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Black angel

  Sat 29th January 2022

I've been looking through the List of Missing Words, a pdf addendum to the most recent edition of Chambers which I am buying for me and Mel in the interests of non-marital harmony, as it rankles with me that Mel disallowed "abime" and "hap" in a recent game of Scrabble. We use an old Collins dictionary, which includes neither, as our arbiter.

So I can tell you that the trees that line our street have been pollarded by the Council's arboralists wielding averruncators (instruments for cutting off branches of trees); and this morning I told Mel -- who has spent most of her adult life on a Greek island -- that in an ideal world, I would like to aestivate with her this year. That is, "(Zool.) to pass the summer in a state of torpor".

I sent her the word and its definition, and with the domino effect that internet access provokes, we ended up discussing going back to her former island home for a week or two in June. I would love to go. Greek food, wine, sex, swimming. Sitting outside of an evening without a
coat on.


I went out on my scooter for no reason other than to enjoy the sensual pleasure that scootering affords. The fine drizzle was luxuriating. I stopped to turn into the park. A woman was leaning over a child. "You did amazing waiting at the bus stop. You did amazing eating your breakfast. You did amazing putting your coat on." I wanted to go over and tell him that the bar gets a bit higher when you get older.


On another scooter ride, I slowed down as my gaze was caught by a weird mannequin posed in the window of a doctors' surgery. It was of a black nun, or nurse, in an A-line blue head dress and a plastic apron, looking down at a clipboard. I assumed it was some sort of diversity equality and inclusion tick box statue. I was startled to see it move. It was a real nurse.


On a train, a woman and a child, maybe about eight years old, are stood up in the corridor, ready to get off at Bristol Parkway. In the unsettling way that children do, she is staring at me. I want to break the spell.

"Where have you come from?" "Wales,"she replied. "That's a long way." "Yes."

The woman then moved her leg against the girl, pushing her away from me. I smiled and waved at her. I looked up at mum, who immediately turned away from me, almost flinching, seeking the door.


I am constantly poor. All the time. I owe Mel fifty pounds, NatWest four hundred, and Paypal two hundred and eighty. I am sitting on a BA, an MA, and a long-unused teaching certificate. I didn't mind my primary school teaching job in Dagenham many years ago. A pupil's father got stabbed by his neighbour, and there was a case of suspected child abuse going on, but that's deindustrialisation for you. I found London a hard place, devoid of conversation between strangers, a city best suited for individualists. I pined for Lancaster, where people plonk themselves next to you on the bus and tell you about how they've just been to their granddaughter's who said the potatoes in Lidl looked a bit manky so she didn't buy them. I rang a supply agency the other day and they said I'd have to acquire some more recent classroom experience, unpaid, first. Might be an idea.

10 comments

Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]

When someone says “good sharing” to theirs, I encourage ours to go and take their stuff.

Sun 30th January 2022 @ 21:36 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I see you’re getting into the Yorkshire spirit already!

Thu 3rd February 2022 @ 16:31 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Do it!
Though I think you would make a good University lecturer.
Ack, the word Bruxism is alive and kicking - thanks for the list, I will use it for calligraphy practice.
Sx

Mon 31st January 2022 @ 13:06 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

So I see you’re still grinding in bed then Ms S.

I got halfway through a PhD, which makes one useless for anything except lecturing, but it was too much like hard work. To rediscover the joy of reading non-fiction once I’d stopped doing it made it almost worth it.

Thu 3rd February 2022 @ 16:35 Reply to this comment
Comment from: exile on pain street [Visitor]

Nice slices of life. I could never live in the country. You don’t have these kinds of encounters and observations. I can only handle so many green trees.

Tue 1st February 2022 @ 22:41 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Me neither. I like a bit of action.

Thu 3rd February 2022 @ 16:36 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

A good friend of mine once found a dictionary from the late 1800s at a yard sale and snatched it up and said it was fascinating to read the words that have survived and those no longer in use (or commonly used.)

I’d love to get to Greece someday… and i too was once a seeking an advanced degree… but you may remember that from Raskolnikov’s Blues… we’re like long lost twins, lol!

And i can relate to the feeling of being constantly poor… sounds strange coming from someone squarely ensconced in the Merkin Middle Class bubble, but seeing as i’m the house help who pretty much has to fend for himself as well as cover the extracurriculars for the boyos i’m always in debt… i guess i get room and board though so i should stfu, lol!

Sat 5th February 2022 @ 13:18 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

What a find! Yeah, I read dictionaries for fun :)

I can’t complain really. In the middle of a pandemic last year I managed two foreign holidays, and there’ll be at least two more this year. Although it’s often cheaper now to go abroad than stay in the UK.

Mon 7th February 2022 @ 12:58 Reply to this comment
Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]

Show me the legislation that says you need a PhD to be a lecherer.

Sun 6th February 2022 @ 18:04 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

No, despite chucking the PhD in, I haven’t felt held back in any of my leisure pursuits since.

Mon 7th February 2022 @ 12:59 Reply to this comment


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M / 57 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.


There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
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The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
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Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
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Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
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