Tag Archives: simpsons

Keep your mouth shut at the school gate

Sometimes it’s better not to say anything at the school gate. That reputed snakepit of gossip, politics, cliques and scrutiny. And if you are foolish enough to open your big mouth, then it really is best to shut it again as soon as possible.

 Because carrying on won’t help. Oh no. The hole will just take on cavernous proportions, the better to echo your indiscretion.

I don’t know if this applies particularly to fathers – women and other adults may be equally stupid. You tell me.

But this afternoon I had the pleasure of watching a dad’s foot accelerate towards his mouth. Rather than braking or steering away from trouble, he went into crash test dummy mode.

It was only a slight slip to begin with Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under In the village

But I can’t help it…

But it's not just me. People you've heard of also like it.

My greatest, most heinous crime, according to Word’s spellchecker, is starting sentences with the word “but”.

I’ve been proof reading the latest draft (Final draft? Ha ha ha. Hysterical laughter. Who knows. Could Be.) of my novel Blackwatertown. The spell checker does not like my colloquialisms, Ulster dialect vocabulary or my “ands”. We argue most frequently over my tendency to start sentences with “but”. The thing is, sometimes “however” just doesn’t cut it.

Doesn’t – that’s (or should I say, that is) another thing it hates. Abbreviations. To which I answer: Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

What does “but” signify? Excitement, surprise, radical change, a hairpin bend, a switchback, a light step, confusion, uncertainty, drama.

“However”, m’lud,  speaks of the stilted stentorian speechifying of the courtroom. It’s – sorry – it is studied, predictable, predicted, slow-moving, ponderous.

Moe: Hello, Moe’s Travern- birthplace of the Rob Roy.
Bart: Is Seymour there? Last name, Butts.
Moe: Just a sec. (calling out) Hey, is there a Butts here? Seymour Butts? Hey, everybody, I wanna Seymour Butts.
Moe (catching on): Hey, wait a minute. Listen, you little scum-sucking pus-bucket. When I get my hands on you, I’m gonna pull out your eyeballs with a corkscrew.

Anyway, by rights of cultural heritage, I should be ending sentences with but. You know what I mean like but? How would you like that spellchecker?

In Belfast, the word “but” has extra-dictionary duties. It’s standard punctuation to mark the end of a phrase or sentence. It conveys the added message that whatever fact has been conveyed, we all know how little reliance can be placed on official truth. Boiled down to its simplest, you have the phrases “Yes but” and “No but”. It becomes unconscious after a while.

So houl’ yer whisht spellchecker, and let me get on with it.

(Whew. That was difficult. See what I did there? I didn’t start any sentence with “but”. But I’m exhausted now. Know what I mean like but?)

28 Comments

Filed under My Writing