<a href=””>Three Letter Words</a>

Write an entire post without using three letter words

Easy-peasy? Or is it? Particularly if there isn’t a topic or theme given. I still recall at primary school being told to “write a sentence”. This completely threw me. I couldn’t do it. It needed more limitations. Write a sentence about your holidays, your family, your pets – I could’ve managed these. Just “write a sentence” – no way.

I look back over what I have written and I think I have avoided three-letter words? I’m unsure. I go over each sentence to check for three-letter words, then substitute something else. Quite difficult. However still possible. Only trouble is a total lack of interest! Still I’ve done it – I think!




Ghost Writer

<a href=””>Ghostwriter</a&gt;

If you could have any author –living or dead – write your biography, who would you choose?

Quite simple – Sir Terry Pratchett. Not just because his death was in the news recently, not just because I enjoy his books, not even because I admire the way he faced the prospect of Alzheimer’s. I think he would do a good job of making my rather uninteresting life interesting,

I’ve even appeared in one of his books! Not exactly true but someone with my name was a character in one of his stories,She was a nun, Sister Loquacious who left the order  of “the chattering sisters” or something like that and found she could understand computers. Some very slight parallels with my own history: I attended a convent school and at one point thought I might have “a vocation” . Like some kind of illness or infirmity. Didn’t last.

At a fairly late stage I became interested in computers and now I can’t imagine life without one of these marvellous writing machines.  I’m sure Sir Terry could transform this into a really interesting and funny story. And that’s what ghost writing is all about, isn’t it?



Coin From 2010

“Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?”

What was I doing in 2010? I had to look it up and found that a number of interesting, exciting, satisfying and unpleasant things happened that year.

A poetic image of a poet
A poetic image of a poet

2010 was definitely a good year for my writing. I published a short book of poems called “A Poet Needs a Bicycle”, QQ Press printed a limited edition of 50 copies and while I didn’t make my fortune I wasn’t left with heaps of unsaleable books cluttering up the spare room.

I also had my first real success as a playwright. My play “Estella” won a competition called “Grand Words” run by the Grand Theatre Blackpool. So I am now a dramatist as well as a poet and to cap it all I got a trophy to keep on my bookcase and a cash prize.

What else happened? We had a day in Edinburgh looking at recumbent bikes and trikes and riding them in a park in the centre of Edinburgh. My first ride on the Kettwiesel recumbent trike which has now become so much part of my life I can;t imagine being without it.

I suppose I should mention the less pleasant aspects of 2010: I went to visit a friend in a nursing home and walking back to the bus stop tripped and fell cutting my face and breaking my left wrist. I can’t even claim the pavement was uneven – it was all down to my clumsiness.

All in all 2010 was an eventful year and I can’t believe all these things happened half a decade ago – they all feel far more recent.


Teacher’s Pet – Apostrophes Galore!

Teacher’s Pet

There’s one teacher I’ll never forget. An old English teacher – that is an old teacher, (she may have been all of 50 but she seemed old) – not someone who taught Old English, Anglo-Saxon, Beowulf and all that. I did later study Old English and Middle English and Linguistics and it is just possible she influenced my choice of degree subject, but that is another story.

This lady – I’ll call her O’M because she had a name with an apostrophe in it – had a thing about the use of the apostrophe in English. This was in the 50s and 60s you understand, well before Lynne Truss and her best-selling “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”. Miss O’M was adamant that her sixth form would master the correct use of the apostrophe. In fact she decreed that any essay containing a misplaced apostrophe got no marks. She put a * when she encountered this heinous offence and a note to the effect that she had stopped marking at that point. Can you imagine a teacher getting away with such a ploy today!

But it worked. At least for me. I don’t get apostrophes wrong – or very rarely. But I also get this jarring finger-nail-on-blackboard feeling when I come across a misplaced apostrophe. I know in the long run it isn’t all that important. But when you think about it, the correct use of the apostrophe is something that can be explained to and understood by someone of average intelligence in less than fifteen minutes. “Is this worth doing?” I hear you ask. I think so.

Miss O’M has a lot to answer for.


Playing lexicograher

Play Lexicographer

My word is gumblegloot – usually marked as “etym dub” ie the etymology of this word is somewhat dubious.

GUMBLEGLOOT is far more that dubious as far as etymology goes it is profoundly weird.

The term comes from the old icelandic “gumble” cognate with “gimble” meanting to amble along with a swaying movement. a “gloot” is one who gloats or delights on another’s misfortune. from proto-indoeuropen ” gloatenyr – to enjoy.

An example of this word in use: “Fred was a right gumblegloot as he watched the team lose to the side at the bottom of the table.”




LISTING can be addictive. You know you’re hooked when you start making a list of lists and send yourself a reminder to make a list.

But Lists have their uses. some of my regular lists:

  • Daily list of Things to Do

Not quite as basic as “get out of bed”, “shower”, “clean teeth” – but not far off

  • Weekly list of what is happening in the following seven days:

meetings, outings, stuff I want to get finished to a deadline competition entries etc. Also includes reminders for birthdays and other significant days. (I don’t quite  need reminding that Christmas Day is on 25th December – not yet! But ‘m sure will come to this,eventually.)

  • Shopping lists

Am I the only one who finds Excel a helpful way to keeping track of grocery and household shopping? I have one enormous list with just about everything on it and when a trip to the supermarket is needed I go through this master list and mark off the things we’re going to need this time round.  I print it out and mark off the items as we trek round the supermarket.
Of course this isn’t infallible I’ve sometimes come home with a nice neat list  but minus a couple of the things I meant to  buy, usually important or essential items too.

  • Packing Lists

When we go on holiday, even for only a couple of nights I have a packing list of all the things that we might conceivably need during our time away. I use three columns for “His” “Hers” and “Ours” – the last-named incldes such things as sandwiches toeat on the journey, maps and chargers for mobile phones and any other electronic gadgets we are taking.

  • Then of course there are the inevitable Christmas lists -subdivided  into
    1 Christmas card
    2 Card and present
    3 Card and present and letter.

It all looks beautifully organised and efficient – I wish!

I can still get my lists into a terrible muddle. especially when writing to someone I only contact at Christmas and find myself struggling to remember some relative’s name or someone else’s address.



Scorton Spectre.

“I thought tonight’s talk was on flower arranging,” Muriel whispered to her neighbour, “Perhaps they changed it at the last minute.”
The speaker who rose to address the group was imposing. She was tall and willowy and wore a long dress that shimmered in the lamplight and seemed at one moment white, the next silver and the next grey. Muriel failed to catch her name.

“Don’t you find it chilly?” Muriel whispered, “I hope the central heating hasn’t failed like it did last year. We’ll soon be into November, you know.”

“You’ll have heard of the Pendle Witches,” the speaker began, “But how many of you know about the Scorton Spectre?”
There were puzzled looks from her audience.

“The tale is generally kept quiet,” she went on, “With good reason. The Spectre appears only once a year on All Hallows’ Eve and can be seen only by certain special people.”
Muriel glanced at her diary. Today was October 31st.

“Nowadays Halloween has become an excuse for parties and silly pranks” the speaker continued, “But in fact All Hallows’ Eve, is the time when souls are released from purgatory and return briefly to earth.”

“Superstitious rubbish!” muttered Muriel.

“The Scorton Spectre began life many years ago as a lovely young girl living on the edge of the village. Her beauty was such that all men desired her and all women envied her. She had many suitors and led them a merry dance. At least two duels were fought over her and she was known locally as the Scorton Strumpet.”

“Eventually she married a rich old fellow who died shortly afterwards, leaving her a wealthy widow. There was a rumour that his death wasn’t due solely to natural causes but nothing could ever be proved. Like the prodigal son in the Bible, she lived a riotous life of gambling and debauchery. Unlike him, she died a pauper.”

“However on my deathbed I struck a bargain with the Lord. I should not suffer eternal damnation if I could persuade others to repent. Every year on All Hallows’ Eve I return to my birthplace, where I can be seen only by those who will die within twelve months.”

Had Muriel misheard? Was the speaker telling her own life story or was it a trick to hold the audience’s attention?
Her head began to whirl. She felt icy fingers stroking the back of her neck and heard a soft voice reminding her of her faults.

“Wake up, Muriel,” her friend nudged her, “They’re bringing the tea round.”

“Wasn’t that a wonderful talk,” the tea hostess enthused, “I’ve always been interested in flower arranging.”

The Spectre had vanished. Muriel didn’t dare ask her friends which talk they had heard, one on floral decoration or the grim story of the Scorton Spectre.

The following year in July members were asked to stand for a minute’s silence to remember “our dear friend and fellow member, Muriel who passed away suddenly last week.”