Posts Tagged ‘member’

The Eclectic Word Club

Good morning. It’s Wednesday again and time for my guest blogger, Rambler5319 to take over….

 

Are you a member of a club? If you are, why are you? I suppose, logically, you like the activities they do. It might be: a football club because you like football, a tennis club because you like to play tennis, a chess club because you like to play chess, a film club because you like to watch films and so on. These are all clubs where you know what they will be doing by their title.

However I wonder if you’ve ever thought of yourself as being in a club that you didn’t know you were a member of. Bit strange, eh? How could you be in a club or clubs but not know it? I think we all are! Thousands of them. How so? I hear you say.

To find out let’s go back to the clubs I mentioned at the start. People in those clubs have certain words they use which are particular to their activity. They will have special words which those in the “club” know but perhaps those outside don’t: a one-two in Football, roughing and trumping in Bridge, castling in Chess and so on. Some of us, who are not members of that club, may know these terms because we know people who use them or they’ve become used in everyday life but the more technical ones we probably don’t. You only learn them if you need to use them. So far so good.

Each person has a vocabulary of words they use every day in order to communicate. This vocabulary will vary depending on how many words you’ve learnt and whether you know their meanings. It will also depend on your age: young people use words older people don’t and vice versa, scientists use words non-scientists don’t. Words do come into and go out of fashion. You may use particular words to sound trendy (“right on”, “boss”, “cool”, fab etc) or maybe even to sound deliberately not trendy (“spokeshave”).

It’s important to use the correct terms otherwise you will not be able to communicate. Would you expect a mechanic in a garage where you take your car to refer to “the thing under the bonnet”? No, I think you’d expect him to say “the engine”. If there’s a right word use it but to use it you have to know it! And that’s where the learning comes in: get that dictionary out! Now you’re in the club that knows the word “engine” and so on up to the more complicated ones. You can communicate with other people who know the same word but not with those who don’t. Do you see what’s going on here? We’re in lots of these “clubs” but we may not be in all the same ones as our friends.

At the end of the day words are about communication so why use words that most people don’t know unless it’s to sound or look clever? For instance in the 1840s people would not have had a problem with Emily Bronte’s use of words like “asseverate” & “orison”, in Wuthering Heights, but how many of us today know their meaning? In this case you have two options: go and look them up in a dictionary so you know what they mean next time or just try and guess from the context (in which case you’ll never know for certain). If you don’t look them up – why don’t you? In fact why don’t you write them down so you’ll remember them. Now you’re in the “club” that knows what they mean.

The title of this blog gives a further clue. Eclectic is a word which crept into everyday use through music journalism and writers referring to people having “an eclectic taste” in music or an album having an “eclectic mix” of styles. You either look the word up or you don’t understand what they’re talking about. You will tend to pick the words you use based on the situation you’re in: are you speaking with customers, friends or work colleagues? In the container business, for example, you will hear words like Reefer (meaning a refrigerated container or trailer), High-Cube (meaning a container which is 9’6” high instead of an ordinary height of 8’6”) and Flat Rack (meaning a container with no sides or roof, so it just has the base and two ends). Each branch of the armed forces has special words and phrases they use. Each trade or craft also has specialised uses of words. You just have to learn them if you’re going to be able to communicate with others in the same business. You become part of a word club where particular words and language are used. You will also begin to use words that those around you use especially when moving (or travelling) to a new area or country: our cars have bonnets – American cars have hoods, our cars have boots – American cars have trunks, we put petrol in our cars – Americans put “gas” in theirs and so on.

I’m reading a book at the moment (about The Elizabethan period in English history) which, just this week, has given me six words I’ve not come across before: Scabrous, Tanistry, Gallowglasses, Seneschal, Rymor, Self-Exculpation. (My notebook which I’ve mentioned before that I write words in that I don’t know the meaning of is close to the 800 mark now.) So that’s six new clubs I’ve joined because, along with the author, I now know what they mean. And no I’m not telling you what they mean! If you don’t know them……. You know what’s coming next……go and get that dictionary! Find out!

One of the best investments I made was to purchase a dictionary app for my phone. It’s the same dictionary as the hardback paper version I have on my bookshelf but it cost one-sixth of the price and it is with me all the time. It’s also quicker than me at looking up stuff. Those of you with Kindles probably don’t need an app as it includes a dictionary. It’s just a matter of being prepared.

Being in word clubs is a lifelong experience because there are so many of them and new ones come along all the time. Will you join them (by getting that dictionary out) or will you walk past maybe just guessing what’s behind the door? The choice is yours. Have you come across any words you don’t know recently that you could share with us?

(Guest post by Rambler 5319)

A day in Highgate

Now I’m not one to go to peices over a puppy or wax lyrical over my feelings and the inspiring patterns on a snowflake. But yesterday I spent an unexpectedly magical day in Highgate hunting down Samuel Taylor Coleridge. And I may, in this post, get a bit misty eyed and nostalgic. I’ll try to keep it under control but be prepared.

I started at Archway station and trekked up Highgate Hill. I had to double back and start again when I realised I’d missed the Whittington Stone.

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So I climbed the hill again and was pretty knackered by the time I finally got to the top. Having climbed so high, there was a fabulous view across London which I stopped and admired for a while (actually, I was just getting my breath back but I did look at the view once or twice).

Across the road from me was Lauderdale House, where Nell Gwynn first slept with Charles I, apparently.

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I saw Highgate Bookshop over the road too and obviously had go in. Obviously. In the spirit of my walk, I bought a book about Coleridge and one about the history of Highgate. It was £23.98. I had tons of pound coins on me and managed to count out £22! That’s why my bag was so heavy! I scraped together a few more coins and got to £1.50. I was 48p off. The coppers started coming out… I can do this! I can do this! The lovely lady in the shop was helping me. Eventually I said I’d have to pay by card because I was 20p short.

“No,” she said sternly. “No, I won’t let you. Not after all this.” (We’d been there for ten minutes doing this!) “Bring me the 20p when you get change,” she said kindly. I knew I wouldn’t be coming back past the shop on my walk but I figured it would give me a reason to come back soon. I already liked Highgate a lot.

Over the road and further up slightly was my first Coleridge stop – the chemists with the side door to the ‘back shop’ where he used to pick up his opium.

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The chemist is now a generic estate agent but this side door has been left mostly untouched.

I was opposite a public area called Pond Square and South Grove ran alongside it. Here I found the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution.

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I knew you had to be a member to go in but I also knew they had a whole room dedicated to Coleridge things, manuscripts, paintings etc, that I was dying to see. I went into the hall but was super nervous. I couldn’t see anyone apart from someone behind one door on a ladder. The reading room to my right looked beautiful, full of ornate chairs, an open fire and loads of books and magazines. I knew it was members only but really wanted to go in. It was locked though, as was the other entrance door.

I didn’t mind not being able to get in because I was a stone’s throw from Highgate Cemetery so off I pottered, down Swain’s Lane, looking for the cemetery. It’s on both sides of the road and is £7 to get into the east cemetery and £3 to get in the west cemetery. Great! I’ll go in, look around, get some pics, this place is pretty famous, Dickens and Karl Marx are buried here, among others. Great. I entered the little hut to pay.

And that’s when I remembered! I’d given ALL my money to the bookshop! Every last little penny. I knew I was hoping for too much when I asked if they took cards. Dammit. I was all the way here and couldn’t get in! I took a few pics through the gates and left, feeling a bit annoyed. I should’ve just paid for the books on card!

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Back out of Swain’s Lane and the sun was coming out and beaming down on me. Damn me for wearing these skinny jeans! The air has NO chance of getting in. I was heating up unpleasantly. But then I stumbled across another Coleridge stop.

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This is where Coleridge came for tea with a doctor called James Gillman to ask for help with his opium addiction. Doctor Gillman suggested he come and stay in his house and he would treat him. Coleridge agreed and never left Highgate again! He spent the last 19 years of his life in this village. He later moved with Doctor Gillman to another house close by, which we’ll get to. But this is where he had the cup of tea and where he first lived in Highgate. The black iron gate and the pillars by the front door are the same ones from Coleridge’s day. Most of the other stuff was rebuilt after a fire though.

Further along the same road, toward the end, I reached St Michael’s Church, where Coleridge is buried. He was moved here from another site about fifty years ago. But it was closed! I was having another Highgate Cemetery moment, I was all the way here and I couldn’t do it.

As I was standing there, bemoaning my misfortune, a lady in a car stopped and said that if I waited til 2pm, the church would be opened and I could have a tour. It was ten to 2. I decided to wait it out. I sat on a concrete stub and noticed that I’d been smelling lovely perfumed smells for the past few minutes. I looked around for a particular flower but couldn’t figure it out. Then I realised it was just the smell of summery-ness, high up on a hill, where the cars were few and the trees were many. I walked about a bit, enjoying the smells until the church was opened. In the lobby, I found this.

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It says that it is the same level as the cross on St Paul’s Cathedral. I hadn’t realised I was so high until that point.

I located Coleridge’s gravestone and intended to move on but it was a really beautiful little church so I stopped for a bit longer, wandering around.

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(I can’t get this the other way round so you’ll have to lean to your right to read it)

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I came out of the church, blinking as the sun was even brighter and the floral smells were lovely and it all of a sudden seemed quite magical, this village on a hill in London with all this fascinating history.

I crossed over the road to a little pub called The Flask, which was Coleridge’s local during his stay in the second house he lived in in Highgate.

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From here, I crossed another road into a street lined with chestnut trees and started searching for number 3, not an easy task when it seemed the numbers were hidden for top secret purposes. Eventually I located it and peered over the gates to find two plaques, one saying Coleridge had lived there and one saying J. B. Priestley had lived there! Amazing! I hadn’t expected that at all and was quite excited.

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As I photographed the plaques over the gate, a man in a white van stopped behind me and said “Do you know who lives there now?” I walked over to him and asked who. “Kate Moss,” he told me.

What?! Now I’m not a Kate Moss lover, nor do I get star struck, but I was still reeling from the J. B. Priestley thing so was double surprised by this fact.

Suspicious, I asked, “Are you lying?”

“No,” he said and lowered his voice a little. Taking out a camera with a massive great lens, he said, “I’m paparazzi.”

“Wow.”

“And George Michael lives over there,” he said, pointing two doors down.

“Wow.”

Now I decided at this point to believe him because it increased the coolness factor of my walk by fifty million percent. You, however, do not have to believe the man in the van. I did check afterward and apparently they both do live in Highgate, so it may be true!

Between two houses, I found a path and pottered down. The sun was out, the smells were lovely, the houses were beautiful and I got a bit poetical. I was also walking down the lane that was Coleridge’s favourite walk onto the heath and eveything just felt lovely and amazing for a while.

At the bottom, without warning, the trees and houses stopped and I found myself on the open fields of the heath. I turned right, heading to the top of Hampstead Heath, to a viewpoint, said to be the best in North London.

On my way I saw this sign…

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…and happened to have my swimming stuff with me, because I was planning to swim in the outdoor pool near home on my way back. It was too tempting. It had been hot and I longed to jump in the water. It was only £2 for a swim.

And that’s when I realised it! I’d given all my money to the bookshop lady! Dammit. I went to one of the lifeguards.

“Is there any way of paying by card? I don’t have cash on me and I’m dying to go for a swim!”

“It’s fine. Just pay next time you come.”

More kindness! Highgate was turning out to be a real winner.

I changed quickly and got in. It’s not a swimming pool as such. It’s just a section of lake/pond that ladies can swim in. Amazing. There were moorhens and ducks swimming too and the sun was shining on my face and there were lilies on the surface and I remember thinking that this was one of the best days I’d ever had since moving to London. I swam round a few times then got out an changed.

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(Proof!)

I just had one more stop to make, at the top of the hill. I found this lovely little gazebo…

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…with this amazing view over London (it doesn’t look so spectacular on a photo but it was, believe me).

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The eagle eyed among you might be able to spot the Gherkin and the Shard, which was officially opened last night.

And that was my magical day in Highgate. London-based people, go there if you haven’t already. Non-London-based people, write it into your itinerary for your next trip here. It’s already one of my favourite places ever and I’ll be going again next week (to pay off my debts to the bookshop and the bathing pond, if nothing else!)