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. Continue reading “celebratory”
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”
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. Continue reading “watercolour”
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. Continue reading “biscuits and other ambiguities”
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.
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. Continue reading “permission granted”
I went for a walk the other evening and found my path blocked by a tree. There are, of course, a host of literary connections I could make: Birnam Wood; the Ents of Middle-Earth; the “very, very country dance” of the Narnian trees that Lucy dances her way through to reach Aslan in Prince Caspian; the trees that “walk[…] down the side of the cutting” in the landslide scene of The Railway Children… Continue reading “timber!”