A to Z of Englishness

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Updated 3 November 2001

Afters There is no word for what an Englishman eats after his meat that does not make some other Englishman wince. The upper class say pudding (or 'pud') - a patent misnomer if what comes up is sorbet or grapes. Dessert, which all Americans use without bother, strikes English ears as pretentious, whereas sweet - which after all explains most nearly what it is - puts middle-class teeth on edge. So in many a trendy English bistro nowadays, the profiteroles and rum babas are improbably described as afters. It is a good old-fashioned working-class word, pressed into middle-class service to cover an absurd and quite unnecessary difficulty.

The English Companion, Godfrey Smith.

Ale

See also Votz zo funny?

Ale The English type of beer. Unlike most foreign beers, it is made by allowing the yeast to ferment at the top. It should mature naturally in its cask in the cellar of a pub. Unhappily the giant breweries have found it convenient to filter pasteurise or chill their beer so that it no longer matures, But is stable or dead, and is then delivered to the glass by gas pressure from a cylinder of carbon dioxide.

It was antipathy to this dead but artificially fizzed beer which precipitated the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). This is beer made from the traditional ingredients - malted barley, liquor (water) and yeast-matured in casks and deliverecl to the glass by any method that does not involve gas; generally by a simple suction hand pump, or drawn by gravity straight from the barrel. CAMRA, despite some vexing internal political troubles, has been a great populist movement, and the nearest English male equivalent to Women's Lib.

For the English love of ale is true and deep. 'Good ale, the true and proper drink of Englishmen, declared George Borrow. and every Englishman feels with the Boy in Shakespeare's Henry V at the battle: 'Would 1 were in a alehouse in London: 1 would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety.' Yet the best single remark on the matter was made by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, then Poet Laureate, on the occasion of his visit to the International Exhibition of 1862. Having written an ode to be sung by a choir of four thousand at its opening he enquired: 'Is there anywhere in this damned place where we can get a decent bottle of Bass?' Hence the innate thrall of the great real ale brewers to the Englishman, reverberating through his mind like a litany. Adnams of Southwold, Ruddles of Rutland, Theakston of Masham, Vaux of Sunderland, Thwaites of Blackburn, and Tennyson's favourite, four-square tipple, Bass of Burton.

The English Companion, Godfrey Smith.

An Englishman's Home

See also Tony Martin Support Group

An Englisman's home is his castle. From the song, "All Things Bright and Beautiful" comes the now politically incorrect words: "The rich man at his castle, The poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly, He ordered their estate".

Tony Martin is a Norfolk farmer who shot and killed a young man who was in the process of burgling his home. Tony Martin was been convicted of murder and was now in prison for life - sentence now reduced to manslaughter..

Sterling times...

Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom. Sometimes known as the "Old Lady of Threadneedle Street" it stands, literally and figuratively, at the financial centre of the City of London. The Court of Directors is responsible for the management of the Bank while staff matters are looked after by the Personnel Division . It also offers Educational Services for students of all ages and specialist training and technical assistance for other central banks.
BBC Some Real Audio Treats from the BBC: Broadcast from 2LO from The Strand (1922), test transmission from Writtle with Peter Eckersley ('hello CQ') - the Chief Engineer of the BBC, the Declaration of World War II on the BBC (1939), VE Day Celebration (1945). End of the General Strike (1926).
Big Ben Big Ben Originally the Great Bell of Westminster; now the bell, clock, and St Stephen's Tower of the Houses of Parliament. No-one seems to know quite how it got its name. One theory holds that it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the outsize Commissioner of Works when it was being made; another, that it is named after the celebrated boxer Benjamin Caunt, an eighteen-stone publican who had just fought an epic sixty rounds with Nathaniel Langham. It first tolled the time in 1859, but was found to be cracked after only a few months; a seven hundredweight hammer had been fitted although a four hundredweight maximum had been stipulated. Famed for its accuracy, the great clock was found to be only one and a half seconds out even after the House of Commons was destroyed in an air raid in 1941 and its face shattered. In 1976 it stopped at 3.45 a.m.; the shaft of the fly fan had fractured. Metal fatigue was diagnosed. The nation - indeed the world - mourned. Get well cards poured in from places as distant as Manhattan and Oporto. Happily Big Ben is now restored, and government engineers say it should remain accurate for at least the next two hundred years. It is, however, still slightly out of tune, but that makes it instantly recognisable world wide.While the sonorous chimes of Big Ben still resound, the Englishman instinctively feels that all's right with the world.

The English Companion, Godfrey Smith.

Biggles James Bigglesworth was a fictional character, appearing in 96 books and numerous other publications by Captain W.E. Johns.

James was born in India in August 1899 where he spent much of his early years. In 1913 he moved to England to live with his uncle and in February 1914 he began at Malton Hall School. It was here that he inherited the nickname Biggles, originally given to his elder brother, Charles. After the outbreak of the First World War, Biggles joined the Royal Flying Corps with the rank of Second Lieutenant and learnt to fly fighter planes. He was posted to France in 169 Squadron only weeks later.

Biggles Flies the Web

Boat Race Interest in the race goes far beyond those people who have rowed or who went to either University. Since 1829 the Boat Race has become a national sporting event comparable in the public mind with only three other highlights of the sporting calendar: the Grand National, the Derby and the FA Cup.
Britannia

See also Image of Britannia

Rule Britannia

When Britain first, at heaven’s command,
Arose from out the azure main,
Arose, arose, arose from out the azure main.
This was the charter, the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang the strain.

Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

Rule Britannia (here is a Real audio version - not streaming - will replace in time)

Bulldog Nice English picture. Reference here with Images of England (my next web project).
Churchill, Winston

See also Images of Churchill

b. Nov. 30, 1874, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England.
d. Jan. 24, 1965, London

In full SIR WINSTON LEONARD SPENCER CHURCHILL British statesman, orator, and author who as prime minister (1940-45, 1951-55) rallied the British people during World War II and led his country from the brink of defeat to victory.

Domesday Book The original record or summary of William I the Conqueror's survey of England. By contemporaries the whole operation was known as "the description of England," but the popular name Domesday--i.e., "doomsday," when men face the record from which there is no appeal--was in general use by the mid-12th century. The survey, in the scope of its detail and the speed of its execution, was perhaps the most remarkable administrative accomplishment of the Middle Ages.
Empire At one time or another the British empire held sway over a quarter of the landmass of the world. At its height, it covered more than 10 million square miles and had a population of just under 400 million. Today, almost one third of the world can use english, the language of 85% of communications on the World Wide Web.

Images of Empire 1
Images of Empire 2

Englishman, The "The Englishman's home is his castle."

"The Engishman's best friend is his dog."

"Maddogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun."

Perhaps the Englishman is best summed up by the Paddy Roberts record, see lyrics below, "L'Anglais avec son sang froid" - The Englishman and his usual bloody cold. See more here.

England's Disadvantage and An English Parliament [good site but the organisers unfortunately accept a position for England in the EU - we totally oppose this!] Education - Scotland gets 777 per person. England has only 599 per person (30% less).
Housing - Would your like a fair share of the housing budget for England? In Wales they have 106 per head. In England it is 53 (50% less).
Tourism, The UK Government spends per head - Northern Ireland 8.25, Wales 4.99, Scotland 3.63 and in England
20 pence.
Overall Spending - The total government expenditure in the year 1998/1999 per head in Northern Ireland was 5,450, in Scotland 4,772, in Wales 4,586 and in England 3,897.
Representation - Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can represent the whole of the UK at Brussels. Neither England as a whole, nor its proposed regions can do this.
In the House of Commons, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs can vote on purely English affairs and affect what happens to England, but English MPs are prohibited from voting on matters purely affecting their countries. This is because England has no Parliament of its own where people of England can decide things for themselves.
In England there are fewer MPs per head of population than in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Despite having devolution, Wales, Scotland and... [more]
(The) English Companion by Godfrey Smith

In this companion to Englishness, Godfrey Smith takes the reader on a tour of all that he holds dear in England and the English. He offers comments on our national life from Churchill to pubs, Elgar to Rugby, Bertie Wooster to George Orwell, and from British beef to the National Lottery.

The publisher, Edward Allhusen. EMALLHUSEN@AOL.COM , 31 December, 1998. Godfrey Smith's witty and stylish A-Z companion of England and Englishness was published to great acclaim in the 1980s and is now available again in this revised and updated edition. Smith takes us on a leisurely but perceptive tour of all that he holds dear in England and the English. It is very much an informal ramble, as if in the company of an old friend, hence it is unashamedly subjective, idiosyncratic and occasionally capricious. He does not flinch at English failings, but as he says 'No reader will be left in much doubt about where my affections lie. I find England so overwhelmingly the best country in the world that it is really rather bad form to say how much.' Wearing his learning likely, he opens with Abroad, that most un-English of places, and Accent, the quintessential English concern, and then treats us to a display of sparkling and knowledgeable comments on a wealth of topics. the breadth and depth of his imaginative insights into our national life are a joy to read. He touches on anything and everything, from Churchiill to Pubs, Elgar to Rugby, Bertie Wooster to George Orwell, and from Fish and Chips to Evelyn Waugh. It is impossible here to do full justice to his writing, but perhaps it is best summarised by his observations on the profound truth that the Thames is a magic river, Oxford an enchanted city and England an imaginary land inhabited by improbable people.

Falklands Conflict Our great victory! June 11 to 14 1982.

Gotcha: The Sinking of the General Belgrano.

Folk songs

See also Vintage Music

Ballads, Cavalier Ballads, Ditties, Folksongs, Hymns and Jigs of England (click heading to left).

Kiss me good-night, Sergeant-Major,
Tuck me in my little wooden bed.
We all love you, Sergeant-Major,
When we hear your bawling, "Show a leg."
Don't forget to wake me in the morning,
And bring me round a nice hot cup of tea
Kiss me good-night, Sergeant-Major,
Sergeant-Major, be a mother to me.

Song is here in Real Audio: Kiss me good-night, Sergeant-Major (audio link temporarily suspended - sorry).

Fox Hunting Another English tradition that our socialist government is intent upon banning. This tradition is defended by the Countryside Alliance. The Government has managed to split town and country, but is presently deeply concerned about loss of votes and may well delay the implementation of a ban. Save our country sports! Tally ho!
Gin The English spirit. Better than Scotch!
Golliwoggs The earliest Golliwogg (note correct spelling) is the hero in books of verse written by Bertha Upton in the 1890s, and illustrated by her daughter Florence. James Robertson & Sons, the U.K. preserve manufacturers founded in 1864, use Golly as their trademark. In the 1920s they started to issue brooches (also called pins or badges) carrying the Golly image. Today many consider the Golliwogg to be potitically incorrect and want to ban him. Little Black Sambo [Scottish rather than English] is subjected to the same treatment. Save our Golliwogg now!
House of Lords About to be abolished!
Grammar Schools The charge made by liberal and socialist politicians is that is that selective education is socially devisive and unjust. Therefore, labour poiticians oppose grammar school education in favour of comprensive education. Notwithstanding these strong convictions, socialist Labour Party politicians prefer sending their own children to grammar schools.
Inch Read about Imperial Crime here.
Jam Coming soon...
Kipling, Rudyard Now declared to be politically incorrect along with Baden-Powell and Cecil Rhodes.

English short-story writer, poet, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, his tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

The White Man's Burden 1899
And here is Britain's favourite poem: "If" by Rudyard Kipling.

Labour Party With deep communist roots; this is the anti-English political party that is determined to destroy our tradition. Favourite song - "The Red Flag".
Last Great Briton Lady Thatcher is the greatest living Briton according to a new poll. In a table of the 50 top countrymen of all time, the ex-prime minister ranked 39th, but she is the only person listed who is still alive.

Heritage Magazine.

Magna Carta English GREAT CHARTER, the charter of English liberties granted by King John in 1215 under threat of civil war and reissued with alterations in 1216, 1217, and 1225.

The charter meant less to contemporaries than it has to subsequent generations. The solemn circumstances of its first granting have given to Magna Carta of 1215 a unique place in popular imagination; quite early in its history it became a symbol and a battle cry against oppression, each successive generation reading into it a protection of its own threatened liberties. In England the Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679) looked directly back to clause 39 of the charter of 1215, which stated that "no free man shall be . . . imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed] . . . except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." In the United States both the national and the state constitutions show ideas and even phrases directly traceable to Magna Carta.

Mummy The word used by boys up to about seven and a very few upper-class grown men in England to describe their mothers. It is also the word used by most girls from the middle of the middle class upwards, and here lies a celebrated piece of arcane English social lore: for the words 'Mummy and Daddy' do not mean just what they say but are a class indicator signifying the kind of parents who would drive a Rover. have a cottage in the country , and give dinner parties. Mummy and Daddy may be dearly loved by their daughters, but not by playwrights like John Osborne, whose Jimmy Porter in Iook Back in Anger vented all his pent-up social rage against Alison' s Mummy, 'an overfed, overprivileged old bitch'. though when Daddy enters the action he turns out to be rather gentle and sympatbique 'He likes you,' Alison tells her father, 'because he can feel sorry for you.' Mummy and Daddy will also not do in the international pop esperanto spoken by all the young, and may therefore be doomed. After all, every Englishman has a Queen Mum; a Queen Mummy would be an excruciating embarrassment. Mama and Papa are the terms used by the royals themselves and by naturalised Englishmen who started life in Central Europe, but sound affected from an indigenous Englishman. Nevertheless, he still feels a bit self-conscious just saying Mum and Dad. Here is another hole in the language (see also Afters) that badly needs filling.

The English Companion, Godfrey Smith.

Nursey Rhymes Here is an alphabetical of nursery Rhymes from "The Real Mother Goose". Here is one of my favourites:

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives.
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?

Orwell George George Orwell, the great English "socialist protriot" (an expression which was not then a contridiction in terms) wrote in 1941, "England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at everything from horse racing to suet pudding. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God Save the King than of stealing from the poor box."

This England.

Ovaltineys Ovaltine was supplied to the armed forces in both world wars. Tommies sang 'we are the Ovaltineys' as they marched, in sharp contrast to the German preference for the 'Horst Wessel Song.'
Political [In]correctness I have had this idea in my head for sometime of starting a Politically Incorrect webpage. I am particularly interested in things that were once considered good, but are now either banned or considered to be politically incorrect. My pages include a list of things that have been or are to be banned.
Potter, Beatrix  
Powell, Enoch Jewish World Review February 16, 1998 Don Feder

BRITISH POLITICIAN Enoch Powell, a member of Parliament for 37 years, died on Sunday. Powell was a man of extraordinary ability, who had the courage to speak the truth on immigration. For this, he was driven from the Tory leadership and became known as the best prime minister Britain never had.

The son of teachers, Powell won a scholarship to Cambridge, was a professor of Greek at 25, enlisted in the British army as a private at the outset of World War II and rose to the rank of brigadier general.

A Thatcherite before Thatcher, Powell was a forceful intellectual and an eloquent speaker.

On his death, Margaret Thatcher said: "There will never be anybody else so compelling as Enoch Powell. He had a rare combination of qualities all founded on an unfaltering belief in God, an unshakable loyalty to family and friends, and an unswerving devotion to our country."

Enoch Powell Screensaver
Enoch Powell speaks about Britain and Europe
Enoch Powell: Rivers of Blood Press Cuttings

Queen  
Roast Beef and Yokshire Pudding We even have a song about The Roast Beef of Old England. Here is the melody (midi) and here are the words.

Would you believe that the British Labour Party banned the English from eating beef-on-the-bone. Selling it has been a criminal offence. We have to keep an eye out from the police nowaday in case we are discovered in the pursuit of consuming our national dish.

When mighty Roast Beef
Was the Englishman's food,
It ennobled our brains
And enriched our blood.
Our soldiers were brave
And our courtiers were good
Oh the Roast Beef of old England
And old English Roast Beef .

But since we have learnt
From all-vapouring France
To eat their ragouts
As well as to dance,
We're fed up with nothing
But vain complaisance
Oh the Roast Beef of Old England
And old English Roast Beef .

Some recepies from Mrs Beeton will be referenced here in due course.

Rhodes, Cecil "To be born English is to have won first prize in the lottery of life".

Financier, statesman, and empire builder of British South Africa. He was prime minister of Cape Colony (1890-96) and organizer of the giant diamond-mining company De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. (1888). By his will he established the Rhodes scholarships at Oxford (1902).

Rupert the Bear Rupert Bear is a children's character dating from the 1920's in the UK, who has appeared in the Daily Express newspaper since then and has been anthologised in Annuals since 1936. He was the only character to appear throughout World War II, as it was felt that his disappearance would have damaged morale(!).
Shopping Here is some English shopping with a difference from the 1907 Army and Navy Stores Catalogue.
Saint George

See also Image of Saint George

Patron Saint of England. Music (midi)

The Seige of Harfleur 1415

" I see you Stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the Start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge
Cry "God for Harry! England and Saint George!"

Shakespeare, Henry V (1599) act 3, sc. 1, l. 31

Shakespeare  
Television Muffin the Mule first trotted on to our screens in 1946, having been bought by puppeteer Ann Hogarth for 15s 0d from a travelling showman. Muffin clumped around on top of the grand piano played by Annette Mills, sister of Sir John Mills, as his strings were pulled from behind a screen. He made his debut in For the Children before being given his own show. Muffin’s last TV appearance with Annette Mills came in 1955 just days before she died.
This England

See also other patriotic magazines

The partriotic quarterly with over two million readers worldwide.
Tipperary Every Englishman has his "local", known as "my local" or his local pub or public house. Mine is the Tipperary Inn near Balsall Common in Warwickshire. It's just up the road from Tipperary Cottage where the song "It's a long way to Tipperary was composed. It's a long way to Tipperary by Tiny Tim in Real Audio (link temporarily suspended).
Tory The Sterling Guarantee states that we will oppose entry into the single currency at the next election as part of our manifesto for the next Westminster Parliament.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, John Maples and the Shadow Chancellor, Francis Maude joins William Hague, every member of the Shadow Cabinet and over 80% of our Party membership in confirming this promise.

Thatcher, Margaret Champion of free minds and markets, she helped topple the welfare state and make the world safer for capitalism.

BY PAUL JOHNSON

She was the catalyst who set in motion a series of interconnected events that gave a revolutionary twist to the century's last two decades and helped mankind end the millennium on a note of hope and confidence. The triumph of capitalism, the almost universal acceptance of the market as indispensable to prosperity, the collapse of Soviet imperialism, the downsizing of the state on nearly every continent and in almost every country in the world--Margaret Thatcher played a part in all those transformations, and it is not easy to see how any would have occurred without her.

Born in 1925, Margaret Hilda Roberts was an enormously industrious girl. The daughter of a Grantham shopkeeper, she studied on scholarship, worked her way to Oxford and took two degrees, in chemistry and law. Her fascination with politics led her into Parliament at age 34, when she argued her way into one of the best Tory seats in the country, Finchley in north London. Her quick mind (and faster mouth) led her up through the Tory ranks, and by age 44 she got settled into the "statutory woman's" place in the Cabinet as Education Minister, and that looked like the summit of her career. But Thatcher was, and is, notoriously lucky. Her case is awesome testimony to the importance of sheer chance in history. In 1975 she challenged Edward Heath for the Tory leadership simply because the candidate of the party's right wing abandoned the contest at the last minute. Thatcher stepped into the breach. When she went into Heath's office to tell him her decision, he did not even bother to look up. "You'll lose," he said. "Good day to you."

Tunes

Link suspended owning to action from MCPS/PRS

My tunes pages lists famous tunes such as There'll always be an England with Tim Tim and There'll always be an England with Sam Browne. But also try The Archers, Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men and Captain Pugwash. Here are dozens of tunes that the English instantly recognise.
Union Flag

See also British Flags

The flag of the United Kingdom. The English flag bearing the cross of Saint George is shown at the top of this page.
Up An English adverb of enormous power. It lends spectacular magnification to otherwise unremarkable words; thus to be 'beaten up' is far more comprehensive than to be merely beaten, a 'fry-up' more enticing than a fry, a 'ton-up' (100 m.p.h. for the unworldly) on a motorbike far more dashing than doing a ton, a 'balls-up' a far greater disaster than making a mere balls of something can ever be; to be 'done up' far more thoroughgoing than to be done. And note how in the Harrow school song, 'Forty Years On' , which Winston Churchill* so delighted to sing even in old age, up makes all the difference. 'Follow up, follow up, follow up' is a call to action and to arms; 'follow, follow , follow' is something you do when dreamily pursuing the merry merry pipes of Pan. Up, on its own, is moreover an expletive of great if coarse power, as in 'up yours, mate'. It is also used poignantly in the vernacular verdict, 'he can't get it up any more' or more personally, 'he can't get it up for her' .

The English Companion, Godfrey Smith.

V for Victory  
Wales Principality of England. Lots of sheep.
Wapping Our great victory against the unions.

Wapping, the newspaper plant Rupert Murdoch built in the London dockland cost him 100 million. It was, he announced, designed to print his new paper, the London Post For six years he tried to get a viable deal with the print unions; and for six years failed. One union negotiator told Murdoch his best plan was to blow the plant up. At some time during that long travail - no-one knows quite when - he decided on a far more revolutionary plan. He would print his existing titles - The Times The Sunday Times, the Sun, and the News of tbe World - there. Eddie Shah had got a foot in the door when he succeeded, after a bitter fight, in printing his free sheets in the north without traditional union agree-ments. Murdoch kicked it down. He printed a section of The Sunday Times there without a single print worker His workforce - all, that IS, except management and journalists - struck. They were never to work for him again. Electricians bussed in each morning from Southampton ran the high-tech machines. The journalists were split into refusenicks, who would not agree to the move, and those whc) would. There were quite enough of the latter to run the papers. The dispute lasted a year. Throughout that time , despite determinecl picketing and ugly clashes with the police, the print unions spectacularly failed to prevent the four papers getting out. In the end, they settled for 6O,000,000 compensation. The rest of Fleet Street followed suit, moving en masse to dockland and able at last to settle with the previously entrenched unions on the new technology . While much of Fleet Street' s troubles stemmed from the cowardice, avarice and stupidity of management and owners, and much from deep historical roots, the unions displayed a stunning lack of imagination in not making a deal before it came to war. They had always won their battles with the owners; they thought they always would. The vast economies engendered meant that the newspaper industry had ensured its survival for another generation. The barbed wire was taken down at Wapping; the bitterness remains.

The English Companion, Godfrey Smith.

Wet Though the word has been used as slang for a ninny for a good fifty years now , it found a new surge of popularity as a contemptuous description of anybody who opposed Margaret Thatcher' s hard-line monetarist economic policies then, indeed, anyone who opposed her at all. In consequence there was soon a whole alternative cabinet of Tory wets sitting on the Conservative back benches, most notably and vociferously the former prime minister Edward Heath [National Association of Ted Heath Burners]. With the departure of Maggie, her favourite term of contempt has been quickly marginalised. The battle between the wet and dry wings of the Tory party nevertheless rages on.

The English Companion, Godfrey Smith.

Zonked A newish word, probably echoing the sound of a heavy blow, and used for utter exhaustion brought on by drink, drugs or even work.

 

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