Wednesday, 30 April 2014


I took a break, from the story about a fireman I was writing, to look up a word for this post. Appropriately enough, strapping caught my attention. When referring to a person it means big and strong. Now I know firefighters come in various shapes and sizes as well as both sexes and are no less effective for that, but somehow when I see the trucks go by I imagine all the crew to be big strapping lads.

Strapping is also the action of using straps to fasten or secure something so it can't get away. If I imagined that sort of strapping in connection with firemen, I'd keep it to myself.

You'll note my plan to photograph actual firemen didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped ...

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

You can bank on it

A bank is the sloping edge to a river or lake, a raised area of ground, or an elevation in the sea bed (eg a sand bank.) A bank can also be a garden feature, allowing trailing plants to be shown to advantage.

It can mean a financial establishment or the act of investing in one (all the money I earn from writing has been safely banked*) The bank is the person who holds the money in gambling games and premises (a bit like the previous definition then.) A banker is a person whose work involves money, and also an insult in rhyming slang.
*not really - I've spent it on books, cake ingredients and plants.

It's the way a race track slopes to help cornering at speed or a row of similar items such a bank of light switches. In the UK a bank holiday is a public holiday. A pilot may find himself banking (travelling with one side higher than the other) to help avoid flying through a fog bank.

Bank is used in several common expressions, usually to suggest reliability or good fortune. Getting a story acceptance will leave you laughing all the way to the bank. Getting rejections is something we can all bank on.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Aaargh me hearties!

To many people a pirate is an attractive scoundrel such as the one played by Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, or they're one legged old codgers with an eye patch and parrot who always stuck to 'the code'. I'm not sure why they've become such considered such fun, romantic and honourable characters when piracy was, and still is, the action of very dangerous criminals. I doubt many of us would like to parlez with a Somalian pirate.

Pirating work is the act of infringing a person's copyright. This can be plagiarism, illegal downloads or reproduction of the work or using a picture you've found on the internet without permission of the person who took it.

Broadcasting without official permission is also known as piracy. I believe pirate radio stations were so named because the early ones broadcast from ships to avoid detection.

Gosh that wasn't very cheerful was it? I can't cheer you up with a picture of Captain Jack Sparrow as I've not taken one, so you'll have to make do with a link and these terrible jokes ...

What are a pirate's favourite pattern for jumpers?



Because they aaaargh!

Where does he buy them?

He doesn't he steals them from Asdaaaaargh! (Or Walmaaaarght! in the U.S.)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


Oddly my dictionary doesn't give either of the definitions I associate with these three letters. To me they stand for Take a Break. I'm not terribly keen on the weekly mag, but TAB's Fiction Feast is great. When writing stories I indent paragraphs using the tab key (then take the indents out again for TAB!)

See where it says 'Top Twist' on the cover of the current issue? That's my story they're talking about!

Non writers probably think of a tab as a drinks bill (oh, OK writers might be familiar with that one too) A a small strip of material used for hanging up clothes is a tab and tabbing is the action of attaching these. A stage curtain can be known as a tab and it might need to be tabbed in order to hang it.

To keep tabs on someone is to keep them under surveillance.