Friday, 16 December 2016

A little escapism!

Right, I have almost nailed the Christmas shopping thing. On two occasions this week, I have gone round various shops with my list: two completely different days and two completely different experience. It's not so much the shopping as the roaming the streets of Manchester.

On Tuesday I usually go to an Italian conversation class in the late afternoon and this week I went into Manchester early so that I could visit some shops first. I was feeling a bit under the weather and the weather I was under was disgusting: damp and drizzly! By the time I had done almost two hours of tramping Manchester I was damp and miserable and had really has enough. It's a good job we had our end of term party in the class to cheer me up. I did, however, get a lot of stuff done.

Today I went into town with my daughter and my list and her list. A different city! It has been a beautiful day: mostly blue sky, some wintry sunshine and a lot of brightness. Roaming Manchester was a pleasure. Yes, I do know people who would hold their hands up in amazement that shopping can be enjoyable but with pre-planning and a good list that can indeed be the case.

Almost there! So now I just need to do some major wrapping and check up that I have everything covered!

Between the two shopping trips we had a new fancy electric fire delivered. When we moved into this house, some thirty years ago, we had the romantic notion of heating the house with a coal burning stove, which ran the central hearing system as well as serving as a cooker. It was fine for most things, although useless for cakes. Cakes need a reliable oven temperature, not one that can drop by maybe ten degrees as you put the cake in! Otherwise great! Until, that is, albeit after a number of years, it sprang a leak and we discovered that it would cost more to have it fixed than it had cost us originally. So out it went and in went a gas-fired boiler to run the central heating. Besides, we were both working full time and keeping the stove running was hard work.

Anyway, at the start of the romantic adventure, we had the old gas fire in the living room removed and a good old-style open fireplace installed. In recent years we have found this a little onerous: great once the fire was burning merrily but involving a lot of work. So we looked at a living-flame gas fire: too complicated to install and connect to the gas supply, which would have involved drilling through a stone floor to install piping to reach the gas meter sin the basement kitchen. Altogether too hard! 

The answer seemed to be one of the new, clever electric fires, fires that look remarkably like real open fires, even to pretend smoke drifting upwards. So I ordered one and it arrived on Wednesday. Installation looked straightforward ... up to a point. And then the diagrams seemed to diverge from the reality in front of us, or mostly in front of me. It had been my decision and was largely my responsibility. In the end, however, this technophobe managed it, with only a little help from my technical adviser husband.

And now for something about language. From time to time Facebook throws up quizzes about users' knowledge of history, music, culture and the like, such as this one about the correct use of words. Is it really possible to score less than full marks on this? And I wanted to add a question about the verb "to text". In fact I have long questioned the use of "text" as a verb instead of a noun but that is a different matter. Having, therefore, accepted for the moment that it can be a verb, which of the following is its correct form in the past tense? "I texted him yesterday" or "I text him yesterday"?

My daughter, usually almost as much a grammar-nazi as I am, maintains that the second is perfectly acceptable. As a linguist, and a great believer that language rules should be obeyed, I find that form quite upsettingly wrong.

BoSuch questions take my mind off the greater trouble of the world!

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