Thursday, 24 September 2015


You go away for a while and discover on your return that some things, but not all, changed in your absence. 

Out running on my usual route around the village, I came across my old friend Jack and his little dog Rosie. We swapped stories of what we have been up to over the summer. His has been damper and colder than mine. In fact, he told me, he had seen statistics that said this summer in the North West of England had been one of the wettest since records began. And I had heard that it had been one of the coldest. So I think I was very fortunate that on my two lightning visits to the UK during June and July the weather was kind to me. 

Continuing my run, I came across the place where there used to be one of those gates that are meant to prevent large animals pushing their way through. You know the kind of thing: the gate opens in one direction but is blocked from opening totally by the edge of a kind of enclosure which you step into and move the gate in the other direction before getting out of the enclosure and continuing on your way. A fairly standard country walk gate. This particular gate has annoyed me for a while because I kept finding that some ignorant person had forced it all the way open, leaving the way clear for cows, horse, people on motorbikes or whatever to get through. Yesterday I found it has gone a stage further and the gate has disappeared! All that remains is the gate post and the enclosure! 

Later in the day I walked into Uppermill, going through Dobcross village en route. Dobcross is an unusual place as the village centre stands at the top of a hill. No fortifications so it’s not a case of an old hill fort or anything like that. There is an old pub so maybe it was a stopping place on an old coaching route. In the centre of the village square stands a monument to some local dignitary. This was carelessly knocked down by a reversing delivery van earlier this year and for months the plinth stood there alone with striped tape around it. We began to think it would never be restored. But yesterday it was back to normal. Phew! What a relief! 

Leaving Dobcross, I walked down the lane past an old house which has stood derelict for years and years. Many a time I have looked at it and thought how nice it would be to have the money to restore it. Now I find that the overgrown garden has been cleared and the property has been sold. I hope the intention is to renovate and restore, not to knock down and build something new. 

Our eldest granddaughter came to see us, complete with small dog. Not the family's small dog but her very own. I thought she had a fox cub in her arms but it turned out to be a fox-faced brown Pomeranian, or some such thing. My knowledge of dog breeds is almost equal to my knowledge of makes of car! In other words, very small! This creature has cost her a large amount of money from her savings. Nobody told us that she had bought it because they knew we would have remonstrated with them for wasting money when there is already a perfectly serviceable dog in their house. So it goes! 

After she had left, Phil decided to tidy up the garden. He did not get very far as he discovered that the bottom section of the garden had been infested with Himalayan balsam, or policemen's helmets as the children called them. The downstairs neighbour who shares the garden with us had left them to spread as she thought they were just rather pretty flowers. Well, yes, true as far as it goes. They are very pretty. Unfortunately they are also aggressively assertive and take over patches of land, allowing nothing else to grow as their root systems demand lots of space and lots of water. In some cases, the value of houses has been reduced because of the presence of this dominating weed. So Phil spent a good part of the afternoon uprooting the things and stamping on them. We might need to rake them together when they have dried a little and then set fire to them to destroy the seeds. 

I was reading about pronunciation changes in an article somewhere. Apparently new ways of pronouncing words are spreading in Britain thanks to the influence of US culture. That 's what people studying language have decided. A study by the British Library reveals that a third of the people taking part in the study pronounce schedule with a "sk", American style, instead of the more traditional English "sh". Other US pronunciations taking root, according to researchers, are “pay-triotic”, in place of “pat-riotic”, and “advertISEment”, instead of “adVERTisement”. 

I was particularly interested to read this: 

"Initial findings of the research have indicated that Britons are also creating a new way of saying controversy which hasn’t traditionally been used in Britain or the US. Three quarters of Britons taking part say “conTROversy”, with the emphasis on the middle syllable, rather than the previously conventional “CONtroversy”. Jonnie Robinson, curator of sociolinguistics and education at the British Library, said the word had undergone a “stress shift”. “The new pronunciation – conTROversy – does appear to be peculiarly British and it is catching on,” Mr Robinson said." 

A new pronunciation? Really? This controversy has been going on in our house for more than forty years. All my life, I have favoured the so-called "new" way of saying it, only to be told by Phil that it is wrong. But then, he also insists that lorry should be pronounced to rhyme with worry, whereas I say it rhymes with sorry. 

What can I say? And how should I say it?


  1. My grandmother, who was born in 1881, always pronounced none like known. So when you read the rhyme Old Mrs. Hubbard the last word none rhymes with bone.

  2. And the Americans pronounce shone in the same way, rhyming with bone.