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The author rents a house in Oxford and is told by the house's owner to clean the Rayburn's flue once ... it used? From the familiar phrase of "shoe black", I assume it's polish, but I can't picture polishing a stove.

Old-fashioned coal stoves, made of cast iron, were often polished with stove blacking.
She is also told that the Rayburn is good for making Melba toast. We purchase Melba toast in packages, but it never occurred to me that it would be made at home. I thought Nabisco or someone was the maker of Melba toast.

Well yes.
An American once said she had occasionally made macaroni & cheese "from scratch", and I pictured her mixing semolina or whatever, and rolling it out and putting it on the roof to dry. It turned out that was not what she meant at all, but was just not an MRE.
Melba toast is as described in the dictionary, "very thin crisp toast"; I don't know what a Rayburn is, though from the context I would guess it is a brand of coal stove, like an "Aga Cooker", but I've made Melba toast in the oven of our electric stove at home. Just cut into thin slices and bake with a low herat rather than grill (AmE=broil).
Someone points out that Magdalen College is pronounced "maudlin". I wonder if people in Oxford are still laughing at this ... to correct you. I expected problems with Balliol, and quickly mumbled through it, but I didn't expect problems with Magdalen.

I knew about Magdalen, but what about Balliol?
Things I didn't know: Anyone that teaches at Oxford is a Don, short for Dominus. I thought a Don was ... "Oxbridge" means both Oxford and Cambridge. I thought it was a term about Oxford. I'm still not sure about "Oxan".

I thought hot milk in tea was confined to white Afrikaans-speaking members of the South African civil service. I'd never have expected it in Britain.
Things I wonder about: Do pay phones in England still have the "B" button? Do they still build buildings in ... stand for? Do the Brits still refer to business as "custom"? A company here is pleased to have your business.

The only time I ever saw a B button on a phone was in Salisbury airport, Rhodesia, when I was on the lam from the South African security police, and tried to use the phone to call some relatives while I was waiting to change planes. My destination was England and I never saw a button B when I got there. That was in 1966, just after UDI.
While driving to Bulawayo on the way there, my English companion tried to prepare me for England, and told me that they had a system there called STD. In those days that did not mean Sexually Transmitted Disease but Subscriber Trunk Dialling.
Custom as in customer? Do you not speak of customers in the USA?
Words/terms that I hadn't come across before: Maizie, for what the English call what we call a frog (for holding ... 7:45 for 8:00 on an invitation. "Faults and Service Difficulties" for what we call simply "Repair" at the telephone company.

Drawing pins, 7:45 for 8 and "Faults and service difficulties" are common here. I know that a thumb tack is a drawing pin, even though I don't call it that. Maizie, frog and "doom painting" I'd never heard of, though I could guess at the meaning of "doom painting".
Things I found almost extraordinary: A discussion about "bilateral" schools. I thought I understood the public and comprehensive school divide, but "bilateral" is a concept that is a bit much.

So what *is* a bilateral school? A condominium?
Things I missed when I was in Oxford: The Carfax. I'm so used to congested intersections that Oxford's seemed rather ordinary.

Did you notice that in Britain intersections are called junctions?
Things that struck me: It seems that most of the aue regulars that are from the UK do not practice ... a Rabbi or a Priest, but seldom anyone with a religious title. It's America, though, that is associated with religion.

Oxford University, before it was secularised, belonged to the Church of England. It was started by the Church (before the church of England separated from Rome). If the Bob Jones University in the US were secularised, you might find similar hangovers after a few years.
I find, after reading this book, that I am more confused about Oxford (the institution, not the city) than I ... we use "school" instead of "college" even though the school is one of the colleges that make up the university.

Not quite the same thing, I suspect. The "schools" you refer to correspond roughly to what at universities in Britain (and other parts of the world) call "faculties". "Schools" have recently been introduced at universities here, where the facultuies of arts, theology and education have been lumped together as the "school" of humanities. So a school is a kind of super-faculty.

In collegiate universities, like Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, the colleges are independent self-governing institutions, which usually provide tuition to their students, but the university conducts the examinations and awards the degrees, so you get an MA (Oxon) or (Cantab) or a BA (Dunelm). At Durham, I am an alumnus of both my college and of the university, and I get mail from both soliciting my contributions, and the university provides its alumni with a very good e-mail forwarding service.
Harking back to the religious bit for a moment, the principal of my college at Durham (St Chad's) was the Revd John Fenton. He later became Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Christ Church is the college, but the college chapel is the the cathedral, so he was Dean of the College and Dean of the Anglican Diocese of Oxford.
I consider myself a graduate of Indiana University. I gather that an Oxonian (right term?) Graduates (right term?) from Merton ... just say he attended Oxford. I wonder if UK newspapers use University College or Oxford when they write about Clinton.

When they refer to his degree (if he actually took one) it would be an Oxford degree. The colleges don't award degrees, the university does. But each college has its own culture. Colleges are rivals in sport, but combine to play against other universities.
Perhaps you could compare it with state and federal governments in the USA. Saying Clinton was at Oxford is like saying that he was from the USA. Saying he was at University College is like saying he was from Arkansas. If a person has an Oxford degree, it is analogous to holding a US passport. Does anyone have an Arkansas passport?
Another point raised in the book is the House. The author's son lives at home (or in the house that ... of Wilkinson House attend the same college? ObAue construction: Heads of House. I'd normally say "the heads of the houses."

A house in a school (or college) is analogous to a college at a collegiate university, except that it isn't usually self-governing. It provides a focus of loyalties for intra-school sports teams etc.
In South Africa many schools with no boarders have "houses". When I started in Grade I at Westville Government School I was asked which house I wanted to be in, Carr or Cliff. Two years later we moved to another province, and I went to Fairmount Government School, where the houses were Penguins, Pelicans, Eagles and Cranes. Neither school had any boarders. I don't know if state schools at Oxford do that, but it's quite possible. Perhaps John Dean would know.
The UK reader of this is probably thinking that I'm thick as two short planks by now, but you have ... university concept. You guys attend Jesus College, but you row for Oxford! And I didn't even cover the seven Halls.

I can't speak for the Brits, but I certainly wouldn't say you were thick as two short planks. Countries and cultures are different, and there is much that the outsider does not understand (I certainly found that, going to study in Durham). Universities and other academic institutions have their own culture and ethos, and even when they are in the same country, they differ quite markedly from each other.
It was a fascinating book for me. I've read hundreds of British novels, but when you're immersed in a plot ... finally, a quote from the book: "Cricket's no game. Somebody has to move before you can call something a game."

The author had obviously seen nothing like Jonty Rhodes's run-out of Inazmam ul Haq in the SA-Paki match at the 1992 World Cup. Back then they were both 22 and a great deal more agile than they are now. Now Inzamum moves like the Queen Mary II going up the Solent, while Jony Rhodes has retired doctors said his body would fall apart if he carried on throwing it around like that.
The book is "These Ruins Are Inhabited", Muriel Beadle, written in 1958 but published in 1961.

Ah, back then phones may well have had a "Button B".

Diesel trains and jet passenger aircraft a novelty. No colour TV. Trolley buses (well, not in Oxford, but in London and Reading). Nobody had heard of the Beatles.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
Perhaps you could compare it with state and federal governments in the USA. Saying Clinton was at Oxford is like ... a person has an Oxford degree, it is analogous to holding a US passport. Does anyone have an Arkansas passport?

No, but US citizens resident in Arkansas are also citizens of Arkansas, and likewise for the other states. US constitution, 14th amendment the original unamended constitution already referred to states as having citizens, but didn't explain or define the concept.
Mark Brader > I passed a sign that said "you are here", Toronto > but I didn't entirely believe it. (Email Removed) > Michael Levine
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I've made Melba toast in the oven of our electric stove at home. Just cut into thin slices and bake with a low herat rather than grill (AmE=broil).

Will a noble she-mouse do in a pinch?
The author rents a house in Oxford and is told ... assume it's polish, but I can't picture polishing a stove.

Old-fashioned coal stoves, made of cast iron, were often polished with stove blacking.

With the fashion for cast iron fireplaces, its now widely available. I bought some only a couple of months ago.
She is also told that the Rayburn is good for ... thought Nabisco or someone was the maker of Melba toast.

Well yes.

...>Melba toast is as described in the dictionary, "very thin crisp toast"; I
don't know what a Rayburn is, though from the context I would guess it is a brand of coal stove, ... our electric stove at home. Just cut into thin slices and bake with a low herat rather than grill (AmE=broil).

One of my duties as a commis waiter was to make melba toast. The easiest way is to slice bread as for normal toast, toast both sides under the salamander (or grill in domestic circumstances), cut it in half in the plane of the toast by laying it on a board and slicing horizontally, then toast the untoasted sides of both halves. I've never tried it on a Rayburn or AGA. (Rayburns are less snooty versions of AGAs and are now owned by the same company.)
...>
Things I didn't know: Anyone that teaches at Oxford is a Don, short for Dominus.

Only teachers at one of the universities in the city.

I thought a Don was a level of teacher. Hot milk is
sometimes provided with tea.

I've never experienced that.
That a British male, when dancing, leads
with his right foot (We lead with the left). "Oxbridge" ... a term about Oxford. I'm still not sure about "Oxan".

'Oxon', short for oxoniensis, shirley.
Do the Brits still refer to business as
"custom"? A company here is pleased to have your business.

Now only ironic, kind of implies that you are only after the client's money. However NHS administrators have started referring to 'customers' rather than 'patients'. Come to think of it that rather illustrates my point.
... Maizie, frog and "doom painting" I'd never heard of, though I could
guess at the meaning of "doom painting".

I've never heard of them either.
Things I found almost extraordinary: A discussion about "bilateral" schools. ... but "bilateral" is a concept that is a bit much.

So what *is* a bilateral school? A condominium?

I'm not sure, but at the time of writing the distinction would have been between 'grammar' and 'secondary modern' schools. You had to pass the 'eleven plus' to get into a grammar school.

...>>Things that struck me: It seems that most of the aue regulars that are
from the UK do not practice a religion. Yet, so ... religious title. It's America, though, that is associated with religion.

Watch out for the series 'Cathedral' when it makes over to America, one of the best things on UK TV for ages.

...>>As an American, I think of a university as an entity of colleges, but
that a student at a college is a student of ... is one of the colleges that make up the university.

Not quite the same thing, I suspect. The "schools" you refer to correspond roughly to what at universities in Britain ... theology and education have been lumped together as the "school" of humanities. So a school is a kind of super-faculty.

Not everywhere, sometimes schools are big departments within faculties, sometimes sub-departments.
In collegiate universities, like Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, the colleges are independent self-governing institutions, which usually provide tuition to their students, but the university conducts the examinations and awards the degrees,...

Colleges originated as residential establishments and many students think of them mainly in that way. The tuition they organise is a bit of an anachronism and would have difficulty in passing modern quality standards if the QAA were brave enough to confront the might of Oxbridge, IMHO.
...>
...
Mike Page
'The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to those who think they've found it.'
(Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment, p195)
The author rents a house in Oxford and is told by the house's owner to clean the Rayburn's flue once ... it used? From the familiar phrase of "shoe black", I assume it's polish, but I can't picture polishing a stove.

I've used the same stuff on cast-iron enclosed log fires. You apply it in the form of a thin paste or thick paint when the stove is cool. The first time it heats up, it will smoke and pong a bit, but then the coating becomes burnt on and prevents the iron from rusting.

Regards
John
for mail: my initials plus those of alt.usage.english at tpg dot com dot au
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
The author rents a house in Oxford and is told by the house's owner to clean the Rayburn's flue once ... it used? From the familiar phrase of "shoe black", I assume it's polish, but I can't picture polishing a stove.

Perhaps you know only emanelled stoves?
They don't need any.
Blacking is used on bare iron,
for rust prevention and appearance,
JaN
Things I didn't know: Hot milk is sometimes provided with tea.

As you know, tea doesn't always mean tea. Can you provide more context?

Matti
Perhaps you could compare it with state and federal governments ... holding a US passport. Does anyone have an Arkansas passport?

No, but US citizens resident in Arkansas are also citizens of Arkansas, and likewise for the other states. US constitution, 14th amendment the original unamended constitution already referred to states as having citizens, but didn't explain or define the concept.

That doesn't affect the analogy. Members of collegiate universities are also members of their colleges.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
With the fashion for cast iron fireplaces, its now widely available. I bought some only a couple of months ago.

Oy, I know, I know.
Mike Page
(Who just got fed up with the previous sig.)
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