Quirky, absurd, whimsical
The Guardian review got me thinking about these words. In a way I’m surprised they exist, since there is very little in Britain that isn’t quirky, absurd or whimsical.
I was in Derbyshire last weekend, where I visited Chatsworth House, the ancestral home of the dukes of Devonshire (the earls of Derby, of course, live in Knowsley House near Liverpool). Here I found that the Sixth Duke of Devonshire had caused the local village to be moved about a quarter of a mile away because he felt it spoiled his view.
I then went to nearby Haddon Hall, where I found that the 600-year-old great hall had a manacle attached to one wall. Apparently, if a man didn’t drink enough at dinner, his wrist would be put in the manacle and the wine he hadn’t drunk would be poured down his sleeve*.
And that’s just two stately homes in the Peak District.
*Has anyone done any research on the effectiveness of sleeve-based penalties? I instinctively feel that even the most hardened criminal would mend his ways rather than have something poured down his sleeve.