Showing posts from April, 2015


Zeugma (as explained by the Collins online dictionary)
‘noun:a figure of speech in which a word is used to modify or govern two or more words although appropriate to only one of them or making a different sense with each, as in the sentence Mr. Pickwick took his hat and his leave (Charles Dickens)’

Dickens loved to turn such a phrase, Alexander Pope was prone also:
‘Here Thou, great Anna! whom three Realms obey,
Dost sometimes Counsel take – and sometimes Tea.’
And Shakespeare, and The Bible, and more.

Used as appropriate to only one word as in ‘weeping eyes and hearts’ it strays (I think) into metaphor territory, some of it fantastically comic; potentially bombastic, pathetic, overdone. In good writing, amazing, in bad writing, a great deal of unintended entertainment. Old pulp fiction is a fine source. Alas, the best example I ever had was tragically lost in a kitchen swamping some years ago - I forget the title but this sentence ‘I felt a sitting duck’ has stuck with me.

Pared ba…


Word History: The word yoga comes from Sanskrit yogaḥ, "yoking, joining together" and by extension "harnessing of one's mental faculties to a purpose" and thus "yoga." The Sanskrit word descends from the Indo-European root *yeug-, "to join, yoke." In the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, *yeug- developed into yuk-, represented in Old English by geoc, the ancestor of Modern English yoke. The root *yeug- is continued by words in most of the branches of the Indo-European language family, which indicates that the speakers of Proto-Indo-European used draft animals to pull their plows and draw their wagons. [American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.]

‘Whoever desires whatever object and strives for that object consistently, certainly achieves it - unless he gives up half-way.’ …


Xanthippe is by legend a nagging wife. Her contemporaries do not report this. Her husband, Socrates, is given words that when I read them stand as admirably commemorative:
"None of your soft-mouthed, docile animals for me, the horse for me to own must show some spirit"
(Her name means Yellow Horse.)
It is said that once she followed up loud words by upending a chamber pot over the head of Socrates, to which he remarked, ‘after thunder comes the rain.’
It seems to me that this was a lively household: two strong minded parents, three young sons.
(The chamberpot in other accounts is merely ‘washing water.’)
I like the stride of the Yellow Horse, and catch a glint of amusement in those imagined eyes.


W was the letter I would have featured yesterday-
Were I so inclined-
What was it that I was doing?
It was Monday so:
One adventure before breakfast (in the Dead Tree Field, an unexpected lake, ice shadows, an outpost of Badgerland)
One grandchild was here, for her second breakfast, to draw a face for a scarecrow, to plant melons and snail shells, to mispronounce windmills (minnedwills, millwynds, whealmills, windmiles).
‘Snail shells, do they grow into flowers?’ ‘Nooo, Granma, it makes a tree!’


I loathe crosswords. This no one expects, because I love words. But if you want to share a word with me why be oblique? I don’t want clues, I’d like to know what word and why you are bringing it to my attention. That it intersects with other words does not inspire. But I do love playing with words. So my new word game hobby isvandalising a book. Not any book, just one I found in the ‘3 for £1’ box at Launceston’s secondhand book store. It has no date in it, but the story is set at the end of the First World War, the binding looks suitably shabby-chic, the paper is impressively thick, it suggests something put together in the 1930s. (Wikipedia says this novel came out in 1923.) Scandalous to mess with it, as an object. But as I found the story objectionable, the ending depressing, the writing imbued with racism and anti-Semitism, I decided to change its history.
The game is to find in each page a set of words and/or phrases that form a pleasing flow, then cover over the rest.
It feel…

Un Or Up...

Un- the prefix of rejection. Bold. Untouchable.
Up- the prefix of raising up. Celebratory. Upbeat.
One of these I would have chosen for today's U themed topic...
I did not choose anything but walking out with dogs, once in the pale early sun, when the hedge flowers were half open, as though colour had just been invented, was making a shy start. Once in a fine moorland mist, as though colour had been a mistake, and rubbed out, to start again, perhaps with metallics? Or tones of mud?


Every moment is not meant to be neatly sketched. Details are best daubed. Grab any size of brush any way you please. Mix colour. Don’t mix. Express bold, hide in shade. Put your head in the pot, if you like. 
All of the pictures ever created, stitched like patchwork, still make only one sliver of eternity. What of all this would ever matter? If everything is not simply transient but lost in vastness?
What is it that you feel; closed eyes, open in mind, in soul?

Self Surprise?

How does one surprise oneself? 
1) By an unknown process, otherwise is it really a surprise?
If you are too much under control, you may have squished your soul. You may be living with an unhealthy level of fear, oppressed by expectations, social or personal. Seek help. Try dancing, even if it’s in a locked room with no audience, it’s a start. Some would advocate intoxication but be wary of replacing control with substance based escapism. It can go wrong. By wrong I mean leading to addiction, not waking up in a tree dressed as a pirate. The latter seems fine.
2) Try something new.
Preferably something that crosses a boundary (whilst drawing a firm line at anything nonconsensual). Small things, like a different route home, like having a digestive instead of a tea biscuit; mid range things, like taking up kayaking; long range things, like going to live in a different country. 
3) Try something you don’t think you can do.
Set yourself a goal if you like. A half marathon, a mud run, a rock…


Sun.  A weight of it - of the specific measure, no one cares. Absorb like leaves, all opened up.
Sun on me like the nectar-dusted legs of a bee.
Laughing, just because -
Flowers at work: we should be this: simply to exist is to fulfil.
Ah, but the floors need sweeping, they are horrid.
But we can push the windows wide, and if we feel nice - work is not work at all.


Questioneer is not a typo. It is an attempt to climb, to make the summit of How To Live.
Every question should have an answer, in a balanced world, but every answer can create several questions.
It is not easy, except to be overwhelmed.
One hold at a time, we get and keep our grip.
(And if ever you need to practice, spend time with a three year old. They question everything except their own spontaneity.)

Protean Breakfaster

This morning, early, early-ish. Coffee bubbles. Eggs are poached in domes.
Air is clear, cool to touch. Buttocks press on damp bench-plank. The view, half green, half blue.
Out of this protein and caffeine draw some wakefulness. Protean: this is how the word wanders up in my mind. A mix of protein and caffeine? Versatile, changeable.

Reluctant to be driving. Open window. Clock watch.

On time, parking is easy. Feel competent, even, yes, sociable.

In the big hall, one thousand white suits, one thousand voices, one thousand techniques: or thereabouts. It sounds like one thousand, it feels like one thousand. Every one happy, breaks sweat, body moving, brain connecting - this move goes here because - aha! How to smite your enemies!

All the lovely relaxing loss of tension - I would describe as ebbs in swirls - how it leaves you as you should be, happy, glowing.

And for the journey home, no satellite navigational advice. Follow a whim to Glastonbury instead, decide to visit the Abbey. Watch…


Lacking a geopolitical stronghold (unless the polytunnel counts) I am not a true oligarch.
I dream of a stronghold, as any oligarchic candidate would - a vague yet vivid dream involving wide open space, water, natural materials, a sense of sparkle…
I have four hired venues for my teaching, however, in which I strut up and down waving a stop watch, issuing orders, organising, delegating , reviewing, assessing, correcting, planning, answering questions, provoking thought, promoting harmony and progression on as many levels as possible.
I suspect my pay is below oligarchic average; job satisfaction, above. 




[Centile: one of 99 actual or notional values of a variable dividing its distribution into 100 groups with equal frequencies; the 90th centile is the value of a variable such that 90% of the relevant population is below that value.]

Magnificentile: a scale on which you measure the magnificence of your life.
On which you choose what the centiles represent.
Today I choose bluebells, eating outdoors, the noise of bees.
Measuring a full quotient, as is usual. Dog agrees. She is no mathematician, merely a genius.

Lovely Jubbly

A sprouting, unnecessary yet exuberant, from the word ‘lovely,’ this expression conveys a deal done to the favour of the expresser, or some unearned luck.
Not a phrase so often used these days; perhaps from the taint of 1980s greed; though it has a jolly twang, a satisfaction to it.
Something of the child holds in the simplicity of it, and the element of gloating.
So I use it to convey here an uncomplicated swell of pride.
It is my wolfish appreciation at the shelves of seedlings in the polytunnel, at the fertile garden, of how this work reaps reward.
It is the grin at a grandchild, engrossed, who in all the paradise of fauna has set herself up on the driveway to play with items retrieved from the recycling bag and pots of borrowed pond water.
‘Making soup dear? Lovely jubbly!’


I am keen. On Life.
Every minute every excruciating minutiae
Detail of it.
This afternoon we drove towards home: from Kent to Cornwall
Hot behind car glass because the air con is broken
Open windows sporadically: beautiful relief.
Over Blackhill Downs a cloud had dropped, split like a fallen craft-
Into the mist we drove it was neither
Recognisably, day, night?
The sun was barely shining, a plain disc
Until hilltops: there it glared
And in the valleys, dense, debris vapour
And the evening came. We drove as the sun dipped to the earths’s edge
Seemed to set it on fire: cloud or smoke forming in the sky
The sky:
Rubescent, turquoise, molten gold
Expanse beyond detail
Gestaltist, joyous:
Keen, the experience of everything.

Jealous, Not Or Much

Jealous, Not: that was the intended title.
Such wise things I would write; of things you are supposed to want to make your incomplete life connected, of dangerous comparisons pressed upon us.
About how we should not daydream of ‘when’ but look to our hearts and know what it is that we truly wish for, and figure out what can be done to work towards this, figure out what is it that we have all ready that is part of this.
For example, I love outdoor life. I dream of outdoor bathrooms and kitchens. I have a garden. Mr has built a lean-to space, where the loganberries go berserk, with a mouldering work table. This has been stuck with junk, which slowly, slowly I am clearing: an outdoor kitchen will grow from this determination.
A friend has even given us a sink and draining board. It’s propped, waiting.The hose pipe will be our outdoor plumbing. And how splendid it is simply to say, I should like a sink, and there one is!
And while I’m trailing round, putting things in piles for the t…

Interval Training

This is not a characteristic, but a type of getting or maintaining fitness with exercise that changes intensity.  This morning I used the walk, jog, sprint interval method to travel two hilly miles and now my leg muscles feel appreciated.  I am pleased to have a physical body to interact with the physical world. I love movement; the push of an uphill sprint, the breeze trailing lost twine from a tree, the dip of birds in flight; and how the light interplays; how pale the sky is today, opal blue, and the light seems pasted on behind it, opaquely collaged. Dog and I and even the hedgerow flowers are ridiculously solid in comparison.  Primrose, violet, tulips, daffodils in frills; the light has hewn them into stone.  None of which comes up when you google ‘interval training.’ The mind’s input is directed instead to envy, perhaps, through photoshopped abdominals, and other such nonsense. Exercise is a distraction, there, but it shouldn’t be: it should be something to embrace (at any pace) as …


What is a hap?
A word of Scandinavian root, it seems, meaning chance, good luck.

This morning was supposed to be met earlier. ‘Rest’ is the item most overlooked on the To Do list, so this was acceptable. There was sun, strong, no clouds to see. If there had been mist, I had missed it.
Toast and coffee on the lawn- or rather the picnic table, no mishaps here. Breakfast was simple and fantastic.

Something cheeky had scratched up the onions in the raised bed, suspects were many. Blackbirds had their mouths full of bugs and could not tell. I had pushed the little sets back into the dry earth, added rows of wooden stakes (for the garlic was untouched, it could have been vampires…) and gone inside to wash the loose dust from my hands.
One nublet of old coal tar soap in the dish, and I was thinking how much I love that smell, one of those evocative childhood scents, and I have no idea how the trajectory of washing sent that nub skidding under the cabinet. My hands went into an involuntary s…


Open window, sunlight, whir of bird feathers.  Shadow of a pigeon darts across the windowsill, slides on the white gloss.  Out on the grass the mist has left her marbles, dropped them in a bright scatter as she left, as she hastened to the river. Over the broad water she lets go of everything, she unbecomes.  Choruses of birds sing and their sound spins out melodic, avant-garde.  The crop fields are ploughed, earthy and rich-dark.  In a grazing field four horses flick tails and chew up sparkling grass. Somewhere a tractor rumbles.
In each detail, gratitude.


(The theme of my April A-Z challenge is 'That which I am or have been,' I should inform: 'Furious' luckily is rare.)

This anger is chemical. It has a fuse. It will burn somewhere, even if you never see it. 
If you worked to get this reaction, perhaps you will be disappointed. 
The faster the flare the safer you will keep. Slow burn can sear through anything.
Deflection increases heat. You will be cauterised, sealed out.
Only open dialogue can defuse.


Grandchild Two decides that we need balloons with breakfast. She has found a pack and a pumper. Here’s a long pink balloon, she calls it a sausage ice-cream. She eats toast dipped in ketchup, why on earth would she want an egg?

Grandchild One, that mischievous fox, tilts his head, slants his eyes.
‘Granma Lisa,’ he confides, ‘I fluffed.’
(Fluff being slang for a soft noised fart.)
It is apparent his stomach is not quite right today. Everyone with a nose has it under cover.
This is nothing after the vomit bug had his home floors awash. As soon as it was done, he was laughing, his mother says: especially as she was slipping over. She is laughing too.

Grandchild Four is ill, staying at home (not alone- he has Dad there with him). Either teething or the bug has the boy miserable. On a better day he makes the best growl noises and loves all hugs.

Grandchild Three seems weary. She has followed her cousin round and round, her big cousin, calling his name, over and over. She has stopped to pi…


Ditsy has a brain made of polka dots.
Or is it ice cream?
You can ask her why she is wearing a flowerpot for a hat, she’ll say it’s not a hat, she just didn’t have a pocket the right size for it. One never knows when one will need a flowerpot. But why the shoes on her feet don’t match: mystery.
Because, Tuesday?
Ditsy has an apron, a polka dot apron.
It has exactly the right sized pocket for a flowerpot.
But if she moves the pot now, her hair will look silly!
She will put her hat in the pocket instead. And a stick of rhubarb. And some sequins, for later.