Another Rule Bites the Dust

 

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Finally – Proof that I move in exalted circles

I was chatting to the Poet Laureate the other day, as you do… Okay I’ll fess up, I didn’t even realise until recently that my young writer friend Ide Crawford was a poet laureate – she was probably too modest to tell me. But I did know she had won a prestigious poetry prize towards the end of last year and I was so pleased for her that I did a posting about it on here. It is the annual Betjeman Poetry Prize which is held at St Pancras Station and marks National Poetry Day (which as we all know is 4 November) and you can read more about it here (but not much more, since I’ve pinched most of their article for this posting). As well as her winning poem, selected from out of 3,000 entries, her role as the St Pancras laureate means she is commissioned to write three more poems during the course of her year-long tenure. I look forward to seeing them!

Her winning poem is called The Moors:

These hills that rise and roll and ripple

Like a dream or a tune or a turning-tide

These hundreds and thousands of burring bees

These thousands and millions and billions of bells

These honey clouds of pollen and scent

All rolled by the land to an imperial robe

Of purple, slow and sweet and sweeping

Purple like sundown summer skies

Purple like a peacock butterfly’s eye

Purple like dye from a murex shell

A robe for the high-throned sun-crowned summer hills

Whose bee-filled bell-rung empire cannot fall

These purple bells that peal together

From sky to moor and moor to sky

They ring and echo and tremble and sing

Not for one or two or twelve’o clock

But they ring for all time

For never and forever

They ring for the rise and the roll and the ripple

Of tens and hundreds and thousands of years

They ring for the heather heavy hills

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Beware

Beardsley Towers – yet to recover from recent storm damage but I’ve got a man coming round on Thursday

Anyone thinking of trying to break in to Beardsley Towers to steal some of the riches and valuables that go with being an internationally best-selling author, think again.

My team of hand-picked scientists have been perfecting the technique of genetically modifying attack dogs in order to make them even more effective.

This new breed, now ready to be unleashed upon would-be burglars, can flow under fences or through wire mesh to get at you, and if you run from them and make it back to your vehicle, thinking you are safe, think again! They can ooze through keyholes, air vents, and the gaps around windows!

(The good thing is, they don’t even need kennels but are housed in old pickled onion jars until called into action.)

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Now Hear This!

Brace yourselves!

Anchors aweigh!

Avast behind!

Yes, it’s time to open up that cheque book or Paypal page and subscribe to Aquila, the entertaining children’s educational magazine. It’s full of great articles written by excellent writers – one in particular standing out from the rest according to the buzz on social media. (Yes, ‘the buzz’ is my social media i.d. but that’s purely a coincidence.)

This month’s theme is ‘Curious Cats’, and the article that’s got everyone talking is called What’s the Use of a Seuss? about the famous Doctor and his works. (A brilliant title, thought up by the author without any help. So I’m told.)

So folks, rush out and subscribe while copies last!

 

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Wassail!

Having put my trusty almanack of folklore to one side for another few years, I have now started dipping into my User-Friendly Dictionary of Old English (Bill Griffiths, Heart of Albion Press) once more. It isn’t as dry as it sounds because it contains lots of fascinating examples of Anglo-Saxon English as used in daily life. It barely seems to be related to modern English when you first look at it, but with a bit of patience and study it soon becomes clear that is closer than you might think.

What really tickled me was when I read this, which comes from a question-and-answer passage originally written in Latin by a monk called Ælfric, but translated into Old English by an unknown Saxon writer:

Hwæt sægest þy, yrþlingc?

It looks pretty incomprehensible at first sight, but with a few clues it becomes more familiar than you might think. Try saying each word out loud once you’ve got the explanation!

  • The æ was similar to the ‘a’ in modern English. (King Alfred’s name was actually ‘Ælfred’)
  • The letter ‘g’ was in some contexts pronounced like the letter ‘y’ today
  • The þ symbol has been lost from the alphabet. Although it looks like our P, it is actually a ‘th’ sound as in ‘the’.
  • The letter ‘y’ itself, just to make life more complicated, sounded like ‘oo’

Now that you are an expert in Old English, you will quickly be able to see that the translation is:

What say you, ploughman? (Or perhaps more literally, What sayest thou, ploughman?)

Either way, I love the idea that a ploughman was called an ‘earthling’!

An Old English earthling

 

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At last

Parking spaces especially designed to accommodate people like me

 

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