Posts Tagged ‘words’

I’ve found a new monger!

Friday, April 28th, 2017 | Life

As everyone knows, there are four primary types of monger. A fishmonger, a rumour monger, an ironmonger and a warmonger.

I turned out to be a popular phone-in on Alan Partridge’s radio show.

We’re asking, what is the worst monger? Iron, fish… rumour… or war?

But, last week, my world was turned on its head. There is a fifth kind of monger! A “costermonger”. Here is the description from Wikipedia:

Costermonger, coster, or costard is a street seller of fruit and vegetables, in London and other British towns. Costermongers were ubiquitous in mid-Victorian England, and some are still found in markets. As usual with street-sellers, they would use a loud sing-song cry or chant to attract attention. The costermonger’s cart might be stationary at a market stall, or mobile (horse-drawn or wheelbarrow).

What an age to be alive.


Thursday, July 11th, 2013 | Books

I first attempted to read Ulysses while we were in Dublin last year, as it seemed culturally appropriate, but having made it through the first part I soon found myself overwhelmed by the complexity and seamless tradition of abstract and concrete ideas expressed throughout the novel.

Not to be beaten though, I recently gave it another go. Now that I have made it all the way through, looking back on what I’ve done with my life so far, reaching the end could be the most impressive achievement.

I started off making the amateurish mistake of trying to follow the plot and work out what was going on. As Joyce darts randomly between things that are actually happing and the various thoughts that flow from each of the characters, discerning reality from imagination is a tricky business indeed.

A much better approach is to simply lay back and enjoy the language. What wondrous language it is though, a beautiful river of descriptive and colourful English in which a lexicon of over 30,000 words are employed in a novel only 265,000 words long. Joyce constantly switches between writing styles while presenting a vivid picture of life in Dublin in 1904.

It was also interesting to find out that the novel had been twice adapted into a film. Interesting, because I can’t think of a novel that would be less well suited to such an adaptation. The beautiful of Ulysses is in the language and in the picture painted in the mind of the reader – filling in the gaps surely could only damage the experience.


Remembering a word

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 | Thoughts

Is there anything worse than when you just can’t remember a word no matter how hard you try?

Yes. Yes there is. Cancer. Smallpox. TB. Disease in general. War. Crime. Guns. X Factor. Poverty. Death, taxes, earthquakes, hard to open packaging, etc, etc.. Ok, so there are many things worse than not being able to remember a specific word, but it’s still quite annoying.

So I thought I would share my experiences, to see if others (ie, you, the reader) had similar processes or maybe even some better suggestions.

The biggest problem I find is that I will get a specific sound stuck in my head. I have the sound “an” stuck in my head, but the word I’m trying to think of begins with a “sh” sound – and no matter how hard I try, all the word I can think of keep beginning with an “an” sound, and even when I deliberately think of another word, I just find myself drifting back to the same sound, even though I’ve tried all the possibilities and it clearly doesn’t start with that (I’m 95% sure…).

The problem (I imagine) is that my brain is stuck in a particular pattern, and I need to get out of that pattern.

The way I get round that it to just start thinking of other random sounds, and indeed making that sound in my head. Not actual words, just the sounds. “be…”, “du…”, “re…”, over and over. That is all I usually need my conscious mind to do, and the rest of my mind will then suddenly make the connection, and I think of the word when I hit the right sound.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, the brain is pretty cool.