off the table” is a phrase familiar to most ears, an order we were told as a child and to which the only response was obedience and, for me, an internal eye-roll of frustration.
For this is an etiquette that transcends generations, centuries and traditions, and yet is something that no one appears to explain why it exists. The only answer I could ever muster from my parents and grandparents is the ever-evasive “it’s rude to have your elbows on the table”, and that was meant to be enough to pacify us.
But why is it rude? Elbows aren’t unhygienic, unsafe or indeed disrespectful in any other setting than touching the wood of the dinner table.
And yet, to this day, I still sit with my elbows off the table – seemingly engrained into my very subconscious, this rule still governs the comfort of my eating despite the fact I moved away from home to university over two years ago.
To gain some sort of understanding of what this rule originally meant, a quick search of Gale Primary Sources allowed me to trace the notion of “elbows off the table” through history across multiple primary sources, allowing me to form my own theory of this particular western etiquette. Continue reading