LANG B204/301 – Stylistique et maîtrise de la langue anglaise II/III (L. Vandelanotte)
Keywords and icons of anglophone cultures (2007-2008)
The UK and Ireland
Red Nose Day
Red Nose Day is the most famous and important way in which Comic Relief raises money. Comic Relief is a
charity organisation which was founded in the UK in 1985 to help reduce famine in Ethiopia. But now it also
collects money for Africa (HIV, AIDS, helping women to read,...) and helps British people who are in need.
Comic Relief concentrates on two main activities. One is called Sport Relief, in which sports activities are
used to raise money. The other is called Red Nose Day after the red noses that are sold and that people wear. On
that day, sketches are also played by famous people. The purpose of all this is to make people laugh for a good
cause, viz. raising money for the organisation. Red Nose Day first took place in 1988 and has since taken place
every 2 year. Among its supporters are the BBC, which is responsible for the live programme, and Sainsburys,
which among other things sells the red noses.
Each time the nose is different. “The big one” appeared in March 2007 and was so called because of its
the big size of the nose and enormous success it had. The BBC programme of the day included for instance A
Question of Comedy, The Vicar of Dibley or Catherine Tate’s “Lauren the teenager” (“Am I bovvered?”, i.e. “Am
I bothered?”), all parodies of real comedy programmes.
For Red Nose Day 2007 the sum total raised through the sale of noses and especially donations was £67
million – a marked difference compared to £15 million raised in 1988. An important fact is that every penny is
spent on charitable projects.
With the money collected the organisation wants to help young people (alcohol or mental health
problems, prostitution,…), older people (loneliness, Alzheimer, age discrimination,…), refugees and so on. It also
fights against domestic violence and child abuse.
Red Nose Day is very important because it is one of the most famous charity events in the UK. Similar
campaigns can be found all around the world, for instance in Germany, Australia or Russia. On the other hand, the
US has only copied the principle of Comic Relief and not of Red Nose Day. One of their recent initiatives was to
collect money to help people who were affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Even if Red Nose Day brings a lot of help and joy, some people criticize it. Several Catholic schools
protest, because sometimes the money is used for abortions in Africa.
To conclude, its success will probably increase, because money is raised to address serious problems in a
humorous, light-hearted way which everyone can relate to.
Coralie Laurent and Aurélie Lhoas
The Routemaster is a red double-decker bus first built in 1954 and first introduced in London on 8 February 1956.
It was developed by Douglas Scott, Colin Curtis and their team. Its manufacturer was AEC, the Associated
Equipment Company, based in the United Kingdom. This company built buses and trucks from 1912 to 1979.
The Routemaster was meant to replace the RT model of 1939, which was itself meant to replace electric
trolleybuses and trams. The Routemaster’s design was ahead of its time: the body was made of light aluminium,
which enabled more comfortable buses seating up to 64 people, as against only 56 in the old RT model. Because
of its strengthened body, it didn’t require a chassis like the other buses. Its special features included the open-air
platform and the presence of a conductor (not to be confused with the driver!). Thanks to him there was less delay
as he collected the money for the tickets during the ride.
Later, in 1961, a lengthened version was made, the RML. It had 72 seats and weighed about seven tonnes
and three quarters. This model became the most common in London. In the following years, the Routemaster
underwent many design variations, such as the radiator grille or the upper deck front windows. Another version
was made in 1968, the RMC (for Routemaster Coach), which contained 57 seats, ‘fully enclosed platforms,
electrically-operated doors, air suspensions, fluorescents lightings, different interior trims, luggage racks and twin
headlamps’ (http://www.icons.org.uk/theicons/collection/routemaster-bus). Some other changes have been made
through the years, till the Routemaster gradually went out of service.
Why this withdrawal? Firstly, because in 1967 the buses became nationalised, and secondly, because of
their shortcomings: the buses had very little leg room, were not designed for wheelchairs and pushchairs, were not
well protected from the cold, and were more expensive because of the need for two employees (the conductor and
the driver). Finally, it could be dangerous to sit on the open platform: indeed, an average of 3 people a year died
while sitting there. From 2003 to 2005 the Routemaster gradually disappeared from the roads. Their regular
service was officially withdrawn on 9 December 2005, to be replaced by the articulated buses, which can carry
more or less twice the number of passengers and which are two joint single-deckers. Nowadays, there are two
Heritage Routes in London where the Routemasters can still officially drive: Heritage Route 9 and Heritage Route
The Routemaster is truly a British icon. Indeed, one glance at this red double-decker bus with its open-air
platform will immediately remind you of England and more specifically of London. It is deeply rooted in British
culture as it appears in many movies, books, postcards and guide books and as many of them have been turned
into restaurants, bars or homes. Some attempts at reviving the Routemaster are now taking place: designers are
trying to modernize it and the London Bus Campaign, which campaigns for the come-back of the Routemaster, is
underway. And for the Routemaster’s fans, you can even buy one for about £2,000!
Mary Decraye and François-Xavier Lefèbvre
Child: “What are we having for breakfast today, Mummy ?”
Mother : “Baked beans of course sweetie!”
Indeed, for breakfast or at tea-time, the so-called baked beans, (also Boston beans or Navy beans) are a very
popular dish in England and even in the USA. It simply consists of beans baked in tomato sauce. Knowing the
good cooking talents of the English people, it is not surprising that those beans can be served with sausages, bacon
or as a pizza topping. The tea-time variant is even more tempting: then it is served on toast with scrambled eggs.
Why are baked beans so popular? Very simply because they are sold in tin cans at an extremely low price
(only a few cents), making them a staple food. Moreover, beans are not prepared in the same way everywhere:
different regions have their own specialities, such as the beans that contain brown sugar, the barbecue beans from
the US or those with maple syrup from Quebec.
As to their origin, it is said that some French sailors brought “cassoulet” with them to England during
colonial days. As time went by, this gave rise to the current baked beans.
Research has shown that this product contributes to the five daily portions of vegetables per person.
However, because of the high level of sugar and salt, the idea that baked beans are healthy has been criticised.(If,
then, you’re ready to try baked beans, you may want to go for the English, sugar free version!) We hope we have
awoken your appetite!
Louise Chandaras and Ludivine Detournay
Wellies – If you didn’t have your feet in your wellies
Do you ever wear wellies? Or maybe you’ll recognise the term “Welly boots”, or “Wellington boots”? Well, if
you still don’t see what we mean, then read on…
Wellies are those green rubber boots that you probably wore when you were a child and when the weather
was rainy and grey, exactly like the Great British weather, where these boots come from. They actually date back
to the 19th century when Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, asked his shoemaker to improve the model
of the Hessian boot (a model essentially worn by soldiers), which was uncomfortable.
The boots have changed a lot since their invention around 1840. The first real boots, ordered by the Duke,
were mid-calf high and made in calfskin leather. By 1850, the boots were made higher, reaching the top of the
calf. From this time onwards, the boots were made in rubber. However, around 1860, a new version was made,
lower than the other versions, only stretching up to the ankle this time. Nowadays, the normal height of wellies is
just below the knee.
Wellies have always had a lot of success among the British ever since they were invented. The initial
success was to be seen in the aristocracy. Gentlemen wanted to imitate their hero from the Napoleonic war: the
Duke of Wellington. Later, when the boots were made in rubber, their success spread to the farmers who could go
back home with their feet dry and mud-free. Wellies are in fact useful to walk on wet or muddy ground and to
protect one’s feet from heavy showers. The popularity of wellies stretches to many different countries, for
instance Canada, where the ground can be muddy due to melting snow.
As part of British culture, wellies have fostered other ideas in peoples’ minds. “Welly wanging”, for
example, is a kind of sport where you have to throw your welly boot as far as possible. It’s absolutely serious,
there is even a championship.
Another example is the Welly boot dance which originated in Africa. Mine workers put bells on their
boots to break the monotony of the work. The sound made by the bells inspired a kind of spiritual dance. This
remained as the welly boot dance (also called gumboots dance).
Last but not least, there’s the Welly boot song composed by Billy Connolly, a Scotsman. The lyrics show
that life without wellies is impossible. Here is the chorus:
If it wasna for your wellies where would you be?
You'd be in the hospital or infirmary,
Cause you would have a dose of the flu or even pluracy,
If you didna have your feet in your wellies!
So, what are you waiting for to put your wellies on and go for a walk?!
Charles Docq and Catherine Lanthier
Steven Patrick Morrissey was born in Manchester (England) on 22 May 1959. Even though his parents were Irish
immigrants, he has always been English in his heart. During his childhood, he already had a passion for music and
films. As a teenager, he was lonely and depressed and took prescriptive drugs in order to fight depression. In
1982, he and Johnny Marr founded The Smiths, a band which eventually split up in 1987. Then Morrissey began
his successful solo career which continues to this day: the release of his next album is planned for 2008.
He first rose to prominence as a vocalist and songwriter in the alternative rock band The Smiths. Apart
from Morrissey, band members included Johnny Marr (guitar, music), Mike Joyce (drums) and Andy Rourke
(bass). The Smiths remain best known for the combination of Morrissey’s ironic, controversial and ambiguous
lyrics and Marr’s dense and complex music. This combination helps explain why the band emerged in the indie
scene in Britain in the early 1980s. Just like The Beatles and Oasis, they are said to have influenced a lot of other
Morrissey’s career as singer and songwriter didn’t end with the split of the band, nor did his controversial
ideas. His lyrics are often about themes like child murder, gang and domestic violence, racism (even though he
was accused of racism himself), drug abuse, terrorism and politics. As to his political views, he attacked not only
the Royal Family and Margaret Thatcher but also former Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W.
Bush. A good illustration of this is the song “Margaret on the Guillotine”. Apparently, he has no problem in
murdering great political figures (figuratively, of course!), but as far as animals are concerned, he sings another
song: “Meat is Murder”.
He is still very popular today, partly due to his eccentric personality.
Sophie Custine and Anne-Sophie Dessouroux
Defined as a luxury car, the Rolls Royce first appeared at the Paris Salon of 1904. As its name indicates, two men
contributed to its production, namely Charles Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce. The latter is the designer of the
original car. Interested in engineering since his childhood, he was at the head of his own manufacturing company
by the age of 19 and created the first model of Rolls Royce in 1903 on the basis of the Decauville. He began to
sell a few of his cars but his business only flourished after meeting Charles Rolls. Indeed they agreed that while
Royce produced the car, Rolls had the exclusive rights to sell it.
From 1906 to 1922, the sole model produced by the newly founded Rolls Royce company was the Silver
Ghost. Showing a mighty capacity and a quiet engine, it was described by the Daily Mail founder as “the best car
in the world”. Soon the company was well known all around the world and started to sell in the United States,
where the business prospered. Unfortunately, Rolls died in a plane crash, leaving Royce at the head of the
company. The latter continued to work and created aero engines while a certain Johnson produced the cars. A new
model came out after the first World War, namely the Phantom. In 1931, the Rolls Royce company acquired
Bentley, a famous sport cars manufacturer and its former rival. Two years later, Royce passed away without
having been able to witness the extent of the alliance’s success.
Today, the Rolls Royce car company is owned by BMW and prospers independently from the areo engine
company. Needless to say, this extremely luxurious car is a privilege for those who can afford it. Indeed, buying
the latest model, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe, revealed in Geneva on February 17, would cost you 614,850 €
- the price of a house! But what could be the reason for such a high price? Maybe it is the little Rolls Royce
mascot on top of the bonnet that can be retracted into the car bonnet by means of a button for safety reasons. This
stainless steel figurine, called the Spirit of Ecstasy, represents a woman leaning forwards with her arms
outstretched behind and above her. It symbolizes "The spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence,
absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace..."
Aurore Denis and Amandine Gillet
The Women’s Institute
The Women’s Institute (WI) is an organisation which has been present in the UK since 1915 and which today
counts more than 205,000 members all over England, Wales and the Islands. There also exist such independent
organisations in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Initially, the Women’s Institute Movement was Canadian, founded at the very end of the 19th century
(1897), but it spread to the UK especially during WWI when women were encouraged to produce more food. The
preoccupations of the WI have evolved over time. Its current goal is to help women obtain a more important voice
of their own in the fields of education and to defend issues which are important for them and their communities.
They have also started several campaigns such as, for instance, the “Climate Change Campaign”, the “End
Violence Against Women Campaign”, “Love Food Campaign”, campaigns about renewable Energy and so on. If
you feel like supporting one of these campaigns or the many others they defend, take a look at their official
website and who knows you may want to become an active member of this association...
Today the Women’s Institute is the largest women’s organisation in UK, where it has been an institution
for long. However, it is mainly since 2003 that it has become famous in the rest of the world thanks to the film
“Calendar Girls”. This film tells the true story of the Rylstone Women's Institute in North Yorkshire, whose
members decided to change the traditional themes of their annual calendar and to pose nude instead. Their goal
was to sell as many copies as possible in order to raise funds for the hospital where one the members’ husband,
John Baker, who suffered from leukaemia, had just died. The photographs represented the women performing the
activities that they teach at the Women’s Institute naked. The calendar turned out to be a best-seller and made
almost one million dollars for the local hospital.
Maud Michel and Anaïs Noël
Jeremy Paxman was born on 11 May 1950 in Leeds. He wrote non-fiction books, but he is mainly known as a TV
presenter. After having graduated with a Master of Arts, Jeremy began his career on a local radio station. Then, he
worked in Belfast as an investigating journalist before joining the BBC in London in 1977 to work as a reporter on
Tonight. Two years later he became a reporter on Panorama, traveling to places such as Beirut and Uganda. Five
years later he received an invitation to present the Six O’Clock News, which he accepted and presented for two
years before moving to Breakfast News in 1986. He became a presenter of Newsnight, which is his current job, in
1989. He also presented other TV and radio programmes, such as “Did you see?”, “University Challenge”, “You
Decide” and “Radio 4's Start The Week”.
He won several awards, such as the Interview of the Year award for his questioning of Michael Howard
(1998), the Broadcasting Press Guild's award for Best Performer (Non-Acting), or the Royal Television Society
TV Journalism Presenter of the Year award (2002 and 2007), and many others. He was also elected the fourth
scariest celebrity on television in a Radio Times poll. A lot of people find him scary because of his incisive and
aggressive interviewing style. Tough questioning is so characteristic of him that it is often called “Paxmanesque”
in the United Kingdom.
One of his most famous Newsnight interviews took place on 13 May 1997. His victim was Michael
Howard, to whom he asked the same question no less than 12 times. Howard gave a qualified and evasive answer
each time. Paxman later admitted that he was trying to prolong the interview because the next item was not ready.
After the General Election in 2005, Paxman interviewed George Galloway, a winning candidate, asking him the
following question: “Are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in parliament?”
Paxman refused to go further until he got the answer, so Galloway put an end to the interview. He also showed his
rude manners in other contexts. For example, when Newnight decided to broadcast weather forecasts instead of
financial reports, he reacted, saying “And for tonight’s weather – It’s April, what do you expect?”.
On the satirical TV show “Spitting Image” Paxman had his own puppet, which made regular appearances
between 1984 and 1996.. He also appeared in films (e.g. “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” (2004)) or in
British TV shows in which he was asked to play his own role. There is also a funny anecdote about his surname.
The BBC genealogy series “Who Do You Think You Are” reported that his ancestor from the 14th century, Roger
Packsman, was a politician who had changed his name to Paxman (“man of peace”) in order to impress the
Michaël Degodenne and Morgane Houbion
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Scotland, you may be tempted to try a traditional Scottish dish: the
(in)famous haggis! But before you eat it, let's find out what it is...because you may change your mind!
The name “haggis” seems to be related to the Scandinavian word “hag” meaning “to hew” or the French
“hachis” – “to chop” ” – or even to the German “Hackwurst” meaning “sausage”.
This being said, the historical origin of this dish is still much debated. On the one hand, some say it comes
from the days of the old Scottish cattle drovers, during which women would prepare rations for their husband's
journeys to Edinburgh. They would put the food in a sheep's stomach to facilitate transportation. On the other
hand, some claim that haggis originated at a time when people ate whatever they could find to avoid starvation.
Nowadays, haggis is traditionally served at the commemoration of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns,
on 25 January. Burns identified haggis as a national symbol of Scotland when he wrote one of his famous poems
“Address to a Haggis”, which achieved literary fame in the 18th century. The recitation of this poem plays an
important part in the Burns supper.
Eating haggis is one thing but seeing how it is made is quite another, hence the curiosity of many tourists
who still don't know what it is made of. One of the most common recipes involves sheep liver, lungs and heart
(known as the “pluck”) mixed with oatmeal and a few spices. All this is then boiled in the animal's stomach for
approximately an hour, a bit like stuffed intestines. Today, however, haggis is usually prepared in a casing rather
than in an actual stomach and to make this supper more enjoyable, haggis is usually served with Scotch Whisky.
Beside being a well-loved dish, haggis is also used in sport entertainment. For example, there are many
competitions involving haggis, such as haggis juggling or hurling (throwing of haggis). The current world record
for haggis hurling is held by Alan Pettigrew.
Let us give you a piece of advice: if you ever do visit Scotland, don't listen to the traditional Scottish joke
telling tourists that haggis is a strange creature...they might take you for a wild haggis hunt!
Joyce Aerts and Marie Boueyrie
A sweet drink blending Irish whiskey and cream…
Baileys is the first liqueur to blend cream and whiskey. It combines two Irish traditions: dairy farming and
It was in 1972 that R. & A. Bailey from Gilbeys of Ireland had this revolutionary idea. However, they
were impeded in their endeavour because cream and whiskey do not mix naturally. But the recipe was perfected
and Baileys was finally launched in 1974 by Gilbeys of Ireland. Diageo, which now owns the trademark, argues
that the unique and smooth taste of Baileys Original Irish Cream is fundamental to its success.
Baileys has become extremely popular since it was introduced. The production of 2005 has reached 6.7
million 9 litre cases. In addition, Baileys is sold in 130 countries and 2,260 glasses are drunk every minute of
every day. This widespread popularity is mostly due to the extensive advertising for the brand. At the moment, the
campaign of Lewis and Kelly is being broadcast around the world. It shows the couple on different occasions
enjoying Baileys with friends.
What is the secret of Baileys’ delicious taste? Baileys is a liqueur which combines Irish cream and
whiskey. The milk used to make this cream is carefully selected from specially chosen Irish farms holding some
40,000 cows. These cows are kept outdoors, where they enjoy the fresh air for nine months of the year and are fed
with the green and fine grass found almost everywhere in Ireland. The second essential ingredient of Baileys, the
whiskey, was discovered by monks almost 10,000 years ago. Not surprisingly Ireland was the first country to
obtain a licence to distil whiskey in 1608.
To prevent the separation of whiskey and cream during storage, Baileys makers use an emulsifier
containing refined vegetable oil. During the process of emulsion, cream and whiskey are mixed: one substance is
dispersed in the other.
The last step in order to get the original taste of Baileys is to mix chocolate flavour, caramel and sugar
with the cream and the whiskey. The exact quantities of these three additional ingredients are kept secret.
The drink has a shelf life of 24 months: the whiskey alone is sufficient to preserve the cream.
How should you serve Baileys? The Irish cream can of course be drunk by itself; but there are more fancy
ways to appreciate the drink. Blended Baileys, Baileys Latte, Baileys Over ice and Baileys Shaken with ice are
easy to prepare and can be served and enjoyed at every moment of the day.
Finally, remember to drink Baileys responsibly since it has an alcohol percentage of 17 %.
Julie Boelen and Marie-Amélie Lenaerts
The US and Canada
America: land of dreams, freedom and justice for all… Or so they say! Many people have come to question this
idealized view of the USA, and the daring critics have found their leader: a 53-year-old author and film maker
from Flint, Michigan: Michael Moore.
Don’t be fooled by Moore’s regular-guy attitude; you might be surprised. He is indeed one of the sharpest
US satirists and his films depict the nation without any compromise. Moreover, his particular sense of humour and
his controversial behaviour have turned him into one of the most influential men in the world, a position that
enables him to try and make young people aware of politics as well as of the importance of taking part in it.
He is best-known for his documentaries in which he points out "inconvenient truths". In Bowling for
Columbine, Moore reminds us of the 1999 massacre of Columbine high school and denounces the American cult
of weapons and violence. Fahrenheit 9/11 was filmed after the September 11th attacks and exposes Bush’s
political failures (especially the war he is leading against Iraq) as well as his links with Bin Laden’s family.
Finally, Moore has had a brand new movie coming out this year, namely Sicko, in which he criticizes the
disfunctional US health care system.
You can love him or hate him, but no one can deny his capacity to promote his views with an impressive
sense of integrity and frankness. This makes him one of the most influential directors of all times. And there’s no
doubt that we can expect a lot more from the fearless Michael Moore in the coming years.
Bettina Battisti and Marie Fosséprez
Charlie Parker was born in Kansas City, Kansas in 1920. He was known as Yardbird, which would later be
shortened to Bird, and was one of the greatest saxophonists and jazz players of the 1940s. He first came in contact
with music at school where he played baritone horn. From 1935 to 1939, he developed his art with local bands in
Kansas City, Missouri.
However, it was in 1939 that he would really start his musical career. In New York, he began to play a
new kind of jazz called bebop together with other musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and
Charlie Christian. This new style was ill considered by many older jazz musicians, the moldy figs, as they were
called by the young beboppers. At the same time, Parker was part of the McShann’s band with which he recorded
several songs such as Hootie Blues or Confessing the Blues.
The year 1945 was a turning point in his career. Indeed, he led his own group in New York and later
moved to Hollywood. He played there until 1946, when he had to spend six months in a psychiatric hospital due
to a nervous breakdown. His mental health was weak as a result of his life-long drug addiction.
He left the hospital in better shape and started playing again in nightclubs. He also recorded several of his
most popular songs which would help him become far more famous at the beginning of the 50s. However, his
self-destructive behaviour would soon catch up with him and lead to an untimely death in 1955.
Still considered today as one of the most important jazz musicians in history, people have often paid
tribute to him. For example, he received a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1984 and a movie about
his life, Bird, was released in 1988. Although sadly notorious for his addictions, he left his imprint on jazz and
continues to be an incredible source of inspiration in the world of art more than fifty years after his death.
Bruno Brunetta and Elodie Coene
Walt Disney: Emperor of Dreams
Who has never heard of Walt Disney? This world-famous cartoon director and businessman was born on 5
December 1901 in Chicago, IL. He is an icon in American culture, as will be shown in this blog entry.
Walt Elias Disney started his career as an advertising illustrator, but failing to meet the success he
desired, he left his hometown to go to Hollywood. He founded a cartoon production company (known today as the
Walt Disney Company), and a couple of years later, his Steamboat Willie made him famous, with its introduction
of the character of Mickey Mouse. This film was the first in an endless series of worldwide cartoons successes
such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Bambi, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland – among many
But Disney’s interest lay not only in cartoons, but also in live-action movies: he most notably produced
Mary Poppins, starring Julie Andrews. Disney also invested his money and his time in the creation of an
amusement park in California, Disleyland. This theme park was designed in such a way that all American families
could walk in a fantasy world that would remind everybody of his cartoons, for instance by getting lost in Alice in
Wonderland’s labyrinth. As a philanthropist, he decided to create a new university, CalArts (short for California
Institute of Arts), in order to promote the creativity of talented people who would probably become prominent in
Walt Disney died of lung cancer on 15 December 1966 — he was a heavy smoker. An urban legend says
that Walt Disney was cryonically frozen, but he was actually cremated. After his death, his work was carried on
by others, through the Walt Disney Company, which is now owned by his offspring. For example, several other
theme parks were built in Florida, Tokyo and Paris. Even a Disney Cruise Line was opened in the Caribbean.
As far as the movie legacy is concerned, the Walt Disney Company went on to make not only many other
successful cartoons such as The Beauty and the Beast, but also live-action films among which Honey I Shrank the
Kids, and hybrid forms mixing traditional animation with live action, e.g. Who Framed Roger Rabbit1. The latter
is the only film featuring characters from Disney and from Warner Bros. in the same frame.
For almost a dozen years, the Walt Disney Company has invested more and more money in computer-
animated films, which notably resulted in the two Toy Story films. These were made by the Pixar Animation
Studios, which are now owned by Disney. Their most recent release is Ratatouille.
In conclusion, Walt Disney is considered as an important figure in American, but also world culture,
which makes him a legend. His future-oriented empire is one of the most powerful, and it still has many
wonderful stories to tell, making us wander in the utmost fantastic universe.
Simon Labate and Quentin Poncelet
The term “Sunset Boulevard” can refer to several things: a street, a film, a musical and a song. In this short
discussion we will mainly focus on the street and the film.
First, Sunset Boulevard is an icon of Hollywood. This famous street in Los Angeles links Hollywood and
Malibu. It also passes through Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, among other places. The boulevard is 22 miles long,
which corresponds to 35 kilometres. From this street, tourists can admire the view of the sunset on the Pacific
Ocean, hence its name. The streets in Los Angeles are usually straight, but this one is particular because there are
many curves. This winding form sometimes leads to car accidents and often to traffic jams at rush hours. Since the
1970s, a part of the Sunset Boulevard has had the reputation of being a “prostitution street”. Incidentally, it was in
this street that Hugh Grant was caught with a prostitute in a public place and was arrested for lewd conduct. What
can you find in Sunset Boulevard? The most famous part of the street is Sunset Strip, the nightlife’s centre in Los
Angeles. The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) is located there too. Finally Sunset Boulevard is
also known for its many music shops.
Second, “Sunset Boulevard” is the name of a film directed by Billy Wilder and released in 1950. The two
main actors are William Holden and Gloria Swanson. Let’s start with a short summary. The film begins with the
view of a dead man, Joe Gillis, lying in a swimming pool. The rest of the film is based on his flashback of the last
six months of his life. Joe Gillis was an unsuccessful screenwriter. By chance, he met Norma Desmond, an ex-star
of the silent cinema. As they both wished to rise to fame again, she proposed him to make a new film with her. He
agreed, but very soon became financially dependent on her. Things got complicated when Norma told Joe she had
fallen in love with him. Hearing this he left her and went to a friend’s where he met Betty. Joe was told that
Norma had tried to kill herself and decided to go back to her, but carried on his secret romance with Betty all the
Due to a superstition, titles of plays and movies that consist of a question do not contain a question mark.
while. Norma discovered it and threatened to commit suicide. Joe did not take it seriously. Furious and jealous
Norma shot him and he fell dead in the swimming pool. The media arrives to report the sudden death of the
screenwriter. Norma, lost in imagination, acts as an actress in a new film. Her dream to appear on the screen again
has finally come true, but in an unexpected way. The film was named after the famous Sunset Boulevard because
the street appears in several scenes and the whole story takes place in the surroundings of the boulevard. The film
shows the devastating influence that the studio system of Hollywood can have on stars.
Anne Bohon and Delphine Debande
John Davison Rockefeller
John Davison Rockefeller, born in 1839 in New York, managed to fulfil his childhood dreams, namely to become
a wealthy and philanthropic man. Indeed, when he was sixteen he already promised to give 1/10 of his fortune to
charity. In 1873 he founded the Standard Oil of Ohio which was an instant success and became one of the largest
shippers of oil and kerosene in the United States. As time went by the company absorbed the majority of its
competitors so that it gained almost complete control of oil production in the United States. In 1882, Rockefeller
set up the Standard Oil Trust, which was one of the world's first and largest multinational corporations. This
multinational benefited many people: kerosene products became cheaper, of better quality and more easily
available. But it should be noted that his policy was also criticized by journalists and politicians and as a
consequence of the various press campaigns against him he became one of America's most hated men. He
remained at the head of the Standard Oil Company until 1911, the year of the multinational’s dissolution. He
ended his career with a fortune estimated at $900 million.
Aside from his career as a leader of the petroleum industry he devoted his time to philanthropy. His
donations and his organization (General Education Board) were aimed at promoting education at all levels
everywhere in the country. He also founded the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research which later became the
Rockefeller University. More generally the main objectives of his foundations were to support public health,
medical training and the arts.
To conclude, John Rockefeller had two great ambitions, namely to reach a fortune of $100,000 and to live
until his 100th birthday. It would be an understatement to say that his first wish came true since he died with a
fortune estimated at 1.4 billion dollars which made him one of the wealthiest men in the world. As for his second
wish, he remained only three years short of making it come true, as he died in 1937. John Rockefeller is a perfect
illustration of the American dream: he was born into the working class but managed to climb up the social ladder
and reach a place among the icons of the United States.
Cindy Danloy and Jonathan Detraux
The Chevrolet Corvette
In this article we will deal with the legendary Chevrolet Corvette, the very first all-American sports car.
The first series of Corvettes (C1) was produced from 1953 to 1962. Only 300 cars were made in 1953, all
of them meant to be offered to VIPs (presumably for prestige as well as testing purposes). In 1955 the 6-cylinder
motor was replaced by a more powerful V8 engine. As for the 1958 model, it is considered to be the flashiest
The C2 line came out in the 1960s. In 1963, a model of Corvette called “Corvette Sting Ray” was
designed, which was for the first time available in a coupé variant. This car showed dynamical improvements such
as the introduction of a four-wheel independent suspension. According to the Motor Trend, the new Corvette was
"far in advance in both ride and handling of anything now being built in the United States".2
C3 models were put up for sale from 1968 to 1982. They featured a new design, which had the nose lower
to the ground and looked quite muscular. In the 1980s, despite the fact that general automobile sales numbers
were low, that the price of the Corvette was constantly rising and that the new models had lower performance, the
C3 generation sales remained quite good.
The years 1983 to 1996 were the time of the C4 generation. Among the best known C4 models were the
ZR-1, the Grand Sport and the Collector Edition. The ZR-1 was an ultra-high performance vehicle which
resembled another powerful car, the Lotus. In 1996, the Grand Sport and the Collector edition were released; the
latter had a specific purpose, namely the commemoration of the C4’s final year.
The C5 line was produced from 1997 to 2004. Two special editions resulted from this fifth generation: the
Z06, a kind of retrospective model (with respect to the C2 generation), and the C5-R, a racer. In 2003, the
Corvette’s 50th anniversary was celebrated, an event which led to the restoration of many Corvettes and to a
gathering of 10,000 Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum (Kentucky).
As far as the C6 models are concerned, there are currently three of them: the Chevrolet Corvette C6
Coupé, the Chevrolet Corvette C6 Convertible and the Z06.
The Chevrolet Corvette is also one of the “Bond cars” featured in a 007 movie, namely “A View to a
Kill” (1985), the last Bond movie starring Roger Moore. After discovering the evil plans of the villain, Max Zorin
(Christopher Walken), James Bond escapes with the KGB agent Pola Ivanova, who drives a Corvette.
Additional sources (featured as links in the blog contribution)
Vincent Guillaume and Justine Vanderschueren
Have you ever heard of Arcade Fire? This band comes from Montreal (Canada) and produces alternative rock. It
was formed in 2000 by the couple Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. These love birds (who got married in 2003)
composed some songs together and afterwards met the other members of the group, which eventually gave birth to
Arcade Fire. Apart from the married couple, the band includes Richard Parry, Tim Kingsbury, William Butler
(Win’s brother), Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara. The band was complete in 2003. Most of the artists can play
several musical instruments (guitar, violin, drums, piano, cello, xylophone, accordion and harp) which constitutes
the singular character of the group as they can switch instruments during the concerts, thus allowing a lot of
The result of this collaboration is their first album “Funeral”, so called because the group suffered the loss
of several relatives. The album came out in the USA in September 2004. It was a real success on the internet and
some famous rock stars such as David Bowie, Beck, David Byrne and Bono didn’t hesitate to call it “a stroke of
genius”. The lead singer of U2 even chose them as the supporting act for his concerts.
In February 2005, Arcade Fire came to Europe to promote their album, which was greeted with
enthusiasm. What’s more, the group won several prizes and was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize 2007.
To conclude, we can say that the modesty of the group, their talents on stage and the intimacy with the
audience all contribute to the pride of the Canadians.
As far as we are concerned, we hardly knew anything about this band but we both agree now that this is
really good music… Of course, it’s up to you to discover a little bit more about them, so why not check out our
favourite song called “Neighborhood 1 (Tunnels)”! Enjoy…
Marie Marchand and Nolan Henno
If, on hearing the word “poutine”, you think of the Russian president, you are right, but poutine also happens to be
the perfect example of Canadian comfort food (food that makes you feel better). The dish consists of French fries
topped with cheese curds and covered with gravy (a brown sauce made by adding flour to the juices that come out
of meat while it is cooking).
The origin of poutine is uncertain. Different areas of Eastern Canada claim to be the birthplace of the
dish. However, the most popular version is the one related by the inhabitants of Warwick, a town in Quebec.
According to them, the creation of poutine can be traced back to 1957 in a little restaurant called The Laughing
Elf, run by Ferdinand Lachance. One day, a take-out customer ordered French fries and cheese curds in a bag and
asked Lachance to mix them. The restaurateur was rather surprised and said: “Ça va faire une maudite poutine”
(“That’s going to make a damn mess”) – the word poutine is slang for mess in Quebec French.. From then on the
name has remained in English too and poutine became a popular dish.
In order to make poutine more of a gastronomic food, Martin Picard, a successful chef from Montreal,
changed some of the ingredients. For instance, he added foie gras to the dish. At first, some chefs were ashamed to
prepare it because it was looked down upon as junk food only to be eaten late at night after a party. But thanks to
Picard, poutine is now becoming more and more appreciated as a standard menu.
There are many variants of poutine, one of them being Italian poutine, which replaces gravy by
Bolognese sauce. Another example is Greek poutine, which consists of fries, feta cheese and a warm
Mediterranean vinaigrette. You can also find some restaurants in Montreal which serve more upscale Poutine with
three-pepper sauce, Merguez sausage, foie gras or caviar and even truffle.
Poutines are found with a ride range of styles; they are sold by fast food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC
and Burger King and popular restaurants serve them as well. It is easy to prepare at home (it only takes 25
minutes) and it is also a popular dish in high school cafeterias and at ski resorts.
Nathalie Blouard and Eléonore de Broux
Australia and New Zealand
Ayers Rock, sturdy symbol of Australia
Australia is famous for its kangaroos and koalas, but these are nothing compared to Uluru Mount, the aboriginal
name for the well-known Ayers Rock. Sleeping in the centre of the last continent, this sandy monolith is full of
springs, waterholes, rock caves, ancient paintings and is home to a rich cultural past.
A sacred place for the Anangu (Aborigines of central Australia), Uluru’s origins are surrounded by myths
of having been formed by ancestral beings during the Dreamtime. The latter stands for the creation of the world
and also for the link between past and present. Thus evidence can be found in the rock itself, its fissures, cliffs and
caves. Moreover, various outcrops represent ancient spirits, and by touching the rock, an Aborigine can invoke
these spirits and communicate with the Dreamtime.
According to an Aboriginal legend, this sandstone arose from the bloodshed of a particularly fierce battle
between two tribes, namely the Kuniya (the rock pythons) and the Liru (the poisonous snakes) which put an end to
the Dreamtime and marked the beginning of the Human Era.
The first human settlements date back 10,000 years, when Australia was only inhabited by the
Aborigines. It was first discovered by Dutch navigators in 1606 and conquered by General Cook as a tribute to
King George III in 1770. Colonisation ensued and native people were mistreated.
However, it was only in 1872 that the first non-indigenous person, the explorer Ernest Giles, saw the rock
formation. One year later, William Gosse visited Ayers Rock and named it after the Chief Secretary of South
Australia, Sir Henry Ayers.
In 1985, Uluru was given back to its traditional owners, the Yankuntjatjara and the Pitjantjatjara, who
transformed it into a park. Nowadays they still use it for rituals and ceremonies. Furthermore, it is the first site in
Australia with an official double name: 'Uluru/Ayers Rock'.
Benjamin Briot and Ana-Alicia Lamontagne
"The house wife is an unpaid employee in her husband's house in return for the security of being a permanent
Germaine Greer was born in 1939 into a middle-class family in Melbourne, Australia, and has been living in
England since 1962. She went to several universities and got a degree in English and French language and
literatures. In Sydney she joined the Push group of intellectuals whose anarchist-libertarian ideas and philosophy
influenced her. After her studies, she moved to England and worked there as an English literature professor. She
has also worked as a journalist and a writer in different genres.
Her first major book was The Female Eunuch published in 1970, in which Greer denounced the
oppression of women and promoted many feminist ideas. Because, controversially, the author spoke freely about
sexuality, the book attracted as much criticism as praise. Perhaps partly because of this controversy, after a few
months already the book was being read all around the world. .
Fourteen years later, Greer pursued the same topics further in Sex and Destiny, adding criticism about the
nuclear family and the Western attitude towards women’s concerns. Another important book is the sequel to The
Female Eunuch, viz. The Whole Woman (1999), which began with the words “The time has come to get angry
again”. In another book written the same year, she criticized the lack of progress in the feminist movement.
Despite the fact that she has often been criticized and that she shocked many people, Germaine Greer has
opened the minds of modern society and has become a model for many feminists.
Mélissa Henry and Céline Piette
Clive James is a versatile Australian cultural icon who was born in Sydney in 1939. He studied in Sydney and
became literary editor for the student newspaper Honi Soit. After his graduation he worked one year as assistant
editor of the magazine page of the Sydney Morning Herald.
In 1961 he moved to England. In London he shared a flat with Bruce Beresford. Three years later he
managed to enter Cambridge University where he read English literature. During that period he also became
president of the Footlights and wrote lyrics with Pete Atkin, who was also involved in the Footlights. Clive James
received a second degree and wrote a PhD on Percy Bysshe Shelley.
From 1972 to 1982 he worked as a television critic for The Observer and wrote his weekly column. He
also performed on tv in programmes such as the Granada Television pop music show and Clive James on TV. He
got more and more attention from periodicals such as The Listener and the New Statesman and he was nicknamed
after his first book: The Metropolitan Critic. In the same period he wrote Peregrine Prykke's Pilgrimage through
the London Literary World.
In 1979 he wrote the first volume of his autobiography, Unreliable memoirs, which was reprinted about
60 times. It was soon followed by three other volumes: Falling towards England, May week was in June and
North face of Soho. Each volume represents a particular period of James’ life; the first part is about his upbringing
in Australia, the second is about his moving to England, the third is about his life at Cambridge University and the
last volume is about the period between his stay at Cambridge University and the present.
In addition to this he also wrote novels (e.g. The silver castle) and poetry (e.g. The book of my enemy).
He also was interested in travel writing and introduced the postcards on television. As well, he wrote series like
Fame in the 20th Century which was broadcast in most of the English speaking world (through the BBC, ABC
and PBS networks). In 2007 he presented the BBC radio programme Point of View and now he concentrates on
the development of his personal website.
The Flying Doctors
The Flying Doctors is an Australian drama series based on the workings of the RFDS, which stands for Royal
Flying Doctor Service of Australia. This service provides health care and emergency assistance to the people
living in the outback (i.e. the remote areas of Australia). It was founded in 1928 by Reverend John Flynn, an
Australian priest who deplored the lack of medical help for the sick and injured of the outback.
Although he was given the idea by a soldier (who unfortunately did not witness the institution grown out
of his original idea, as he was killed in action in France in 1918), it was Flynn who developed the necessary
means for the project to take form. Indeed, he combined medicine with two budding technologies, namely the
radio (replacing the then most common means of communication, the telegraph) and the aircraft. This resulted in
the first air ambulance service in the world. According to recent statistics, the RFDS helps on average 600 patients
each day, its 50 aircraft covering 45,000 km per day. And all of that for free, since it is a not-for-profit
organisation. That is why the first few decades were tough, financially speaking, and the service relied heavily on
volunteer support and donations. The government also gave Flynn’s people a helping hand from time to time, but
not until the 1960’s did it become an established practice. Not surprisingly, it is around that time that the RFDS
began to purchase its own equipment and to employ its own pilots and engineers, eventually becoming this much
respected Australian icon (which, as the smart ones among us will have noticed, celebrated its 80th anniversary
Anyway, to get back to the subject, it is the series we are talking about. “The flying doctors” is actually
the informal name given to the members of the RFDS, and as mentioned above, the series basically revolves
around the everyday missions of the Australian medical service, only much more romanticised (after all, love
stories between doctors do not occur exclusively in House MD). The programme ran from 1986 to 1993, with an
effort to revive the declining ratings in that last year proving to be in vain. However, it was quite successful during
those seven years, its 221 episodes having been broadcast in over 50 countries. And more importantly, it also
helped popularise the real RFDS, which resulted in an upsurge in donations to this worthy organisation.
Sybille Bataille and Pierre-Yves Moyen
Ned Kelly is an iconic figure of Australia’s history and culture. He is also Australia’s most famous bushranger. As
to the rest of his person, opinions differ. Some say he is a national hero symbolizing the rebellion against
oppressive authorities. According to a minority, he is essentially a murderer. One thing is sure: Ned Kelly was an
outlaw. How did such a controversy build up around this character? After having a glance at his story, you will be
free to form your own opinion about him…
Edward “Ned” Kelly was born in Beveridge, north of Melbourne, in 1855. He was the son of an Irish
immigrant who had been convicted in Ireland for stealing pigs and sent to Tasmania. Ned’s father then went to
Australia where he worked as a farmer. He married Ellen Quinn with whom he had eight children. Life was hard
for landowners. Ned Kelly’s father had often been suspected of stealing horses, without ever being sentenced. One
day he was finally convicted for another crime linked to a theft. He died in jail when Ned was only eleven years
old. An unusually high number of crimes was blamed on Ned’s family, for only half of which they were actually
found guilty. These two facts lead some to think the Kelly family was not treated fairly.
From his fourteenth birthday on, Ned was arrested several times for crimes such as theft and assaults. Ned
served some time in jail. During a fight known as the Fitzpatrick incident, Ned was accused of having shot a man.
With the police after him, he founded a gang with his brother Dan and two other men. In a fight with the police,
Ned shot two officers. From then on, he was also wanted for murder. In addition to this, the gang committed two
In an 8,300 word document called the Jerilderie letter, Ned Kelly explained his opinion and he denounced
the way in which the Irish Catholics were treated by the police, the English and Irish Protestant immigrants. Ned
Kelly wanted his letter to be published but it did not happen until 1930. Since its publication the Jerilderie letter
has become an important piece of Australian literature.
As to Ned, he was captured by the police. In his attempt to escape, he used an iron-made piece of armour
which made him famous as the ‘iron outlaw’. He did not escape in the end but his armour protected him and so
prevented him from dying during the capture. At his trial He was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was
hanged on 11 November 1880.
Ned Kelly can be considered as a kind of Australian Robin Hood, a popular hero resisting unfair
authorities. His Jerilderie Letter in which he denounced colonial policies played an important part in his fame.
This is how an Irish immigrant’s son has risen to the status of an icon.
Once Were Warriors
Once were warriors is a film based on the novel of the same name written by Alan Duff . It was directed by Lee
Tamahori in 1994. The movie depicts the everyday life of the Hekes, a poor Maori family. While Jack “the muss”
gets drunk with his friends and often ends up fighting in several pubs, his wife Beth tries to feed their five children
with what Jack leaves her. When she dares to complain, she is beaten by her husband. The two oldest sons are
delinquents: Nig, who dislikes his father, is a member of the TOA gang and Boogy has been sent to a borstal by
the judge. When their daughter Grace hangs herself after having been raped by one of her father’s friends, Beth
realizes that she must change her way of living and decides to leave Jack.
Once were warriors also portrays several aspects of the Maori culture. The Maoris form the native
population of New Zealand, where they settled from the 8th century onwards, and today represent 10% of the
population, which has been colonized by the British mostly. In the movie we can see that the Maori culture was
influenced by this period of colonization. A first aspect is that they became Christians without abandoning their
rites. This is illustrated by Grace’s funeral which is a mix of Maori and Christian traditions, performing the Haka
dance during the Christian ceremony for instance.
A second aspect is that many people left their village to adopt the European way of life in the cities,
which led them to poverty and alcoholism among other things. In the film the Heke family live poorly in the
suburbs of a town. Their misery drives them to alcoholism, a third aspect which is very prominent in the movie, as
when Jack and Beth get drunk at home with friends. We can also see the violent aspect of the Maori culture. In
fact they were already fierce and proud warriors and became even more violent by learning new war techniques
from the Europeans. With regard to the film, there are a lot of fights, violent scenes and performances of the Haka.
Once were warriors is one of the only movies showing the real social status of the Maori that achieved
such success. It won several prizes such as best film at the New Zealand Film & Television Awards, the Durban
International Film Festival, the Montreal Film Festival and the Rotterdam Film Festival. Thanks to this worldwide
success, people got interested in the Maori culture. The movie therefore became an icon of this antipodean culture.
We strongly recommend this great movie, only don’t expect a good laugh but rather a good cry!
Martin Cugnon and Hélène Vancompernolle
Sir Edmund Percival Hillary
Sir Edmund Percival Hillary was born in 1919 in Auckland (New Zealand). During his youth he was shy and hid
in books and dreams of adventure. He became interested in climbing when he was 16, during a school trip to
Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand.
His first successful big climb was in 1939, when he reached the top of Mount Ollivier, in the Southern
Alps of New Zealand. At the beginning of the Second World War he joined the air force and in 1943 he joined the
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as a navigator.
In 1951 he became a member of the British reconnaissance expedition which had as its purpose the
climbing of Mount Everest. In 1953 he finally reached the top of Mount Everest with Hunt as leader and 399 other
They climbed via the Nepal-side and set their first camp in March 1953 and their final camp a few days
before reaching the summit. When they set the final camp the climbers had to reach the summit within two or
three days, otherwise bad weather could force them to descend. The group in which Edmund Hillary took part
succeeded in reaching the summit of Mount Everest on 28 May. They spent only 15 minutes on the summit.
Hillary became more and more popular and was made Knight Commander of the Order of the British
Empire in 1953. He also became a member of the Order of New Zealand in 1987 and a Knight of the Order of the
Garter in 1995. He further received the Polar Medal due to his participation in the Commonwealth Trans-
Antarctic Expedition. Nowadays there are also schools, streets and organisations in New Zealand which have
taken his name, for example Hillary College in Otara and Edmund Hillary Primary School in Papakura.
In 1992 Hillary was such an icon for New Zealand that he appeared on the $5 note, thus making him the
first New Zealander to appear on a bank note during his life. This is of course against the traditional conventions
which normally used portraits of dead icons. In 2003, he became an honorary citizen of Nepal for the 50th
anniversary of the climbing of Mount Everest. He was the first foreigner to receive this honorary citizenship. The
same year, a statue of Sir Edmund Hillary was erected at Mt Cook village, in New Zealand. He died in January
Aurora Choffray and Charlotte Collard