Tag Archives: oddities

Word Games

Bruce Holland Rogers (nah, me neither) wrote: “When fiction writers want to write to a fixed form, they often have to start by inventing the form. The constraints that they choose can be anything. They can specify word counts, sentence lengths or vocabulary requirements – no use of the letter e for example, or the story must contain 26 words, one for each letter of the alphabet, in alphabetical order.”


I’ve decided to try these, because they sound like an interesting intellectual exercise, and not in any way because I can’t think of anything else to write about:

The 26-word thing:

All Big Cats Die, Eventually, From Greedy Hunters, Insulting JK Lowling (Misprint, Naturally), Or Poison-Quilled Raccoons. Some Trampled Under XIII Young Zebras.  

The No ‘e’ thing:

I want to do a post that will not put a particular non-consonant in it. This will tax my brain, as it is most common of all. It’s a good job I chose not to do drugs (as a post, not as an addiction) as nobody swallows pills of D, F or JLS.

The sentence length thing

Each sentence will have six words. The first sentence has decided that. There’s not a lot to say. Not in just six words anyway. I’m counting “there’s” as one word. The same rule goes for “I’m”. Readers are thinking “he’s gone mad”. Others think “well, we knew that”. I may get unfollowed by many. This will hurt my pride, people. People is there as a sixth word. This is really not all that hard. Crap, don’t count last sentence’s words. I think that’s enough of this. Don’t you, question mark smiley face?

What It Says On The Tin

As St Patrick’s Day approaches and I struggle to think of something to write to celebrate the occasion (don’t hold your breath, I’ve still got nothing) I recall that he was in fact Welsh and was kidnapped and brought to Ireland. At school we were taught that his kidnapper was a character called (I am not making this up) Niall of the Nine Hostages.

Naming was obviously simpler in those days. The guy was called Niall, he had nine hostages, problem solved, although one wonders what happened as the hostage negotiations progressed and he freed a hostage every hour or so, starting with the pregnant woman (there is always a pregnant woman in every hostage situation). I wonder did he amend his name accordingly each time, finally ending up as Niall the Don’t Shoot, I’m Coming Out Now.

The principle has been followed by such notables as Vlad the Impaler, Postman Pat, Dora the Explorer and Joan of Arc (she had a degree in trigonometry). But over time the process has become diluted. Margaret Thatcher never thatched. Gary Cooper did not coop. Pat Butcher never butched (no, stop it). I’m betting that JK Rowling doesn’t rowl, and that Justin Bieber doesn’t bieb.

Arnold Schwarzenegger. What can I say?

So over time names have come to tell us less and less about what their owner actually does.

Just ask Ed Balls.

(PS: I am giving myself a special clap on the back for not mentioning Dick Van Dyke at any stage during this post).

Underline This

No matter what I write here Spellcheck will invariably find something to draw its red squiggly lines under, as if it were a teacher with an overenthusiastic red pen and I was a particularly inept pupil.

The fact that it doesn’t recognise word “blogging” particularly annoys me, as it makes me feel as if my hobby is one of those really esoteric ones, like numismatics or speleology, neither of which, by the way, it recognises either.

Of course the obvious thing to so is to simply add the word to its dictionary, so yesterday evening I clicked the “Spelling and Grammar” button. It informed me, as I knew it would, that blogging was not a word, and offered me the alternatives “bogging”, “logging”, “flogging”, “clogging” and “slogging”.

While I know what the phrase “bogged down” means I am a bit doubtful about the word “bogging”, and would hate to think that I have spent the last three years doing it. Perhaps I am bogging down (or up?) the internet.

There are other words it could have suggested, such as “cogging”, “dogging”, fogging“, “hogging”, ”jogging” (perhaps it knows me too well by now to imagine that I could possibly mean that), “togging” or “snogging” (really sadly, it has just put a red line under “snogging”, which might explain why it is always so vicious with its red pen).

There are also these:

Frogging: the effect that a cold has upon one’s voice;
Grogging: Spellcheck keeps trying to change this to gorging, and to some extent it’s right – grogging is overindulgence in cheap rum;
Llogging: cutting down trees, in Wales.
Ogging: finding any excuse, at any time of the day, to drink and then sing lewd songs, like Nanny Ogg from the Terry Pratchett books;
Sogging: over-watering a plant;
And zogging: trying to take over the universe, like General Zog. It is a synonym of cowelling, which takes its name from Simon Cowell.

Believe me, Spellcheck has not enjoyed the last nine lines of this post.


In my constituency of Wicklow there is a man who stands as an Independent candidate in every Local and General Election. He is self-employed and probably has a limited budget so his electoral campaigning each time consists of a small advert in the local paper showing his photograph and his policies, which are “no abortion – no water charges”.

Now this blog is too shallow a forum to discuss the merits or otherwise of his policies. I’m just struck every time by how divorced (another topic we won’t be covering here) from each other they are.

The reason I mention him here is because of a suggested WordPress topic from over the weekend: “would you rather read minds or live forever?”

Since I can’t read minds (and apparently therefore am going to live forever, indeed I’m going to learn how to fly) I can’t guess why WordPress chose such disparate options. The question “would you rather live forever or just to a ripe old age” might have been a thought-provoking one. The question “would you rather read minds or have X-Ray vision” might have been fun, though probably the sort of schoolboy fun that would be bound to mention the possibility of being able to see ladies in their underwear (well, I did say that this blog is shallow). But the two options above bear no relation to each other, and indeed if we’re willing to allow for their plausibility then there is no reason why they should be mutually exclusive. If they were going to pick options like these then here are some more suggestions for them:

Would you rather eat jam sandwiches or be able to speak Mandarin?
Would you rather sit in a chair or play the banjo?
Would you rather date Keira Knightly or have one foot larger than the other?
Would you rather travel by bus or be re-incarnated?
Would you rather be the colour magenta or the song Schools Out?
Would you rather visit the moon or smell lightly of jasmine?
Would you rather eat Maltesers or be Tilly Bud? (sorry if that fries your brain, Till).
Would you rather play in goal for Leyton Orient or have a dorsal fin?
Would you rather be able to see the future or sing opera?
Would you rather win the lottery or have a second head?
Would you rather be a brunette or Switzerland?
Would you rather I stopped now?

A Heavenly Thought

Looks happy, doesn't she?

Here’s a brief thought that occurred to me this evening as I sat rubbing my shoulders up and down against the back of the sofa as I sat trying to watch the football.

Do you reckon that an angel, with the tip of her wing, can scratch that part of her back that her arms can’t reach?

Can you imagine how good that would feel?

Perhaps that’s all that heaven is.

Fairy Tale

While writing the draft of a post this morning, typing as always with the speed and elegance of a gazelle (and if you’ve ever seen a gazelle typing, you’ll know that’s not good) I left the letter ’l’ out of the word unfairly. Spellcheck drew its schoolmarmish squggly line under it and I corrected it, but not before it got me thinking.

It seems that there is no such word as “unfairy”.

So though priests can be unfrocked, friends can be unfriended and adults can be unadulterated, a fairy is a fairy for ever, for better or even for worse.

This means that Tinkerbell could knock back a bottle of vodka, punch the Easter Bunny solidly in the face (can you imagine how much the Tooth Fairy would have to pay for his two front teeth), get off with Santa Claus and then throw up noisily into the Genie‘s Lamp, and she would still be a fairy next morning. Admittedly she would feel absolutely dreadful, her head would be pixillated in fact, but at least she’d feel better than the Genie.

Remember this the next time you scoff at the idea of there being fairies at the bottom of your garden.
Upset them and they can kill off your roses, infest your lawn with Snotwort (if that‘s not a real weed name it should be) and do unspeakable things to your garden gnome’s fishing rod, safe in the knowledge that they can’t be unfairied.

It makes you wonder what Fairy Liquid is made of.

Lapping Up The Sunshine

When I listed ten things to do this summer recently I should have had a Number 11,”dig out sock-hat and gloves.” The maximum temperature here all week has been twelve degrees, and tonight and tomorrow night it is to fall to one degree.

It seems that a flow of polar air is sweeping down from, well, the Pole onto Ireland and this is causing the current cold conditions. These air flows move in big anti-clockwise circles (you’re right, I didn’t do Geography at school) and we’re apparently at the very left-hand side of the circle, so we’re getting the downwind, if you like. The flow then passes us, turns and heads through Spain and then travels upwards carrying warm air, sangria and souvenir sombrero-wearing donkeys, and as a result the whole of the rest of North Western Europe is experiencing a heatwave.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

The temperature in Lapland yesterday was 30 degrees Celsius, or 86 degrees fahrenheit.

Santa must be pretty warm inside that suit.

He probably doesn’t have any other clothes. He spends 364 days a year in a country known only for being cold and for being where Lapdancers come from (did I mention that I didn’t do Geography?), and the one other day travelling at high speed and higher altitude in an open-topped sleigh, on a flight path arranged so that he is always just behind the sun, keeping it night-time wherever he is. Warm clothing is all he has ever needed, so it’s unlikely that he has t-shirts, Bermuda shorts or flip-flops. He does not own sunglasses.

I bet he doesn’t have any swimwear either, which is a shame because if his castle really is made of ice he might have got the chance to swim in his own living room, using an ironing-board propped above the door as a diving board.

He probably has no cold drinks and no fridge to get ice from (never needed it before, considering what his front garden was made of). He has no sun lounger, no beach umbrella, no Jeffrey Archer novels.

He won’t have any sunscreen either. Rudolf’s not going to be the only one with the red nose.

Or You Could Go To The Pub

In the English soccer league, Queens Park Rangers have just won the second division, and will spend next season in the Premier League, playing against world famous clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool (ok, Tilly and Speccy, also Manchester City and Spurs. Oh, and Wigan, Jmg).

Their manager, Neil Warnock, was quite laid back about the whole thing. When asked how he celebrated, he said “with a cheese sandwich in my pyjamas”.

Of course I know what he meant, but he has created an image in my head that I just can’t get rid of.

Getting a Lift

WordPress asks “Who would you least like to be stuck in an elevator with?”

I’m taking it that they don’t mean just forced the share a lift for ten or twelve excruciating floors, where you stare at a point directly ahead, do not acknowledge the other person in any way and then for some reason say “goodbye” if they get off at a floor before yours.

I’m taking it to mean that you are trapped together in a lift that is sitting lifeless for at least four hours, and the simple answer of course is “anybody”, since being stuck in the elevator is actually a larger problem than the fact that you’re not wild about the person trapped in there with you.

But there are degrees of unpleasantness, and it is obviously preferable to be stuck in a lift with Keira Knightley than with Fred the Flasher from Falkirk (oddly, the word “Keira” is the only one that Spellcheck has a problem with in that sentence). Here. therefore, is a list of people I’d prefer not to be stuck in a lift with:

  • A dead body.
  • A dead body and a murder weapon, with my fingerprints on it.
  • Anyone who starts humming along to the elevator music.
  • Anyone who has ever written elevator music.
  • Anyone I’ve ever got off with. Ever. Just too embarrassing.
  • Anyone who pushes the button at a pedestrian crossing and then pushes it again thirty seconds later. Imagine what he’d be like in a lift with buttons for 32 floors, a mezzanine and a basement. He’d even push the button that says “Close Door”.
  • Though I would find it funny every half an hour or so to suggest that they might work this time if he tried them all again.
  • Someone who suddenly announces “I hope they hurry up, I’m dying for a poo”.
  • The kind of guy who says “I can fix this”, takes a screwdriver to the button panel and manages to blow out the overhead light.
  • Anyone who sobs, cries “we’re doomed”, falls to their knees in prayer or starts beating repeatedly upon the door with their fists, all of which are my job.
  • Anyone who says that they have an app on their iPhone for working out how much air we have left.
  • Anyone who reckons we can get out through the roof and climb up the liftshaft, and offers to give me a bunk up because I’m the smallest.
  • Anyone who suggests a game of I Spy, whether they mean it as a joke or not.
  • A kid with a pogo stick.
  • Someone who looks around and says “well, it’s bigger than my cell used to be.”
  • A sumo wrestler, just on his way to his dressing room after a fight.
  • Someone with a bag of chips, who eats them all and doesn’t offer me one (see options 1 and 2 above, I’d never be convicted).
  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They’re very good, but they’d sing to pass the time, the lift would be very small and it would take two weeks to get the ringing out of my ears.

Half way through the above, though, I realised the real answer. The person I’d least like to be stuck in a lift with is me. Can you imagine being stuck on your own, with your own thoughts, not knowing how long you were going to be there?

Suddenly any of the above seem welcome liftmates, well, except for the obvious one.

You wouldn’t want the I Spy guy.