Just a really quick post; one of my poems, Stop, will be appearing in the September edition of Asylum Magazine. I’m hoping it may help people; it’s also featured in my book Fractured Reality available on Amazon [shameless plug – why not?!?!]

Check the magazine out at: http://asylummagazine.org/

They’re also on  Twitter: @AsylumNW

And their publishers are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pccsbooks/

Finally, my book is available here: https://amzn.to/2BbgQHV





A few thoughts to make you chuckle – and then think. Hope you enjoy them, Mitch Teemley writes some really good stuff – highly recommended.

Mitch Teemley

The work week has just begun (oy!).

A few thoughts on work:

563325_4294593483892_4195369_n“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” ~Thomas Sowell

committee-meetingIf you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it.  ~Charles Kettering

bored-at-work1The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.  ~Robert Frost

It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.  ~Tom Brokaw

Make a difference.

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Le Beautiful Stroke?


I speak French. Yup, I know lots of French words: oui, chat, chien, merci, beaucoup ..see? However, until I saw a T-shirt which a customer in Sainsbury’s was wearing, I had never, ever, wondered what beaucoup actually meant.

The aforesaid T-shirt was worded thus:




A penny [or should I say euro?] suddenly dropped for me. Beau = Beautiful. Coup = Stroke/Blow. So, the word Beaucoup must mean ‘beautiful stroke’? Or, to paraphrase slightly into vernacular English – ‘nice one’?

Francophones, PLEASE put me out of my misery!

A Surprising Language Lesson from The Hairy Bikers



Although I love to cook, I’m not really a fan of cookery shows on TV – all those ‘drizzles of this, confits of that…’ nope, I like to thrown different things in a pan and see how they go together. On Wednesday night [25th July] , however, I had switched over to BBC2 a little early, ready for the next episode of Picnic at Hanging Rock – I’m gripped by this strange tale of the Australian Outback at the turn of the 20th Century. Anyway, when I switched over I happened to catch the last 5-10 minutes of The Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure. They were cooking swordfish with a ‘gremolata’….zzzzzzzzzz. I did prick up my ears, though, when they’d finished this recipe and announced they were going to a small area where the locals spoke…..ANCIENT GREEK!!!!!

I speak a little modern Greek myself, but I had no idea that anyone, anywhere, still spoke the old version. Greek has 2 forms nowadays, the Katharevousa, [a ‘high’ form used for legal documents, official ceremonies and so on] and Demotiki, the everyday language of most people. This type of situation is called Diglossia, it also occurs in other linguistic areas, such as Arabic-speaking countries.


The bikers, though, were in Italy? I knew that the Greeks had settled much of the southern part of the country in ancient times, but I had no idea that the language had remained there. The bikers met a man, in a village called Bova, who only speaks this ancient version of Greek. They needed 2 interpreters for their conversation: Ancient Greek – Modern Greek and Modern Greek – English. Phew! No quick-fire repartee there. They asked him why the villagers still stuck to this anachronistic tongue:

‘When you lose a language, it’s like somebody dies’ he replied.


[The Greek part is from about 54 minutes, unless you also want to find out how to make gremolata !]


[This is a page with more information about Greek in Italy.]

This morning, I opened my Google Alerts email [where I get a selection of posts and articles each week about spelling, language, punctuation etc] to read this article about an endangered language in Australia.


The battle to save languages goes on; I can’t help wondering if it’s one we can ever truly win. The man in Bova gives me hope.


Climbing Everest




Normally, you’d expect this to be on my travel blog – The Travelling Hamster  – after all, Everest is definitely nowhere near Preston, where I’m based. However, I have recently been through a very challenging few weeks and decided to look back through some of my earlier writing. I think it must have been in mid 2011 when I wrote this piece. I’ve come a long way, but sometimes it’s good to take stock of where we are and where we’re going.

Climbing Everest

I am somewhere on the route to the summit of Everest; I used to live here until a Yeti pushed me all the way down. Now I see Yetis everywhere. I don’t know how much further the summit is, yet I have glimpsed it on fine, clear days. I am not always sure how far I have come, either, though as I look back down to base camp I can see it getting smaller and smaller. Sometimes I still slip back and end up there, but I have learnt how to get this far so I can do it much quicker each time I need to. On bad weather days there are thick clouds of confusion, self-doubt and I cannot see the path, much less believe I can walk it. Strange shadows and noises from the gloom startle and discourage me, but when the cloud lifts a little I can see they are usually only imaginary, or else small enough to overcome with carful planning and strategy. I have learnt this, I just need to remind myself of what I CAN do in the darker times.


Base Camp


It is safe at base camp, snuggled on the sofa, safe from the yeti – people shouting in the street, children bouncing around and startling me, crowds, having to ask and answer questions – all these are scary so I stay safe at home. I have friends to help who understand; take me places I really HAVE to go, accompany me along the once-familiar but now treacherous paths I must walk. It’s good to have people to keep me safe, the world is so big and bewildering. BUT – the view from base camp is limited, the horizons narrow. Some days I think I may want to see a bit more? Maybe tomorrow.




There are so many dangers out in the foothills; bigger towns, crowded buses, so many people I have to be aware of, checking for potential threats. I have tentatively taken a few steps; ridden a bus into Chorley,  a small. neighbouring town. It feels good seeing the sights again, it is still a familiar place yet I am cautious, planning my movements armed with my list, my security blanket. The view from here is good; it isn’t as dizzyingly high as I thought it was, I can let go of the helping hands and look round alone – and this gives me a real sense of achievement. I have conquered a small hill; and am half way towards the next peak –

Preston. Larger, noisier, busier, yet there are safe havens such as the Harris museum, a welcome shelter of peace and rest where I can enjoy the sights and feel as though I am in my natural habitat. Outside, though, there are crowds who startle me, traffic and narrow pavements. I feel jostled, hemmed in, I want to escape to a more peaceful place which I can take at my own pace. Here I cling tightly to my guide – she explains and reassures me over and over as I ask interminable questions. “Where are we going next?” “What have we come in here for?” “Where are we going next?””Can we go for a sit down please?””Tell me again what we’re here for” – It would tax the patience of a saint yet I am lucky that people are willing to help me through this steeper path as I cling tight to the imaginary rope which tethers us together.

After a few forays here I start to recognise the paths and feel slightly safer, sometimes I can go down some of them on my own a short way but it is good to know there is somebody supporting me still who understands this place. Maybe one day I will feel much less fear, but for now I am happy it has lessened even a little.




There are things at this height that I know I will enjoy; swimming, socialising, visiting a few other towns. I make attempts to try these. Some of the paths are too steep yet and must be approached from a different level when I am more secure with my footholds, but some I can manage, at first with the guidance of friends and family – it can be terrifying and I cling tight to them, but then realise the path isn’t quite so steep and I can let go cautiously and go further alone. The feelings of reaching these targets are immense pride and renewed confidence for the journey ahead. Sometimes I try too much before I have all the correct equipment and find myself sliding back to base camp, but I am not as content to rest here and know the routes from here much better now; so I know I can attain the level I was at earlier.




There will always be avalanches, unforeseen, sudden, knocking me totally off my feet and forcing me back down, down, lower and lower. They hit fast and hard and leave me reeling and feeling trapped, unable to shout for help. They often come from the DWP, frightening me with threats to my supply-line of benefits; sometimes they are letters from the solicitor I misunderstand, sometimes they are physical such as changing meds. When they happen I make myself safe in my sofa-base, snuggled here in this secure haven where the world cannot startle me further. I sit and cry, think dark thoughts, feel hopeless – but somewhere there is a glimmer of knowing I have survived this far and I am strong [incredible as that seems right now]. After a few hours, days or even a week I will call weakly to a close companion and share my burden. They cannot always help but they can sit with me and listen whilst I talk – this is the first step back on the road. There is no way of avoiding the avalanches; but the higher I go the less they hurt, usually.




I have met many people along the way who have given me advice and equipment to help me in my ascent. I have been given protective equipment, such as breathing exercises and methods to challenge the threats I think I see – belittle them until they are barely hindrances on the climb. Sometimes I use these readily but other times I forget where they are stored in my pack and only later, after calling for help and believing I am falling, do I realise I had the tools to cope all along. It is, and will always be, a learning process in which I am getting more skilled, slowly. I also have a big stick. This should be used to lean on and defend myself against the real wild creatures of self-destructive thoughts and discouragements. Instead, though, I often turn it on myself. I now know I should not do this and am learning to watch out for it – but it is a difficult weapon to wield. One day, though, I hope to attain mastery over it but it will take much practice and I am bound to receive more injuries from it before then.


The view so far


There are still cloudy, hazy days when I cannot see where I am going or where I have been, but the views are widening and giving me a better sight of the summit and the resting places on the way up. There are still some rock faces as well as gentler climbs but on a good day I can look behind me and see how many obstacles I have overcome. If I have faced these before it will be much easier to face them again. I will always need friends and guides as there are many difficult glaciers and ice-bridges ahead, but I am not facing them alone. It is a journey of self-discovery too; finding new talents and strengths I never knew I had. I still have no idea how long it will take, and to rush is to risk slipping on the ice. Time is immaterial, ascent is everything.


If you need someone to help you, the following links may provide a place to start:


Rethink Mental Illness

The Samaritans

Heads Together

It took me a while to ask for help – don’t make the mistake I did.

Spellcheck. Not always your best friend.


Just a quick post today [for reasons why – read my latest post on The Travelling Hamster!]



So many people rely on it to pick up spelling and grammar errors.

So many people get caught because it is not as clever as they think.

Take this simple sentence:

I would like those two.  [Which ones do you want?]

Yep, it’s fine

But so is:

I would like those too. [I also want more of something]

As is:

I would like those to.  [Who do you want to carry out the task?]

[[OK, not a likely scenario, but you get my point]]

So, how can Spellcheck know which is correct?

Answer – it can’t.

Knowing the rules of grammar and the differences between homophones* is vital, no matter how clever your smartphone is!




Are you an -oholic?



Are you really? A chocoholic, maybe? A Shopaholic? Maybe you’re even a Coffoholic? But…are you really? Think about it carefully. The original word, from which all these have been coined, is ‘Alcoholic’.

Look at the word carefully – it’s ‘Alcohol’ with ‘-ic’ added on the end. NOT ‘Alc’ with ‘-oholic’ added.

So, the correct suffix to indicate addiction, from this original usage, is just to add ‘-ic’ to the end of whatever the root word is.

The suffix -ic denotes ‘pertaining to’ or ‘of a type’. In churches you might often hear the Aaronic blessing:

The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace;          Numbers 6: 24-26

This is a blessing which God originally commanded Aaron to use, therefore we call it Aaronic.

Anything pertaining to Lactose would be described as lactic

People suffering from diabetes are known as diabetics

So, Maybe you’re really a shopic, chocolatic,  or even a  Coffic? No need to confess – this is a safe space!

Image from https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/246431410836546754/

Opinions please…..

I came across this article the other day; it claims Americanisation [or should that be Americanization] is ruining English. However, as a student of the history of English, I believe one of our language’s strengths is its seemingly endless adaptability and readiness to adopt other terms and words and happily make them its own. I hope you can download the article, I’d love to hear your views on this.


What’s in a Name?

Quite a lot, as it happens.

For instance, did you know that the infamous Roman Emperor Caligula was really called Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus? Caligula actually means ‘Little Boots’ or ‘Booties’!

I kid you not – unless the Encyclopaedia Britannica also lies: 

Born Gaius Caesar, he became known as Caligula (“Little Boot”), a childhood nickname bestowed on him by the soldiers of his father, Germanicus Caesar,


So, the dreaded emperor Little Boots!

[Picture from Encyclopaedia Britannica]

Who else then? Well, having not long returned from Uzbekistan, I have been told rather a lot about Tamburlaine. We were shown statues of him, palaces and fortifications associated with him, and also told that his name was NOT Tamburlaine!


The great hero of Uzbek history was called Temur, or, to be correct, the Amir Temur. He was a son-in-law of Genghis Khan but before coming to power must have been a Very Naughty Boy. [Yes, that was in my best Monty Python voice]

When he was about 12, our esteemed tour manager Sanjar informed us, Temur decided to go with some of his mates to steal sheep. The shepherd managed to stab him in the leg and he walked with a limp ever after. This led to his rather derogatory nickname Temur-e-Lang, or Lame Temur.

So, what else? Well, in the Bible, names are extremely important. As Gabriel said to Mary ‘You shall name Him Jesus, for He shall save his people from their sins.’ [Matthew 1.21] His name was, actually, closer to Yehoshua, which is the equivalent of Joshua meaning The Lord Saves. Yes, His name is very important and apt.

One last thing while I am on this theme, for an amazing revelation about Biblical names, click this link:


It gives the meanings of the names from Adam to Noah; I’d love to hear what you think.

Character Confusion


So, more linguistic mutterings about my recent trip to Uzbekistan. The country has three official languages: Uzbek, Russian and English. Obviously, English is written in Latin characters, and Russian in Cyrillic. Uzbek is also written in Latin characters, so you’d imagine it would all be pretty easy to figure what’s what? Oh no……..

There were signs which were clearly in Uzbek:


This was a market stall selling mostly honey, though that doesn’t appear to be what the sign says 😦

There were signs in Russian:

1] Alisher Navoi, their great poet and Metro station!
2] Sign outside the State opera house, advertising a Concert.

There were signs in more than one language:


However, [sadly I didn’t manage to get any photos] as we were driving I noticed words on cars, vans etc which said things such as COHEP, MEPET, BOH [not these actual words, I am giving  examples concocted from memory]. So, what language were these? They might be in Cyrillic, thus saying  soner, meret, von or they might have been in Latin characters and pronounced as read. Hmmmmm, I never did untangle this muddle. One word, which was easy enough to read and pronounce, though, was a very good wine which we were served almost everywhere:DSC_0990

Highly recommended at the pricey sum of £2 a glass!

https://www.vivino.com/wineries/bagizagan in case you’d like to try it yourself.