Humour Humor Language Life

Word of the day

Courtesy of Susie Dent

A ‘mumpsimus’ (16th century) is someone who insists that they are right, despite clear evidence that they are not.

Humour Humor Language Thoughts


Concise and witty criticism . . .

‘The covers of this book are too far apart.’ Ambrose Bierce 

The Devil’s Dictionary by Bierce is a great book to dip into: e.g.

Politics. n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

Written in 1911, but apposite today!



I am struggling with the deluge of emails, and cold calls I get these day, and what I find amazing is the number of people who contact me and speak in a language I do not understand – and I don’t mean Portuguese or Icelandic ….I mean ‘management speak’! Now I did a degree in Management Sciences in the 70’s, so I’ve done more than business jargon 101 but these days it has reached a level of obfuscation which baffles me! Today a guy wanted to link with me on Linkedin and his opening line was today: Given your industry, you’ll know how hard it can be to maintain a low-cost new business model to consistently drive quality inbound media production leads. I think he means it’s hard to find new business . . . but I wouldn’t swear to it.

Humour Humor Language Life

Modern times….

Driving is so different these days!

Hand signals!?!

They’re out the window…….

Thanks to Milton Jones for the inspiration!

Language Life Thoughts

It was a dark and stormy night ….

Before I finally awoke at four a.m., I had already made one trip to the bathroom. Returning to bed, I looked in on my desk to see what time it was. I glanced out of the window.

The rain was lashing down and the wind was howling in gusts. There before my eyes I saw four hooded figures standing at the corners of a large pyre of wood waiting to be ignited. Their cloaks swirled in the wind. My mind flashed back to the cathartic scene in Race with the Devil where Peter Fonda sees a coven performing a Satanic rite – the event which instigates the frenetic chase which leads to inevitable disaster. . . .

I put my glasses on so I could see my watch which also enabled me to make out the shape of the skip which next doors builders had filled and to which they had attached black bin liners ……..

Humour Humor Language Life

A rare opportunity…..

On Wednesday, my friend Wido gave me the opportunity for an irresistible piece of word play. He sent me an email, from Holland saying: ‘Is Johnson still ruling the waves?’ ‘No, he’s waiving the rules!’ I replied with unsurpresssed delight!

Humour Humor Language Life

The missing inks

My latest contribution to Zuiderlucht
Humour Humor Journal Language Life

Grammatical Gripes – Part 1 (of many…..)

OK- so to christen the new site, here’s a number of gripes I have with the misuse of language. If anybody dares say ‘yes but language is a living, breathing and evolving structure’ I fully accept and understand this much quoted phrase, however evolving is by definition a smooth and relatively slow process, whereas many ‘changes’ in usage come about through sheer ignorance of correct usage – personally I’d rather not have errors ensconced as a sign of verbal progress. The high horse having being well and truly exercised, here are a few examples

1  Using ‘should of been’ when it should have been ‘should have been’

2 Using ‘bartering’ when they mean ‘bargaining’ or ‘haggling’ : ‘bargaining’ is a process of reaching a price (or out come) which suits both parties. ‘Bartering’ which many people say they are good at, would mean convincing a sofa salesman that they should accept in exchange for the latest lounging luxury your old sofa, which only has a few springs showing, and lacks only one of the cushions, plus some random objects which you found in your attic. Obviously, this is entire hypothetical as sofas seem to always be at “Outrageously Good Sale Prices!”

3 Using the word ‘riffing’ in any context! The word refers to a series of notes; a musical phrase originally and usually applied to guitarists. I have NEVER heard a musician say ‘riffing’ – a riff is a thing. Somebody  – and I am tempted to blame Will Self for this – has purloined the word and transmogrified it into a conjugatable verb to be used outside of a musical context

I riff, you rifff, he riffs . . . .  No, I don’t, you don’t and he bloody doesn’t!

As an aside, I cannot resist blaming Self for many things (this is clearly not severe self-deprecation) and I did delight in his error of using the phrase – ‘having cardinal knowledge’ – unless he knows more than we do about the habits of the Catholic church.

Here endeth the first of many. . .