Monday, 8 March 2010


Sunshine has brought this Crocus tommasinianus 'Roseus' into bloom.
The garden is coming to life, birds are squabbling and the buds swelling.

'You'll feel a prick,' the rheumatologist muttered into my ear, as he wrenched my pants down and grasped my buttock.

'How could one not feel like one,' I thought, 'lying prone, naked where it matters and with a medical apprentice of some kind looking on while his boss manhandled parts of me that I'd rather he left alone. I was about to respond with a smart-arse remark about sexual predilections when pain sharper than a scorpion's sting made me grunt.

My right hip, you see, has gone ridiculously on strike and prevents me from walking properly, or at times, from walking at all. The medics, so far, have been unable to diagnose the problem. X-rays show a healthy skeleton, so no arthritis which is comforting. The tentative diagnosis was an inflamed bursa. (Sounds like an angry school financial controller.) This has been injected with some kind of corticosteroid, but the hip still refuses to work. So instead of jauntily leaping from one spring garden job to another, I hobble, cuss and moan.

I spent part of the week end, cutting back the last of the dead perennials and did it all while remaining on my knees, like a penitent crawling through the Stations of the Cross. So I've got bruised knees, now as well.

I wouldn't have bored you with these tedious tales of self-pity, except to offer them as a partial excuse for the rather jaundiced tenor of my last post. I was rude about people - even politicians - and that won't do.

But the hip is still in the cack, so this week, I thought I'd carry on in a nasty vein - but be rude about words, instead of people. I'm referring, here, to stupid, lazy, superfluous, pointless, jargonic words and phrases that make me want to scream and smash things, every time I hear them. Such mind-numbing, ire-inducing, scorn-rousing, lip-curling, head busting, clichéd expressions should be stamped out. Now.

You know the sort of thing. Mindless utterances from people who can't be arsed to think up meaningful phrases for themselves; who haven't the vocabulary in their noddles to recall anything that transcends a bloke's normal daily occupations of sex, money, sex, food, sex, warmth, sex and security.

I'm referring to crap words and phrases like:

Twenty-four seven,
Going forward,
Let's be clear,
Next up,
Mother's Day - referring to Mid-Lent or Mothering Sunday,
Strategic fit - an RHS favourite, I regret to say,
Fit for purpose,
On the back foot,
Comfort zone,
Wriggle room,
At this moment in time,
Recession busting,
Toxic assets.
Talking the talk versus walking the walk - what the hell does that mean?
Double dip - sounds more like an ice-cream than an economic graph.

and, of course,
Stunning! AAAAAAAAArrrrrghhhhhhhh! People are still using it!

Let's just glance at that odious word 'leverage.' It's perfectly acceptable as a noun but it is NOT a verb. You can't 'leverage' anything - or you couldn't until the word got so widely misused that it became part of the dross in the bottom of the gargantuan dustbin that is the English language. Lorries and cart horses haul loads. They do not haulage them. An engine driver would not 'leverage' the throttle but if he had a dozen levers to manipulate, that would be a lot of leverage.

It has to be admitted, that we all tend to laziness, when writing or speaking. It's a vice common to almost everyone, an example of the sin of sloth - though whether two-toed or three-toed, I'm not sure.

I think a good Mid-Lent resolution for all of us - particularly those of us wot rite for there living - might be to ban all clichés and hack-crap from our utterances and our writing for at least a month. Whaddayasay?

And just to get the ball rolling, I've devised a ridiculous little exercise and you are invited to take part.

Here goes:
Construct a sentence which makes sense and which includes, in any order, all the words in this post's title. As well as containing those words, it must also hold at least one ridiculous cliché.

If it helps: blue eyed shags are being assisted, in South Georgia, by a rat-culling programme; I have just written about ichneumons in response to a query for Garden News and Arsenicals were once used as pesticides (lead arsenate) and more bizarrely, arsonic and arsonilic acids were used as growth-promotors in intensive pig farming.

A bouquet to the winning entry.

I'm listening to a Schubert String Trio

This day Last year I weeded our vegetable patch and planted tubercles of Achimenes. It was a cold Sunday.

This week's films were No Country for Old Men, and Laura. Two great films in staggering contrast. The sets and costumes, in Laura, were camper than a row of tents and the acting, especially from Dana Andrews, was a tad wooden at times, but that didn't spoil the enjoyment one jot. In fact it seemed almost appropriate to the preposterous story.

Bye bye - or should I say TTFN!


  1. Still thinking about the sentence but would like to add 'brand new' to the list. Really bugs me - what is the different between 'brand new' and 'new'

  2. The African mongoose 'ichneumon'
    Is rather keen to feast upon
    The eggs of common blue-eyed shags
    (Who lay said eggs in plastic bags)
    But if we're talking of the fly
    And finding ways to make it die
    Arsenicals will do the trick
    And poison off the little prick.


    Bad luck on the hip front - I'll join you in the misery because I keep getting some sort of eye strain at the computer which means I can't do my photoshop stuff for long without getting headaches. I think that most unexplained symptoms can be cured by a long holiday somewhere warm and relaxing.

  3. My particular bug-bear is the use of 'absolutely' as in absolutely the best; you can't get better than the best but this word is often used indiscrminately.

    Hope you are creaking a little less.

    As for your ridiculous exercise...............

    ‘Oh Arse‘ Nic, Al’s friend, shouted loudly, embarrassing us all. He had no object in life other than tallying up as many blue-eyed shags as he could. The expletive was due to his latest conquest having revealed her tinted contact lenses. The bich neu Monday was a special day in his tally & had conned him! We all thought she had done brilliantly; ‘Let’s give it up for Gloria’ we shouted.

  4. Kesselring's new play Arsenical and Old Lacewings still wasn't fit for purpose at this moment in time: going forward he needed to leverage the results of the brother's plastic surgery and render him into something other than a stunning blue-eyed shag, whilst using an Ichneumon wasp as a subtle Mother's Day murder weapon wasn't giving him any wriggle-room, though he suspected it might take his audience well outside their comfort zone.

    We loved playing buzzword bingo whenever management consultants were brought in at work - many of your pet hates were on the list alongside 'put that back-burner', 'park that for now' and 'engagement'.

    Sorry to hear the hip is still giving you gip and I hope we'll see you fit and well ready for a spiffing time at Malvern.

  5. PS I'm a great Coen Brothers fan and had no hesitation in recommending No Country for Old Men for a Girls' Night Out. None of us really got it, and I woke up at 4am the next day shouting 'aha, it was all a dream!'

  6. Hope your hip is soon on the mend and "they" discover what is causing the problem.
    I will leave the word thing to the word-smiths

  7. My annoyances:
    Now in a minute. Which one then? Now, or in a minute?

    Off in 'a band off of Oxford'. NOOOO. A band from Oxford.

    I have more, but these are currently high on the list.

    I too will abstain from the 'writing task' if I may.

  8. guilty of at least three of those on a regular basis **blushes** but have edited out all mentions of 'stunning' things from my writing following your earlier post on the subject.

    I hate it when people confuse 'fewer' and 'less'. And when they say 'first ever'. If it's the first, it's going to be the first ever, non? And about half a dozen other pedanticisms.

    Sorry to hear about your hip and hope it gets better soon

  9. Ok, something that drives my old fashioned bonce crazy: 'Me and Mary got ratted last night...' What's wrong with 'Mary and I got ratted last night.'?? what's with all this me first stuff!! Another one is: 'Let's crack on' Hello? There are more, many more, but if I continue I shall 'go into one' about it!

  10. Nigel, STUNNING post. Bugger! There I go again

  11. Oh poor you-I hope that hip is on the mend and "they" aren't prescribing anything arsenical for you.
    I shall mull on that sentence....

  12. Thanks, everyone, for the response. I think VP wins the entries, so a golden bunch of Allotment Whatsits for you, possibly to be presented at Malvern.

    And just to show willing and join in, how about this:

    The Ochre Banded Ichneumon (Herpestes nigelensis,) - an alien species in South Georgia - surprised the Blue Eyed Shag to such an extent, when it pierced the bird's rear end with its formidable ovipositor, causing a painful arse nick, that the avian flew, flat out, into a cliff overhang, stunning itself in the process - an action which leveraged more than a little panic on the bird's part - so that it was last seen, at the end of the day, lurching forward into the wide, blue yonder.

  13. Well done to all the wordsmiths, especially VP on her win. I'm anotger person who has erased the word 'stunning' from my vocabulary since your previous rant, so you are doing something to make the world a better place, Nigel. Ichneumons are fascinating, if rather scary, creatures. Something of the 'Alien' (i.e. the film) about them.

  14. Just lovely work done.Just love the pink flower.

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