Onwards and Upwards with the Queen’s English

Now that he’s been out a while, Dan reckons he’s caught up with life on the outside. But it’s not enough to be where he was before he went to prison. He aims to do a lot better than that.

Dan is a character from my novel One Night at the Jacaranda and he’s on his way up in the world.

© Elvis Santana (tome213)

Today he listens to Her Majesty opening Parliament. Course, she’s done it once or twice before. Bit of a pro. Knows what she’s doing when she opens Parliament or troops colours. Dan focusses on what she says and most of all on how she says it. Words like humanitarian and psychoactive drugs, even while she’s got a socking great crown on her head that must weigh a ton.

He studies the speech again online not so much for its content as for its vocabulary and delivery.

He reckons he’s doing a bit of an exegesis.  

definition of exegesis
Shows just how far he’s come. Back in the day, one glance at Her Maj and he’d be thinking how to nick them Crown Jewels. Totally wrong, of course. Nowadays he thinks more of pilfering. Or purloining. In point of fact, the only thing he’s pilfered since he got out was a leather belt. It makes him look the mutt’s nuts but he still feels guilty.

To improve his vocabulary, Dan started out with a new word every day. Got a dictionary from a charity shop. The spelling is much better in books than online.

Oxford Reference Dictionary

Today he has other words too.

definition of pulchritude

Comes from the Latin. Pure class, that is. This morning as he left the flat, he called his lady, “You little pulchritude.” She gave him a puzzled look and said the ch wasn’t pronounced sh.

Maybe that one needs a bit more work. 

Last week he did something totally meretricious. He’s still making up for it.

pots and pans

So tonight he will make his pulchritudinous little lady a meal. He likes cooking. Maybe he’ll do a nice bit of monkfish, with a few clandestine ingredients like sorrel.

He shakes his head, wondering if that sounds quite right.

ooOoo

You can read more about Dan and the rest of the bunch of single Londoners in One Night at the Jacaranda

 

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Want to Self-Publish Your Book?

I can hardly keep track of the number of people who ask me how to self-publish. They hope it’ll be short and sweet, or so I’m guessing by the fact that they ask at parties, or when I’m cooking, or crossing the road…

Sure, I write for The Sun, but that doesn’t mean I can condense a complex process like self-publishing into three sentences.  

For that, you’d need 140 pages. These 140 pages, in fact: Jessica Bell’s latest addition to the Writing in a Nutshell series. Jessica is a successful author, designer, and friend, so I’m happy to help her tell the world about her book. 

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Not only will this book save you time and money, but it will also save you from inevitable stress. Grab a copy of Self-publish Your Book today!

It really is how to self-publish without giving yourself a hernia or bursting a blood vessel.  Let me know how you get on with it.

Commercial break over. Now where’s that road I was trying to cross?

As Rare as Rocking-Horse Manure

The new garden, about the size of a postage stamp, looked forlorn. This time of year, everyone else’s garden is already a riot of colour. Our soil is so poor, this is about all we can grow.

recycling

But then two students gave me an idea. As they walked past the English faculty, I heard one of them moan about having to ‘dump his shit before Michaelmas.’

The other one nodded encouragingly, and agreed he would dump all his shit too, man.

I know what Michaelmas is. It’s the name of the academic term that starts in early October and ends before Christmas. I wasn’t so sure what kind of shit they meant, but it got me thinking.

horse manure

That’s just the thing for improving garden soil.

But have you any idea how hard it is to find when you actually want some? There’s never any shortage of bullshit. The equine variety is another matter.

When I was at medical school, any really rare condition would be described as ‘rocking-horse manure. I never appreciated that the real thing could be equally challenging to track down.

Somewhere in Norfolk I’d spotted a sign that said HOSS SHIT, but Norfolk is a long way from anywhere. Except maybe Suffolk.

Lo and behold, this sign was a lot nearer home, and had more conventional spelling.

horse shit for sale

We stopped the car. Bingo, I thought. There was even a visible guarantee of quality.

horse in paddock

We knocked on doors, rang on bells, and went round the back of the outbuildings. Nobody was in.

So at the weekend we visited Wimpole Hall, a National Trust estate with a mansion and a working farm.  There was cow shit galore, a lot of it still on the actual cows.  There was also an amorous bull in a pen with several cows, which prompted a toddler to ask, ‘What are they doing, Mummy?’

‘Good question,’ said the mother as she wheeled the buggy away.

Sheep shit and pig shit too, but surprisingly little horse shit, certainly none for sale in the twee gift shop, complete with gingham ribbon like everything else. I think the National Trust missed a trick there.

There are substitutes, obviously. Some say cow shit is as good if not better. Would cat poo fit the bill? We have our own little factory, supplemented by presents from guests who come over the wall at night.

cat

If you’re wondering, the human stuff won’t do. Although my mother, ever the eccentric, used to tell me to put dirty nappies on the compost heap. Don’t worry. I wasn’t a very obedient daughter.

If you think you can collect horse manure fresh, think again. For garden use, horse manure needs to be well-rotted. That’s why I haven’t been round the riding schools and livery stables with an extra-large dog-poop bag.

You can get anything on eBay, right?  I checked this out. You can get horse manure for about £1 a bag. The snag is that you have to collect it from Scotland.

The solution was surprisingly simple.  I should have thought about it sooner.  Yep, the garden centre. Go ahead.

calf by the river

Call me a silly little cow.