Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Collins Sixes

This is a story designed to help you remember the 1195 new six-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 or fives that have already appeared in earlier instalments of the saga.

I wake up feeling a bit ANGSTY having had a bad dream that a witch was going to sacrifice me by cutting my throat with her ATHAME, or perhaps, as it was sickle-shaped, the correct term would be BOLINE, and I couldn't do a thing to stop the hideous GEEBAG because I was suffering from complete ATONIA and couldn't move my arms, having no strength at all in my TRICEP.
I get out of bed and do a BURPEE or two, a good CARDIO exercise, just to reassure myself that I can in fact still move, then decide I need a good BREKKY to put me back in sorts. I fancy cheese and look to see what I've got. There is some Indian PANEER, very soft and white, and some French CANTAL, but in the end I settle for Italian ASIAGO, eating it in a PANINO, and washing it down with a glass of APPLEY fruit-juice, followed by a glass of BAROLO, a red Italian wine that goes well with the cheese, and a small tumbler of PERNOD. Then I decide I fancy some caviar too, just to finish off with. Of course, I can't afford the real stuff, the Russian OSETRA, but I do have some AVRUGA, a kind of herring roe with a smoky flavour, that serves well as a substitute.

While eating I look round the room thinking about my décor. It's time I repainted the walls: I think next time I'll SMOOSH them to give the paint a softer look. My armchair catches my eye and I remind myself that I really must get it reupholstered. I bought it, rather NAIFLY, when I was a lot PAIRER than I am now, and it's currently covered in REXINE, that shows every speck of PELLUM – could anything be NAFFER? But I'm OOFIER now so I might get it redone in OXHIDE or even NUBUCK. While I'm about it I might resurface the kitchen worktops, in LUCITE or perhaps TEFLON, to make them easier to wipe down.

I also think some more about getting another pet. I know the house is getting ZOOIER every day but I'm the sort that needs more than one FURKID. Maybe another dog – not some BITSER or GOORIE or MAWGER WAMMUL, although mongrels can be very appealing, but perhaps a pedigree BUHUND from Norway. Just to take for walks; I don't need the sort of dog that can SKITCH rabbits. Alternatively I could get a cat, perhaps a SPHYNX, but somehow the SLITTY eyes of cats make me a little uneasy. One of my friends really likes pigs and keeps a BONHAM, but I don't personally want a sty in my garden.

I go to my aviary and check the condition of my pet LOERIE, which has been suffering from gapeworm which causes it to open its GEGGIE very wide all the while as if yawning. I'm not sure that it's actually better but at least it's no GAPIER.

Uusally I spend a bit of time on the computer after breakfast, but I've nothing urgent to do this morning except ONLOAD a few files, and anyway I sometimes get fed up with whole world of computing and like to get away from it. Of course, there's no denying that in some ways I'm a fairly typical YETTIE, a young, entrepreneurial and technology-based person. Certainly I like doing WHIZZY stuff with my own programs (though it's no fun being a VETTER of other people's code) and email is undeniably useful for keeping in touch with a genuine KEYPAL or two. But I would never want to end up as some DWEEBY WEBBIE working for a DOTCOM, or some EBAYER getting all DROOLY over the results of an auction, or some completely GEEKED NETTIE whose life has been taken over by a WEBCAM and can think of nothing but winning a CAMMIE. The hold computers can get on you is very insidious though: I know someone who was DOOCED from work after they became obsessed with writing for a FANFIC site; they didn't realise all their actions were being recorded on a WEBLOG. And now of course computing has spread over into the world of mobile phones: I wouldn't want to be a compulsive TEXTER either and have my life recorded by a MOBLOG, and permanently go round with an EARBUD in my ear.

No, it's bad enough having to do the stuff for a living, and having to watch out in case your computer becomes part of a BOTNET, and being plagued by ADWARE and KLUDGY software and those sentimental email sob-stories that they call GLURGE. Also there are so many new words to learn all the while, like QUBYTE, and yesterday I came across CALLEE, a piece of computer code being called; personally I've always just called such things functions or subroutines. And just at the moment I'm trying to get used to one of those European AZERTY keyboards, which is supposed to be more efficient than the old qwerty type, but it's very hard.

Anyway, forget computers: I go out in the garden to enjoy the sun for a while and check my plants. There is a light breeze, and an ASHKEY spins idly down from the ash tree at the bottom of the garden; it strikes me that it is shaped rather like a BOSSET, the sort of rudimentary antler you see on young deer. I notice that the tree has one of those bushy bundles of twigs, caused by some parasite, that are called witches' brooms: it resembles the FASCIS that a Roman lictor used to carry as the symbol of his authority.

I built myself a rockery recently and planted some COLORY ALISON and ERINUS. I see they are thriving with no signs of DIEOFF and congratulate myself on my ECESIC skills. I also have herbaceous borders, where I have planted PIERIS, ECHIUM, EXACUM and KOCHIA, and also some paeonies because I love how they bloom in a big red GLOBUS. And down by the pond I have some blood-drop EMLETS with its red-spotted yellow flowers; it's from Chile and is also known as monkey flower.

There's no doubt setting up a garden can be a rather SPENDY enterprise, but I'm a bit of an ENVIRO in my way and I like to study the UMWELT and do my bit for the planet. Also I reckon that the more flowers and trees you plant the more birds you're likely to get in your garden, which to a bird-lover like me is definitely something to INCENT one. So, my current project is to plant as many exotic specimens as I can afford and have room for. So far I've planted POTHOS, a climbing plant, RAMONA, a kind of sagebrush, succulent HOODIA from South Africa, some ornamental variegated HEDERA, COBAEA, which is another climber with purple flowers, bladder KETMIA, some PILEAS or gunpowder plants from Australia, a NEINEI or spiderwood with long narrow leaves from New Zealand, an ANNONA, that has edible fruit, and finally a BOOJUM tree from America that has a lovely CEDARY smell after rain. It's getting so I need more room and I think I will soon have to UPSIZE my garden somehow.

But it's paying off: I already have a CUSHIE nesting in the KNARRY oak tree at the bottom, and I can usually rely on seeing a SPUGGY and a MAGGIE when I go out, a reward for my HORMIC behaviour. Of course, there's always a lot of work to do in a garden. I notice some mounds on the lawn that need flattening, where I've been having trouble with a MOWDIE. There's a lot of MELICK grass coming too, and some badly-drained patches that are a bit CRESSY. And down at the far end where I have an orchard there's a lot of HAIRIF or goosegrass, as well as burdock from whose attentions I have to DEBURR myself. Still, at least we don't have a lot of really nasty plants in this country, not like JIMSON weed in America. Of course, some things like giant hogweed can give you a rash but it's usually cured by a smear of some soothing JOLLOP. There are plants in the tropics, like the GYMPIE tree with its stinging hairs, that can leave a SCRORP like a very bad PERNIO or chilblain, painful enough to make you SCOOCH in a corner and SKRIKE with the itching, but needless to say any attempt to SCRAWP it only makes things worse.

I must think about getting down to town. I look through the RAMMLE of old clothes that constitutes my wardrobe, deciding how to OUTRIG myself for today. It is time some of the RAMMLE became RAMMEL: I really must throw out some of the TROUCH, the SCULCH, the things I shall never REWEAR, like my RATEEN shirt, and keep only those that might get REWORN. It's sunny out but there is a cold BOREAS blowing, so I put on a HENLEY with a CARDIE over it and some trousers in SERGED DACRON, fastened with VELCRO, and complete the ensemble by putting a KALPAC over my BARNET; that's a kind of felt cap I brought back from Turkey, which I choose as being KEWLER than a BIGGON or a BUNNET. It may seem an eccentric RIGOUT but I like to be warm. I look at myself in my CHEVAL glass. Hm, not exactly LARNEY, but I don't really care whether I seem STYLIE or not. At least a touch of class is added by the CONCHO on my CARDIE, an ornamental disk with a shell design of the kind that American Indians wear. I think also about pinning on the FAINNE that Paddy gave me, to show my support for the Irish language, but as I don't speak Irish I don't really feel entitled to it.

I'm just going out of the gate when a BEARDY Australian comes up to me, clearly lost. 'GIDDAY, mate' he says. 'I'm all up the BOOHAI. Can you tell me if there is a BRASCO round here, you know, a BOGGER, a SHOUSE. I'm desperate for a WERRIS.' At first I haven't a SCOOBY what he's on about, but then I realise that he is looking for a public toilet; there isn't one round here but I invite him to use mine and he seems a nice fellow so I give him a COLDIE out of the fridge, pouring it into a MIDDIE for him, and then we start to CAGMAG about this and that.

It appears that he is a WESTIE from Sydney, over here to assist in a scheme for planting Australasian trees and flowers in our parks now that global warming is making this possible. Among the things he says he is going to plant are, from Australia, CADAGI or CADAGA and YARRAN, which are species of eucalyptus, BIMBLE box, CORREA that has large showy tubular flowers, CROWEA that has pink flowers, EUMONG or EUMUNG, which is a kind of acacia, and from New Zealand a whole lot: ORIHOU, MATIPO and AKEAKE, that are small trees, PURIRI, that has red berries and glossy green leaves, TAWHAI that is a kind of beech, AKATEA, a vine with white flowers, MANATU, a large flowering shrub, MANAWA, a sort of mangrove, MONOAO with its stiff leaves, tall KAMAHI with its pinkish flowers, KANUKA, a tree of the myrtle family, KARAMU that has glossy leaves and orange fruit, KIEKIE, a climbing bush plant, and finally HUPIRO (this last may be a mistake as it's also known as stinkwood).

I ask him how he got into trees and he says that actually he trained as a chemist. For his Ph.D. he did research into some of the lesser-known acids like LAURIC, ERUCIC, LIPOIC and TIGLIC and went on to become an expert in alcohols and hydrocarbons such as POLYOL, LAURYL, BORNYL and various types of CUBANE; he also developed a new kind of TRYPAN dye. But then he decided he didn't want to spend all his life working as a TEKKIE in a lab, and also he'd fallen out with his boss, who he says had far too good an opinion of himself – if there's one thing an Australian can't stand it's a FIGJAM.

Then he falls to telling me about some of his adventures back home living as a BUSHIE in the Outback. Once he was bitten by a DUGITE, though fortunately VENENE was available, and another time he had a narrow escape from a GOTCHA lizard (that's a crocodile to you and me). Then there was the time he fell down a GNAMMA hole and nearly brained himself on a big BRINNY. He spent some time with a family of aborigines in a desert area known as the PINDAN, living with them in their WURLIE. He says aborigines are great people when they're not drunk on SHYPOO, and they have a lot to teach us. From them he learned how to survive in the wild by living like a MURREE and fishing for CALLOP and WIRRAH, or eating the roots of the ADJIGO, which is a kind of wild yam, and even swallowing the occasional BARDIE, a fat white grub which the aborigines esteem as a delicacy. They also taught him how to play the YIDAKI.

He is a keen surfer and spends a lot of time surfing on his MALIBU. Of course, he has to wear a RASHIE as protection against the fierce Australian sun, and be careful not to come to grief on a BOMMIE or coral reef. When the sea is cold he wears a WETTIE. He's keen on sledging too and has been down the CRESTA run on a BOBLET.

He tells me that he spent some time in New Zealand with his girl-friend, a HOSTIE whom he'd met on a plane trip. She was from New Zealand herself; she was a RONZER, as they call anyone not from Auckland, a MOOLOO from the Waikato area. They TIKIED the beautiful scenic country together, driving round in a KONAKE or KONEKE hired cheaply from a farm, sleeping overnight in some farmer's MISTAL, if necessary sharing it with a cow and its TOLLIE, and perhaps buying a PULLUS from the farmer to roast for their dinner next day. They also spent a couple of weeks travelling round the coast on a MOKIHI or Maori raft made of AMBACH wood, put together from a KITSET, and surviving in the way a BOONGA or Pacific islander would, living mainly off fish they caught, which he says is delicious cooked the Maori way wrapped in WAKAME, a kind of edible seaweed, and served with KUMERA or sweet potato and KONINI berries.

Fishing is easy in New Zealand, as there are so many different fish you can catch. For example, RAWARU or blue cod, ARAARA, which is another name for the trevally or horse-mackerel, MAOMAO, PARORE, PATIKI which is a kind of dab, HAPUKA or HAPUKU, which is a groper, INANGA which is whitebait, MADTOM which is a kind of catfish, MUDBUG, a kind of crayfish, KOKIRI or rough-skinned triggerfish, PILLIE or pilchard, KOKOPU which lives in freshwater and PAKOKO, a small fish also called bully. If they caught a surplus they would PREDRY some of the fish over the fire to keep it a few days.

He said they used to bait their hooks with a MUDEYE or dragonfly larva, or a PORINA, the larva of a moth that is very damaging to grassland. The KOKOPU were fairly small – the biggest they caught was a twelve INCHER, but they caught a HAPUKU which was several CUBITI in length. He caught one strange fish that he didn't recognise: its scales were made of COSMIN and he wondered if it was some relation of the coelacanth.

There are also various kinds of edible shellfish like the TUATUA and the ATAATA, and if you get really hungry you can always eat a sort of caterpillar called AWHETO or AWHATO, or chew the roots of the edible tree-fern MAMAKO or MAMAKU, though it's best to leave the STOMIA. It seems that most plants yield some sort of PHYTIN or energy-giving supplement, that allows one to keep up the LEPTIN and CYCLIN levels in one's cells, even if we can't digest actual plant tissues like MESTOM or LIGNAN.

While out there they were befriended by some Maori, who hospitably allowed them on to their WHENUA, although they belonged to the TAUIWI, as the Maori call non-Maoris, and even invited them to stay with their WHANAU in their KAINGA, sleeping in a spare PATAKA (that's a building on stilts, normally used to store provisions). He said he's glad the Maori signed the TIRITI, as they call the Treaty of Waitangi, for they made fierce enemies, but once they decide you're a friend you could never meet a LEALER people. They were even invited to a Maori KAKARI or ritual feast, where they were MIHIED in a ceremony of POHIRI and had a WAIATA or Maori song composed in their honour. Just before they left the Maori chief said TAIHOA! and presented his girl-friend with a MANAIA, a beautiful carved figure with a human body and bird-like head, which represented some TIPUNA or ancestor. She was very grateful to be such a GIFTEE and said she had never before GITTED such a TAONGA or treasure.

Sadly they split up soon after because she got CLECKY and couldn't wait to become PREGGY; also she wanted him to sign a PRENUP, which he felt was against the spirit of the AGAPES he thought they felt for each other. Sometimes men can actually be more idealistic about these things than WIMMIN. He could also foresee problems about the children's upbringing because she was a devout DOOLAN, as they call Roman Catholics out there. But he says he'd really like to go back to New Zealand, RERENT the KONAKE and do it all again, perhaps working his way from place to place this time like a HUNKEY or HUNKIE, a Hungarian migrant worker.

I find he shares my interest in birds and can tell me about some Australasian ones I've never seen: the KOTUKU, a kind of heron, the KOKAKO, a large dark grey crow, the very rare PIOPIO or New Zealand thrush, now thought to be extinct, the WAXEYE, a small New Zealand bird with a white circle round its eye, the PARERA, a very QUACKY kind of duck, the KOTARE, a small greenish-blue kingfisher, the MATATA or fernbird, a very SWOOPY sort of bird, and the KERERU or New Zealand pigeon. In return he's very interested to see my aviary and in particular my African parrot, my LOWRIE, LOERIE or LOURIE.

We discover we share an interest in world music and spend some time discussing the relative merits of Indian KIRTAN and KHAYAL, Columbian CUMBIA, Zulu KWAITO, and South African MARABI. Like me he's no MOSHER, loathes POPERA and DOOWOP and doesn't like people who play music on so-called authentic instruments and call it MUSICK. But unlike me he's a JAZZBO.

Listening to him I am moved to remember some of my own ramblings round the world. There was the year I spent as a GAPPER wandering the BENCHY hillsides with a BERGEN, that's a sort of big KITBAG. Of course, I had some dodgy experiences of my own. There was a time when I fell into a peat bog and nearly ended up as a BOGMAN. There was the time I was attacked by a JACARE while travelling up the Amazon; luckily I managed to beat it off with a JIMMIE from the boat's tool-kit. And there was the time in Central America when I collided with a CARDON cactus and spent all the next week picking spines out of my CNEMIS. Luckily it wasn't the giant PITAYA cactus, but one of the spines went septic and I had to SCOOSH it well with a PEROXO solution, then a GELCAP of CARRON water, and keep it LINTED. I still have a LIVEDO on the skin to mark the place.

But my worst experience was catching a nasty fever while prospecting for COLTAN and OILGAS in the Congo. I'd been bitten by a BONOBO, but it might not have been that that caused it: it might have been the bite of a MIDGIE – they infest the BUFFEL grass – or just some mysterious NANOBE. Anyway, I was soon feeling distinctly QUAZZY with a FLUISH feeling and developed SORDES all over my lips, that oozed GOOILY. I'm not usually SWOONY but I passed out every time I tried to move. I was completely MAFTED with the heat, BILING hot, as if I'd been OVENED, my whole head glowing like a YEMMER and my forehead DEGGED with sweat. I felt completely MUZZED and incredibly thirsty, just as if I was suffering from NADORS although I'd had no alcohol, and yet despite being hot I would NITHER uncontrollably.

There was also something wrong with my hearing – I was getting DEIFER each day. My face TICCED all the while, and I was shaken by constant TUSSES or coughing fits that made me HOCKLE up endless phlegm with loud sounds of PTOOEY. Also there was a violent pain in my head, in the MESIAD region of the INIONS, just as if someone was giving me a NOOGIE, and noises in my ears, sometimes high-pitched as if someone was playing a BINIOU close by, sometimes low as if someone was beating a DJEMBE, sometimes a loud bang as if someone had let off a BUNGER right next to me. Then I started URPING violently and passing MELENA, a most unpleasant form of DOODOO. And that's although my stomach had long since been EMPTED, since I had eaten nothing for a week, but just SOUKED on a piece of SHARON fruit from time to time, till even that was too much and I SOOKED no more.

I became quite YITTEN at the thought that I might have something like myasthenia GRAVIS or that the fever might damage one of the delicate structures of my brain like the CUNEUS and leave me with that diminished grasp of concepts known to psychologists as SORTAL. I had strange mood swings too: one minute I would SCREET; the next I would GOSTER uncontrollably. I couldn't stand, could hardly SCROME, and most of the time all I could do was COOTCH up on a bed and COORIE or COURIE in the corner, saying OMIGOD over and over and feeling weak as a NISGUL, while having vivid hallucinations like those I imagine you get if you SHROOM or take opium through a SHISHA.

For example, once I was convinced that I could see SEELIE dancing on the top of a distant SLIEVE, the sort of thing Paddy does when he's drunk too much POITIN. Another time I thought I had fallen down a RIMAYE in a glacier after slipping and hitting my head on a ROGNON, and I was hanging on a jagged spike of ice and couldn't UNSNAG myself. Another time I was being plagued by JINNIS who were pouring hot HARIRA, that's a kind of soup, over me and I was saying DOPILY 'No, go away, ALLYOU, you can't treat me like this, on my father's side I am one of the ASHRAF, a descendant of Mohammed through his daughter Fatima, and on my mother's side I am one of the SAYEDS, who claim descent from Mohammed through his grandson, and my mother wears the JILBAB and is a HAJJAH who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca, while my father is a JEHADI or JIHADI who has fought in a holy war and my grandfather is a MOOLVI who understands HAWALA, has served on a SHOORA and has the authority to make a BAYYAN or official declaration'. Oddly enough it seemed to work and the JINNIS went away.

Another time I was being carried up to heaven in a VAHANA, a vehicle from Indian myth. Another time I was being crucified with a lot of slaves and Roman soldiers had come to write our TITULI on the tops of the crosses, giving our names and the crime we'd committed. Another time I imagined that there were round swellings on my abdomen like TORICS, and that these were bursting open like the VOLVAE of fungi. All in all I've never had an UNCOER experience. I don't know whether a ROOFIE would have helped to calm me down, but I don't like taking drugs when I don't know the side-effects, and that goes even for clinically prescribed ones like STANOL and STATIN.

My friend called the local doctor but I didn't have a lot of confidence in him when he said that some enemy must have tried to MAKUTU me and started praying to an ORISHA, even though he was a BEENTO and has spent a year in England. 'MORYAH!', as my friend Paddy would say, 'I don't believe it!'. I'd have been better off with a Haitian HUNGAN practising VOUDON. But luckily my friend knew an UMFAZI, an African married woman, who came in and nursed me. She always wore the same black shawl, or BUIBUI, and had to bring her PICKIN with her, because there was no KINDIE available to leave her in. Poor woman, she had a real struggle to make ends meet, because her husband's family had been too poor to make much of a LOBOLO, that's a payment in cattle or cash to the bride's family, and young couples there do rely on the LOBOLA to get them started in life. The child was a cute little girl like a KEWPIE doll, sometimes TUTUED like a little ballet dancer, much ICKLER than most Western children of that age, and I noticed that though she was two her mother still fed her at the BREEST; I suppose Africans keep their children on the BREIST longer for economic as well as health reasons. I would try to help by taking over as the little girl's LULLER while her mother did the work, though I was still in a rather weak state, like a POSTOP. Just think, little girls of that age are TWEENS now, if not teenagers. SHEESH, how the years go.

But thanks to the woman's care the fever gradually MILDED and I became a HEALEE. I knew I was on the mend when I PORKED a mush of POZOLE, MABELA and MIELIE cooked in a TAGINE – that's maize and ground corn with mealies cooked in a clay pot. She covered it with MAASES, a thick sour cream, to make it SAFTER and so easier to swallow. I washed it all down with MADAFU or coconut milk, WARAGI, an alcoholic drink made from bananas, and BUSERA, another alcoholic drink made from millet. That meal did me a power of good: I felt like Captain Marvel after saying SHAZAM!

After that I got out of the Congo as soon as I could, first giving the woman a generous PASELA. She was very grateful, as if she had never been a TIPPEE before. I decided to recuperate in the better climate of the south and so took a MOKORO or native canoe, duly SNIDED with PADKOS – that's provisions for the journey - down the Okavango river into Botswana and then made my way to South Africa in the company of a WHENWE, who was fleeing Zimbabwe to make a new life in Cape Town. He accepted that he wasn't going to find life easy as a SOUTIE and the days were over when he could rely upon being addressed respectfully as OUBAAS by a GAMMAT, and his wife addressed as MEVROU. I think a lot of white South Africans are GATVOL with the way things are now but he says that after all they had their turn and it serves them right if they get some of their own treatment back. In Zimbabwe he had worked in international finance and knew all about NOSTRO and VOSTRO accounts, so he was hoping to find some similar kind of employment in Cape Town. His wife had gone on ahead, he said, and was staying with her TANNIE or aunt. She was trying to learn SCAMTO, the argot of urban blacks, and had made some friends in the black community already, having joined a local band as a DRUMMY.

He was bitter against his EXILER, the government of Zimbabwe, but he proved to be a good COUZIN to me, excellent company and a generous fellow who would share his last BIKKIE or BICKIE with you, and certainly not the sort to BOGART a DOOBIE or BIFTER, not that I like cannabis cigarettes anyway. No, no one could ever have called him a BOWSEY or BOWSIE.

He wasn't one for a lot of ARSING about, but had a good dry sense of humour, I think I've never known anyone so QUIPPY. He was very tolerant of my weakened condition and if, feeling completely FECKED, I WIMPED out and EASIED on the rowing, he never FAUTED me – he was no HUFFER - but just GOSSED on his hands, rolled up his sleeves and quietly redoubled his own efforts, using all the strength of his OXLIKE frame, till I had SHIRED and could carry on. But as I grew stronger we fairly ZOONED along and GANNED FAURER each day.

He was also a good man to have along when we had to carry the canoe overland. Personally I have problems with direction finding and always forget to REZERO my pedometer but he could get his bearing with a compass to the nearest ARCMIN, or even ARCSEC, and would certainly have OUTLED any expedition leader I ever knew. In fact he was very well GENNED up in practical matters of all kinds, being adept with any kind of HICKEY, and especially skilled at cutting down trees with a BOWSAW and ADZING pieces of wood into useful shapes. A good man with ropes too: we'd RELAND the canoe on the bank each evening and tie it up for the night, and I remember how he would knot and REKNOT the rope with a MAGNUS hitch.

He was a fine sportsman, who had made a good LOOSIE in rugby; he also loved to TOGGER and play FUTSAL, and always gave 100% in his various VYINGS as he tried to LAIPSE the opposition. He had been first-class at cricket – a keen-sighted ESPIER of the ball and a BIFFER who was not the sort to be fazed by a DOOSRA, which he tried to explain to me as a delivery bowled by an off-spinner that turns the opposite way to an off-break; I'm afraid this meant absolutely nothing to me. Not only that but he was a skilled POOLER and an excellent golfer who EAGLED far more often than he BOGIED; he had even had a go at hurling and earned praise for how hard he PUCKED the ball.

He'd been brought up in Japan, going to school there as a DAYBOY and also going back there for a PRELAW year out, and since I have also spent some time there we discussed that interesting country: its lack of privacy, in houses where usually all you have between rooms is a flimsy FUSUMA; its culture of mutual obligation and the exchange of favours, rather like the Chinese system of GUANXI; its emphasis on ceremony, as exemplified by the Buddhist GONGYO, held twice a day, when the Lotus Sura is chanted; its martial spirit – like me he had spent a lot of time practising KUMITE with a SENSEI in the dojo; its growing social problems, such as the frequent SHINJU or ritual suicide of lovers, and its rather alien food, such as NIGIRI and ADSUKI beans served in an OBENTO or the endless dishes involving SEITAN or wheat gluten. We agreed that the food was the worst thing about Japan: it all tasted WAIRSH to us and left us longing sometimes for something strong-flavoured like Chinese TATSOI, a kind of cabbage, covered in HOISIN or soy sauce. But we both liked Japanese lettuce or MIZUNA, which is very crisp.

I never learned to write Japanese, but I got along all right with ROMAJI and even composed a few HAIKUS – it's actually a lot easier than writing a Welsh PENILL.

I told him about all the jobs I had on my trip round the world. I worked as a KEGGER in a French-Canadian factory in Quebec producing ALCOOL. I got on well with my fellow-workers, who were mostly BRULES, but it wasn't as simple as it sounds because after the spirit had been KEGGED you had to check the INNAGE or you could get into BOOCOO trouble with the inspectors, and that meant BOOKOO trouble with the boss. And the pay wasn't very good: I only got a TOONIE an hour, and one TWONIE or two dollars an hour isn't much. It wasn't long before I decided on a BUGOUT from that particular situation.

After that I CHEFED for a while, operated a SERGER in a clothes factory producing cheap sports clothes for SPIDES, worked as a salesman selling SANPRO, which I found rather embarrassing, worked as a DOGMAN on a crane, as a HEAPER piling up bales in a factory, and as an organ tuner, which was not too successful as there was one stop called the GEDACT that I could never get right.

After that I worked for various TELCOS, trying to find ways to allow lines to handle a greater intensity of traffic – even an extra ERLANG or two is worthwhile at busy times – and then took a job in the aviation industry helping to develop new lightweight strong alloys, like BORSIC, and calculating the best WASHIN for planes, which meant doing some tricky calculations involving a PHASOR and INFIMA. Following that I worked as an assistant to a physicist doing some research into KAONIC particles and the WEAKON. Then I worked for a publisher editing VARIAS – I don't really have any qualifications but at least I know an EMDASH from an ENDASH and could design a nice SIGLUM – and as a copyist for a firm using OZALID. I also worked in a factory making gears with a HOBBER, as a LOTTER working an allotment, as the operator of a SHUGGY on a fairground, and as a BEADER doing arty things with beads.

In the US I worked as a PANNER for GLINTY gold among streams in the Rockies (you have to know a bit of geology for this: it is of course no good looking for gold among EOCENE LUTITE or LIASES), and after that as an assistant to an American archaeologist looking for CLOVIS points (I never found any, though I did unearth a beautiful HANDAX). Then I took a job as a farmhand, till it got too boring having to plow and REPLOW the same bit of ground over and over, as a YARDER helping to UNBALE feed and get cattle to the saleyard and for a CABLER where I helped to produce a rather down-market ROMCOM.

This ROMCOM, or romantic comedy, involved a NEOCON – one of those red-faced conservative types with a big handlebar RONNIE – who falls for a TRAMPY LOSLYF with safety pins stuck through her TRAGAL flaps; she was also a bit of a KLEPTO, but for some reason he found her a TURNON. All pretty implausible: I didn't feel a SQUARK of attraction for her myself and certainly wouldn't have wanted to SMOOGE her; it's hard to see how two such individuals could make a go of it with such a RIFLIP or genetic difference, but no doubt gametes have their own ideas about what makes them secrete GAMONE. I suppose it was the modern equivalent of those Victorian melodramas where the son of the house falls for some MILLIE or working class girl.

In France I had a job with a wine-merchant, supervising the TIRAGE of the wine before it was bottled, but then after a PREBID the firm was taken over by a larger company and the resultant shakeout left almost no-one UNAXED except for the few who managed to become a MERGEE. So I went east to work for a HELMER, a MOGHUL in the Oriental film world who had a lot of PIZZAZ and expected to be addressed as TOWKAY – he considered himself a great MESTER, though he tended to leave important roles UNCAST till the last minute. I didn't get to direct any of the filming myself of course; my job was just to supply an occasional FADEIN and musical MASHUP and make sure the ONBEAT in each bar was right, and I soon got bored and fell out with the MUGHAL. I was going to bring a lawsuit against him for wrongful dismissal but was persuaded to accept a BUYOFF instead before I IMPLED the suit. I suppose in retrospect it might have been a bit of a COPOUT on my part, but I just wanted nothing more to do with the GEEZAH. It was a very low-budget, MIDCAP enterprise anyway.

Then I got a job in Africa – this was before the prospecting job – helping to research certain aspects of the Bantu languages. The idea was to establish an ISOLEX for certain words, a line on a linguistic map marking off an area where a given word is found. So take the Zulu word IMBIZO, meaning a gathering of people at the request of a chieftain, or the word DUMELA that means hello: you'd find them in some parts of South Africa but not others, and establishing an ISOLEX for them could tell us something about past migration patterns. We'd usually choose a MONEME to research, a simple word containing no smaller element of meaning. I know it doesn't sound very AMPING, but I quite enjoyed it: I always find it fascinating how we match words to IDEATA or real things, and use them to express RELATA, or the relationships between objects. I also did some research into PAUCAL words in these languages – that is, special number words representing 'a few', into pronunciation, particularly the way in which speakers LENITE certain sounds, and into the use of the ACTANT, that is, a noun phrase functioning as the agent of the main verb of a sentence. I also did a bit of work for the CIA while I was in Africa, gathering HUMINT, but I was never a PERMIE with them and declined a job as a HITMAN, there are plenty of MERCES ready to do that sort of thing.

As you will have gathered, I was prepared to turn my hand to most things but drew the line at some. There were not many jobs I'd NAYSAY but I did refuse the offer of a job as a SWILER in New Zealand, saying I'd rather spend my life in a Chinese LAOGAI than kill and skin a KEKENO or fur seal, gentle creatures that always make me laugh the way they sit round on the beach like WITANS at some Anglo-Saxon council. After all, I'd just been working in the Arctic helping to conserve the MUSKOX, TUKTOO or caribou and NANOOK or polar bear, and also in South America helping to preserve the OCICAT and OLINGO, so it wouldn't have been very consistent.

I also wouldn't work in a match factory, remembering my great-grandmother who died of PHOSSY jaw. You won't catch me working with HAZMAT. And I won't work for PHARMA because I don't like the way they treat the Third World. I saw too much disease-related suffering when I was in the Congo, where most of the people are just too poor to afford the drugs that might cure them. Not that you're much better off in America if you're a CRACKA and can't afford private medical care.

Well, that was a lot of travelling, but I've settled down now. I like seeing different places round the world but I don't like the travelling between. I don't like flying and always have a sinking feeling when walking up the JETWAY, and I invariably suffer from JETLAG afterwards.

After the long chat with my new Australian friend it's time to get down to town. I'm just going out of the gate again when I'm nearly knocked over by a BLADER coming along like BILLYO, some PLOOKY JEANED GREEBO, doubtless a throwout from one of our POLIES, wearing an I-pod and not thinking at all about where he's going. He even has the cheek to shout abuse at me for not getting out of the way. These wild youths, these FERALS, seem to get ARSIER and RENKER each year, and their behaviour more like that of an AUTIST. It's enough to make one PROGUN, or at least to look back nostalgically at the times when one could POOTLE and PODDLE peacefully down the streets without any problems, though actually I do remember as a child getting knocked over by a POGOER.

I'm not usually a SHOUTY sort of person, but I was stirred to OUTSAY some choice abuse after him. 'You SKANKY SCROTE', I YORPED, 'you SNIDEY SCHLUB, you TWERPY MUPPET, you SKUNKY MUNTER, you SPODDY PODDIE, you FECKIN WOMMIT, you DADGUM party POOPER, you MONGED MINGER, you DAWNEY LOUSER, you PLURRY POEPOL. You watch yourself, SITHEE'. Perhaps a little alarmed at the way I MOERED him, and perhaps afraid I'd run after him and get him in a SUPLEX, he NAFFED off quickly. I apologise to my new Australian friend for my outburst, but he says 'WUKKAS, mate' and tells me they have the same types in Australia: you can't walk down the street without tripping over some TWIRPY PLONKO or running into some BOONER or CHIGGA in a FOULIE, some COUGAN or WIGGER or SCOZZA who'll play you a FASTIE or a SWIFTY or throw a YONNIE or BIBBLE at you soon as look at you.

I say goodbye to him and get in my car to drive to town. My car is frankly a bit of a LIZZIE, what in New Zealand would be called a DUNGER. It's a BAKKIE that I got from my South African friend Hendrik, built very BOXILY, with a FOLDUP roof. The windscreen is so scratched it looks as if it's been scoured with a BRILLO pad, the windscreen wipers make a CLUNKY sound every time they go backwards and forwards, the trim might have been CHROMY once but has now fallen off or rusted, although when I got it I gave it a coat or MONTAN wax for protection and used to RECOAT it every year. The exhaust is all GUNGED up and pours black smoke. There's no locking petrol-cap so it's easy for the local youths to DEFUEL it, and it doesn't even have an AIRBAG. The engine is CLANKY and turns over so slowly that I sometimes think I'd get to places faster in a CABRIO. It sounds to me as if the CARDAN joint has just about gone; I've tried LUBING it a few times but I'm just going to have accept that the whole car is all but FOOBAR. Still, it serves for toing and FROING to town, although it's always breaking down and more than once, not having my own bicycle, I've had to get a CROGGY or BACKIE into town on my West Indian neighbour's bike, none too safe given his tendency to WIBBLE even without anyone on the back. Or so I tell him: we enjoy a bit of PICONG, as they call teasing banter in the Caribbean.

Just as I get into town and park the car a sudden downpour leaves the main street ASLOSH and full of SLUTCH and I think I'm going to have to PLODGE through it but fortunately there is a BYLANE with a BANKIT above the CORSEY, giving a LEDGED or BERMED effect, and I take this to get to the shopping centre.

My plan was to call in at the local Italian café for my usual DOPPIO and a plate of ELICHE. The coffee there is not to everyone's taste: it tends to have a thick sediment at the bottom, like GYTTJA in a Swedish lake. But they've closed early and the service is FINITO, so I have to find somewhere else to go for lunch.

The choice is between a rather elegant French restaurant, very eighteenth SIECLE, and a Spanish restaurant. The French restaurant is doing classic French fare: BOUDIN, or black pudding, served with a BEIGNE, or ball of deep-fried pastry, or alternatively fish cut GOUJON style served with FRITES. But I never feel quite at ease in French restaurants – I always feel the elegant waiters are regarding me as a bit of a ROSBIF, and though I understand French these are from Algeria and UPTALK to each other in VERLAN, which contains too many slang and Arab words for me to follow. And anyway the Spanish restaurant is somehow VIBIER so I decide to go there today.

The Spanish restaurant is in a RAMADA, very traditional – the sort you might find in any RAMBLA in Barcelona - with a RISTRA of dried chili peppers over the door as you go in and on the wall facing you a picture of a ZOCALO or Mexican plaza, with a CHARRO or Mexican cowboy, resplendent in his traditional costume, riding in on his horse. I like the place because they do an excellent MENUDO – that's a sort of soup – and always add a little BRAATA to whatever dish you're having, to encourage you to come again. My girl-friend likes it too because when I took her there she overheard one of the waiters asking who the beautiful GRINGA was; I suppose it was obvious she wasn't a LATINA because she's blonde.

I ask what's on the menu today. FLAUTA, which is a kind of corn tortilla, or if I prefer fish they have LOUVAR, I am told. 'ARRIBA!' I say. I have a FLAUTA and it is DELISH, served with a piquant sauce rather like French PISTOU, and follow it up with a rich dessert based on cottage cheese and cream, like a Russian PASHKA. It was BARRIE, as my friend Hamish would say. While I eat I listen to Spanish music played on a CUATRO, very DANCEY with strong COMPAS rhythms. In the Italian restaurant I sometimes go to they usually play some classical piece like an EQUALI so this makes a change. I have a problem paying when all I can find in my pocket is the usual collection of KEMBLA from my travels: a Lithuanian CENTAS, or two CENTAI in fact, a Ukrainian HRYVNA, a Madagascan ARIARY, a Finnish MARKKA and a SOMONI from Tajikistan, but fortunately they take credit. I must be careful though as I am very close to MAXING my card.

Leaving the restaurant I meet Deepak's wife on her way to the AKHARA for a keep-fit session. She is one of those very beautiful Indian women, who always looks cool however MIRCHI the day is, with her BINDHI on her forehead – at least, I assume it's a BINDHI, it could be some kind of BIODOT – and MEHNDI designs painted with henna on her hands and feet. She is wearing a gold-coloured SALWAR, that is a bit like a PYJAMA. She comes of a very well-to-do family; her grandfather lived a large BHAVAN or BHAWAN in Calcutta. He was a very devout man who had trained under a BHIKHU, a Buddhist monk, and was well acquainted with every SASTRA in the Hindu SMRITI or canon of sacred writings. He always tried to live his life according to the principles of DHAMMA, and strove to attain PRAJNA, that wisdom that is the goal of Buddhist contemplation, and with it MOKSHA, or freedom from the endless cycle of transmigration. Human life, he said, is lived in a state of ANICCA, constant change, and accordingly we suffer from DUHKHA, the desire for permanence, and there is no freedom from DUKKHA except by union with the eternal divine.

Her GRAMPA on her mother's side, by contrast, was a Sikh and she remembers going to visit him and being taken to a DARBAR, a hall in a Sikh temple (that's not to be confused with a DARGAH or DURGAH, a Muslim shrine or tomb for a Muslim saint) and then having cakes in the temple's LANGAR or dining-hall. A Sikh temple is a beautiful building, sometimes adorned with gold, not unlike an ISTANA or royal palace in Malaysia. His job involved JHATKA, the slaughter of animals for food in accordance with Sikh law. She remembers that once he allowed her to touch his KHANDA, or special double-edged Sikh sword. Just on its CUSPAL part, not the edges which were very sharp indeed. He had suffered for his faith and been imprisoned once for his part in a MORCHA, when he DEMOED against the government.

Deepak's wife is sad today because of the troubles with their son having been arrested. She tells me that there is a further complication in that he has taken a RHANJA or male lover. I am surprised: I must say he had never seemed particularly POUFFY to me, and I certainly wouldn't have taken him for what my friend Hendrik would call a MOFFIE. But I'm not that way inclined myself so can't expect to have much of a GAYDAR. 'Children are such a problem these days' she SADDED. 'I sometimes think we would have been better off staying as a – how do you say it – DINKIE'. 'Ah, double income no kids. CHANGA', I agree.

Leaving Deepak's wife I see my friend Aaron across the other side of the road. 'HOWZIT, Aaaron, WASSUP', I HULLOO him. He is carrying the usual stack of SIFREI on his way to some religious class involving teachings from the AGGADA, before carrying on to do an inspection of local MIKVOT or ritual bathing-places. He is certainly quite a MACHER in the Jewish community, but very down-to-earth: he doesn't, for example, go about quoting things from the QABALA. I ask him how yesterday's circumcision ceremony had gone, but he says the SANDEK didn't turn up to hold the PISHER, and it seems the ceremony can't proceed without this special official to hold the child. Tomorrow Aaron is to pronounce a BROCHO or blessing at a wedding ceremony, and propose the LEHAIM; tonight his wife is helping to make the CHUPPA or wedding canopy and prepare the food. Only kosher food, of course, nothing TREIFA. Jewish feasts involve small quantities of lots of different foods: 'A BUPKUS of this, a BUPKES of this, a BUBKES of that…' says Aaron. They seem to have a lot of ceremonies: Jewish LUCHOT must be pretty full.

When I get home I prepare an evening meal: CALALU, a sort of crab soup, served with LAVASH, an Armenian flatbread, followed by a BREDIE in the South African style, which is a sort of stew or BREVIS, filled with BLOBBY bits of meat and vegetable: LEKKER as they say in South Africa. And there's still enough meat and bread left to make a good-sized SARMIE or TOEBIE for tomorrow.

My 'New Scientist' has come – I notice its wrapper bears a perforated stamp of the kind called a PERFIN – and I dutifully read an article on genetics. DNA is a fascinating area but I do find it very complex and the article is full of strange words I don't really understand: COSMID, which is a segment of DNA, DISOMY, which is to do with having chromosomes duplicated, and NIDATE which is to do with the process by which the blastocyst becomes attached to the wall of the uterus. I'll have another go at it tomorrow.

By this time it is DIMPSY outside, so I light the candles in the KINARA or candle-holder that I brought back from Africa and for extra illumination light the KUDLIK or soapstone seal-oil lamp, rather like a CRUZIE, that I brought back from Canada as a souvenir of my time with the Inuit. I like a soft light in the evening, nothing too BRICHT. I look round at the room and reflect how much I like my home. Everything is CUSHTY.


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