Looking Glass Language

a word bird reflects on life & language

Archive for the category “Language”

Ken’s pants

pants

Had to share a fabulous example of twisted kid’s language given to me by my lovely friend Amanda…

Her sister’s family used to holiday down in Cornwall, and the long car journey was punctuated by her niece Molly proclaiming, “We’re going to Ken’s pants! We’re going to Ken’s pants!”

I’m never going to think of Penzance the same way again…

Thanks, Molly.

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The importance of dash placement

The Economist

 

Thanks to The Economist, for demonstrating how an unfortunately placed dash can change the thrust of a story…

Mistakes like this are why I always try to insist on seeing my signed-off copy on the page (whether digital or printed) before it’s published.

It’s particularly frustrating when clients tinker with signed-off copy at the last moment, as a ‘tiny change’ can so easily throw a line or a paragraph out of whack.

 

out of the mouths of bébés…

anouka cat

“Je vais faire de bruite très calme, car j’aime le bruit très calme1.”  The musings of a French romantic poet? Victor Hugo, Théophile Gautier or Alfred de Musset, perhaps? No. The musings of a three-year old.

With her French artist / yoga teacher mother and English sax player father, the odds were high that Noukie (now nine) would be quirky and artistic. But her idiosyncratic, artistic, and at times esoteric take on the world seems more profound than that.

Seeing the dusty body of a pigeon lying in the gutter, its blue-grey feathers ruffling in the wind, she said “il est cassé, le pigeon” (it is broken, the pigeon): as though it were a broken toy she could no longer play with. Then, taking Pascale’s hand, she asked calmly, “Parle me encore de la mort” (speak to me more about death). Read more…

just let me staple the vicar

From femidoms to pork pies, stapling the vicar to swimming in amen, it’s amazing what you hear being sung about on the radio.

All of us mishear lyrics, even those who sing for their living like my friend Rachel Mathews. (404005_185174974948910_105211750_nRachel and I used to sing together in a gospel group called Many Rivers, doing regular Sunday brunch sessions at the Oxo Tower on the South Bank and the 606 Jazz Club on Lot’s Road.) A talented singer / songwriter, with her own band, Rachel is also a founding member and soloist for Urban Voices, who came to prominence performing at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics. Read more…

ghosting

photoNot everyone uses words in the same way, and Jennie Erdal shows the funny and frustrating effects of someone with a different take on what the ‘right word’ is, in ‘Ghosting’ (Canongate, 2004), her extraordinary book about life as a ghost writer.

“Once I used the word humility, as in ‘I felt a deep sense of humility‘ – to explain how Tiger had felt in the presence of a woman he very much admired and who had borne a heavy cross. I was confident he would love humility. But he didn’t.

‘Isn’t it the same like humiliation?’ he asked. Read more…

Design Week | We Like | 26 Characters

Design WeekSo great to see that a project I’m involved in, 26 Characters, is this morning’s Design Week We Like pick… Having received my copies in the post a couple of days ago, I’m not surprised – it’s a lovely thing, with beautiful illustrations.

 

B is for Borrowers.

The book sees 26 children’s literary characters – from Mary Poppins to Merlin – reimagined by 26 writers (of whom I am one – see A Father’s Duty) and 26 leading illustrators. 

This book came about thanks to The Story Museum’s 26 Characters exhibition in Oxford. We writers were asked to respond to portraits of leading authors taken by celebrity photographer Cambridge Jones. The author subjects, including Malorie Blackman, Philip Pullman and Julia Donaldson, were dressed as their favourite childhood literary characters for the portraits, which featured in the museum’s inaugural exhibition.

Our written responses to the portraits had to be in the form of a sestude – a poem of 62 words exactly (26 in reflection – 26|62 – a form of verse invented by writers’ collective 26 to reflect our name, itself inspired by the number of letters of the alphabet). Each of us was given a letter of the alphabet as our starting point, and the completed sestudes were then passed to the illustrators.

My letter was B, and Paul Pateman, aka Pâté, did a fabulous job illustrating my sestude about Pod & Arrietty from The Borrowers – illustrating the B with a giant pencil clasped in a Borrower’s hands. ‘B’ is for beautifully done, Paul…

 

Pic by Cambridge Jones

Pic by Cambridge Jones

Here’s the portrait which inspired my little poem: Ted Dewan and his daughter Pandora dressed up as Pod and Arrietty. I’m looking forward to visiting the exhibition proper in a couple of weeks’ time but I’ve already relished seeing authors throw off their inhibitions to personify a favourite character from a childhood book – just look at how gleefully Malorie Blackman embodies The Wicked Witch of the West!

 

Malorie Blackman as The Wicked Witch of the West

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 26 Characters booklet is available here, priced at £5.

Related articles / sites:

http://www.designweek.co.uk/we-like/26-characters/3038329.article

http://www.26.org.uk/index.php/2014/04/26-characters-at-the-story-museum/

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sara-sheridan/childrens-books_b_5153274.html

https://www.facebook.com/events/599353783488397/

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Absolutely Shoreditched…

Image copyright Charlotte Cory

I seem to be unable to step foot on the grim and grimy pavements of Shoreditch after dark without getting drunk (or ‘Shoreditched’, as I’ve now christened it). See image at left by Charlotte Cory, from her ‘You animal, you’ series, which bears an uncanny resemblance to me the morning after the night before, and can be found on the walls of the Hoxton Hotel.

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This tendency to overdo it whenever I head to Hoxton seems to stem from the period when I was working in Shoreditch, reeling from a break up with a long-term boyfriend/business partner. Hedonism seemed the way to go, and it was fun and frantic time of excess, irresponsibility and freedom – a kind of long-delayed adolescence. A dozen years on, I’d thought all that was far behind me, but the last fortnight has proved me wrong, as two successful client presentations in the Old Street area have ended up in decidedly messy evenings…

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I’m starting to think I may have a Pavlovian response to being back on these mean streets.

But – reluctant to admit that Shoreditch can still ring my bell – I have another explanation. I blame the food, or rather, the lack of it. Everyone knows that if you forgo the tacos and enchiladas, a couple of glasses of Tequila can have the same effects as a bottle… And I’m frequently unable to eat when I’m out on the town, as I have a serious and frustrating allergy to garlic, which can make eating out positively dangerous. (Unfortunately, I love spicy food – I can think of nothing more delicious than Thai street food – but these days I have to resort to making my own, and it’s just not the same!)

Read more…

Wordy Wednesday: Fluffy la Voie

My porn star name, based on the name of my first pet and my mother’s maiden name, is Gussy Baker. This has a nicely 20s sound to it, but I must admit that my one-time boyfriend’s porn star name was even better: Fluffy La Voie. It’s so good that it makes me want to set up a porno company, despite disapproving of the industry (in broad terms).

photoI’m in the south of France with my English boyfriend Nick, my Brazilian friend Paulo, his French boyfriend Didier, and our Dutch friend Yvonne. We sat around the fire pit outside, eating samosas I’d made earlier, and drinking rose, and then retired inside to a supper of red cabbage and walnut salad, with duck breasts cooked on the fire pit by Nick (who was careful not to let the sparks carry far as, unlike Dorset, it’s hardly rained here for the last 6 months). Read more…

Wordy Wednesday: gratitude

Feeling grateful

Feeling grateful

Happy New Year, everybody! I thought I’d give gratitude the starring role in this Wordy Wednesday, as I’m feeling incredibly grateful for all sorts of things at the moment. My lovely friend Erin sent me this picture she took of me last night as we watched London’s spectacular firework display from a friend’s boat on the Thames, and it captures how happy I was to be in that place, at that moment ,with such a special bunch of people – something I’m incredibly grateful for… I’ve also just spent Christmas surrounded by my family and other loved ones, and I’m incredibly grateful for that too, and for having them in my life.

I’ve always believed that an attitude of gratitude is one of the keys to a happy life, and it’s now been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on one’s levels of happiness. I’ve used it myself: a few years ago, if my step daughter was feeling grumpy, I’d challenge her to a rapid-fire, one minute gratitude list-making exercise: the idea being to shout out as many things as we were grateful for as we could. (Specificity is key to this, by the way, so not just ‘friends’ but ‘Jane and Edgar and Fred and Ruth’, and not just ‘my pets’ but their names, and it’s also good to include all the different aspects of yourself you’re grateful for, such as intelligence, hearing, sight, touch, taste etc, plus tthe things you love to do, and the places you love to visit.) We always ran on for far longer than 60 seconds, and she was always much happier afterwards.

Read more…

My favourite jumper

I just wanted to re-post this lovely drawing, and Faye Sharpe’s brilliant, heartwarming poetic response to it. You can find these on 26 Stories of Xmas, where they’re helping raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust and Scottish cancer charity, itsgood2give. (Read more about all this on yesterday’s post, Wordy Wednesday: sestude.)My favourite jumper

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My Favourite Christmas Jumper

by Faye Sharpe

 

*

September

Comes. Granny

Picks a pattern. October

Comes. Granny decides the yarn.

November comes. Granny’s nerves crackle. By

Christmas Eve she’s in a panic. But on Christmas Day

She beams. I tear open her present. All reds, blues, greens.

And I wear my favourite Christmas jumper, though its sleeves reach

my knees,

Because

I love my Granny.

xx

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