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A man like me

I think I must have been struck by lightning as a boy. Maybe around Year 2 or 3 at school, at the very time when the lesson for the day was the spelling of numbers, and just at the moment when we were working through the orderlies. I can pick the precise moment of the strike too – not at sixth, or seventh, or even eighth,…. but the next one. Bang! And the sizzling electrical current etched a new neural pathway in my brain: “Nineth!”

Why else do I continue to spell that word incorrectly? I’m okay with nineteenth, ninety, and even ninetieth, which all retain the ‘e’ after the second ‘n’. But their cousin who comes after eighth, namely ‘ninth’ (which is the correct spelling) just doesn’t look right. And especially when you think of the sound of words like ‘plinth’, ‘hyacinth’, and ‘labyrinth’.

Perhaps that’s what happened to Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, when Jesus face shone like lightning. Instead of learning an improved theology like, ‘Jesus of Nazareth really is the Holy Son of God’, he talked about putting up some tents for Jesus and his two distinguished guests Moses and Elijah, for the record says, ‘he did not know what he was saying’. That is, he had a brain-snap. Which is, at the end of the day, quite reassuring to know that another man, who seemed to get most of his theological spelling correct, sometimes had days when he just couldn’t get it right!

DM 15th June 2020

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