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Posts tagged ‘authors’

Words I Have Loved

Some words just stand out. Some are used in a particular context or situation; others are memorable in their own right. Here are a few that have attracted my attention over the years. Consider this a sort of half-arsed episode of Call My Bluff

To me, anon feels like a word that’s somehow survived from medieval times. In much the same way as crocodiles have survived from the dinosaur era. Anon has been said to me by only three people: my friend David who lives a couple of doors up the road, has a TARDIS in his living room and was just yesterday standing outside my house with a purple cloak and wearing a too-small tricorn hat (no, really); my friend Phil, with whom I cycle (generally trailing him by some distance if we’re going up a hill); the inimitable Mr Ian Watson, at a convention. I have used the word myself on occasion, but only in emails – I’ve never quite had the nerve to use it face-to-face. Maybe if I was wearing a suit of armour…

anon |əˈnɒn|
adverb archaic or informal
soon; shortly: I’ll see you anon.

I first came across glister in a novel – unsurprising given its literary positioning. Glister stood out in the text as particularly evocative of something that exuded a beautiful glitteryshimmery effect. I do use it myself from time to time, mainly to describe sunlight reflected off water.

glister |ˈglɪstə| literary
verb [ no obj. ]
sparkle; glitter.

a sparkle.

I first came across churlish in the film Victim starring Dirk Bogarde: “it seemed somewhat churlish not to give him a lift…” (or something like that). This is a superb film set in 1960s Britain about the injustice of punishing gay men for their sexuality, back when homosexuality was still a crime and carried a prison sentence. The law may have changed for the better, but sadly the ingrained prejudices of many are more difficult to overcome. I’ve heard this word used elsewhere on a few other occasions, but not many, and I have been known to use it myself, although never with regard to giving people lifts.

churlish |ˈtʃəːlɪʃ|
rude in a mean-spirited and surly way: it seems churlish to complain.

I once saw a TV programme in which Dolly Parton described herself as being rambunctious as a little girl. At that time I didn’t know the meaning of the word, but I knew exactly what she meant. Rambunctious – a big sticky toffee of a word that effectively conveys its meaning without effort.

rambunctious |ramˈbʌŋ(k)ʃəs|
adjective informal, chiefly N. Amer.
uncontrollably exuberant; boisterous.

and finally

The word thrunge was conveyed to me by Mr Jim Burns, a former RAF pilot and long-standing SF artist of considerable note. It is apparently used in RAF circles to indicate huge power from jet or rocket engines, among other things with suitable impulse, such as high-powered sports cars. Thrunge. Best said while raising a fist, and followed by blowing a Les Dawson-style raspberry.

thrunge |θrʌng|
adjective informal, chiefly Brit.
extreme power, thrust

So there we have it. A fine selection of words that aren’t used nearly as much as they should be. I suggest you go out and make an impression upon someone with their use as soon as possible. I, meanwhile, will return with another post anon…

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Dead Trees and Ribbons

Bed time. I wanted something to read. Something with a particular flavour. Something to squint at until my eyelids drooped. I scanned my bookshelves and saw a volume I hadn’t picked up for quite some time: a hard cover copy of The Quiet Woman by Christopher Priest.

I took the book from the shelf, glanced at the blurb on the inside and decided that the novel fit the bill. I slipped off the dust jacket and put it on the shelf until the book’s return (dust jackets get crumpled and creased and slide off, so I always remove them from hard cover books when I’m reading them). I went upstairs, book and bourbon in hand.

I got into bed, took a sip of my drink and started to read. As I did so something struck me about this book – it is without doubt a beautiful object. The materials used are superb: the dark blue board and card, the textured, creamy paper. The print quality and construction are excellent. There’s even a blue ribbon bookmark. The paper has that lovely woody scent, the book has weight, the pages have a crisp, dry texture and make a gentle sound as I turn them. The book is signed by the author, and someone has written the price of £10 in pencil in the corner of a couple of pages (probably Rog Peyton, from whom I’m sure I bought this book at a convention).

I’m not going to bemoan the decline of dead tree books. Like the music industry, publishing is going digital. Technology allows people to download books to a multitude of devices to read wherever they wish. They don’t even have to remember what page they were on. I’m no Luddite, and anything that keeps people reading has got to be a good thing. But on balance, when I’m in bed with my wife and my bourbon, I’ll always prefer dead trees.

London Calling – Christopher Priest Interview

An interview I did with Christopher Priest for London Calling.

How to fit writing into a busy life (writing strategies, part two) – Keith Brooke

How to fit writing into a busy life (writing strategies, part two).

Writing strategies in difficult times – Keith Brooke

Keith Brooke on Writing strategies in difficult times.


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