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The bonnet – the hood.

The wings – the fenders.

The windscreen – the windshield.

The engine – the motor.

The gearbox – the transmission.

The accelerator – the gas pedal.

The hand-brake – the parking/emergency brake.

The boot – the trunk.

The silencer – the muffler.

The indicators – the turn signals.

The tyres – the tires.

The wheels – the wheels.

EVEN AMERICANS CANNOT RE-INVENT THE WHEEL.

I just Googled Pantene hair shampoo and according to Wiki, it first emerged in Switzerland, right after WW2 and was named after one of its ingredients, panthenol, which they describe as “the alcohol analog of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)” – and who am I to argue with that?

However, they do not offer a pronunciation of panthenol. And that is what this is about.

The thing is, Pantene did not catch on until Procter & Gamble took it over in the Eighties – and proceeded to advertise the crap out of it on TV.

But instead of pronouncing it PAN-TEEN as you would expect, they went with PAN-TEN.

So at that time, on a whim, I rang their helpline (it was free) and asked the bloke (yep) who answered, why it was pronounced thusly.

I did not really expect an answer, but he explained that the reason was; it was a Greek word, where the final “e” was silent (like the “p” in pool).

Of course in those days – there being no Wiki – I accepted his answer (which I now realise he pulled out of his arse) without question.

Anyhoo, having escaped Britain fifteen years ago, I cannot say if Pantene is still being pronounced PAN-TEN there – but here in Thailand, the VO on our TV ads calls it PAN-TEEN.

But the reason I am typing this is that I just saw an American TV ad for it, where they enunciated it as …PORN-TEEN!

I do not plan to Google THAT…

Cornelius on… 2016

While few North Americans or West Europeans would deny that for them, the last three hundred and sixty-four days – with two still to go – have constituted the worst year in living memory (that is, since WW2) few actually realize how MONUMENTALLY appalling it has been.

Why? Read on…

The horrible happenings can be boiled down to four items: Trump, Brexit, terrorist atrocities and dead celebrities.

But here’s the thing; both regions have only experienced about HALF of it.

North Americans have suffered Trump, San Bernadino, Orlando and the loss of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Garry Shandling, Tom Mullica, Alan Thicke, Prince, Frank Sinatra Jr., Garry Marshall, Gene Wilder, Robert Vaughn, Carrie Fisher, George Michael and now, Debbie Reynolds.

Thus, they can be forgiven for being less concerned with Brexit, Paris, Nice, Berlin and the additional loss of Keith Emerson, Paul Daniels, Sir Terry Wogan, Lemmie from Motorhead, Sylvia Anderson, Ken Adam, Cliff Michelmore, Norman Hudis, Ed Stewart, Sir George Martin, Alan Haven, Douglas Slocombe, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Burt Kwouk, Caroline Aherne, Jimmy Perry, Sir Jimmy Young, Peter Vaughan and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo.

But all of the names in the last paragraph helped shape the lives of British people over the last SIXTY YEARS.

And Brexit has utterly SCREWED Britain and Europe – probably for the NEXT sixty.

Then again, terrorism is more international; Paris is a popular holiday destination for Americans – as Orlando is, for Europeans (it being where the “theme parks” are).

Which is why the latest wave of religion-fuelled carnage has been the underlying CAUSE of both Trump AND Brexit – as people erroneously believe the two can PROTECT them from it.

However, while there has been SOME bleed-through with the late celebs (most Brits are familiar with Prince, Garrys Shandling and Marshall, Gene Wilder, Robert Vaughn and Debbie Reynolds – and of course David Bowie, Alan Rickman and George Michael ARE British) the EPIC DISASTERS of Trump and Brexit have meant meh on the opposite sides of the pond.

Americans know and care little about what goes on outside their bailiwick. They have viewed the Brexit fiasco with mere bemusement.

While the majority of British, French and Germans have only found the Trump saga mildly mirthful – so far.

But living here in Thailand, this historian has been well-placed to see the COMPLETE picture, in all its ghastly awefulness.

His adopted country has always existed in an odd limbo between the influences of the US and the UK. Like, some buildings in Bangkok have lifts (US: elevators) marked “G,2,3,4…” (US-style) while others go with “G,1,2,3…” (UK-style; it dates back centuries, when few buildings HAD more than one floor). And while cars here drive on the left (UK-style; and CORRECT) they can overtake on either side (like in America).

He could go on, but the point is that thanks to the international media, he has watched this cataclysm unfold from BOTH perspectives – the North American AND West European. And come to the realisation that viewed solely by the people of ONE region, the events appear merely alarming.

But ADDED TOGETHER – they are nothing short of TERRIFYING…

Cornelius on… Calculators

Has this ever happened to you?

You are at a checkout with goods costing, say, seven pounds (or dollars, euros, whatever) AND TWO PENCE (or cents, cents, whatever) so delve into your wallet – moths fly out – and withdraw a tenner (any currency).

Then, AS the girl (sorry, but it is usually a girl) rings up said tenner (which causes the till to read “change 2:98”) you dip into your change and give her the two pence (cents…) – thinking to HELP her.

Except now, it all goes pear-shaped. Her face blanks. She stares at the till display. Gets out a calculator. Pokes it for a few minutes. Steam emerges from her ears. She calls over the girl on the neighbouring till – but SHE cannot work it out either.

You try to show her that all she needs to do is give you three quid, bucks or whatever the slang for euros is – and you can be on your way.

Eventually, you take your two wotsits BACK and accept her ninety-eight in change and either stomp off muttering about no good deed ever going unpunished – or add the two to the ninety-eight and ask her to now please CHANGE it for a SINGLE pound, dollar, euro…

At which point you watch her slowly count the coins UP – even though they are the same ninety-eight she just GAVE you – with TWO ADDED.

Yes, I have actually had this happen to me. And just today, I read an almost IDENTICAL account from someone else…

Of course, it does not take a genius to work out what is happening here.

In My Day – the mid-Sixties – we HAD pocket calculators. Except they were MECHANICAL; they had a metal stylus and worked with a series of toothed slides in a flat case.  Impossible to find today, having been made utterly POINTLESS by the electronic variety, a decade later. They looked like this…

And I began using one at school – until my maths teacher saw it and set me STRAIGHT. No, he did not BAN me from using it; he merely pointed out that if I used it routinely, I would soon become DEPENDANT upon it, LOSING the ability to DO “mental arithmetic” – and I could not always guarantee HAVING a calculator ON me.

Which of course, was right – and so I stopped using the tool completely.

The result being, I can SEE that adding two to ninety-eight…

Anyhoo, a few years after I finished school, the electronic calculators emerged, quickly became user-friendly and thanks to competition, easily AFFORDABLE. I bought one – the first of several – although I still do most of my day-to-day computing in my HEAD.

But I recall how, back in the Seventies, whether or not to allow them in schools became a hotly contested issue. How it was settled, I have no idea. But clearly SOME schools now allow them – and have proven that my maths teacher was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CORRECT!

Cornelius on… Jingle Bells

Oh, just hit THIS…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phmD2WLxYdE

Wh-at? Okay, the other night I had a dream. All the royals were Romans. Prince Charles was Ludicrous. Prince Edward was Dubious. His wife was Barbatus (only one person in a THOUSAND will get THAT one). Elizabeth was Felonious. Philip was Insidious. Fergie was Salacious and Camilla Parker-Knolle was Nauseous. Even Diana was there. She was Bodacious.

Cornelius on… Not Yet

I feel a certain kinship with Chuck Lorre. He was born just six weeks after me, in 1952 – and we are both writers. He has $600 million – I have a foreskin. I think he got the better deal.

Anyhoo, I have been reading his vanity cards right from the very first one (almost twenty years ago – he’s done 545 now) and his latest, concerning the approaching menace of Trump, reads thusly…

chuck-lorre-vanity-card

Well, obviously us Brits feel the same way about Brexit – caused by the same factors (see all OVER these columns).

However, while Chuck’s best bet is that Trump gets a burger wedged in his esophagus – we now have Sarah Olney…