I first came across the word “palimpsest” years ago, when I was training to teach English as a foreign language: in one of the classes we were given a list of words that we were not expected to know and asked to chat with a partner and guess their meanings.
Presumably, the idea was to simulate the stress suffered by the students we would encounter once we qualified, but, of course, our situation was vastly different as we were all native speakers and there was really no great pressure to get the answers right, anyway.
Neither Barry, the guy I was sitting next to, nor I, knew what palimpsest meant, but we decided it looked like a perfectly valid superlative form of an adjective “palimpse”.
This didn’t get us any closer to the actual meaning, but as we looked around the room at the heels, the hemlines, the necklines and bare shoulders, we were both pretty sure we knew who the palimpsest girl in the class was.
Looking back at that experience was the trigger for this piece of doggerel:
I can see that a teacher teaches,
and professors profess what’s true,
but there’s one thing I really wonder about:
What does a master do?
A text can be judged as the easiest
or the hardest compared to the rest,
but who can say what the manuscript needs
to make it the palimpsest?
And all of that, in combination with the odd post title, is a very long-winded lead-in to another post with a tangential reference to the Chinese Year of the Rooster, which began today.
I don’t have many photographs of chickens, but found the top image of a cat and some rather glorious birds on the front of the Council House, Coventry. It would probably have stood alone as a post with the pun cat among the pigeons, but I’ve chosen to use it today as there were other birds on other tiles and among them I have found a rather lovely golden rooster.
How does it make you feel as I spin round this pole of steel?
My skin is oiled and tanned, and I’m sure you understand
that I’m lean as well as curvy, but there’s really nothing pervy
though I see you salivate … as I gyrate.
I hope I can assume you want to take me to your room;
I’m waiting for the word: will you choose me for your bird?
For you, I’ve lost my head and heart; claim me before I fall apart!
I’m not a strip-club dancer, so: who am I? Can you answer?