“Seeking the Bubble Reputation Even in the Cannon’s Mouth”

Recognise the title?

Shakespeare’s description of the soldier in the seven ages of man. There now, that’s probably earned my a totally unjustified reputation as a expert on The Bard and all his works. You might even want me on your team for the next pub quiz!

Only joking. But reputation is a funny thing. It all depends on your standards of comparison. To many of my friends and acquaintances in the village where I live I am considered as a keen cyclist. But most of them don’t ride a bike at all.  Some of my friends in the local cycling club hardly count me as a “proper” cyclist at all. I don’t go for 25-mile training rides just for the hell of it. They do. I also ride a trike, and not only a trike but a recumbent trike – how weird can you get?

People I meet outside the supermarket – the bike park outside our local supermarket is a great place for striking up conversatioms about cycling – often say “You must be fit.” But it depends on your standard of comparison. Compared to Bradley Wiggins or Victoria Pendleton I am not fit; even compared to some of my cycling friends of a similar age I am not a strong rider. But I don’t care. I ride to get where I want to go at the pace I want to go. I enjoy riding and use my trike to get around.

Many people regard a bike as either a toy – something you get out on a nice sunny Sunday afternoon  to go for a quick five mile ride to a nearby picnic site. To others it is a piece of sports equipment, taken out to do long training runs and carefully maintained and cleaned, My trike is neither of these: it is a “means of transportation” as they used to say many years ago on the radio programme Twenty Questions. I use my trike to get from A to B. Keeping fit, saving money by not driving a car, being ecologically friendly and not polluting the atmosphere – are all only side effects, though admirable ones.





Grammatical Gran


I’ve always loved words and writing but it wasn’t until I came to work at Lancaster University’s Linguistics Department that I really became hooked on grammar. Yes, the secondary school I went to was what classified  as a “Grammar School” though I can’t remember any particular empahasis on grammar in the curriculum.

Does grammar matter? Many people will castigate you as “illiterate” if you misspell something or use “we was” instead of “we were”.  Since “illiterate” means unable to read and write, this isn’t correct. If you are writing, even if you are writing incorrect grammar you can’t  be illiterate,

Some claim that usage is all. If enough people start to use “he should of gone” instead of “he should have gone” the first example becomes acceptable. (This is known as a descriptive rather than prescriptive approach and it me it is a load of baloney.)

From Robert Browning’s The Grammarian’s Funeral

So, with the throttling hands of death at strife,
Ground he at grammar;
Still, thro’ the rattle, parts of speech were rife:
While he could stammer
He settled Hoti’s business–let it be!–
Properly based Oun–
Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De,
Dead from the waist down.

It’s good poem – if rather lengthy. But I can’t imagine anyone I know, even among the linguistics crowd behaving like this!

grammar   grammar

I am an ardent fan of Lynne Truss and the Apostrophe Protection Society. The rules for using the apostrophe in English are simple and can be grasped by anyone of average intelligence in about 5 minutes.  Punctuation MATTERS. It matters more than spelling. A mis-spelt word just looks a bit odd, wrong punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence. Examples often quoted are:”Let’s eat, Grandma.” vs “Let’s eat Grandma.” – the second example shows an unfortunate tendency to canibalism!
Another example: Jane said,”The tennis coach is very sexy.” vs “Jane,” said the tennis coach, “is very sexy.”

Now for one of my poems:

All the world’s a page
And all the people in it, merely words.
They have their conjugations and their tenses
(Not to mention declensions and grammatical gender.)
If we were both words what sort would I be?
If you were a word would you fit next to me
To make sense, make a sentence?

“Adjectives,” said Humpty Dumpty, “Are easiest.
You can do anything with them,
Not like verbs.”
Myself I see as an adjective
Weak, compliant, easily swayed
You, on the other hand, are clearly a verb
Verbal, verbose, even, but active not passive
Concerned with action, movement, making things happen.

ESME                                                                                                          th-9


What is it about the word “AWESOME” that I find so irritating?
It’s now widely used as a general term of approbation much as “super” was used back in the 1950’s – anyone out there remember the 50’s? I thought not.

What annoys me is that AWESOME has a real usage – at least for me – and it doesn’t mean something is OK or quite acceptable. A volcano or a tsunami, the Taj Mahal by moonlight, any of the seven wonders of the world might legitimately be described as awesome; a home-made cake or a post on my blog can not by any stretch of the imagination be so termed.

So when I see that someone thinks my witterings on a blog are “awesome”, I think the person who says this is either a) a trying to flatter me b) trying to sell me something or c) seriously deficient in their use and knowledge of the English Language.

I realise that the DailyPost keeps using the term to describe blogposts. Is this just to encourage novice bloggers? It is like a teacher telling a pupil his work is “excellent” when it is really rather mediocre but she wants to boost his confidence and encourage him to improve.

(By the way my use of “she” for the teacher and “he” for the pupil is deliberate. I know about inclusive language use and s/he but I still prefer to use what is known as the “generic he” to include she. Anyway a small child learning to write and needing encouragement is more likely to be a boy and a person teaching such a pupil is more likely to be a woman than a man.)

If I had access to the necessary pictures and knew how to insert them I’d make this post much better by showing something really awesome – like the tidal waves battering the coast of Britain at the moment.


Now this is what I mean by AWESOME

Waves at Newtownards

New Year – New Blog

I am a poet.
I write, therefore I am.
As a poet I am also, by definition mad. It was the Bard himself who talked about “The lunatic, the lover and the poet” being all very alike, and surely he should know.

I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read and wasn’t interested in the written word. I was making up stories well before I could write properly and persuaded my long-suffering aunt to act as amanuensis and transcribe my ramblings onto paper.

Some of my poems have won prizes, been published in anthologies – some were even paid for! I’ve a collection of poems called “A Poet Needs a Bicycle” by QQ Press ISBN 1-903203-872 first published 2010.

I also write plays and have had several produced. In 2010 I won a competition for my play Estella at the Grand Theatre Blackpool.

I’m currently trying to write radio plays and beginning to appreciate the difference between these and plays for the stage – e.g. on radio if a character does not speak or isn’t addressed by the other actors the listeners have no way of knowing he is present.

I do various other sorts of writing, anything from short stories, letters to the papers, comments on several web forums – or should that be fora? and general non-fiction articles including reports for my local WI.

My main interests might be said to be the 3 R’s
RIDING – a bike or recently a recumbent trike. I can be seriously boring on the subject of bikes.

I suppose my main reason for embarking on a blog is to express myself and practise my writing skills. I would appreciate comments on not just what I say, but how I say it. I am not afraid of criticism – note I don’t say “constructive criticism” – I can take “that’s rubbish” or “that’s muddled” as long as you tell me why it’s rubbish or muddled.

Possible readers? I really don’t know. Like so many writers, I find readers see things in my work that I never intended and praise parts that I don’t think very good and pass over what I consider are the best bits.

I’m deliberately not including heaps of personal details about where I went to school and what jobs I’ve had. Nor do I want to go on at length about my family. I want my blog persona to be entirely separate from my everyday personality. How about a new name? Yes, I think I’ll be Esmeralda or Esme for blogging purposes.

I haven’t any unique selling point to attract readers. All I can say is that my posts will, I hope be varied, some prose, some rants, some poetry and any other bits and pieces that might be interesting. The main sin, as I see it, in any writing is to bore. Perhaps I am being boring right now – if so I should STOP.