“Spring forward; Fall back.” – the mnemonic my father taught me to remember which way the clocks needed to be altered at the beginning and end of British Summer Time.
Fall back is also one of those marvellous English phrasal verbs – known by many EFL students as “frazzle” verbs, presumably because of the effect on the mind of trying to memorise them – where a main verb is combined with a particle (adverb, preposition, or both). Continue reading “fall back”
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. Continue reading “roost, rooster, roostest”
I’ve written and re-written that title, putting the comma in, then taking it out, then putting it back. Flowers instead of thoughts, or thoughts of nothing except flowers? I guess if I knew which I meant, I’d know which I should have written.
The first good reason for visiting her more often is that she is really quite elderly, having celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this year. The second, far more selfish reason, is that I always find ideas when I do visit. Not necessarily ideas for poems, and not necessarily useful ideas, but usually there are oddities and slantwise perspectives that amuse me.
Today I have been hearing a faint alarm sound every 30 seconds or so; I knew it wasn’t the foghorns on the estuary – not least because it has been a gloriously sunny day – and it didn’t seem to be a phone or an alarm clock. When I asked if she had any idea what it might be, my mother denied all knowledge. Eventually, though, we managed to work it out. It’s her new “solar mole repeller”.
It’s not all fun spending a week in a house with a pedant whose current reading matter is the biography of a logical positivist (or that of any other philosopher, perhaps). I was told yesterday that describing someone as “a good poet” was meaningless, it was a value judgment, that what I was actually saying was, “she is a poet; hurrah!” (As opposed to “she is a poet; boo!”)
We did however manage to see eye to eye – or was that hear ear to ear? – when the news was on the other night, reporting on a disease affecting dogs in the UK recently. The disease remains unidentified, but the reporter said that some progress had been made after vets observed clusters of dogs dying all across the country from the south west to the north east.
It is probably sad but true that in the course of their work vets observe animals dying. But to observe clusters of them dying and not take action – as opposed to noticing the clusters of reported dog deaths – seems heartless. I think any vet who did so would be a bad vet and deserve to be booed.
A couple of days ago, I travelled on an Iberia flight for the first time in years. It was a little more up-market than the discount airlines I’ve flown with recently and even in tourist class those who bought snacks from the trolley were provided with individual place mats for the fold-down tables.
When I declined to give mine up as rubbish, I suppose the steward thought I wanted a souvenir. In fact I wanted to add it to my collection of bad advertising and extraneous apostrophes.I can’t believe that Coca Cola and Iberia can’t afford to pay a proof reader, so maybe I’ll send off my CV on spec as they appear to have a vacancy.