Here’s some more vexatious, misunderstood and underused words and phrases. Continue reading
Here’s some vexatious, misunderstood and underused words and phrases. Continue reading
Being a freelance and mostly working from home now, I can occasionally pick up a camera when staring out of the window. This is some of what I saw from September to November. Continue reading
My dislike of the word ‘pamper’ suddenly caught fire recently. Walking through an English seaside town, I saw sign after sign advertising ‘pamper packages’ of some sort. There was competition to see who could offer the most ludicrously overblown one; fourteen hours of pampering and spa treatments by candlelight as you’re fed Turkish Delight by captive apes wearing golden chains, each trained to whisper because you’re worth it and smile sympathetically, their grave simian eyes showing that they understand and value you—they don’t judge. Continue reading
Some people get awfully sniffy about Xmas as shorthand for Christmas. Wretched modern world, proto-textspeak, irreligious, ahistorical, next they’ll be calling it Pepsi-day.
As it happens, Xmas has been in use in English for centuries, and is recorded in a letter by the poet and polymath Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The ‘X’ stands for the Greek letter chi; in (ancient) Greek Christ is ‘Χριστός’. This abbreviation for Christ (often using the first two letters, chi and rho, Xρ) was common in ancient Christian artwork; it has an exceptionally long pedigree.
It may not be recommended for use in formal writing, and most publishers’ style guides are agin it, but it isn’t illiterate or crudely secular, a symptom of the commercialisation of Christmas.
Merry Χριστόςmas, everyone.
Paul Fishman (Bristol, December 2014)
(For more on the coin and Christogram see here.)
This is where I explain leaving my job to resume full-time freelance writing and editing after a break of a dozen years. Last week I wrote about being told how ‘brave’ I was (a chilling phrase), how I’d had a mixed bag of it last time as a freelance, and ended with the question, ‘What has changed to make this any sort of a good decision?’ Well now… Continue reading
At the beginning of the month I resigned from my safe and generally sound publishing job. From 27 September I’ll be a freelance writer and editor, self-employed and of no fixed salary. The response from colleagues has been characteristically generous and well-wishing, but on the whole I’d rather not have been congratulated quite so much for bravely choosing an exciting future. Continue reading
I’ve been deleting e-mails. I don’t do it often, but when your e-mail weighs in at 1.5 GB it’s time for a slimming diet. There was an old one from a colleague asking about the passive voice; an editor had issued a New Year diktat saying that henceforth X didn’t want the passive voice to be used in their web copy, all writers should stop using it. Continue reading
I then watched every ball of the Sydney Test live, and I’ve never seen anyone as disinterested or distracted as Kevin [Pietersen].
Paul Downton, Managing Director of the England and Wales Cricket Board
The suggestion that I was uninterested during the winter Ashes series against Australia is wholly untrue.
Kevin Pietersen, Surrey and former England cricketer
Was Pietersen disinterested, uninterested, or neither? Is he answering the charge made against him or subtly shifting his answer? Do we care, should we care? Continue reading