Thursday, 27 August 2009


My skills in this field have recently been questioned, specifically in relation to the word 'mackerel'. Well, really! I'll have you know I got what is now called an A* in spelling at primary school. I can even spell 'bee'. Put me to the test - write down any word you like and I'll tell you how to spell it. (Mind you, they've invented a bunch of new ones since then, so anything post 1953 is subject to fourth umpire adjudication.)

It's worth quoting the Chambers definition of 'mackerel' in full, because somebody clearly put a lot of loving care into it:

"n an edible bluish-green N Atlantic fish (genus Scomben) with a silvery underside and wavy cross-streaks on its back; a pimp (obs)" Poetry. Draw me one, reflecting both meanings.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Weather forecasts

Now I bet that caught your attention! Rant follows:

Why do they always start each new regional summary with 'Now'? 'Now, for Scotland and the rest of Northern Ireland ...' 'Now, for the rest of England and Wales ...'
And why do they give us the exceptions first, then the 'rest of' bit? I tend to listen out for the bits that affect me, which tend to be part of the 'rest of', but I risk missing a subtle exception that might just matter to me. The other day I swear that, as my ears belatedly focussed (or whatever it is ears do) I heard something like ' ... except for the eastern parts of Western Scotland and some parts of rural Berkshire, for the rest of the United Kingdom ...' I exaggerate, but not much.
And by the way, why are they so obsessed with Western Scotland and its isles? I know these places have their own wonder and beauty, but let's face it, most people don't live there. I'd rather have a micro-forecast for West Reading than Stornaway (populations roughly similar I'd guess). Is it simply because they do, actually, have much more interesting weather? (I'd also guess that the good people of Stornaway don't listen to this crud, preferring to look at the sky - see below).
They should also be wary of voicing emotive words such as 'hurricane'. Tomorrow, it's going to be a bit wet and windy across the U.K., as a depression swings in, tail end of a hurricane which blew itself out mid-Atlantic a few days ago. All the forecasts use the H word, and old people who live alone and are hard of hearing and anxiety-ridden pick up only that. Kate, who ticks all those boxes, complains about being unable to sleep through fear that the three loose ridge tiles on her roof will come crashing down and kill her. We had to soothe her with assurances - they always get it wrong, remember Michael Fish in 87 ... luckily I don't think she heard.
Does one barbeque a summer make??
Oh yes, and what are 'organised showers' please?

Now, as I write, there's a mackerel sky, and black cumuli bubbling up. Not a hint of red. Well, I know what that means.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Am I alone in thinking?

I sometimes wonder as I wander through the day. Here's a couple of recent examples:

1. I received a new chequebook today. The cover sheet explains that the number of cheques in the book has been reduced by five, 'to assist in fraud prevention, and in line with the general reduction in cheque usage'.
I can see the first point, yes, the thief will only be able to issue 25 fraudulent cheques instead of the previous 30. But what exactly can be the relationship between the number of cheques I write and the thickness of my cheque book?

2. At the entrances to several residential side roads that I pass going up the Oxford Road to Waitrose, signs have appeared saying 'ROAD SAFETY ZONE. PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY'.
I want to know what kind of zone I am leaving if I turn off into one of these roads.
Perhaps I should - maybe there are signs facing the opposite way which read 'ROAD IDIOCY ZONE. DRIVE HOWEVER YOU WANT'.

I'd resolved to do absolutely nothing today, but I see that I have emptied the dishwasher, Dysoned the living room, stewed the windfall apples and pulled up some weeds in the front garden.* I really must get a grip.

*In addition to writing this nonsense, of course.