Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Still cold. Frozen frogs? Words and messages. Dogs. Thoughts of freedom.

It’s Wednesday again. Another market day. I had a fine cold ride to Uppermill this morning, only to find that the fishman had decided to extend his Easter holiday. Some menu replanning is now called for. Everything else seemed to be functioning as normal. 

The paths I cycled on were nice and dry but there was ice in the water collected at the edges. Do frogspawn and tadpoles survive being frozen? I wonder. In most places untouched by the morning sun there was frost and ice. In the garden we have an old garden waste bin which has gradually filled up with rainwater; today it has a thick slab of ice on the top. 

Still, it hasn’t snowed ... yet! Yesterday alternated bright sunny spells and snowstorms -  most confusing. I wonder if we’ll have the same odd mix today.


Listening to some news reporters, I increasingly get the impression that some of them are using words they have only ever seen written down. Consequently we hear some interesting mispronunciations and find ourselves calling out a correction to the radio. Not all mispronunciations can be explained away in this manner though. The word ‘decision’ is in serious danger of changing into ‘dezizion’. Strange!

Then there is the odd use of vocabulary. For a long time people have been ‘sadly’ dying. No-one ever just dies, regardless of circumstance, and often the sentence would be better if it began with ‘unfortunately’, rather than applying ‘sadly’ to whatever happened. People and goods no longer ‘cross’ countries; they ‘transit’. And things don’t ‘change’; they ‘transition’. All in the interests of sounding more interesting, I suppose, not to mention showing off!

Personally, I have recently misread at least a couple of things, for lack of a hyphen. First there was ‘miniseries’ which I read initially as ‘minizzeries’, putting the stress on the second ‘i’, and sort of rhyming with words like ‘livery’. Eventually I realised that the word was ‘mini-series’. Then this morning I read the headlines for an article by George Monbiot, about an odd thing called ‘seaspiracy’, which I read as rhyming with “conspiracy’, only to discover that it was actually ‘seas-piracy’, all about the dangers of over-fishing, generally messing up our oceans. 

Communication can be a problem!

I think it was in George Orwell’s writings about his time as a tramp that I read about signs left on gateposts, signs used to let tramps know which households were generous about offering meals, or even casual work, and which farmers might let them  sleep in barns. This was long ago, when some people chose to live a nonconformist wandering life, “tramping” round the country all year round. Somewhere else I read about signs gypsies would leave for similar, and occasionally nefarious, purposes. Today I read about similar messages being left by dog thieves. There has been an amazing increase in such thefts as more and more people have wanted to have a canine companion. And they are willing to pay large sums of money for them. Some dog walkers have had their dogs stolen while out and about. Other dogs are being stolen from houses. And the thieves are helping each other out with signs like these: 

1 clip on a lamp post - dog inside

2 clips - expensive dog inside

We are urged to look out for them and to remove them if spotted, also to watch for stones on pavements and pathways. Such stones won’t thank the NHS or be adorned with rainbows or bees but simply say ‘dog’, relying on the fact that we have grown so used to seeing painted stones that we will just walk past them. Crafty folk these dog thieves!

On more serious matters, the radio news has been telling of concerns that in Brazil the pandemic is getting out of control, putting at risk the control of the virus world-wide. Little is being said of the numbers of tourists, business people, essential travellers coming into the UK bringing variants with them. And discussion continues about the safety of the vaccine.

We, meanwhile, are waiting for our second dose and hoping for further freedom. Phil already has an appointment with his barber to restore his normally more restrained look than his current hairstyle gives him. I need to investigate a local hairdresser for me. For years I have had my hair done at a central Manchester salon but I don’t think I’ll be back there in a hurry. We shall see.

Plans are afoot to meet a couple of friends for a walk and possibly an outdoor restaurant lunch in the not too distant future. I might even get to celebrate a friend’s birthday with her. Again, we shall see. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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