Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Collins Sevens

This is a story designed to help you remember the 1687 new seven-letter words that came in with CSW.

It claims to feature just about all of them except for those which are inflections (plurals or verb forms)
of new threes, fours, fives or sixes that have already appeared in earlier instalments of the saga.

I wake up and begin the morning with a DAIMOKU or Buddhist chant that I learned in Japan. It is a SADHANA or spiritual practice that I try to do each day, in front of a THANGKA on my bedroom wall that I brought back from Tibet, where I have made, as it were, my own little CHORTEN or Buddhist shrine.
I clean my teeth – I am a compulsive FLOSSER and hate the thought of my teeth getting CARIOSE – and then, as I haven't shaved for some days, start to DEBEARD myself with a razor. I put on the radio for something to listen to while I do it. Of course, it's too early in the morning to expect some Shakespearean DRAMADY, but even so the choice is rather limited. Radio 1 has some GARBAGY pop racket that might appeal to a GRUNGER or SKANKER, but it's not to my taste at all. Also it's being presented by a SELECTA who affects a terrible MOCKNEY accent though I know he's been to public school, and anyway plays far too much AGITPOP for my liking. For some reason he has an unaccountably large FANBASE, and I've even seen him on a TV chat show, where he POONCED around in a rather offputting way. Don't get me wrong, I'm not prejudiced, but I happen to know he's a rabid womaniser, so why does he go round pretending to be FAGGIER than he is?

Radio 2 has someone reading a short story, but in such an ACTORLY voice that it puts me off. Radio 3 has a classical ROMANZA, a rather DOLENTE piece, all right in its way but at this time in the morning I would prefer something a little BEATIER, as long as they don't overdo the BEATBOX, a little DANCIER, a little JIGGIER or FOLKIER, in short a little more UPTEMPO. One of the local radio stations has a jazz piece for guitar and drum, with two players DUETING. That's OK for CULTIER JAZZBOS but the guitarist is using his TALKBOX too much and there's a little too much RIFFAGE. Though I have to say the piece was being performed very FUNKILY, and the guitar player BARREED the chords beautifully on each RIFFOLA, while the drummer made good use of RIMSHOT.

Another local station is playing a JIGLIKE piece on the UILLEAN pipes, produced by a MIXDOWN with two separate tracks blended and then REBLENT for an interesting effect. But in the end I settle for Radio 4 and the GODSLOT, today occupied by a rabbi who begins with a lesson from the AGGADAH, goes on to explain the KETUBAH or Jewish marriage contract, and finishes by pronouncing a BRACHAH or blessing on us. I think it was actually the same blessing that I have up on my wall on a SHIVITI, a decorative plaque with a religious message, that my friend Aaron gave me along with a MEGILLA, a scroll containing a book from the Old Testament, and CHUMASH, a printed book containing one of the Five Books of Moses. I wonder, incidentally, how the KETUBAH works when a Jewish boy marries a SHIKSEH, or non-Jewish girl.

I have to say the BBC are very even-handed in this slot. Yesterday, for example, we had some words from a MOOLVIE who teaches at a MEDRESE, or Islamic school attached to a mosque. He was explaining about the SHAHADA or Islamic declaration of faith that is repeated daily, and the SHARIAH or body of Islamic law. However, I don't think they have yet had a HOUNGAN discussing VOUDOUN, or a MYALIST, or an African teacher or MWALIMU, or a SANTERO or SANTERA from the Caribbean. It would also be interesting to have the views of a Hindu SANYASI, an ascetic or hermit who lives by begging. But I remember a week or two back they did have a BRAHMAN or BRAHMIN explaining the virtues of the Hindu caste system to us. The system is OK for him, I thought, he's at the top of the pile, but it's not so good for some poor BHISHTI or water-carrier. (I don't know what the equivalent in status would be in other countries, perhaps some humble job in the service industry like a LIFTBOY or FLUNKIE). Personally I'm against anything that disadvantages a person purely on account of some accident of birth. I wonder if Hindu society still stigmatises a HARAMDA or HARAMDI: that's a male or female born illegitimate. I remember my friend Hamish telling me that he had never known his FAITHER, and he's not sure if his mother had either, she being an easy-going HIELAND sort, but nobody had held it against him; a hundred years ago they would have done.

But of course, all societies have some sort of caste system, some element of RANKISM, even if it's not called that, and everywhere it's all right if you're one of the bosses, call them what you will: a SHERANG in Australia, a BOSSBOY in South Africa, a DAROGHA in India, but not so good if you're some poor SWINKER at the bottom of the pile, perhaps being exploited as a COCKLER or as a worker in some Mexican US-owned factory or MAQUILA, where they don't even have HOLONIC units, just assembly-line manufacture. Yes, a trade needs its union, its committee of workers, its SAMITHI as they call it in India, to stop the workers being WRANGED and exploited. Though personally, being a bit of a lone wolf, I've always tried to keep out of unions and the like, and indeed of any communal scheme, just as I've tried to avoid being beholden to employers. So not for me a communal fellowship like a SANGHAT in the Punjab, or a savings syndicate like a STOKVEL in Africa, or the temptations of the NOVATED lease by which Australian employers give you a loan to buy a car. I wouldn't even want to be a SCHEMIE and buy my house through a housing association.

No, I have always preferred jobs that might be menial but at least give one a bit of independence, like a RABBITO or a FLEECIE, or even NONWAGE jobs where you live off what you can gather for yourself. When I was in Australia I YABBIED for a while, catching crayfish, as well as other shellfish like YUGARIE or EUGARIE, and collecting a kind of edible seaweed that the Maori call KARENGO. It might have been a frugal existence but at least it was a healthy open-air one and I wasn't likely to suffer KAROSHI, as the Japanese call death by overwork. Sometimes one must learn to be a little SWEIRER, take life a little easier.

While I shave I look at my reflection in the mirror. H'm, the beginnings of an EYEFOLD, but I don't think I'll be needing an EYELIFT just yet. I notice my hair is getting rather long, and suffering from DISTRIX, or split ends. I think I'll get it cut really short next time I go to the barber, perhaps have a CREWCUT or a BUZZCUT or even a MOHICAN, or one of those new BILEVEL haircuts. I note that my skin is getting a bit POCKIER as I age, like a rough-skinned fruit – did you know the Twi of Ghana have a special word for that effect on fruit, they call it KOKOBEH, from a word for leprosy. My skin's also a little oily; perhaps I need some cosmetic to MATTIFY it.

I go out into the garden for a pre-breakfast stroll. There is a touch of autumn in the air, with a chilly north wind blowing, like a Mediterranean MELTEMI, and a few clouds floating WASHILY in the blue, but the weather has a fresh feel and the reading on my HUMIDEX is quite low. I find a big GIROLLE on the lawn, a fungus that some people call chanterelle; it's very FRYABLE and I decide to take it in for breakfast; it'll serve to eke out some CREMINI mushrooms that I bought from the supermarket yesterday. There is also a large RUSSULA – at least, I think it's a RUSSULA from the shape of its CORTINA - but I'm not sure how edible those are so I leave it alone.

There are plenty of birds around: I notice a BLUETIT and a COLETIT. I keep meaning to do a project on the computer to record the FAUNULA and FLORULA of my garden. If I could just record one BIOFACT a day it would be something.

I did in fact once do such a project on a somewhat larger scale, an ecological study of a POCOSEN or POCOSIN – that's a kind of upland swamp – in Newfoundland. It was quite a demanding exercise requiring a lot of equipment that I had to PRESHIP. Unfortunately the vessel carrying it got caught in the ice and they had to organise a SEALIFT; then when it did get ashore there was a blizzard so the MAILCAR couldn't get through and in the end it had to be delivered by SNOWCAT.

This kind of project is quite difficult because you are supposed to identify every item of the FAUNULE and FLORULE, sometimes not just according to genus and species but even according to SEROVAR, or subdivision of species, always being careful not to make a wrong identification: it would never do to assign a CACONYM or wrong name. Mammals on the whole are easy enough, but an insect or similar POLYPED can be very difficult. Sometimes you have to catch them in the PREPUPA stage to be sure of an identification. Sometimes you have to study the shape of the GONOPOD, or go on how fast the amount of RESILIN in their cuticles increases during ENDYSIS, as the insect grows a new integument.

Crustaceans can be surprisingly difficult too, requiring close examination of their abdomens to differentiate their PLEONAL or PLEONIC characteristics. As for protozoa, like the AGAMONT, it can be all but impossible without spending hours at the microscope and possibly even taking some of their NUCLEIC acid as an ANALYTE, perhaps looking for ACHIRAL characteristics of the molecules or the evidence of SYNTENY, that is two or more genes on the same chromosome. Then of course there's plants: some are fairly obvious but for others you have to go on some such characteristic as a PALEATE stem, or look for some ANTICAL arrangement of the parts, or rely for identification on minute inspection of the tissue of the MESTOME or EPIBLEM or ROOTCAP, or in the case of liverworts or ferns the PHYLLID or the STOMIUM.

I was really pleased when I identified a new species of CHYTRID, a strange EARLIKE fungus with thin-walled OIDIOID spores. I also found a new subspecies of JAWLESS fish, that had COSMOID scales, that is scales made of COSMINE, like those of the coelacanth.

The project wasn't just a matter of identification, of course. I also made some contribution to our understanding of PHORESY by observing how certain tiny mites use other insects to get around, and was able to record some useful observations on the effects of the SOLUNAR cycle on swamp life. And I had the task of monitoring the relative abundance of species as well. For each plant I had to do a chart with a line called an ISONOME to connect points with an equal abundance of the plant, and then look for ACNODAL points not on the expected distribution curve.

I was really only a TIRONIC taxonomist and could have done with more training to UPSKILL me in TAGGANT techniques and with better equipment, but my sponsors were reluctant to PREFUND more training and drew the line at supplying a new improved BIPRISM for my microscope.

It didn't help on this trip when there was a great storm one night and my tent and a lot of my equipment simply blew away, leaving me shelterless and MAPLESS. For a while I sat there almost WEEPILY, feeling totally WHUPPED – to lose NONCORE possessions is annoying enough, but to lose things one is completely reliant on is a disaster. But no one was going to accuse me of MODGING, and I'm not some yuppie executive who can't deal with stress without his EARBALL, so I soon set to and KLUDGED myself a HUTCHIE or temporary shelter by draping a groundsheet over an upright stick – I'm quite good at KLUGING, though it has to be said that the results do indeed look KLUDGEY.

Luckily I had become friendly with the owner of a small farm nearby – someone who in South Africa would be called a BLOCKIE – and he was able to replace some of my gear and all he'd take in return was a TWOONIE or two-dollar piece. I also MUTCHED a new map off him in return for a handful of LOOSIES (I don't smoke myself, but they do come in useful as a sort of currency).

What's more, seeing that I was hungry, he invited me to lunch. First he TAMMIED some soup for me, then served up a POUTINE – that's a Canadian dish of chipped potatoes topped with curd cheese and a tomato-based sauce. He also insisted on giving me some food to take away for later: an ASHCAKE and some LUTFISK. I was glad of the dried codfish because I have a recipe for GEFILTE fish that I got from my Jewish friend Aaron, to be served with KNEIDEL. He eats a lot of it during the Passover because it's not CHAMETZ or CHOMETZ – that is, it's not leavened food, which Jews are not allowed to eat during Passover.

The farmer was a LIVEYER who had lived in Newfoundland all his life, and he was not happy about the way the island had developed, for example the way in which all the TIMBERY areas had been felled. He was a sheep farmer, but had been losing a lot of lambs recently, some to REDFOOT, some to miscarriage: only that morning he had found an ABORTUS. The sheep were suffering too from an increased incidence of blowfly strike and he had MULESED several in the last week – that means carrying out an operation to reduce the folds of skin in a sheep's breech and so make it harder for the blowfly to lay their eggs; it's named after an Australian called Mules. Several sheep were also suffering from ECTASIA of the RUMEN and an excess of fluid in the CELOMIC cavity, which had to be drained off.

He put his problems down partly to the ever increasing use of chemicals on the land. He asked me whether I thought that ECOTAGE – that's sabotage in an ecological cause – could ever be justified. I said it was certainly a POSABLE question and asked him what he had in mind. It seems that some big multinational company had STANKED up a river, that used to feed a lake, to make a dam, and now the LAKEBED had dried up and gave off a terrible smell like SEPTAGE, and all the wildlife had gone from it. He sometimes felt like going out with some THERMIT to blow up the company offices and set fire to them, and only FORBARE for fear that some innocent person might get hurt. And of course the authorities come down hard on crimes against company property: it's ironic that young idealists who do commit such crimes get a lot worse treatment than some really nasty career criminal who, having been involved with organised crime for years, decides to become a PENTITO or informer and is granted immunity.

I noticed that his wife had a STOMACK, as they say in Africa, and he said, yes, they were expecting their first child, and he was hoping for a son, though he wouldn't really want him to follow in his footsteps as a farmer.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, in my garden. I come first to my flower beds. I am pleased with the design of these. I have alternated GRIDDED beds, laid out in squares, with a GIRONNY pattern of triangles. I see that my sweet WILLIAM, LIATRIS, LIRIOPE, LITHOPS and DRACENA are doing well, along with some plant whose name I forget that has bluish-green leaves, I think the correct term is CESIOUS. I must take a CLOSEUP photo of them on my DIGICAM. I also have a wildflower bed, where I have planted BARTSIA and some PIGFACE, a creeping succulent plant with brightly coloured flowers and red fruits. This last is quick growing and I see that it has already CREEPED over half the bed and is COTTING with the other plants; indeed, it has all but swallowed up a RAURIKI, a kind of sow-thistle that I brought back from New Zealand.

Next I come to the rose garden. I have recently planted some new GALLICA roses – I love the way they ODORISE the air - and am pleased to see them doing well. I have been having a lot of trouble with deer getting into the garden through the hedge and eating the roses, but I've now made the hedge GAPLESS and UNGATED, and I think they're getting the message, though I still saw a young SPOTTIE trying to get in the other day.

Next I visit my orchard. This is getting so overgrown that I'm soon going to need a MATCHET to get through it, or even a BANDSAW. For a start the ground elder has been growing like BILLYOH. I wonder if some special weed-killer, like DICAMBA, would do the trick. What a pity there seems to be no easy way of converting ground elder to BIOFUEL. My apple trees are well laden though: they are an unusual variety, giving beautiful juicy WINESAP apples, full of FRUCTAN, that will soon be ready for SAMMING; it's best to pick them before they get attacked by insects like the STYLOPS wasp.

I have a separate arboretum where I am trying to grow various exotic specimens of tree. From New Zealand I've planted a MANGEAO, that I like for its glossy leaves, a small evergreen HOUHERE, a large evergreen PAPAUMA, also known as broadleaf, a HOROEKA or lancewood, an AKIRAHO that has white flowers, a TAUHINU (that's a sort of poplar), an aromatic PUKATEA, a TARAIRE with broad green leaves and purple fruit, a TAUPATA with shiny dark green leaves, and a TAWHIRI, also with glossy dark green leaves. From Australia I've planted a CARBEEN, that's a kind of eucalyptus with drooping leaves and grey bark, a MUNTRIE with edible reddish-green berries, a tall MORRELL, which is also a eucalyptus, and a WIRILDA, which is a kind of acacia. Other specimens include a Japanese KATSURA, an African YOHIMBE, CATJANG and ZEBRANO – this last has beautiful striped wood – and from America a CHAMISA, a DAMIANA, a CASSINE (or CASSENE, CASSENA, CASSINA), and a BUMELIA. This last is rather thorny and as I stoop under it one of the thorns manages to BRODDLE right through my collar and give me a nasty scratch on the NIDDICK, as if I've been CHIBBED with a knife or SPAGGED by a cat; I must remember to put a BANDAID on it when I go in. I note that so far I have planted nothing ABIETIC and must add a fir tree of some kind. It would have be a sapling, because conifers are difficult to grow from seed, the seed being AKENIAL or naked rather than like, say, an acorn or beech-nut.

I look at my vegetable patch. The JIBBONS or spring onions are doing well, and my BATAVIA lettuce is showing its smooth pale green leaves, but I see that my mangels are being attacked by BEETFLY; I must spray them. I must watch out for beetles too: the ANOBIID is the ARCHFOE of the vegetable gardener. I have a bed of HAUBOIS strawberries that should soon be just about ripe for picking.

Finally I take a look at the garden pond. Round this I have planted a CLADDIE, or New Zealand flax plant, a MAMAKAU – that's a New Zealand tree-fern – and some TARAMEA or spear-grass. I am delighted to find that a CRAPAUD or toad has taken up residence, and I can see several types of CORIXID or water bug, and various NEUSTIC organisms. What I'd really like to have in the pond is an African XENOPUS, but being ECDEMIC I'm afraid it wouldn't be EXAPTED to the environment. It would also be nice to have a SUNSTAR, one of those pretty little starfish, but of course they live only in salt water. I don't stay round the pond too long as it's getting MIDGIER.

I'm so glad I have a garden; I'd hate to live in a SKYHOME. And I'm glad I UPSIZED it recently by adding a bit of land to it. I've got a lot of really interesting stuff in it now, and if it carries on like this people will be wanting to come here on an AWAYDAY for an ECOTOUR of the place. It's just quite a lot of work to look after it all, and really I could do with an ORRAMAN to help. ORRAMEN, whom some people call USEFULS, do odd jobs about a place like mowing lawns and pruning.

I go in for breakfast. I have, along with my GIROLLE and CREMINI, a mixture of cheeses: HALOUMI and CHEVRET – they're both kinds of goat's cheese – together with some French BOURSIN and some MYCELLA which is a Danish blue-veined cream cheese, all served FONDUED – I reflect that cheese, being easily melted, exhibits the property of EUTAXIA. I sprinkle the result with just a little OSSETRA I have left over from Christmas; I don't normally indulge in caviar.

I suppose I should start being careful how much cheese I eat: I don't want it raising my fat levels and giving me LIPURIA or LIPEMIA. But I do like cheese, either on its own or in things like ALFREDO sauce. I debate what to drink with it. I have some SHNAPPS and also two kinds of apricot brandy: PALINKA from eastern Europe and MAMPOER from South Africa, but they don't seem right for breakfast, and I think wine would go best. But which wine? I have a German MOSELLE, a red Italian CHIANTI, and also an AMARONE which is similar but a bit drier. I don't think an ICEWINE would be appropriate on a cold morning like this – that's a dessert wine made from grapes frozen before harvesting. In the end I settle for a French wine that I brought back from a DOMAINE I visited last year. It's CREMANT, with a slightly ALMONDY flavour. To my mind that DOMAINE has just the right soil and climate, or TERROIR as it is called, to give a wine a good character.

The frying pan spits a bit as I cook the mushrooms and I'm glad I have a FORMICA worktop that is easy to wipe down. I'm not entirely UNADEPT at cooking, though I don't think I'd be likely to win a COOKOFF, as I stick to simple things and don't go in for much that needs OVENING. I sometimes toy with the idea of becoming a DEMIVEG, eating fish and poultry but not red meat, as I don't like the idea of abattoirs, where somebody WOODENS poor beasts. Mind you, poultry is often kept in pretty appalling conditions too – did you know they have to DESNOOD turkeys to reduce the incidence of cannibalism, that wouldn't happen if they weren't so packed together?

The problem is that I do like meat from time to time – fancy being some poor Russian peasant and having to live on BORSHCH or cold beetroot soup all the while. And it's easy to let one's dietary preoccupations get too FADLIKE; I know people who will eat only brown flour because they don't think one should AGENISE flour to make it white. And I'm glad I'm not Jewish and don't have to worry about whether things are MILCHIK. But I do tend to cook with low-calorie OLESTRA rather than butter, and I only PARBAKE things, and I try not to OVEREGG my puddings.

I eat breakfast off a LAPTRAY while sitting in my BERBICE chair. The chair is a bit BOCKEDY so I have to wedge something under one leg to stop it rocking. I am watching a documentary about the history of the earth. Sometimes I think these programs get NODDIER every year, but this one is very interesting and not dumbed down at all. It seems the earliest forms of life on earth, or the earliest we know about, were ARCHAEA. I don't know much about ARCHEAN forms of life. I wonder if they started in the BENTHON on the ocean floor, or perhaps as a BIOFILM on the rocks. Of course, the atmosphere was very different then, with less oxygen and I suppose correspondingly more nitrogen, or perhaps more of some ARGONON or inert gas.

The documentary goes on to cover the various geological epochs, like the NEOGENE, the MIOCENE and PERMIAN. I try to remember when the coal measures were laid down. I still don't quite understand the process by which a huge tree or tree-fern becomes a MACERAL. How long geological time is. It's strange to think of great mountains being ground down to MOLASSE or soft sediment, of huge fissures opening on the ocean floor in the SIMATIC rocks of the earth's crust, or of the slow processes that AGATISE a rock and create sparkling cavities that grow VUGHIER each year with the percolation of some solution. The film ends with a rather effective FADEOUT of the whole earth suspended in space like a blue and white jewel.

After watching the program I read the morning paper. It has news of a funding crisis in the public sector: there is talk that the Chancellor might try to DEINDEX Civil Service pensions, and also stop the practice of PERFING, or lucrative early retirement from the police force. The price of ACTUALS has gone up. But the pound is still strong against foreign currency: I see that one can now get ten Ukrainian HRYVNIA or HRYVNYA (that's a thousand KOPIYKA) for a pound, and can get fifty Latvian SANTIMU ditto. The Prime Minister, whom the paper clearly considers to be a BIGTIME BLAGUER, is accused of acting more like an AUTARCH every day, rather than the mere HEGEMON he should be, and there is talk of a conspiracy in his party to UNCHAIR him from the seat of office. But I'm not sure we can rely on his successor to OUTLEAD him. There were three fatalities yesterday at a local AIRSHOW: one of an AEROBAT doing stunts, one of a person trying to SKYSURF and one of someone using a ROGALLO, a flexible fabric delta wing used as a kind of hang-glider. These AVIATIC sports can be very dangerous.

I read about new developments in computing – there is some talk of an ultimate version of the Internet called the EVERNET. The book review section covers just the best-sellers as usual, a PAGEFUL of rubbish. I think a publisher's MIDLIST often has a lot more interesting books but they never get a mention. Astronomers have discovered a PLERION, a supernova remnant emitting radiation from both the centre and the shell, but it's thousands of light-years off and no danger to us. Of less interest is the news that some POPSTER, who is evidently well-known enough to be a MONONYM, is getting married for the third time.

There is an article on South Africa, from some HOTSPOT where the Nguni tribe have been DEMOING, making some protest about equal rights after discovering that an UMLUNGU or white man is still paid more for certain jobs than a coloured person, and have had to be dispersed by use of a CASSPIR or armoured car. Surely they must at least be better off now than they were under BAASKAP, being treated as AMADODA or grown men at last, but they have still been marching along chanting their slogan AMANDLA, calling for power to the black population, and demanding a compensatory BANSELA or BONSELA, that's a gratuity, for each man on the workforce. I suspect that people like the Maori actually have more to complain about now: I remember a big RUNANGA or council when I was out there to decide the proper KAUPAPA or policy concerning RAUPATU or the confiscation of land, and how after a KARAKIA or prayer to their ancestral gods and the consumption of a certain amount of HOKONUI, or illicit whisky, they HIKOIED, that is went on a protest march, and HOSEYED a portion of what they claimed was their ancestral land.

Then I do my accounts. I have to RETALLY a couple of times because I'd left one item UNADDED, but it all comes out right when I RETOTAL. I wouldn't say I was an obsessive NEATNIK, but I do like to keep track of income and expenditure, just in case I'm ever an AUDITEE.

The post comes. There are a lot of forms from the taxman that I have to sign – really I could do with an AUTOPEN. There is a card from my brother and his wife who are rowing up the Amazon in a FOYBOAT: they have been attacked by a CAMOODI while on a CAMPOUT and are having a lot of trouble with BUSHFLY and TACHINA fly. My brother-in-law has a nasty case of GIARDIA from drinking the water and has a large RANULAR cyst on his tongue, while my sister-in-law has RATBITE fever and the bite she got from the anaconda has been infected with SARCINA bacteria and is getting FESTIER, so she's bit DOWLIER than usual. They seem to be having a good time otherwise.

There is also a letter from my great-aunt, with sad news of my great-uncle. He has for some years been suffering from Alzheimer's and paralysis AGITANS. Taking the drugs TACRINE and DANAZOL helped for a while, but now he is an AGNOSIC, no longer recognising anybody, while also suffering from AGEUSIA, or lack of the sense of taste, ADIPSIA, or complete absence of thirst, and general AKRASIA or loss of self-control. He spends much of the time in a NARCOMA. But there may be some hope from a new PRODRUG, NONORAL in its administration, that is being PROMOED. I hope so: one naturally feels concern for one's RELLIES and it is a terrible thing to be AKRATIC, one of the RENKEST ends one can imagine: the thought is enough to make anyone ASCARED. When the time comes I hope my end is quick, like that of my other great-uncle who was killed last year in a crash on an AUTOPUT in Yugoslavia when his car collided with a CABOVER lorry.

Needless to say things are not easy for my aunt, and her situation is made worse by the fact that she has APHAKIA, or macular degeneration of the lens, which is not the sort of thing that can be cured by an EYEBATH, and is waiting for a corneal graft from an EYEBANK, since she can see so little that her poor eye-sockets might as well be ORBLESS. Also her hearing is getting worse: she was already one of the DEIFEST people I have ever known, but has managed so far to communicate to some extent by use of a MINICOM system. She also has BULLOSA, a genetic skin disorder and suffers constant indigestion from a malfunction of her OXYNTIC cells which are secreting too much acid. I try to remember what kind of acid it is that one has in the stomach; I don't think it's PYRUVIC or MALONIC.

All in all my great-aunt has had rather a sad life: she did have one child but it was born ATRESIC or ATRETIC, without the normal orifices, and only lived a few hours.

There is also a parcel for me, containing a WARDIAN case that I ordered because I am planning to grow some delicate plants under glass.

When I've read the post I spend a bit of time on my computer, though as I've said before I'm no NURDISH NETHEAD, and try to steer clear of the world of GEEKDOM, being an ONLINER only when I need to be. Today's task is to fit a new KEYRING drive to my computer. I can just about do this sort of thing, though I don't like messing around with the real innards: I'm always afraid that something will go wrong necessitating an expensive OUTCALL, so I wouldn't tackle anything like adding more memory, though I could really do with another EXABYTE at least.

I have a real scare when the computer doesn't start up and I realise I've forgotten to back up and set a restore point. I reproach myself in no uncertain terms. 'DAWBAKE! FUCKWIT! THICKIE! TWINKIE! WAZZOCK! DIPSHIT! MAMPARA! You get KERKIER and GOONIER every day!' But I have a little fiddle with my TWEAKER and a bent GEMCLIP and fortunately all goes well when I restart, with the computer MUNGING away merrily, except that I seem to have lost the TASKBAR, my Office TOOLSET is unavailable and all the text is coming out GREEKED (I wonder why GREEKED, incidentally, as the effect is not really to GRECISE anything). Luckily I manage to sort these problems out too. What a relief: I thought I was really OPGEFOK there. I get very TOOSHIE when something goes wrong with my computer; in fact it's then I'm at my ARSIEST and nothing makes me more SNITCHY, HISSIER, NOWTIER or inclined to speak RATTILY. It's partly resentment, I suppose, at the way life drives you to become ever NURDIER whether you want to be or not.

The first thing I do after restarting is PRELOAD a little SERVLET to check for MALWARE and SPYWARE. As I might have PRETOLD, it finds at least half a dozen dodgy cookies and applets. Then I do a bit of EBAYING. Actually I'm no consumer addict and try whenever possible to be a FREEGAN and recycle discarded goods rather than acquire new ones, but it's a pity to miss a good SELLOFF or a BARGOON. I was actually interested in a SANTOOR that was up for sale on EBAY - I've always fancied playing the dulcimer - but I see that yesterday someone PREBADE more than I am prepared to pay.

Next I download a PODCAST I want to listen to. Then I print off a letter, but the printer jams and I have to UNSPOOL and RESPOOL it. Next I reply to an email from an EDITRIX concerning an article I submitted on my time in Africa. She wants more of a political slant, being a very ENGAGEE sort. She used to work as an ADWOMAN, and I suppose is now reacting against that culture. She's a very educated woman, what the French would call a SAVANTE. There are a lot more emails, but mostly junk from some SCAMMER using a SPAMBOT. I get so many emails I'm thinking of installing my own CHATBOT. Ah, what a JARGONY business computing is, we seem to get new words every day: HOTLINK, METATAG, NANODOT, BLOGGER, TEXTING, GRIEFER, WEBCAST, WEBINAR, WEBMAIL, WEBPAGE, WEBLISH – I think that last one started as a SNIGLET but has now become accepted.

It's time to go out. What shall I wear today? I rather fancy my KOROWAI, or decorative woven cloak, that a Maori chieftain presented me with as he HONGIED me while MIHIING me during a POWHIRI, or ceremony of greeting, in accordance with the Maori TIKANGA of giving gifts to visitors to a marae. It's done while a female elder sings a KARANGA or chant of welcome; then she HONGIES you too. But I'm not sure: I don't want my West Indian next-door neighbour to think I'm any HINKIER than he already does. On the other hand I don't really know why I should worry about the opinion of a LOOKIST like him, who loads himself with gold chains in an effort to make himself LARNIER but only succeeds in looking ridiculously GLITZED and BLINGER every day. If he thinks I'm a BIZARRO so what? - and what's wrong with trying to be a bit STYLIER? But would the KOROWAI go with my SUNNIES is the question. And what hat to wear with it? I try a SONGKOK, an oval brimless hat that I brought back from Malaya, but decide it makes me look like a WANKSTA. Then I try a STETSON, but decide that makes me look a bit BLOKISH, so I settle for a CURCHEF, tied up at the back in a rather stylish CARRICK bend.

Let's see, what else have I got. I really must get round to sorting out some of the SHMATTE in this wardrobe: there must be a SHEDFUL, or at least a CARTFUL or VANLOAD, of SCULTCH here that I shall never wear again and the more SHLOCKY items, the NAFFEST and WACKEST stuff, might as well go for MITUMBA in Africa, that is, second-hand clothes for resale; they're happy to get stuff that's been PREWORN, regarding it as perfectly GIVABLE, and are grateful for what they're GITTING. Of course, it's only right that the OOFIEST countries should help the PAIREST. Some of it is actually quite good quality: there is a BAWNEEN jacket that's been given the SIROSET treatment – it was a present from Paddy's nephew, a DENIMED young man much given to wearing casual sports clothes, what they call in Ireland a SKANGER. I think I'd need to be a bit BOYSIER to wear it successfully. There's also a UNISIZE SHAMINA sweater, OK except it has a rent where I SCAGGED it on a nail and the moths have been at it to make it even HOLEYER. But there is also some real tat, like a SHOEBOX containing one SCUFFER, that I suppose might be useful to a one-legged man, and some NONWOOL POCKIES that don't do much to keep your hands worn.

At that point I remember that there's no point in dressing up anyway because I'm supposed to be meeting my friend Tim, who is a very keen TRACEUR, for a PARKOUR session in the park, that involves a lot of running and obstacle course stuff. So I just need some sports kit instead, like a pair of TAKKIES or MOCCIES and a SWANNIE or all-weather woollen shirt to keep me warm afterwards. I notice my TAKKIES are getting a bit worn. I have been having a bit of trouble with a HYGROMA on my knee, though the swelling seems to have gone down now, and that can happen as a result of badly worn shoes: it's time I was RESHOED. Actually I like to run barefoot when I can, to CORNIFY the soles of my feet, but it's not always practical. The HYDROMA could just have been from training too hard, I suppose: there's such a thing as being OVERFIT.

I look for something BAGLIKE to carry my spare shoes in, but can only find a TOWSACK, so decide to go BAGLESS.

I go out, leaving my little MENSHEN, or Chinese door idol, JAGAING the place. Well, actually I have a good LOCKSET as well. But the idol is meant to bring luck, or at least to be an AVERTER of ill fortune.

I walk down to the park rather than take the car, because for one thing I have a FLATTIE. Anyway, as I think I mentioned last time it's a dreadful old CHORRIE. The ROLLBAR is just about rusted through and the TAILFIN fell off the other day. It's a UNIBODY vehicle, with frame and body in one unit, and both are so rusty it's not even WAXABLE any more, even with the special TREEWAX I bought, and the windscreen heater doesn't work so I keep having to buy ANTIFOG spray. I almost wish some TWOCKER would take it so at least I could claim something for it on the insurance. There is also the fact that it's getting almost impossible to park anywhere other than OUTCITY, particularly since they decided to DUALISE the main road. We really need an extra PARKADE or two, but there's very little waste land available for building and of course they'd have to PREPAVE it.

I'm a bit early, so I STRAYVE across the park in a leisurely fashion. I'm glad to see quite a few children playing with great ANIMACY, some at FOOTBAG, some at BOXBALL, some BLADING, some throwing a FRISBEE very ZESTILY, and in general having a real FUNFEST. Other children are playing cowboys and Indians and making gun noises, so that it's like walking through a WARZONE - not very politically correct, I suppose, but still, it's so much better for children to be doing their own thing rather than being taken to some sort of FUNPLEX for artificial amusements, or put into DAYCARE and stuck in front of a TV and not even being allowed to ride their tryke down the road without a SKIDLID. Of course, when I was young we had to make our own amusements all the time. I remember the fun we got out of a GALANTY show, a kind of pantomime shadow play, using cutout figures from paper. I suppose one can't expect today's NETHEAD generation to get much out of that.

I see that some of the NEDDIER type of youth also frequent the park; I pick up a SYRETTE that some druggie must have left and put in it in a litter-bin. It's not really my job to be a POLICER of these things but we don't want some small child deciding that it's POKABLE and never let it be said I SHACKED my civic responsibilities. I remember now that it wasn't far from here that youths attacked a TRAMMIE and stole the money out his FAREBOX.

There is a little zoo in the corner of the park, with an aviary. It's not the ZOOIEST zoo you ever saw, but has some interesting specimens. I call in to see the GLEENIE or guinea-fowl, a slightly HENNISH bird, one of my favourites because it is so tame, having been HANDFED. They also have a HADEDAH, a very elegant greyish-green ibis, a bit like a WINNARD, as we used to call a heron where I lived as a child. There's a HEMIPOD or button quail, a CUMULET, which is a fancy variety of pigeon, a CROMBEC, which is a kind of African warbler, and from New Zealand a SITELLA, a KOEKOEA, a MAYBIRD, an AXEBIRD and a beautiful AMOKURA, most striking with its red beak and red tail feathers.

They have one or two unusual small animals too, including, from Australia, a BETTONG or short-nosed rat kangaroo and a DALGYTE, a sort of burrowing marsupial also known as a bilby. They also have a reptile corner with various lizards: a LEGUAAN from South Africa, a NGARARA from New Zealand and a PERENTY from Australia. I'm still debating what dog to get, by the way. Definitely nothing small, like a PEKEPOO, but nothing too big either, which rules out a BOERBUL, which is a South African crossbred mastiff, and nothing too LOLLOPY like a spaniel. I'm currently considering a SAMOYED. Or perhaps a SPINONE, a kind of wiry-coated Italian gun dog or BIRDDOG.

I OUTGAZE across the park and see my CHOMMIE Tim coming; he has just DEBUSED at the park gate having presumably EMBUSED at home. Tim is an AGEMATE whom I have known since our LADHOOD at school together; we GROKKED each other from the start. He is a great guy with a moustache like a Mexican BANDITO and a UNIBROW – I tell him his face will disappear altogether if he gets much KEMPIER. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up with him today: he is a real HARDMAN who takes part in IRONMAN competitions. You wouldn't call him a GOLIATH; he's not big enough to be a SUMOIST, in fact he's built quite RANGILY and is much BONEYER than me: I'm of a BOOFIER build, a bit of a STOMPIE in fact. But he's very strong from having worked as a WHARFIE, moves like a ROOIKAT, and is a BLITZER, a real STORMER, at any sport he undertakes.

For example, he has a black belt in HAPKIDO, can KICKBOX, in wrestling is a master of the FACEBAR and PINFALL, is a formidable RUCKMAN in rugby, is renowned for his speed UPCOURT in basketball, and in cycling is a tireless PEDALER who won a MADISON last year, finishing well ahead of the PELOTON. He is a prodigious CHUCKER of the stone at Highland games and even has his own CRAMPER for this, or special metal bar for bracing the foot against. He is a skilful PARRIER in fencing, and a good golfer who never makes an AIRSHOT and can often be seen EAGLING the most difficult hole. He can get the SLIOTAR a long way in hurling, is very skilled at PUCKING and DEKEING in ice-hockey, is first-class at BOOLING, plays a good game of billiards, being particularly adept with the BOUCLEE, and is even keen on ZORBING, or rolling downhill inside a ball; I feel sick at the mere thought of it.

Tim's a good climber too: I've watched as he JUMARED his way up a sheer icefall at great speed, then with great PAZZAZZ did an amazing PENDULE across to reach another line of ascent. Not that he's at all reckless as a climber, in fact he's a very careful BELAYER, who always uses a DEADBOY or DEADMAN. But his real ambition is to come down Everest on a MONOSKI, which would be a rather HOMERIC feat. I've seen him do a GELANDE jump and he's certainly got wonderful control, but I think he'll need to do a lot of GENNING up on the conditions first. Oh, and he's even good at bridge and known for the strength of his ENDPLAY.

Despite being such a HARDASS he is a very MENSCHY fellow, not at all a WISEGUY, completely JONNOCK with nothing KUNJOOS or mean about him and the LEALEST friend you could wish for. He's always ready as a DEFUSER of any tense situation, and the SAFTEST fellow you ever saw when it comes to CHIRREN, whether it's some LITTLIE, the ICKLEST SNIFFLY NOINTER of two or three, or even a TWEENER of ten or so. He used to BABYSIT for Deepak: he BABYSAT Deepak's son when he was a BACHCHA and also his daughter, who was a real little monkey, or BANDARI as Deepak would say, and they always KVELLED as soon as they SICHTED him, knowing he would never be a SHUSHER but would let them play and make a noise.

At college we rowed together in a COXLESS four, and I can tell you that with Tim in the crew there was never any question of EASYING, and any competition we were in stayed UNCEDED right till the end. And last year we SCUBAED together off the fantastic FJORDIC coast of Chile, in a WETSUIT of course because the sea there is pretty cold. Our relationship is one of friendly rivalry, with a lot of GAGGERY: we never miss the chance to make a PUTDOWN or play a SLANTER or SWIFTIE on one another. But there's a lot of mutual respect: we both want to win but know any sportsman needs good opposition to get the best out of himself; after all, there's no satisfaction in ROWOVER.

We start our training. After a little PEPTALK from Tim and a few warm-up exercises – we don't want to DIVULSE any tendons - we first run three times round the ISLETED lake, on a route that we use as our own PACEWAY, partly on grass and partly on TARSEAL. Then we strike off UPSLOPE through the park and come to a SLUTCHY ditch, the bottom of it SLUDGED with soft mire. I don't want to SPLOOSH through that, because I don't want my TAKKIES getting any SCODIER, TOCKIER, VUTTIER or CACKIER than they already are, so I take a good run at it and jump. Never let it be said that I was a BAULKER or DINGOED out of anything. 'WHOOPIE', I say, LOWPING over like a KONGONI, or South African hartebeest, clearing a river full of crocodiles. It's not the FAUREST I've ever jumped, but I'm quite pleased with it. 'HADAWAY!' someone shouts. That makes a change: we don't often get encouragement or friendly HULLOOS, usually we get STONKED with insults and catcalls from some NEDDISH BOOBIRD, some TRASHER, some stupid FUCKOFF, some GURRIER or SHINKIN. It's a fact of life that there are always people around who like MOERING others, engaging in MOBBISM, and you don't get a SNIDIER, SUCKIER, GOBBIER lot than some of the types we have round here, whose idea of fun is to go round looking for a FRESHIE to pick on and taunt him for being WOGGISH. Not that we let that sort WHERRIT us. I'd like to see them pick on Tim; he's been a SWADDIE and would soon have them by the short and CURLIES. But it's best to ignore them, though the temptation is to call 'oh, VOETSAK, VOETSEK, get a life'. I suppose they've been UNLIKED themselves, so don't like other people, but which comes first? Of course, I suppose we do look a bit crazy, or as my Maori friends would say, PORANGI, as we tear round LOOPILY not to say LOONILY. But at least no one can accuse Tim and me of being SHEEPLE and just following the crowd, and there's no FAUTING us for lack of enthusiasm.

Next, having SCROMED through a tunnel, we have to SCOOTCH into a ball and do ten forward rolls. Tim bangs his head on a stone bench. 'BLIKSEM!' I say – an exclamation of surprise I picked up in South Africa - and wince at the CHELLUP. Tim lies there for a moment, PASTILY coloured and looking rather LOGGISH. 'CRIMINI!' he says and looks at me GLAZILY – the blow is clearly MUZZING him and I see him FLEHMEN with the pain - but he's not one to OLOGOAN or let a little thing like that UNTRACK him so he picks himself up and carries on.

Next we have to run across a log. I start to lose balance and BREENGE forward in an attempt to reach the end before I fall, but my BREINGE falls short and I slip and suffer a rather painful crushing of my JOHNSON, my TOCKLEY, my SCHLONG, oh let's not be coy about it, my penis. 'FECKING hell' I say, BRUXING with the pain, and squat there for a moment holding myself like a CAGANER, incapable of more than a SPUDDLE, and afraid I'm going to start COWKING. But I soon pick myself up and keep GANNING, although for a while keeping my legs close together as if my feet have been tied by some HOPPLER. I'm not one for WIMPING out and something about hard exercise makes one less ALGESIC or ALGETIC, less sensitive to pain, at least while the exercise lasts; certainly it's not long before the pain is MILDING.

'SHABASH! Well done' says someone passing and I look up and see it's Deepak, but there's no time now to stop and talk. I slip again and bark my shin on a concrete edge; it's like being hit with a MEATAXE. What a pity I'm not wearing a JAMBART, or better still carrying a PAVISSE. Tim has run into an overhanging branch and is bleeding from his GUMLINE; there is blood on the ground where he has GOLLIED, and there is froth all round his mouth though he's not normally a FROTHER. But we're not going to let little accidents like that KENNETT our fun, though it does strike me that if we carry on at this rate we're going to need someone to MEDIVAC us back home. We're lucky to have the air ambulance in this country; in the States you'd have to be on MEDIGAP.

We carry on for a good half-hour, and finish with a sprint back to the start, which, rather FLUKILY, I win: I've never VAUCHED so fast, I'm fairly ZOONING along. It is the UNCOEST feeling, being high on adrenalin. Tim KLAPPED me on the back. 'That was a BITCHEN session, it was SCHMICK, the KEWLEST we've ever had. Pity it was UNTIMED, I think it would have been a new record!', he says, mopping his mouth with a KLEENEX as he HOCKLES; he is still GOSSING blood. 'It was BOOSHIT!' I agree, LINTING the wound on my shin; I have a big bruise there which is steadily getting PLUMMER but will no doubt end up the BUFFEST yellow-brown, and across it there is a big gash as if it's been RIPSAWN. This gash is GUNGING up and looking FUGLIER and GUNKIER by the minute, oozing JAMLIKE stuff GUMMILY where the blood has LIVERED, while a muscle in my thigh keeps TICCING.

I try SOOKING the cut, but SOUKING doesn't seem to help; I think when I get home I'd better treat it with an IODISER or BROMISE it or perhaps try DEGGING it or DOUKING it in ETHANAL. I may also need to take a SECONAL or TRIPTAN tablet and perhaps a dose of cascara SAGRADA. But it's not as bad as once when I severed an artery: that was a real SPURTER and it was worse because I had been taking a CUMARIC compound which tends to stop the blood coagulating.

We laugh at how I BLARTED and SWEIRED when I had my little accident: Tim says you could have heard me BELLOCK a mile away. I say he can't talk: when he banged his head he CHOOKED like a chicken, SKRIKED like a rabbit, SKENNED at me as if he was completely UNAWAKE and didn't know where he was, then ran round in circles YORPING.

'OK, let's food and drink' says TIM, who has a habit of VERBING or using nouns as verbs. After all that exercise we certainly feel we have earned a drink, so we call in at Tim's to shower and change before PUBBING. Really it would have been nice to have SAUNAED. I am careful DACKING myself because my trousers have stuck to my leg with the blood, that has dried up in a crust looking rather like that reddish clay the Maori use to paint themselves for ceremonies; KOKOWAI they call it.

Then we make our way to the local RUBBIDY for a CERVEZA or two in a STUBBIE. I don't normally drink beer, but this RUBBITY does a good BREWSKI and they have a special way of KEGGING it that brings out the flavour. I raise my glass in the traditional Jewish toast or LECHAIM that Aaron has taught me, and it's not long before we have SKOLLED a few pints with great relish, perhaps a little too quickly as it makes me hiccup BEERILY. 'I really JONESED that' says Tim. Of course, neither of us is a SUIPLAP, and we never drink enough to get KAYLIED, or as the Zulus say BABALAS, but there's no denying a ROSINER can be a real pick-me-up and help in SHIRING one after exercise.

Then it's time to eat. If I'd been on my own I'd probably just have CHEAPED and brought a SNAPTIN and SNARFED the contents of that. I'm an inveterate SNACKER, having spent some time in the Falkland Islands where they have an excellent custom known as SMOKEHO, involving tea and cream cakes taken mid-morning, though I'm also quite content with a STOTTIE or wedge of bread stuffed with meat or cheese, together with some sort of SWEDGER or perhaps an OLICOOK. I might also have made myself some ROOIBOS, a kind of tea that I acquired a taste for it in South Africa. I like to hold my own little CHANOYO or tea ceremony, though unlike the Japanese I put a lot of sugar in my tea after exercise; I'm not normally a SUGARER but it does help replace energy quickly.

But as I'm with Tim we go across to the International Food Court to find a suitable EATERIE. The South African stall is tempting with its BOBOTIE, curried mincemeat with a baked egg topping, or its CALALOO, a soup made with greens, onions and crabmeat, or its SOSATIE, a skewer of curried meat pieces, BRAAIED over open coals, or its slices of fried PAMPOEN or pumpkin. So is the Indian stall with its DOPIAZA or BIRIANI served with a BONIATO or sweet potato or two and of course the inevitable PAPADAM, PAPADOM or PAPADUM, or its DHANSAK consisting of meat or vegetables braised with water or stock and lentils. But in the end we decide to go to the Spanish-Italian place. This is a proper restaurant, very WINDOWY with lots of glass, and one wall MURALED with designs showing the influence of ORPHISM. It's said to be the VIBIEST place in town.

Tim insists that he is going to pay for lunch because he has had a good win on the horses with a successful TRIELLA bet – that involves connected bets on three nominated races. Luckily he had remembered to PREWIRE the bet to his bookmaker before he came out. I order TOFUTTI served with ARBORIO rice, salad NICOISE and a ZEPPOLE – that's a kind of fritter – followed by BANOFFI pie. Tim has a RELLENO, a Mexican dish of stuffed vegetables, along with a GORDITA, a small thick tortilla, and a CHALUPA, which is a fried corn tortilla shaped like a boat and filled with a savoury mixture of meat, vegetables and cheese. We tuck in, neither being the sort to eat PICKILY, and I feel particularly hungry, PORKING it into my PIEHOLE as fast as I can. The food – the helpings include a complimentary extra portion, a generous BROUGHTA or BRAATAS – is very good, though perhaps the PICCATA or sauce is a little too PICANTE, and Tim says his POBLANO, a sort of long green chili, is a little too hot. In fact, he says, it's nearly as hot as some BERBERE he had once in Ethiopia – that's a kind of paste made from garlic and cayenne pepper – or some HARISSA which is similar but made from a hot paste of chilli peppers, spices, tomatoes and olive oil.

Then we sit back CANTILY, WAWAING about this and that. Over lunch we like to have a scientific or philosophical discussion. First we set ourselves a quiz to see how many of the chemical elements we can name. We get all of them except DUBNIUM, HASSIUM and BOHRIUM. We've both got a HEADFUL of fairly useless information. Then we see how many subatomic particles we can name. We get quite a lot but forget CLASSON and one or two of the BOSONIC particles. Also we are not sure whether a DIQUARK counts and there is some dispute about a WAVICLE.

Moving on to philosophy we discuss the concept of DIANOIA, which considers perception and experience as inferior forms of knowledge. We decide that this is a load of CRAPOLA, and that surely any valid knowledge must rely on some form of IDEATUM or RELATUM from the outside world, though we agree there may be some unknown TERTIUM quid involved as well. Then we go on to discuss Buddhism and the concept of ANATMAN, the belief that there is no such thing as a permanent self. This leads us on to discuss similar concepts in DRUIDRY, and this in turn leads on to BARDISM.

Then the conversation turns to Tim's experiences as a SWOFFER – we both enjoy swoffing, or saltwater fly-fishing - and we debate the relative merits of different flies: MURRAGH and GRANNOM, WORMFLY and TAILFLY. I recall how I once landed a SOUPFIN shark in the surf off New Zealand, though it was more usual to catch WAREHOU, and how once off Australia I even hooked a basking shark, or REREMAI as the Maori call them, but the line broke and it got away. My aborigine friends laughed and said only a WUDJULA would try to catch a basking shark with rod and line. Tim recalls catching GEELBEK off South Africa.

Tim, who is rather more BRUSSEN than I am in these matters and has always had an eye for the LAYDEEZ, gets into conversation with our WAITRON, who is a slightly CHAVISH CHARVER but very pleasant. Rumour has it that she is a HASBIAN. She's certainly looking a lot FEMMIER and GIRLIER than she used to, and you could no longer take her for a LADYBOY. Not that she was ever CRONISH or HAGLIKE or HUCKERY; it's just that she looks softer, and is dressed more attractively. I don't mean that she's got VAMPIER or is dressed at all TARTILY – you certainly wouldn't take her for a HOOCHIE or a SHIPPIE or a HORNBAG, or even a NEDETTE. Maybe a POPETTE or FRIPPET at worst. She reminds me a little of a BATGIRL I met at a baseball game in the States; she has a WAIFISH look about her, the sort who in Victorian times might have worked as a TWEENIE.

Tim asks her if she's always been a waitress and she says no, she used to be a BARISTA in a coffee bar, and before that she was a FLUFFER, employed to keep male actors aroused in pornographic movies and generally help EROTISE the proceedings. She says it wasn't really like it sounds: she just had to SMOODGE them a bit and stand around in a GYMSLIP or TANKINI and be a bit of a WAGGLER. I notice a FLAREUP of interest on Tim's part; in fact he is eying her quite RANDILY, though it puts me off a bit that she is chewing a GUMBALL and has a large SPAMMIE on her neck. I also notice that she is GALLOCK, because she serves the food with her left hand. Not that I care: no one could accuse me of HANDISM. But I think I'll leave the field to Tim; I'm rather UNSLICK at these things and I must admit he comes across as a good deal HUGGIER than me. I'm afraid I have no gift to MAMAGUY a woman, no SHTICKY chat-up line, I'm not even very good at telling jokes, as I always forget the TAGLINE.

I have some shopping to do, so I leave Tim chatting up the waitress. He asks me if I happen to have a spare FRANGER and is clearly looking forward to a bit of a FRAWZEY that afternoon. I think we can safely say, though, that he will not be engaging in the rather disgusting Japanese sexual practice known as BUKKAKE.

I call in at the local antique shop, as I want to buy my girl-friend a piece of jewellery, something to go with the HEITIKI or necklace of greenstone that I brought her back from New Zealand, and which reminds me very much of a CALLAIS, one of those green bead ornaments from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age. I want something decent, not just some cheap trinket, some CHACHKA or TSATSKE, or some plaster STOOKIE or one of those BORTIER pieces of jewelry of the kind you find on market stalls. But it's a good shop and I know I can rely on them not to sell me anything BOGUSLY. I find an ABRASAX, a sort of magical charm, wrought in ALPACCA, a heavy nickel silver, that I think will be just the thing to go with the necklace and with the short-sleeved, square-necked BUSUUTI I brought her back from Uganda, or the BATIKED KERBAYA, a kind of blouse, I got her from Malaya.

The antique shop has a rather unusual ceiling with a big LEQUEAR or sunken coffer set into it, and painted blue to give a SKYLIKE effect. Other parts of the ceiling are done with a LATILLA effect, using peeled limbs of ash, UNCLEFT, to make it look as if one is in a wood. It contains various interesting bits of furniture and curios, though most of them tagged rather PRICILY in my view. There is a fine table in MERANTI wood from Malaya. I see a CUCKING stool, that they used to duck witches in; I bet there aren't many of those around now. Also a CRACKET, a low stool with three legs, carved by some CRAFTER long ago, some nice pieces of LALIQUE glassware, an EASELED painting with a view of a stormy sea, as if painted from a ship's HIGHTOP, a chest of drawers, beautifully decorated by a PURFLER, an interesting vase in the ancient Egyptian CANOPIC style, some Chinese FAMILLE porcelain and an old CRUIZIE, an open iron lamp with a rush wick. There is also an ancient GRISTER once used for grinding corn. They even have an old church organ, though apparently it's missing one of the stops, the GEDECKT, and there's something wrong with the POSITIF so the soft stops don't sound quite right. But perhaps the most curious item of all is a TSANTSA, or Jivaro shrunken head: you don't find too many of those on sale these days.

I am planning to do some DIY at home, so call in at the local hardware store to pick up some NONDRIP paint that won't show CISSING, some sheets of PERSPEX, some CELOTEX, which is a kind of insulation board – yes, I'm the sort who RECLADS his walls every so often – some GLYPTAL, which is an alkyd resin, some ISOAMYL acetate for dissoving lacquer, an IMPEDOR I need for some electrical work and a GROZING iron for smoothing the joints between lead pipes. My house is rather old and still has a DRYWELL sewage system which I want to do something about. I'm not really a plumber, but I do have some experience as a SCARFER. We've had some subsidence in the area and I worry about the foundations, I hope I don't end up having to RESTUMP the house.

Then I drop in at the furniture store to order a new SOFABED. I seem to have chosen my time SAVVILY because they have been taken over by a big CHAEBOL, or Korean-owned family firm, and are having a clearance sale, trying to DESTOCK prior to a REBRAND.

As I make my way home in the evening the sun is going down and the streets have a strange TOYTOWN aspect. As I come past the local church they are ringing a MAXIMUS. It all looks very HEIMISH. Yes, there's NOPLACE like home, I reflect.

I'm not really hungry after my big lunch, but find some HOUMOUS in the fridge and have that together with some fillets of GAROUPA, the remains of a Chinese takeaway. Then I settle down to some Scrabble revision. This consists, for this evening, of reading a story by some guy who has tried to work all the new seven-letter words into a continuous narrative. But there seems to be several that he has incompetently missed, or else they have defeated his ingenuity, for I note that he has completely missed….

acrylyl A type of monovalent group.

calpain A type of enzyme.

canular Shaped like a CANULA.

carbene A neutral divalent free radical.

cyclise To form one or more rings in a chemical compound.

decaled (Pt.) DECAL, to transfer by DECALCOMANIA.

flyback The fast return of the spot on a cathode ray tube after completing each trace.

flyhand A device for transferring printed sheets from the presses to a flat pile.

gapiest (Superl.) GAPY, infested with gapeworm.

gospoda (Russian) a Russian title of address, equivalent to Mr. No -S.

headend A facility from which cable television is transmitted.

hexylic Of or like HEXYL.

inosine A type of molecule making up a cell.

isoform A protein similar in function but not in form to another.

laminin A type of protein.

titulus In crucifixion, a sign attached to the top of the cross on which were written the condemned man's name and crime: TITULI.

You just can't get the staff these days…


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