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A thesaurus for Christmas?

I’d be lost without my thesaurus. Or should I say, stumped, restricted, even handicapped. It lets me replace a mundane word like ‘tinsel’ with a spectacular word like ‘glitziness’, and helps me discover new ways to disguise important repetition. It is one of the more valuable buttons on my tool bar, and a veritable treasure-box…

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My English teacher would have had a fit, and picked up her red pen. Eight consecutive sentences beginning with the word ‘and’. According to one authority, “In formal writing, coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) are disapproved as sentence starting words.” But there it is. Eight ‘ands’ in a row! And in…

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The watermark of heaven

I knew what he was doing. He was looking for a watermark. The Post Officer held up my daughter’s birth certificate to the light to assess its authenticity. It’s funny really. A stronger proof was standing right before him. Her father! I was there at her birth, and could attest to the spelling of her…

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The cowpat and the cat

Max Hastings, author of ‘All you need to know… World War 2: A brilliant account of the most terrible event in human history’, describes the awful plight of the Poles who were invaded at the start of the war by the Germans, only to be rescued at the end of the war by the Russians….

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The retrograde life

What a colorful collection of cosmic cousins surround the planet Neptune. Fourteen of them, and all with their own shapes and sizes, and all in orbit around our solar system’s eighth planet. And yet one of them stands out from the others. Triton. The other thirteen move in the same direction as Neptune’s rotation, but…

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So close, and yet so far! American crime-fiction writer Sue Grafton very nearly made it. Many years ago she embarked on an ambitious project, the alphabet series, which began with ‘A is for Alibi’, then ‘B is for Burglar’, and ‘C is for Corpse’. And so she continued with ‘D is for Deadbeat’ all the…

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Internal Combustion

“Are your ears burning?” What a funny expression to describe the phenomenon that is felt by someone when another person is speaking about them, at a distance, with either flattery or criticism. Whether the experience is merely fictional or truly physiological, who knows? Some have wondered if it’s due to blushing in the overhearing of…

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Mr Invisible

How does one describe the invisible? Many artists have drained their creative juices in an attempt to paint the wind. Many scientists have devised clever experiments in their effort to describe light in its ultra and infra forms. Many lovers have poured their imaginations into proving the existence of things like affection and passion and…

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The best demister

I fought frantically with the windscreen on the way to church last Sunday morning. It had iced over and the wiper blades were skidding across it. I squirted some soapy water from the washer-jet, and drove toward the sun in search of some heat. But then the inside of the windscreen started to fog, and…

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Faded receipts

Our church recently bought a new TV for the ministry centre, and the lady who handled the transaction, gave the original receipt to the treasurer, and a printed copy to me. And then, because I think she suspects there’s a weakness in my filing system, promptly sent me a digital copy. Many shops of course…

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