binge

Apparently Monday was Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year, when the weather is lousy, the days are still too short and we are all despairing over having failed to keep our New Year resolutions.

I don’t make resolutions – which is probably the best way not to break them – but I do recognise that for me this last week has little to do with healthy eating, exercise, diets or other good habits that people tend to adopt at this time of year.
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celebratory

According to the news, the Queen celebrated her 91st birthday yesterday by going to Newbury races.

As far as I can ascertain, there was no special monarch’s trophy awarded or race run to mark either the Queen’s birthday or her presence at the event; even so, it’s as good a reason as any for starting this post with a photo of a magnificent golden kingcup.
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roost, rooster, roostest

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.
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watercolour

The weather has been mostly grey recently and I’ve barely bothered to take my camera out with me as I haven’t expected to find much to take pictures of. Today, though, I decided to go out in the drizzle and within five minutes of leaving the house I came across a tree in full blossom.

Naturally, I decided to take pictures, but when I looked at them later on the computer I was disappointed to find that they might as well have been in black and white.

grey blossom against grey sky
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biscuits and other ambiguities

coffee and ginger biscuits
When I’ve quoted Sandburg – “poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits” – in the past, I have always felt the biscuits were there to represent the everyday, functional side of life: I’ve always assumed he meant Rich Tea, not Hobnobs.

But apparently yesterday was National Biscuit Day, which set me thinking: as I am not really sure which nation was celebrating, I don’t know whether the biscuits in question are the ones you eat with morning coffee or with gravy. And even if it were definitely a British celebration, they might be cheesy biscuits rather than gingersnaps.

Now I am wondering whether Sandberg was thinking of American biscuits – the plain scones eaten with thick sausage gravy – with all the social and regional connotations that they bring to bear. Suddenly hyacinths have become the clear and unambiguous aspect of the quote: a natural Truth alongside the unnecessarily complex human view of things.
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just for fun

It doesn’t matter how good your writing is if no one reads it, so one of the skills of journalism must be composing attention-catching headlines. Whoever realised they were in a position to use the phrase Most dangerous alien species in a story title today must have been sure they were on to a winner.

The words certainly caught my attention and I clicked through to an article in the Independent about Quagga mussels.

Not only did I read the story, but I clicked on the gallery of Alien attacks: The invasive species damaging the UK, past the grey squirrels, through the Japanese knotweed and the Giant hogweed, all the way to the end, where I found this innocuous-looking creature:

killer shrimp
image from http://www.independent.co.uk gallery link above
Of course appearances are deceptive and the accompanying text tells us it is a killer shrimp:
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permission granted

pink poppy
I had an email early this week asking for permission to include three of my limericks in an English school workbook, which is to be published in September ready for the new academic year. This wasn’t really a surprise as I’d agreed with the author back in February that she could use them. Even so, I had half forgotten our conversation and wasn’t sure when the book was due out or when I might hear.
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