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British Expat Newsletter:
20 July 2005

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Magic
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

Meanwhile we’re still back in Blighty and the country is gripped in Harry Potter fever, with the release last Saturday of the sixth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. As happened for the last couple of new “HP” releases, bookshops opened in the middle of the night to allow the book to go on sale at one minute past midnight. We stayed in bed and got it from Asda a couple of days later.

Reactions have been mixed. On the one hand, most people have welcomed it as a new good book for kids (and, of course, for adults too – a version with a more adult cover went on sale at the same time. Personally, I don’t see the point – the supposedly adult version still has “Harry Potter” in big letters on the front cover). On the other, there’s been the usual round of complaints from leaders of various churches (including the new Pope) about its supposed incompatibility with Christianity, and one school has even had to go so far as to scrap a Harry Potter project week after some parents protested. Some people take the book – and others like it – far too seriously.

Religious tolerance – or lack of it – is perhaps the hottest topic of political discussion in the UK at the moment, in the aftermath of the dreadful London bombings. I’ve got no problem with people who want to follow their own belief systems, as long as they don’t try to impose them on us. (Proselytists who come to our front door get short shrift.) When people start insisting that their own moral code is the only acceptable one, it annoys me. Supposing they’d been brought up in a different part of the world in a family following a different faith – would they still adhere to the same religion?

Of course, there have been other phenomenally successful books (and now films) which deal with the battle between good and evil. Lord of the Rings is an obvious recent example. Tolkien was a fervent Catholic and wrote his books in the light of his beliefs, although without making his stories overtly allegorical in the way that C S Lewis did. My own long-standing favourite good-versus-evil films were the Star Wars trilogy. The original one, not the prequels – The Phantom Menace sent Dave and me to sleep, and we’ve not bothered with the subsequent new films. For some time I had a quotation from Yoda above my desk: “Do or do not. There is no ‘try'”.

Other authors have dealt with magic in a far less black-and-white, good-versus-evil way – perhaps the best example being one of our favourites, Terry Pratchett. Perhaps one of the reasons he’s such a successful author is that he doesn’t seek to write epics – humorous satire is his style. His characters are all – or almost all – pretty much like us, good in some ways, flawed in others. Even the best of them isn’t entirely perfect, and is all the more believable (if fantasy can be believable) for it.

Where should a line be drawn, if anywhere? If schools are forced to drop Harry Potter on religious grounds, shouldn’t they also drop any other fiction with supernatural references, including religious ones? Or is it better to let children read freely and form their own views based on their own findings? We know what we think – why not let us have your views?

Virtual Snacks

If you’re a Pratchett fan, you can find all sorts of stuff about the Discworld at The L-Space Web. Pretty much anything you can think of which has anything to do with Discworld can be found here, from all the characters who’ve died (Death, ie the anthropomorphic personification of death, is a regularly appearing character in the books) to annotations of all the books, artwork from the books, and a couple of Pratchett short stories.
The L-Space Web
You can find a biography of Pterry on Wikipedia:
Wikipedia: Terry Pratchett

Some time back Mike Clark wrote an informative yet tongue-in-cheek article about rowan trees keeping away witches. Someone claiming to be a witch actually wrote in to complain about this article (I didn’t pass on the complaint, Mike). Just goes to show that there are people who lack a sense of humour in all walks of life.
Having witch problems?

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • bathroom shower squeegee
  • mens tutus
  • nude man thailand
  • data protection training fun games
  • jealous ecards
  • whatever happened to irene cara
  • decorating a bookcase
  • forum bungee trampoline
  • extreme sadness film quiz
  • kills horses -fire -virus
  • how to become a count alexander
  • tunisia hash

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

British Expat Magazine


“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.”

Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (1888-1955)


The Magic Frog

Once there was a rabbit and a bear living in a forest. One day, they went out for a walk and came across a magical golden frog. The frog told them that he would grant them three wishes each, which got the rabbit and the bear very excited.

The bear proceeded to tell the frog his first request. He said, “I wish that all the bears in this forest were female, except for me.”

POOF! His wish was granted.

Then it was the rabbit’s turn and he said, “I wish for a motorcycle.”

POOF! His wish was granted.

The bear hesitated, thought for a moment and then said, “I wish all the bears in the neighbouring forests were female too, except for me.”

POOF! His wish was granted.

The rabbit already knew what he wanted, and said, “I wish for a racing bike helmet.”

POOF! His wish was granted.

The frog broke in and said, “Now hurry up, I must be on my way. And, may I add, choose your last wish carefully!!”

The bear said, “All right, I know my last wish. I wish all the bears in the world were female, except for me.”

POOF! His wish was granted.

The rabbit thought for a while, put on his helmet, and got on his motorcycle. A smirk appeared on his face as he revved the engine and shouted, “I wish the bear was gay.”

POOF! And the rabbit rode off.

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