Monday, April 30, 2012

Y and Z and reached the finishing line

My daughter was put off a date the other week. She was taken out for a meal only to discover her date yaffled. Ate and drank noisily. Apparently he also used his fork like a micro JCB, shovelling in his grub.
 I think I may be a zoonist. Why? Because I talk to inanimate objects. When it refuses to work, I threaten my printer with the council tip.  When my laptop was new and scary I used to switch it on and tell it I loved it. I have been known to tell a rose how beautiful it is and naturally I have always talked to trees, especially when hugging them.  The definition of zoonist is someone who believes that nature as a whole or natural objects are living beings. Nothing wrong with that.

Friday, April 27, 2012


I still retain some school girl French. I was very good at Latin for the first year and got 100% in the end of year exam. It got more difficult after that and in the next exam my mark was in single figures. I often think about learning another language but don’t do anything about it. The perfect way would be to wake one morning with the condition known as Xenoglossia. What a dream that would be. No hard work involved. No classes. No declining verbs. Just to open my eyes and have xenoglossia which means I could speak a foreign language with no prior learning. It might even be a language I had never heard before.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


‘Teeth am a damn wherrit (or werrit) from the cradle to the grave,’ my Gran used to say. She would also tell me I was a damn wherrit and ask why I couldn’t behave myself, after all, as the eldest grandchild I should have been setting  an example to the others.
I don’t believe in wherriting. I like to tackle problems/challenges head on. As my Grandad used to say, ‘Hard work never killed anyone but wherriting did.’

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for (shudder) vom...

According to Ray Bradbury a Vomitorium is what writers call rest rooms after they’ve heard their producers great ideas.
I love, and have always loved Ray Bradbury.

According to Foyle’s Philavery (mentioned earlier this month) a vomitory, architecturally, is the entrance and exit passages in an amphitheatre.
Not a nice word and, for me, another to go along with (ssshhhh) pouch.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

After T for Talc-man comes U for...

Well, who would have thought that the rump of a bird, the bit that holds the tail feathers, has a name, besides rump or bottom? It’s called an Uropygium. And as Frances Garrood, over on her blog used N for Nuns I am going to add U for Unnun. It’s what happens to a nun when she gets thrown out of the convent.
And, in case you are beginning to think I am in some way related to Stephen Fry because of all these wonderful words I know, I confess a friend bought me a copy of a little book called Foyle’s Philavery – a treasury of unusual words (collected by Christopher Foyle). And it certainly is what it says on the cover.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Maybe he's a bit OTT for a story?

The couple sat at the other end of the dining area in the pub. He had a flamboyant moustache, all slick and oiled to match his hair. She was rejecting plump for overweight and had a round plain face, peroxide blonde hair and a white wool coat. She removed this as they sat down. He ordered his meal and then decided for her. ‘And My Lady will have…’ he said as she donned her coat and sashayed outside (really) for a fag. On her return she slipped out of the coat and dragged it behind her, trailing it across the floor. I’m sure I’ve seen Marilyn Monroe  do that with a mink in one of her films. She repeated the process between courses.

We were intrigued by the pale lemon concoction, all of six inches high, which arrived as her dessert and, as they were leaving, Leanne (our daughter) asked her what she had ordered. My Lady wasn’t given a chance to answer. Mr Slick-Moustache made his way to Leanne, put an arm around her shoulder and slid a finger down the menu. ‘This,’ he pointed, breathing into Leanne’s ear.

My Lady didn’t look amused.

As soon as he turned his back Leanne shuddered. ‘He smelled of talcum powder,’ she told us.

We promptly named him Talc-man and he’ll probably end up in a story.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

S and only a day late

I wish we’d consulted a Skybonkie before setting off to Cornwall. Weather forecasts were given up on by this family after the October gales so many years ago now. But a skybonkie I’d listen to as the definition is a weather prophet. Maybe the skybonkie would have told us we would get a touch of sunburn, be half-drowned by torrential rain, almost blown away by 60 mph winds and see ice stacked up by the side of the road (blown there by the wind) after an incredible hailstorm. And that was just one day! We had a really good time though.

Friday, April 20, 2012

P Q R catching up

P is for pouch. It’s in italics as it was said, and written, very quietly. It’s one of those words I hate. I like kangaroos but I prefer that they carry their newborn in their pockets.

My Quandary is that after three days away in sunny, soaking wet, freezing cold, windy and hail pelted Cornwall do I work all day to catch up or do I spread the workload over the weekend? A decision has been made. This will be a Quickie because it’s almost lunchtime and I feel in the need of a little Refocillation, which means my strength will be restored through some refreshment.

I may not like pouch but I love quandary and refocillation.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Getting in advance N and O

We are going away for a few days so I'm doing N and O in advance. I needed a break after the awful experiences of buying a house and getting a mortgage. Last time we did this was almost 17 years ago and things were simpler then. We didn't need to prove that we weren't terrorists, illegal immigrants or into money laundering. So a few days in Cornwall will help restore my sanity.

N for nests.
The crows have been busy nest-building. Some of the nests look quite deep. Others are shallow.
‘Why do they build them in different sizes?’ asked She Who Shall Not Be named (because she's not too bright).
‘Some are bungalows,’ said the LSO, all serious faced.
‘Oh, I didn’t know that,’ said She Who etc. believing every word.

Ochlophobia is an abnormal fear of crowds. When the LSO had his heart attacks and cardiac arrest he would dream of being in a crowd but everyone was going the opposite way to him. He had to fight his way back through them and they all wanted him to turn and go in their direction. He was worried that if he did he wouldn’t find his way home again (live). That’s enough to give anyone ochlophobia. I used this in an article for Fate & Fortune. Never waste a good idea. You can even sell your husband’s life and death experience. Actually, I did feel slightly guilty about that for a while, but I soon got over it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

L and M

L has to be for LSO. I once asked a group to provide me and the LSO with accommodation when I went to give a day’s workshop. ‘The LSO? London Symphony Orchestra?’ queried a worried hostess, wondering just how many beds she would need to provide. I then had to explain it’s my name for my husband, Colin, who as many people know, is often referred to as the Long Suffering One. I’ve always felt sorry for anyone who lives with or is married to a writer. It must be hell at times.

M is for Momism. It can mean excessive devotion to one’s mother or excessive mothering (what I call smothering), over protectiveness. Most Brits will consider Mom the American spelling of Mum but in the Midlands many people spell Mom with an O in the middle. I used to get into trouble at school for spelling it that way but that’s the right way in our family.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Writers Beware. You may be suffering from K...

A-Z April challenge. Today is K.

Am I suffering from kalopsia? It’s only got one symptom and I seem to have it. Actually a lot of us writers may be sufferers. You know when you have written a beautiful story and it is
rejected, or your novel is a masterpiece yet no-one wants to buy it? Well, that’s when kalopsia has shown itself. You may have had it before you sent the work off.
Kalopsia – a condition in which things appear more beautiful than they really are.
Of course, those rejections may simply be down to the fact that the editors suffer from the opposite to kalopsia, whose name I don't know but perhaps someone came make one up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April Challenge J

I have problems with J but only when names begin with it. If there’s someone’s name I can’t recall then I know it will be one beginning with J. I used to have a clutch of J neighbours. There was a Jen, a Jan, a Joan, a Jane and a Jean. That’s when I first thought about calling everyone I met Darling. It would solve the J problem and any other name-memorising embarrassments.
The only J I never struggle with is the J for Jane Wenham-Jones because, once met, she’s unforgettable.

Monday, April 09, 2012

April Challenge I

Idiosyncrasy is one of those words that, once heard, will stick with me all day. I find myself
repeating it, rolling the word around and savouring it. I remember when my grandson, Dan, started doing the same thing when he was learning to talk. It was back in the heyday of Buzz Lightyear and Dan struggled with infinity and would keep repeating, ‘To St Timothy and beyond.’
I is also for incense which my cyber-sister, Glynis Scrivens, lights in the evening and sends thoughts to me. Thank you, Sis.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

A-Z April challenge. H

There’s a lot of hornswoggling going on in cyber-space. I get so fed up with people warning me of terrible viruses that are going to eat the innards of my computer and turn it into scrap metal (is there any metal in them nowadays?). I don’t like emails telling me that I should lock the car when Ibuy petrol in case a rapist hides in the back. I wish people would go to before they send me these terrible warnings. Some people get genuinely frightened by them so I urge everyone to check before sending them out because nearly all of these dire warnings are hornswoggle.
Hornswoggle – to cheat, deceive or hoax.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Gallivant? Moi?

Gallivant is a word you don’t hear so often now. It was very popular in our family. My Gran
was a lady who could never stay in. Every day she would have different friends to visit or meet up with. She’d have clubs, societies and church groups to go to. My Grandad never knew where she was and if anyone asked him, he’d say, ‘She’ll be gallivanting somewhere.’
Apparently, according to my mother, in my teens I used to gallivant around the town. ‘Up to
no good!’
And according to me, my mother, who so often had some sort of illness and never set a foot outside for weeks on end, would often go AWOL and would be gallivanting around the countryside, using her Rover ticket to travel for miles on buses, having lunch in motorbiker’s cafes – ‘They do the best chips, our Lynne’.

Friday, April 06, 2012

F is for...

‘I need an F word,’ I say to the LSO.
‘Flexor Hallucis Longus,’ he says.
‘What the F?’
‘Flexum is to bend. Hallux is big toe. It’s the muscle that goes down the leg to the tendon and flexes the big toe and…’
At that point I lost interest. I should have known better than to ask a reflexologist who can name every one of the 206 bones in the body and knows loads of muscles by name too.’

Thursday, April 05, 2012

April challenge D and E (You'll love these)

I once worked with a woman who kept signing up for courses at the local college. Whenever she learned anything new she would say, ‘That’s another hair on my arse.’ Strange expression. I haven’t seen her for years and wonder if she is still accumulating qualifications. If so she must be the proud owner of dasypygal by now . It’s a lovely word for not such a lovely sight and comes from the Greek.
Dasypygal means hairy buttocks.

Last March I received a contract to write a book of tips for writers. I panicked when scanning through said contract and thought it said ‘to be completed within two weeks.’ Time to book an eye-test. It actually said ‘two years’. Now, if it had said a fortnight I reckon I would have done it but because it says 24 months I am procrastinating. The LSO reckons it’ll be around the end of next January before I get my arse into gear. I thought he might be right but, on searching for an E
word I came up with one which means a handbook about a specific subject.
Perhaps, now I know I am writing an Enchiridion, things will start moving.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

April challenge - catching up

B is for broccoli. Yes, it’s a great vegetable, full of vitamins and minerals. It looks like miniature trees which is how I used to get my kids, when young, to eat it. ‘Finish your trees they’ll make you big and strong.’ Well, trees would, wouldn’t they? Does anyone remember a series with Johnny Vegas where experiments were being done on vegetables and broccoli had grown as big as trees? I never did see the end of that so don’t know what happened.

Broccoli is also the name of my soon-to-be ex-son-in-law. I called him that as he has the same IQ as the vegetable. In some ways I shall miss him. He was often good for story ideas.

C is for curmudgeon. Did you know that in the dictionary a curmudgeon is defined as being a male? I’m only at C and have learned something already. I would like to say, here and now, I do not know any curmudgeonly old men. Only lovely ones. (Especially Danny Pyle!) I do happen to know just one or two ladies who the term would suit but now, armed with my new knowledge, I know that a curmudgeon is not only an old man but a crusty and ill-tempered one.

April Challenge - late starter

A is for antiques and afternoon television. I love browsing around antique shops, junk shops, car boot sales and flea markets. If you watched Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is yesterday (BBC2 5.15 -6pm) you may have caught a glimpse of my red coat as I wandered around the Giant antique and Collector’s Fair at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern. Yesterday, in an effort to procrastinate enjoyably, I watched Bargain Hunt, Flog It!, the aforementioned Put Your Money… and finished off with The Antiques Roadshow. By the end of that lot I was all antiqued out and hadn’t written a word of the new book I have a contract for. At this rate I shall be an antique before it’s finished.
A is also for April and I’ve joined Frances Garrood in the A-Z challenge, in the hope that it will make me write something, apart from regular columns.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Writing Magazine arrived yesterday and last night I read it all the way through, except for the bits I’d written.
On page 24 there’s a feature on the Home Study courses. I was asked to contribute and was sent some questions, purely as a guideline of what they were looking for. The very first question was, How long have you been a Home Study tutor?
Cor! A very long time. Do I love it? I must do otherwise the years wouldn’t be well into double figures. Well into.
I started out by taking a postal course and it was the tutor who gave me the confidence to send out my work. It’s all about the right confidence though. Nowadays so much of it is ill-founded
confidence. One of my favourite quotes comes from Paddy Kitchin’s The Way To Write Novels. It’s about accomplished writers feeling inadequate and tending to be over-critical while the
leaden footed ones go blithely on, confident they are achieving something.’