Tag Archives: United Kingdom

A Plethora of Refugees in Europe


By T.V. Antony Raj.


Europe has a population of 740 million of which 500 million are in the European Union (EU). According to the European Union border agency the plethora of refugees entering Europe had increased over the past 10 months. More than 150,000 refugees entered the EU in August 2015 increasing the total influx of refugees to more than half a million for the year 2015.

Although this amount of refugees is not large enough to construe it as an invasion or being over-run when compared to the population of Europe, the European leaders were slow to respond. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU migration commissioner has called it “the worst refugee crisis facing Europe since World War II.


Europes refugee crisis (Source: uk.businessinsider.com)
Europes refugee crisis (Source: uk.businessinsider.com)


For many refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and the abominable ISIS, the Greek islands have been the gateway to enter the European Union.  This year alone, more than 259,000 refugees entered Greece by boat via Turkey. The arrival of about 88,000 refugees in the Greek islands in August 2015 was the largest so far, an eleven-fold increase compared to the same month a year ago.  Almost 75% percent of the refugees seeking asylum were Syrians.

The Schengen Area

Six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany created the European Economic Community (EEC) by the Treaty of Rome in 1957. This regional organization aimed to bring about economic integration between its member states, including a common market and customs union.

When the ten member states of the then EEC were not able to reach a consensus on the abolition of border controls, five of its members signed The Schengen Agreement on June 14, 1985, paving the way to the creation of Europe’s borderless Schengen Area. The treaty signed near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg was not implemented in full until 1995.

The Schengen Agreement proposed the gradual abolition of border checks and allow vehicles to cross the common borders of the signatories of the treaty without stopping. It permitted residents in the border areas to cross the borders away from fixed checkpoints.

In 1990, the Schengen Convention supplemented the Schengen Agreement by proposing the abolition of internal border controls and a common visa policy. For most purposes, the Schengen Area with a common visa policy functions as a single country for international travel purposes. The Schengen Agreement and the rules adopted under it were quite separate from the EU structures.

Map of Schengen Area (Source: wikipedia.org)
Map of Schengen Area (Source: wikipedia.org)


The Schengen Area now comprises 26 European countries. These member states have strengthened their external border controls with non-Schengen states. Out of the current 28 European Union member states, 22 are participants in the Schengen Area.

Countries comprising The Schengen Area
State Area (km²) Population
Austria 83,871 8,414,638
Belgium 30,528 11,007,020
Czech Republic 78,866 10,535,811
Denmark (excluding Greenland
and the Faroe Islands)
43,094 5,564,219
Estonia 45,338 1,340,194
Finland (Including Åland Islands) 338,145 5,391,700
France (mainland and Corsica only) 551,695 63,929,000
Germany 357,050 81,799,600
Greece 131,990 10,815,197
Hungary 93,030 9,979,000
Iceland 103,000 318,452
Italy 301,318 60,681,514
Latvia 64,589 2,245,357
Liechtenstein 160 36,010
Lithuania 65,300 3,207,060
Luxembourg 2,586 511,840
Malta 316 417,608
Netherlands (excluding Aruba,
Curaçao,  Sint Maarten
and the Caribbean Netherlands)



Norway (excluding Svalbard) 385,155 5,063,709
Poland 312,683 38,186,860
Portugal (Including Madeira and Azores) 92,391 10,647,763
Slovakia 49,037 5,440,078
Slovenia 20,273 2,048,951
Spain (with special provisions for
Ceuta and Melilla)
506,030 46,030,109
Sweden 449,964 9,415,570
 Switzerland 41,285 7,866,500
Schengen Area 4,189,111 417,597,460

Source: en.wikipedia.org


Currently, the Schengen Area has an area of 1,617,4245 square miles (4,189,111 square kilometers) and a population of over 400 million people.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are four of the six EU members that do not form part of the Schengen Area, are legally obliged and wish to join the Area. The other two, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, maintain opt-outs.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland have signed the Schengen Agreement even though they are member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and are not in the EU.

The three European microstates, the Vatican, Monaco, and San Marino do not have border controls with the Schengen countries that surround them. Though considered as de facto within the Schengen Area they have not officially signed documents that make them part of the Schengen Area.

The influx of refugees


Since many Eastern European countries are guarding their borders in the face of the influx of refugees, the distribution of refugees among the 28-member EU is somewhat skewed. According to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), EU countries received more than 437,000 asylum applications from January 2015 to July 2015. Germany received the most applications, followed by Hungary, Sweden, Italy and France.

The migrants from African countries enter the EU through Italy and Spain. Many of those who enter Italy apply for asylum on landing there. Some try to cross into France.


A group of migrants gathering near a line of trucks on the motorway that leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais, northern France. (Source: uk.businessinsider.com)
A group of migrants gathering near a line of trucks on the motorway that leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais, northern France. (Source: uk.businessinsider.com)


From France, a few try to enter the United Kingdom by perilous means such as getting smuggled in containers through the Eurotunnel from Calais, northern France.

Many Syrians try to reach Italy from Greece while others head to Austria via Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia.

Most refugees try to reach the Schengen Area. From there, they move into Hungary through Macedonia and Serbia. Also, some refugees from Turkey reach Hungary via Bulgaria and Romania. The popular route to enter the Schengen zone is through Norway, by way of Russia and Lebanon.

From Hungary, most refugees continue their journey to richer countries such as Germany and Sweden that have liberal immigration policies.



Roger Bannister: Part 3 – Running the “Miracle Mile” with John Landy

Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj


Blue plaque recording the first sub-4-minute mile run by Roger Bannister on 6 May 1954 at Oxford University's Iffley Road Track. (Photograph by Jonathan Bowen)
Blue plaque recording the first sub-4-minute mile run by Roger Bannister on 6 May 1954 at Oxford University’s Iffley Road Track. (Photograph by Jonathan Bowen)

Forbes named the significant feat of breaking the four-minute barrier by Roger Banister as one of the greatest athletic achievements in the history of athletics.

On June 21, 1954, at an international meet in Turku, Finland, John Landy became the second man, after Roger Bannister, to achieve a sub-4-minute mile. He clocked a world record time of 3:57.9, ratified by the IAAF as 3:58.0 owing to the rounding rules then in effect. That record held for more than three years.

Though Roger Banister had already created history on May 6, 1954, some felt the flagrant pacing tainted this achievement. They felt that world records should be created through pure racing as John Landy did. They said that Banister, Brasher, and Chataway had acted within the letters of the amateur rules, but not within the spirit of those rules. The Australians argued that Landy’s 3:58 in Turku was the first legitimate sub-4. But Roger Banister did not pay any heed to his detractors.

The face of John Landy in second place in the Fifth Empire games (30 July 30 to August 7, 1954) in Vancouver, Canada (Source: thebounce.co.za)
The face of John Landy in second place in the Fifth Empire games (30 July 30 to August 7, 1954) in Vancouver, Canada (Source: thebounce.co.za)

Roger Banister was pitted against the Australian in the Fifth British Empire and Commonwealth Games held at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from July 30 – August 7, 1954.

It was at these games that the “Miracle Mile” took place between Roger Bannister and John Landy on August 7, 1954. This was the first time these two, the only sub-four-minute mile runners at that time appeared in the same race. John Landy was still holding the world record. It was also the first time two runners broke four minutes in the same race.

Landy led for most of the race, building a lead of 10 yards in the third lap. Roger showed the highly acclaimed Landy that he was still the boss by dashing on the final bend of the fourth lap and winning the event in 3:58.8 with Landy 0.8 seconds behind him. Both Bannister and Landy have pointed out that the crucial moment of the race was when Landy looked over his left shoulder to gauge Bannister’s position and Bannister burst past him on the right.

A sculpture of Roger Bannister and John Landy by Jack Harman placed outside of the Empire Stadium to commemorate the Miracle Mile. (Photo: Paul Joseph)
A sculpture of Roger Bannister and John Landy by Jack Harman placed outside of the Empire Stadium to commemorate the Miracle Mile. (Photo: Paul Joseph)

In 1967, inspired by a photograph by Vancouver Sun photographer Charlie Warner, Vancouver sculptor Jack Harman created a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of the two men. In this sculpture, Landy looks over his left shoulder to see his rival’s position and Bannister sprints past him on the right.

This sculpture stood for many years at the entrance to Empire Stadium. After the demolition of the stadium, the  sculpture was moved a short distance away to the Hastings and Renfrew entrance of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) fairgrounds. John Landy once quipped about this  sculpture:

“While Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back, I am probably the only one ever turned into bronze for looking back.”

On August 29, 1954 Roger Bannister won the 1500 metres, the so-called metric mile, at the European Championships in Bern in a time of 3:43.8, a championship record.

After the Bern meet, Roger retired from athletics to concentrate on his work as a junior doctor and pursued a career in neurology.

St. Mary’s Hospital (London), Imperial College School of Medicine have named a lecture theatre after Roger Bannister. It houses the stopwatch used to time the race on display, stopped at 3:59.

Later, Roger Banister became the first Chairman of the Sports Council, now known as Sport England. In 1975, Sir Roger Banister was knighted for this service. Under his aegis, there was a rapid increase in central and local government funding of sports centres and other sports facilities.

Sir Roger Bannister at the prize presentation of the 2009 Teddy Hall relay race. (© Pruneau / Wikimedia Commons)
Sir Roger Bannister at the prize presentation of the 2009 Teddy Hall relay race. (© Pruneau / Wikimedia Commons)

Now at the age of 85 Roger Banister suffers from Parkinson’s disease. It was one of the diseases he specialised as a neurologist.

By the end of 1957, 16 other runners also broke the four-minute mile barrier.

The International Amateur Athletics Federation, now known as the International Association of Athletics Federations recognized the first world record in the mile for men (athletics) in 1913. Since 1976, the mile is the only non-metric distance recognized by the IAAF for record purposes. Up to June 21, 2009, the IAAF has ratified 32 world records in the event.

Time Athlete Nationality Date Venue
4:14.4 John Paul Jones  USA May 31, 1913 Allston, Mass.
4:12.6 Norman Taber  USA July 16, 1915 Allston, Mass.
4:10.4 Paavo Nurmi  Finland August 23, 1923 Stockholm
4:09.2 Jules Ladoumègue  France October 4, 1931 Paris
4:07.6 Jack Lovelock  NZ
July 15, 1933 Princeton, N.J.
4:06.8 Glenn Cunningham  USA June 16, 1934 Princeton, N.J.
4:06.4 Sydney Wooderson  UK August 28, 1937 Motspur Park
4:06.2 Gunder Hägg  Sweden July 1, 1942 Gothenburg
4:06.2 Arne Andersson  Sweden July 10, 1942 Stockholm
4:04.6 Gunder Hägg  Sweden September 4, 1942 Stockholm
4:02.6 Arne Andersson  Sweden July 1, 1943 Gothenburg
4:01.6 Arne Andersson  Sweden July 18, 1944 Malmö
4:01.4 Gunder Hägg  Sweden July 17, 1945 Malmö
3:59.4 Roger Bannister  UK May 6, 1954 Oxford
3:58.0 John Landy  Australia June 21, 1954 Turku
3:57.2 Derek Ibbotson  UK July 19, 1957 London
3:54.5 Herb Elliott  Australia August 6, 1958 Dublin
3:54.4 Peter Snell  NZ January 27, 1962 Wanganui
3:54.1 Peter Snell  NZ November 17, 1964 Auckland
3:53.6 Michel Jazy  France June 9, 1965 Rennes
3:51.3 Jim Ryun  USA July 17, 1966 Berkeley, Cal.
3:51.1 Jim Ryun  USA June 23, 1967 Bakersfield, Cal.
3:51.0 Filbert Bayi  Tanzania May 17, 1975 Kingston
3:49.4 John Walker  NZ August 12, 1975 Gothenburg
3:49.0 Sebastian Coe  UK July 17, 1979 Oslo
3:48.8 Steve Ovett  UK July 1, 1980 Oslo
3:48.53 Sebastian Coe  UK August 19, 1981 Zürich
3:48.40 Steve Ovett  UK August 26, 1981 Koblenz
3:47.33 Sebastian Coe  UK August 28, 1981 Brussels
3:46.32 Steve Cram  UK July  27, 1985 Oslo
3:44.39 Noureddine Morceli  Algeria September 5, 1993 Rieti
3:43.13 Hicham El Guerrouj  Morocco July 7, 1999 Rome


Hicham El Guerrouj is the current men’s record holder with his time of 3:43.13. And, Svetlana Masterkova has the women’s record of 4:12.56.


← Previous: Part 2 – Breaking the Four-minute Barrier




Roger Bannister: Part 2 – Breaking the Four-minute Barrier

Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj


In 1948, Roger Bannister, then a 19-year-old student at Exeter College, was elected president of the Oxford University’s Athletic Club. He then wanted to replace the bumpy, uneven track with a new six-lane 440 yards (400 metres) track during his presidency. Two years later, in 1950, the new track was refurbished.

The year 1954 was Roger’s last year as a runner. He pondered on how to overcome the four-minute mile barrier. The first problem was to decide the venue for the race. He planned to break the four-minute barrier at the Oxford track he had helped build. Since the biggest gamble was the weather, he wished for a suitable day in April or May. The second problem was how to orchestrate the running.

The first problem was to decide the venue for the race. He planned to break the four-minute barrier at the Oxford track he had helped build. Since the biggest gamble was the weather, he wished for a suitable day in April or May. The second problem was how to orchestrate the running.

The second problem was how to orchestrate the running. He trained assiduously with fellow Oxbridge track mates Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway. Franz Stampfl, his Austrian coach, carefully coordinated their training. Roger realized that the two crises were the only pacemakers, he could rely on to help him.

The four of them evolved a strategy to achieve this ultimate athletic challenge. They used a mountaineering analogy. Their plan was for Brasher to take Chataway and Roger to “base camp” at the half-mile so that Chataway could then launch Roger into the attack itself on the last lap. This made both Chris Brasher’s pace judgment and Chataway’s strength and speed over the three-quarter mile equally crucial for success.

Then came the match between the university and the AAA. It was a run of the mill track meet like any other in Oxford. Yet, it was official enough to record history. Roger reckoned this event would meet their needs because there would be only six athletes in the race. Also, the small field would allow the trio to adapt the race to their needs. The Iffley Road cinder track was an ideal one. The only other factor was the weather over which they had no control.

On May 6, 1954, the wind had been blowing near gale force all day. Around 4:30 pm Roger Banister, Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway arrived at the track. At 5:15 pm there was a shower of rain. Afterwards, there was a strong gusty wind. Due to the chilly weather there were less than 1,500 spectators. As the trio warmed up, they knew the eyes of the spectators were on them.

The cinder track was wet.  There was complete silence on the ground as Roger Banister (#41) and his two running mates  Chris Brasher (#44) and Chris Chataway (#42) lined up along with other three runners from Oxford University. At that moment Roger saw the St. George’s flag on a nearby church drooping listlessly and decided that it was the moment to achieve.

The race did not start well as Brasher made a false start. After receiving a warning, when the gun fired a second time Brasher went into the lead as the first pacemaker and Roger slipped in behind him with Chataway in third place.

Roger’s legs seemed to meet no resistance as if propelled by some unknown force. He thought their pace was slow, so Roger shouted: “Faster!” But Brasher kept his head and did not change the pace.

Brasher (#44) leads Bannister (#41) upto the end of second lap . Chataway (#42) is behind (Source: racingpast.ca)
Brasher (#44) leads Bannister (#41) up to the end of the second lap . Chataway (#42) is behind (Source: racingpast.ca)

The first lap was fast enough at 57.5 seconds.

At one-and-a-half laps, Roger was still worried about the pace. Then, he heard his coach Franz Stampfl’s voice shouting “relax” above the noise of the crowd. Unconsciously, Roger obeyed.

Brasher’s halfway pace was perfect at 1:58 and Roger barely noticed the half-mile mark.

Chataway (#42) takes Bannister (#41) into the bell lap at 3:00.7 (Source: racingpast.ca)
Chataway (#42) takes Bannister (#41) into the bell lap at 3:00.7 (Source: racingpast.ca)

Sensing that Brasher was beginning to feel the strain, Bannister signalled Chataway to take over. Chataway took over on the first bend of lap three and led Bannister through the third lap in 3:07. The crowd was roaring. Roger pounced past Chataway, 300 yards from the finish.Chataway to take over. Chataway took over on the first bend of lap three and led Bannister through the third lap in 3:07. The crowd was roaring. Roger pounced past Chataway, 300 yards from the finish.Chataway took over on the first bend of lap three and led Bannister through the third lap in 3:07. The crowd was roaring. Roger pounced past Chataway, 300 yards from the finish.

The moment that changed the world of track running forever - Roger in at 3:59.4 (Source: thebounce.co.za)
The moment that changed the world of track running forever – Roger in at 3:59.4 (Source: thebounce.co.za)

Time seemed to stand still. The only reality was the next 200 yards of track under his feet. When he was just over 200 yards from the finish, Roger took the lead with a final burst of energy. The noise in his ears was that of the faithful Oxford crowd. Their hope and encouragement gave him strength. He had now turned the last bend and there were only 50 yards more. His body must have exhausted its energy, but he still went on running just the same. This was the crucial moment. His legs were strong enough to carry him over the last few yards.

Roger later recalled:

“With five yards to go, the finishing line seemed almost to recede. Those last few seconds seemed an eternity. The faint line of the finishing tape stood ahead as a haven of peace after the struggle. The arms of the world were waiting to receive me only if I reached the tape without slackening my speed. If I faltered now, there would be no arms to hold me and the world would seem a cold, forbidding place. I leapt at the tape like a man taking his last desperate spring to save himself from a chasm that threatens to engulf him.”

Roger Banister sprinted to the line in record time and fell exhausted into the arms of a friend. His vision became black and white. He existed in the most passive physical state without being quite unconscious. He knew he had beaten 4:00 before the time was even announced.

Then the announcement came from Norris McWhirter, delivered with a slow, clear diction:

“Result of Event Eight: One mile. First, R. G. Bannister of Exeter and Merton Colleges, in a time which, subject to ratification, is a new Track Record, British Native Record, British All-Comers Record, European Record, Commonwealth Record and World Record… Three minutes…”

The roar of excitement from the crowd drowned the rest of the announcement. The record time was 3:59.4 and the trio had done it! The three runners from Oxford were just specks on the track that day in 4th, 5th and 6th.

Bursting with joy Roger grabbed Brasher and Chataway and the trio scampered around the track taking a lap of honour.

Thus, Roger Banister broke the elusive four-minute mile, a barrier “like Everest – a challenge to the human spirit”.


Next → Part 3 – Running the “miracle Mile” with John Landy

← Previous: Part 1 – The Aspiring Four-minute Miler




Roger Bannister: Part 1 – The Aspiring Four-minute Miler

Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj


Until the early 1950s, no one believed it was possible to run a mile in under four minutes. No matter how hard athletes tried, they were not able to break the four-minute barrier. For decades, the record lingered at just a few seconds over four minutes. That was until 1954.

Roger Bannister (Source: odt.co.nz)
Roger Bannister (Source: odt.co.nz)

Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister CBE was born in Harrow, England in 1929. He went to Vaughan Primary school in Harrow and then went to the City of Bath Boys School and University College School, London. He went on to study at medical school at the University of Oxford (Exeter College and Merton College), Oxford. And then Roger went to St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School (now part of Imperial College London).

Roger first enjoyed success as an athlete while at Oxford at the age of seventeen. He won several races in his teenage years. He trained lightly. After three weeks of training, he showed his intrinsic talent when he ran a mile in 4:24. Though selected to compete in the 1948 London Olympics, he declined because he did not feel he was ready to compete at that level.

Sydney Charles Wooderson MBE, dubbed “The Mighty Atom” was at the peak of his career in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of Britain’s greatest middle-distance runners and known for his amazing sprint finish. He was slightly-built and bespectacled, but had great reserves of strength and overwhelming speed. On August 28, 1937, Wooderson set the world mile record of 4:6.4 at London’s Motspur Park.

Swedish runner Andersson finishes ahead of Wooderson inGotheburg in their second 1945 Mile race (Source: racingpast.ca)
Swedish runner Andersson finishes ahead of Wooderson in Gotheburg in their second 1945 Mile race (Source: racingpast.ca)

The great Swedish runners Arne Andersson and Gunder Hägg surpassed Wooderson’s mile record only after eight years.

The great Swedish runners Arne Andersson and Gunder Hägg surpassed his mile record only after eight years.

In 1945, Wooderson regained his old form and challenged Andersson over the distance in several races. Though Wooderson lost to Andersson, he set a British record of 4:04.2 in Gothenburg on September 9, 1945.

Wooderson’s remarkable comeback inspired Roger Bannister.

John Landy, Runner May 21, 1956 (Photo credit: Mark Kauffman - staff)
John Landy, Runner May 21, 1956 (Photo credit: Mark Kauffman – staff)

John Michael Landy, an Australian Olympic track athlete. He was running 4:08 miles in training. On December 13, 1952, in the first race of an inter-club meet during the 1952-3 season, he made an amazing breakthrough with 4:02.1. He ran the last three laps on his own. It was the third fastest mile ever.

John Landy made two more attempts that season. On January 3, 1953 he clocked 4:02.8 and on January 24, 1953 he clocked 4:04.2.

Each time Landy raced everyone expected him to beat the four-minute barrier. However, he declared that the four-minute mark seemed a ‘physical barrier’. But the 25-year-old Roger Banister, then a full-time medical student at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School thought otherwise. He reasoned if Landy could run the mile in 4:03 then it was only a matter of time until someone could do it in 3:59.

The humiliation after the failure to win the 1,500 metres gold medal at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, when he had been the favourite, was a huge knock to Roger’s pride. It also shattered the hopes of his family, friends and the British public. Roger felt it necessary to restore the faith of others in him after his defeat. He resolved to be the first 4-minute-miler.

Roger followed a simple physical routine. He would go to the track, during lunchtime. Without any warm-ups, he would kick a few times to loosen his legs. After that, he would run hard for about thirty-five minutes. Then, he would shower and take his lunch and just head back to his studies.

He carried on with his training along with his medical studies. Using his medical knowledge, he trained alone. He purposely avoided the coaches and the managers.

With this simple routine, he reduced his mile time to 4:03.6.

Roger did not set any date to break the four minute mile. He was always conscious of the fact that John Landy of Australia might beat him to it. Landy made no secret of the fact that the four-minute mile was his goal.

There were four essential requirements to achieve his goal: a good track, no wind, a warm weather and even-paced running. For many years, track coaches and physiologists had scientifically plotted the method to break the four-minute barrier. They predicted that it could be achieved in Scandinavia where it was called the “Dream Mile”, in a 68°F weather; on a hard, dry clay track; with no wind; and a large, enthusiastic crowd to provide the psychological boost. According to the pundits, the first quarter would be the slowest and the final quarter the fastest. Yet, on the day Roger broke the four-minute barrier things were the exact opposite.

The year 1954 was Roger’s last year as a runner. He trained assiduously with fellow track mates Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway. He did not set any date to break the four minute mile, but he was conscious of the fact that John Landy of Australia might beat him to it since Landy made no secret of the fact that the four-minute mile was his goal.

For many years, track coaches and physiologists had scientifically plotted the method to break the four-minute barrier. They predicted that it could be achieved in Scandinavia where they called it the “Dream Mile”, in a 68°F weather; on a hard, dry clay track; with no wind; and a large, enthusiastic crowd to provide the psychological boost. According to the pundits, the first quarter would be the slowest and the final quarter the fastest. Yet, on the day Roger broke the four-minute barrier things were the exact opposite.

Next → Part 2 – Breaking the Four-minute Barrier





Harvesting and Packing Bananas


Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj


Bananas (Source: southernstudies.org)
Bananas (Source: southernstudies.org)

The banana is a perennial plant. People around the world consume 15 million tons of dessert bananas per year.

The banana plants grow well in tropical countries that lie within 30 degrees on either side of the equator. In these regions, the average temperature is 80°F (27°C) and the yearly rainfall is between 78 and 98 inches. The banana plant requires moist soil that drains well.

United States and Britain import bananas from Latin America. In Britain, bananas are also imported from West Africa.

Bananas do not grow from a seed, but from a bulb or rhizome. It replaces itself. The flower appears in the sixth or seventh month.

Banana plants
Banana plants

It takes from 9 to 12 months to harvest a banana bunch after the planting. There is no growing season for bananas and so they are available throughout the year.

Harvesting bananas
Harvesting bananas

After growing for three months, the bananas are harvested while still green and  sent to he packing centers for export. Since the buyers in the United States and the UK prefer unbruised bananas, the packaging centers set high standards for inspection and sorting. The bananas that do not meet the standards are sold cheaply to the locals.

After packing the selected bananas in specially designed cartons, they are taken to ports and loaded onto refrigerated ships called reefers. In the ships, the bananas are handled with care to prevent damage. To maintain quality during the voyage humidity, ventilation and temperature conditions are carefully monitored. The fruits are held at 13.3°C to increase their shelf life during transport.

Founded in Hawaii in 1851, Dole Food Company, Inc., is the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables.

Here is an interesting video clip from DOLE on “Harvesting and Packing Bananas.”




The British English Slang: Q to Z

Myself By T.V. Antony Raj



British English Slang Q to Z



Queer as a clockwork orange: Very odd indeed; ostentatiously homosexual.

Queer Street: A difficult or odd situation, e.g. “up Queer Street”.

Queer someone’s pitch: Take the pitch of another street vendor, busker or similar; spoil someone else’s efforts.

Quim: Vagina (possibly a play on the Welsh word for valley, cwm).


Rat arsed: Drunk, sloshed; plastered; loaded.

Richard the Third: A piece of excrement (rhyming slang Richard the Third = turd).

Ring: Anal sphincter.

Ringburner: A curry; diarrhoea; painful defecation.

Roger: To copulate; to screw; to have your wicked way with a lady.

Rozzer: Policeman.

Rubber Johnny: Condom.

Rumpy pumpy: A phrase used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse.


Savvy (from the French, savoir): Knowledge; understanding.

Scally, scallywag: A hooligan youth.

Scarper: Run away.

Scouser: A person from Liverpool.

Scrote: Term of abuse, from scrotum.

Scrubber: A promiscuous woman (in Britain); a common or working class woman (in Ireland).

Scrummy: A word used to describe some food that was particularly good, and probably sweet and fattening.

Scrump: To steal fruit, especially apples.

See a man about a dog: What a person would say as an excuse for leaving, to hide their real destination, to attend a secret deal or meeting. This phrase is also used to excuse oneself to go to the toilet to shit.

Shag: Sexual intercourse.

Shagged: The past historic of shag; extremely tired, e.g. “shagged out”.

Shambolic: A state of chaos.

Shiner: Black eye.

Shitehawk: Someone of little worth.

Shit-faced: Drunk.

Shirty: Ill-tempered, insolent.

Shufti: To take a look at something. An old Arabic word, picked up by British soldiers during World War II, in North Africa.

Sixes and sevens: In a mess; topsy turvy; somewhat haywire!

Skanky: Dirty, particularly of a marijuana pipe.

Skew-whiff: Crooked.

Skint: Without money.

Skive: a lazy character; a useless person; avoid doing something.

Slag: Worthless or insignificant person; a promiscuous woman; a prostitute.

Slag off: A verbal attack; to criticise or slander; to bad mouth in a nasty manner.

Slap-head: A bald man.

Slap and tickle: making out or heavy petting.

Slapper: An oversexed female; a tart; a tramp; promiscuous woman; prostitute.

Slash: Urinate; urination; pee; piss; piddle; siphon the python; shake the snake; wee; having a jimmy.

Sling one’s hook: Go away.

Sloshed: Drunk; plastered.

Smarmy: A smoothy, who has a way with the ladies.

Snog: French kiss; any prolonged physical intimacy without undressing or sexual contact.

Snookered: Placed in a bad situation.

Sod: Annoying person or thing (derived from sodomite).

Sod off: Piss off; go away.

Spawny: Lucky.

Spend a penny: Use the restroom.

Spunk: Semen; ejaculate; courage; bravery.

Stag Night: Bachelor Party

Starkers: Fully naked.

Steaming: Extremely drunk; extremely angry.

Stonker: A boner.

Strawberry creams: Breasts.

Stuffed: Sexual intercourse, e.g. “get stuffed”; used negatively to mean bothered, e.g. “I can’t be stuffed to do that!”; having a full belly, e.g. “I am completely stuffed, and can’t eat another thing.”


Tad: A little bit.

Take the mickey: To tease; to mock.

Take the piss (out of), taking the piss: Messing and screwing around; making fun of; to mock.

Tart: A prostitute; a term of abuse for a woman; used affectionately for a lover; shortened version of sweetheart.

Tickety-Boo: Phrase that means everything is going well.

Todger: Dick.

Toff: A person belonging to the upper class; a posh person.

Ton: A large unspecified amount (18th century); £100 (1940s); 100 MPH (1950s); any unit of 100 (1960s), e.g. a century scored in cricket.

Tosh: total bullshit, nonsense or rubbish.

Tosser: Idiot; a derogatory term for a male masturbator; an affectionate form of address, e.g. “All right you old tosser!”.

Tosspot: Drunkard; habitual drinker.

Tube: The London Underground (19th century. Originally ‘Tuppeny tube’); Penis; a person (Scottish); a general term of contempt (Irish, 1950s).

Twat: Vagina; a term of abuse; to hit hard.

Twig and berries: male genitalia, the penis and balls.


Up for it: Willing to have sex.

Up The Duff: Pregnant.


Wacky backy: marijuana.

Wag off: Skyve; play truant.

Wank: Masturbation; to masturbate; inferior.

Wanker: Masturbator; Idiot; abusive term for someone the speaker doesn’t like.

Wankered: Very drunk; exhausted.

Wanking spanner: Hand.

Warts and all: Including all negative characteristics.

Wazzock: Stupid.

Whinge: Whine.

Whizz: Urination; to move very fast.

Wicked: Cool!

Willy: Penis (hypocorism).

Willy-waving: Acting in an excessively macho fashion.

Wind up: Tease; irritate; annoy; anger.

Wonky: Not right


Yank: Septic tank.


Zonked: Tired.





The British English Slang: K to P

Myself By T.V. Antony Raj



British English Slang K to P



Keep your pecker up: Keep your chin up.

Khazi, karzy, kharsie: A privy; toilet.

Kip: Sleep; nap; bed; lodging; brothel (mainly Irish).

Knackered: Extremely tired; broken; useless.

Knackers: Vulgar name for testicles.

Knees up: A lively party or dance.

Knob: Penis (noun); to have sexual intercourse (verb).

Knob-end: Ttip of penis; an idiot.

Knob Head: Dickhead; an idiot; a stupid; an irritating person.

Knob jockey: Homosexual.

Knock off: To steal it, not to copy it!

Knock up: To wake someone up.

Knockers: Women’s breasts.

Knocking shop: A Brothel.

Know one’s onions: Knowledgeable; to be well acquainted with a subject.


Lag: Convict, particularly a long serving one (an old lag).

Lash: Urinate; alcohol.

Lashed: Inebriated.

Laughing gear: Mouth.

Leg it: Run or run for it.

Local: A public house close to one’s home.

Lolly: Money.

Loo: Lavatory.

Lost the plot: Gone crazy; become mentally unstable.

Lurgy: Sick; under the weather.


Manky: Dirty; filthy.

Marbles: Wits. As in, to lose one’s marbles.

Mare: A derogatory term for a Woman.

Mark: A suitable victim for a con or swindle.

Mate: Friend; chum.

Matelot: Sailor (derived from the French).

Meat and Two Veg: Euphemism for male genitalia. Also used sometimes to mean something unremarkable or ordinary.

Mental: Crazy; insane.

Mick: A derogatory term for an Irishman.

Miffed: Upset or offended.

Minge: Vagina.

Minger: Someone who smells.

Minted: Wealthy.

Mizzle: Decamp.

Moggy: Cat.

Moke: Donkey.

Monged (out): Severely drunk.

Mooch: Loiter or wander aimlessly; skulk.

Moolah: Money.

Moon: To expose one’s backside.

Moony: Crazy; foolish.

Morish or moreish: Need more!

Muck about: Waste time; interfere with.

Mucker: Mate; pal.

Muck in: Share a duty or workload.

Mufti: An old army term for civilian dress worn by someone who normally wears a military uniform. The word probably derived from the Muslim dress, popularly worn by British officers serving in India during the 19th century. Now commonly used to refer to a non-uniform day in schools.

Mug: Face; a gullible or easily swindled person.

Munta: Ugly person.

Mush: Face or mouth. Example: “shut your mush”.


Naff: Inferior or in poor taste.

Nancy boy: looking pathetic.

Nark: In a bad mood; grumpy (an old nark); annoy or irritate; a spy or informant.

Ned: A lout; a drunken brawling fellow; a tough guy. Sometimes equated with the English chav.

News: Looking pathetic; a bit of a Nancy boy.

Nick: Steal; police station or prison; to arrest; health condition, e.g. “to be in good nick”.

Nicked: Stolen; arrested.

Nob: A person of high social standing; head.

Nobble: Disable (particularly a racehorse).

Nod out: To lapse into a drug induced stupor.

Nonce: A prison slang for Sex offender, most commonly a child molester.

Nookie or nooky: Sexual intercourse.

Nose rag: Handkerchief.

Nosh: Food; to eat.

Nosh up: A feast or large, satisfying meal.

Nowt: Nothing.

Numpty: Incompetent or unwise person.

Nut: Head; an eccentric person.

Nutcase: An insane person.

Nuthouse: A lunatic asylum.

Nutmeg: In association football, to pass the ball between an opposing player’s legs.

Nuts or nutty: Crazy or insane.

Nutter: Crazy person; insane person.


Odds and sods: Miscellaneous items or articles; bits and pieces. Substitute for ‘odds and ends’.

Oik: A derogatory term for someone of a lower social standing.

Off one’s head or out of one’s head: Mad or delirious.

Off one’s trolley: Mad; out of one’s mind.

Off the hook: Free from obligation or danger.

Off one’s nut: Crazy or foolish.

Off to Bedfordshire: Going to bed.

Old Bill: A policeman or the police collectively.

On the piss: binge drinking to get totally smashed.

On the pull: Looking for sexual intercourse.

One’s head off: Loud or excessively, e.g. “I laughed my head off.”

Owt: Anything.


Packet: A large sum of money, e.g. “earn a packet”; a nasty surprise, e.g. “catch a packet”.

Paddy: A fit of temper; a derogatory term for an Irishman.

Paki: A derogatory term for a Pakistani. Sometimes used to loosely describe anyone or anything from the Indian sub- continent.

Paki-bashing: Unprovoked attacks on Pakistanis living in Britain.

Pants: Panties; total crap.

Parky: Cold weather.

Paste: To hit, punch or beat soundly.

Pasting: A sound thrashing or heavy defeat.

Pavement Pizza: A euphemism for puke or vomit.

Peanuts: Cheap.

Pear shaped: Become a disaster.

Peepers: Eyes.

Penny-dreadful: A cheap, sensationalist magazine.

Phiz or phizog: The face (from a 17th-century colloquial shortening of physiognomy).

Pickled: Drunk.

Pie-eyed: Drunk.

Pig’s ear: Cockney slang rhyming with beer; something that has been badly done or has been made a mess of.

Pikey: Pejorative term used, mainly in England to refer to travellers, gypsies or vagrants. Sometimes also used to describe people of lower social class or morals.

Pillock: Stupid or annoying person.

Pinch: Steal; robbery; sail too close to the wind (nautical slang).

Pissed, pissed up: Drunk

Pip pip: An out-dated expression meaning goodbye.

Piss up: A drinking session.

Plastered: Fully drunk.

Plonk: A pejorative word used to describe red wine of poor quality.

Plonker: Something large or substantial; penis.

Porkies: Old Cockney rhyming word for “lies”, derived from “pork pies,” which rhymes with lies.

Potty: A little crazy; looney; one card short of a full deck.

Puff: Fart.

Pukka: Super or smashing.

Pull: Looking for birds.

Punt: To gamble, wager or take a chance; to sell or promote.

Punter: Gambler; a victim in a confidence trick or swindle; a customer, patron or a client of a prostitute.

Pussy: Cat as in “pussy cat”, or in the fairytale, Puss in Boots; female genitalia.

Put a sock in it: Shut up.




The British English Slang: D to J

Myself By T.V. Antony Raj



British English Slang D to J



Daft: Stupid.

Daft cow: A stupid person.

Darbies: Handcuffs.

Debag: To remove another person’s trousers by force.

Dear: Expensive.

Dekko: Look. Derived from Hindi.

Dick: Fellow; penis.

Dicky: Feel sick.

Dip: Pickpocket.

Dishy: Attractive; good looking.

Div: idiot (prison slang)

Do: A party; prosecute.

Do one’s nut: Get angry.

Dobber: Penis.

Doddle: Something simple or easy to do.

Dodgy: Suspicious; something risky, difficult or dangerous.

Dog: A fellow; a rough or unattractive woman.

Dog’s Bollocks: Awesome; extremely good; favorable; great; really fantastic. Sometimes abbreviated to, “it’s the dog’s”.

Dog’s dinner: Make a real mess of something; ugly.

Done up like a kipper: Beaten up; fitted up or framed; caught red-handed by the police.

Donkey’s years: For ages; a very long time. Sometimes abbreviated to, “donkey’s”.

Doofer: An unnamed object.

Dosser: A person who might stay in a dosshouse.

Dosshouse: A cheap boarding house frequented by tramps.

Dressed like a dog’s dinner: Wears clothes inappropriate for the occasion or too formal.

Duck: A term of endearment used in the North of England.

Duff: Useless, junk, trash; broken, not working; pregnant (up the duff).

Duffer: A useless person.


Earwig: To eavesdrop.

Eating irons: Cutlery.

End away: To have sex.


Fag: Cigarette.

Fag end: The used stub of a cigarette, and by extension the unpleasant and worthless loose end of any situation.

Fanny: Vagina; a woman’s front bits; female external genitalia; a woman’s pudendum.

Fanny Adams: Nothing at all. A euphemism for fuck all. Usually preceded by ‘sweet’ and often abbreviated to F.A., S.F.A. or sweet F.A.

Fanny around: Procrastinate.

Fence: A person who deals in stolen property.

Fiddle sticks: A swear word.

Filch: To steal or pilfer.

Filth (the): The police (derogatory).

Fit: Hot or sexually desirable.

Fit up: A frame up.

Flasher: A person who exposes oneself indecently.

Flick: The cinema; motion picture; film.

Flog: To sell.

Flog a dead horse: Try to find a solution to an unsolvable problem; to continue talking about a long forgotten topic.

Flutter: To place a wager, usually a small one by someone who is not a serious gambler.

Fly: Clever; quick witted.

Fork out: To pay out, usually with some reluctance.

French letter: Condom.

Frig: To masturbate.

Frig around or frig about: To behave aimlessly or foolishly.

Frigging: The act of masturbating; used as an intensifier, e.g. “You frigging idiot”. Considered milder than ‘fucking idiot’.

Frog: A derogatory term for a Frenchman.

Fruity: Frisky.

Fuck all: Nothing at all

Full of beans: To have loads of energy.

Fuzz (the): The police.


Gaff: House or flat.

Gaffer: Employer; boss; foreman.

Gagging: Desperate; not nice.

Gallivanting: Fooling around; horseplay.

Gander: To look around. Usually preceded by ‘have a’ or ‘take a’.

Gash: Surplus to requirements, unnecessary; a derogatory term used for female genitalia.

Gassed: Drunk.

Geezer: An old man.

Gen: Information.

Gen up: Do research; get some information.

Git: Incompetent; stupid; annoying; childish person.

Give you a bell: Call you.

Go down: To go to prison.

Go spare: To become angry; frustrated; distressed; enraged.

Gob: Mouth; spittle; to spit.

Gobby: Opinionated.

Gobshite: A stupid or despicable person.

Gobsmacked: Amazed; awed; flabbergasted; dumbfounded; astounded; speechless.

Gogglebox: Television.

Gong: A medal. Usually a military one.

Goolies: The male genitals and in particular the testicles.

Gormless: Clueless.

Grot: Rubbish or dirt.

Grub: Food.

Guff: Ridiculous talk; nonsense; flatulence.

Gutted: Really upset.


Half-inch: To steal. Rhyming slang for ‘pinch’.

Hampton: Penis.

Hampton Rock: Rhyming slang for ‘Cock’.

Hampton Wick: Rhyming slang for ‘Prick’.

Handbags: A harmless fight, especially between two women.

Hard cheese: Bad luck.

Helmet: The glans of the penis.

Hen Party: Bachelorette Party

Her Majesty’s Pleasure: Incarcerated; to be put in prison with no release date!

Honk: Vomit.

Hook: To steal.

Hook it: To run away quickly.

Hooky or hookey: Something that is stolen. Loosely used to describe anything illegal.

Hooter: Nose.

Horses for courses: Won’t work for someone else

How is Your Father?”: Euphemism for sexual intercourse or other sexual activity. Read my article “How is your father?

Hump: To carry or heave; have sex.

Hunky-dory: Excellent; cool and groovy; going according to plan; no worries; going well.


Idiot box: Television.

Inside: In or into prison.

It’s Monkeys Outside!: It’s very cold outside!

Ivories: Teeth; the keys of a piano; dice.


Jacksy or jacksie: The buttocks or anus.

Jack the lad: A young man regarded as a show off and is brash or loud.

Jack up: Inject an illegal drug.

Jag: A drug taking, or sometimes drinking, binge; a period of uncontrolled activity.

Jammy: Lucky; flukey; pleasant; desirable.

Jerry: A chamber pot; a German; a German soldier.

Jessie: An effeminate man; one that is weak or afraid.

Jism or jissom: Semen.

Jock: Word or term of address for a Scot.

Joe Bloggs: An average, typical or unremarkable man.

Joe Soap: An idiot; stooge; scapegoat.

Johnny or Johnny bag: Condom.

John Thomas: Penis.

Josser: A simpleton.

Jump: Sexual intercourse.





The British English Slang: A to C

Myself By T.V. Antony Raj



British English Slang A to C



Absobloodylootely: Yes!

Ace: Awesome.

Aggro: Short for aggravation; trouble.

All mouth and (no) trousers: All talk and no action; a braggart; sexual bravado. (The inclusion or otherwise of “no” in the expression is disputed.)

All piss and wind: Only talk and no action. Originally the19th century phrase was, “all wind and piss”.

All to cock (or all a-cock): Unsatisfactory; mixed up.

Argy-bargy: An argument; confrontation.

Arse: The buttocks; someone who acts in a manner which is incompetent or otherwise disapproved of.

Arse about face: Doing something back to front.

Arse around: Mess around; or waste time.

Arse bandit: A derogatory term homosexual.

Arse over elbow: Head over heels.

Arse over tit: Head over heels; to fall over or take a tumble; embarrassing fall; to topple over. (Another version of arse over elbow, but a bit more graphic!)

Arsehole: The anus (a general derogatory term).


Baccy: tobacco, the sort you use to roll your own.

Ball bag: Scrotum.

Balls up: A bungled or messed up situation. (WWI Service slang)

Bang: Having sex.

Bang to rights: Caught in the act.

Bang up: To lock up in prison (prison slang); to inject an illegal drug.

Barmy: Crazy; nsane; a derogatory remark.

Barney: A noisy quarrel or fight

Bee’s Knees: Awesome.

Bellend: The end part of a penis.

Belt up: Shut up.

Bender: A derogatory term for a homosexual; a pub crawl; a heavy drinking session.

Bent: A dishonest or corrupt person; homosexual (mildly derogatory).

Bent as a nine bob note: Extremely dishonest or corrupt. A shilling (bob) note never existed and would therefore have to be counterfeit.

Berk: An idiot; stupid person.

Bespoke: Custom Made.

Best of British: Good luck, short for “best of British luck”.

Biggie: Term a child might use for his poo; an erection.

Bird: Girl; woman; jail time.

Birmingham screwdriver: A hammer.

Bizzie: Policeman (Scouse / Liverpool English).

Bladdered: Drunk.

Blag: A robbery (noun); to rob (verb).

Blague: Talking nonsense.

Blah (or blah blah): Worthless, boring or silly talk.

Blighty (or Old Blighty): Britain; home. Used especially by British troops serving abroad or expatriates.A relic of British India, probably from the Hindi billayati, meaning a foreign land.

Blimey!: An exclamation of shock or surprise similar to “My Goodness!” A corruption of the oath “God Blind Me”.

Blinding: Awesome.

Blinkered: Narrow minded; narrow sighted

Bloke: Any man or sometimes a man in authority such as the boss.

Bloody: Damn. One of the most useful swear words in English!

Blooming, blummin’ (archaic): An alternative or euphemism for the word “bloody”. Used as an intensifier e.g. “blooming marvellous”.

Blow me: It is not a request for services to be performed, but an exclamation of surprise. Short for “Blow me down”. It is something like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar to “Knock me down with a feather”.

Blow off: Fart.

Blue: Policeman; a Tory.

Bo-Peep: Sleep.

Bob’s your uncle: That’s it! This is a well used phrase is added to the end of sentences like “… and that’s it!”

Bobby: Policeman.

Bod: A male person. Short for body.

Bodge (also botch): To make a mess of or to fix poorly.

Bog: Toilet.

Bog off: Go away (originally RAF slang).

Bog Roll: Toilet paper.

Bogtrotter: A derogatory term for an Irishman particularly an Irish peasant.

Bollocking: A severe telling off.

Bollocks: Balls; vulgar term used for testicles; talking rubbish; total shit; useless; nonsense; having poor quality.

Bomb: Expensive; going really well; really fast; to travel at high speed.

Bonce: Head, crown of the head. Also a large playing marble.

Bonk: To have sex

Booze: An alcoholic drink (noun); to drink alcohol (verb), particularly to excess.

Boozer: Someone who consumes alcohol to excess; a pub or bar.

Boracic: without money.skint.

Bottle: Have no fear; Courage after twenty pints of lager; money collected by buskers or street vendors; to attack someone with a broken bottle.

Bounce: To con someone into believing or doing something; to forcibly eject someone; swagger; impudence or cockiness.

Bouncer: A person employed to eject drunks and troublemakers.

Brass: Money; Cheek, nerve; a prostitute.

Brassed off: Fed up; pissed.

Brill: Brilliant; cool.

Bristols: The female breasts.

Bristol bits: Tits.

Bristol City: Titty..

Broke: Without money. Also ‘stoney broke’, or just ‘stoney’.

Brown bread: Dead.

Brown-tongue: Sycophant; toady or a person who attempts to curry favour with another.

Budge up: Move and make some space.

Buff: Bare skin Example: naked as in ‘in the buff’); having a lean, muscular physique (usually referring to a young man).

Bugger: As a term of abuse for someone or something contemptible, difficult or unpleasant; as an endearment, as in ‘you silly bugger’; as an exclamation of dissatisfaction, annoyance or surprise – Jerk, Fuck, Shit; to mean tired or worn out as in ‘I’m absolutely buggered; to mean frustrate, complicate or ruin completely, as in ‘You’ve buggered that up’.

Bugger about (or bugger around): To fool around or waste time; to create difficulties or complications.

Bugger all: Nothing.

Bugger off!: Go away!; Leave me alone!

Bum: Buttocks, anus or both; a tramp; scrounge.

Bumf: Derogatory reference to official memos or paperwork; toilet roll. Shortened from bum fodder.

Bumsucker: A toady, creep or someone acting in an obsequious manner.

Bung: Throw; bribe.

Bunk: To leave inappropriately as in to ‘bunk off’ school or work; to run away in suspicious circumstances as in to ‘do a bunk’.


Cabbage: A stupid person or someone with no mental abilities; cloth trimmed from a customer’s material by a tailor; pilfer or steal.

Carzey: A privy; toilet.

Chap: Male; friend.

Charver or charva: Sexual intercourse; a loose woman; someone with whom it is easy to have sexual intercourse; an easy lay; to mess up, spoil or ruin.

Chat Up: Flirt; try and pick someone.

Chav, chavi or chavvy: Child (from the Romany, chavi. Still used in rural areas).

Chav: white trash; a person who is, or pretends to be of a low social standing and who dresses in a certain style, typically badly or in sports clothing. Often used as a form of derogation.

Cheesed off: Fed up; disgusted; angry.

Chin Wag: Chat.

Chip shop: A carpentry.

Chippy: A carpenter.

Chuff: The buttocks; anus.

Chuffed: Pleased; proud.

Cobblers: talk rubbish; a load of bollocks.

Cock: Penis; nonsense; a friend or fellow.

Cockup or cock-up: Screw up; blunder; mess up; botch..

Codswallop: Talking baloney; nonsense.

Collywobbles: An upset stomach; acute feeling of nervousness.

Conk: The head or the nose; to strike the head or nose.

Cop: A policeman (short for copper).

Cor: An expression of surprise similar to “My Goodness!”

Cor blimey: An exclamation of surprise. It is a corruption of the oath “God Blind Me”.

Corker: An outstanding someone or something.

Cottage: A public lavatory.

Cottaging: Homosexual activity in a public lavatory.

Cracker: Someone or something of notable ability or quality.

Cracking: Stunning; the best.

Crackers: Insane.

Cram: Study hard.








Is a Passport Necessary for the Queen of England, US President, and the Pope to Travel Abroad?

Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

To travel abroad, one needs a passport, a travel document issued by that person’s government that normally includes information about the holder: name, date of birth, sex, nationality and place of birth. The passport helps to attest the identity and nationality of its holder.

The passport holder is normally allowed to re-enter the country that issued the passport in accordance with the laws of that country. Holding a passport does not necessarily grant the person entry into any other country, nor to consular protection while abroad, or other privileges such as immunity from arrest or prosecution.

Usually, a national passport is not issued to stateless people. They may be able to get a refugee travel document to enable them to travel internationally, and sometimes to return to the issuing country.

One of the earliest known references to a document that served the role similar to that of a passport is found in Nehemiah 2:1-9 in the Bible. In this autobiographical book, also called the “Memoirs of Nehemiah”, dating from approximately 450 BC, emerges the story of a man dedicated to the single purpose of the welfare of his people.

While serving as cupbearer to the king at the Persian court in Susa, Nehemiah received permission from his master Artaxerxes I to fortify Jerusalem and served as governor of Judah for two terms, the first lasting twelve years (445–432 BC).

In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when the wine was in my charge, I took some and offered it to the king. Because I had never before been sad in his presence, the king asked me, “Why do you look sad? If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart.” Though I was seized with great fear,

I answered the king: “May the king live forever! How could I not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates consumed by fire?”

The king asked me, “What is it, then, that you wish?”

I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king: “If it pleases the king, and if your servant is deserving of your favour, send me to Judah, to the city where my ancestors are buried, that I may rebuild it.”

Then the king, with the queen seated beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take and when will you return?”

My answer was acceptable to the king and he agreed to let me go; I set a date for my return.

I asked the king further: “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of West-of-Euphrates, that they may give me safe-conduct till I arrive in Judah; also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal woods, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the temple-citadel, for the city wall and the house that I will occupy.”

Since I enjoyed the good favour of my God, the king granted my requests.

Thus, I proceeded to the governors of West-of-Euphrates and presented the king’s letters to them. The king also sent with me army officers and cavalry.

In the medieval Islamic Caliphate, a form of a basic passport, the bara’a, a receipt for taxes paid was in vogue. Muslim citizens who paid their zakah, and Dhimmis, the non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state who paid their jizya as taxes were allowed to travel to different regions of the Caliphate.

The British Passport

In England, the earliest reference to documents for travel is found in a 1414 Act of Parliament. It is generally believed that King Henry V, who reigned England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422, was the first to come up with the idea of issuing the first true passport to help his subjects to prove their identity in foreign lands.

Between 1540 and 1685, the Privy Council of England granted travel documents and used the term “passport”. They were signed by the monarch until the reign of Charles II.

Etymologically, the term “passport” is derived from the document issued by the local authorities to travellers, allowing them to pass through the “porte” (French: the door, the gate) of a city wall. Generally, such documents contained a list of towns and cities the document holder was permitted to enter or pass through. At that time, a passport was not required for travel to seaports, which were considered open trading points, but it was required to travel inland from sea ports.

At that time, the passport was a simple single-sheet paper document penned in Latin or English. From 1772 onwards French was used instead.

From 1794, the Office of the Secretary of State began issuing the British passports. From then on, the Secretary of State signed all passports in place of the monarch and formal records started to be kept.

By 1855 passports became a standard document issued solely to British nationals and English was used to write passports, with some sections translated into French.

From 1914 onwards, the passport included a photograph of the holder.

Does Queen Elizabeth II carry a passport?

Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth. (Source: The official website of The British Monarchy)
Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth. (Source: The official website of The British Monarchy)


“When travelling overseas, does Queen Elizabeth II carry a passport?” is an oft-asked question.

In 1945, when the Queen was 18, she was a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. At that time, she was given a driver licence, which became redundant in 1953 when she became Queen Elizabeth II. The World War II document signed just ‘Elizabeth‘ is one of the exhibits at the Adjutant General’s Corps Museum in Peninsula Barracks, Winchester. It was given to the then 18-year-old Princess in 1945 when she was a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service.


The front cover of a British biometric passport issued since 2006. (Photographed by Benbread)
The front cover of a British biometric passport issued since 2006. (Photographed by Benbread)


Now, the front cover of a British biometric passport issued since 2006, features the Royal Arms, and the first page declares:

Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

In the realms, namely in the 15 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is Sovereign, a similar formula is used, except that the request to “all whom it may concern” is made in the name of the realm’s Governor-General. In Canada, the request is made in the name of “Her Majesty,” by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

As a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is not necessary for The Queen to possess one. However, all other members of the Royal Family, including The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales, have passports.

The US Passport

The United States now issues three types of passports: blue, maroon and black.

US contemporary biometric passport
US contemporary biometric passport

US official biometric passport
US official biometric passport

US Diplomatic Passport
US Diplomatic Passport

American passports had green covers from 1941 until 1976, when the cover was changed to blue, as part of the U.S. bicentennial celebration. Now, around 44 million people hold the familiar blue-covered American tourist’s passport. Green- covered passports were again issued from April 1993, until March 1994, and included a special one-page tribute to Benjamin Franklin in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the United States Consular Service.

In 1981, the United States became the first nation to introduce machine-readable passports. In 2000, the Department of State started to issue passports with digital photographs.

In 2006, the Department of State began to issue biometric passports to diplomats and other officials. Later in 2006, biometric passports were issued to the public. Since August 2007, the department has issued only biometric passports, which include RFID chips. As of 2010, all previous series have expired.

Maroon-covered “official” passports are issued to the citizen-employees of the United States government assigned overseas, either permanently or temporarily, and their eligible dependents. The Maroon-covered passports are also issued to US military personnel when deployed overseas, and to members of Congress who travel abroad on official business.

Black-covered American diplomatic passports are issued to accredited overseas American diplomats and their eligible dependents, and also to citizens who reside in the United States and travel abroad for diplomatic work.

Does the US President carry a passport?

US President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama


“When travelling overseas,  does the US President carry a passport?” is also an oft-asked question.

Yes, the US president needs a passport, but it is not like everyone else’s. The president, his immediate family, certain top officials, and diplomatic personnel are issued diplomatic passports, for which the holder need not pay a passport fee.

When the president travels, a team of people, usually from the State Department, coordinate the paperwork of the trip and hold on to the president’s passport. After the president emerges from Air Force One, waves to the crowd, and gets in his limo, he does not stand in the queue at the host country’s customs. The employees of the US State Department take his passport, and those of the others in his entourage, through the host country’s customs procedures.

One perk of the American presidency is that even when the president is out of office, he gets to keep his diplomatic passport.

Papal visits abroad

Pope Francis
Pope Francis


The Pope holds Vatican passport number one. I doubt whether his passport is ever checked.

As the head of a state, the Pope travels as a diplomat and diplomats have far less trouble crossing borders than us, the commoners. The Pope also has diplomatic immunity and is given the same courtesy and protection in any country he visits just like any other visiting head of state would receive.




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