A Saturday jumble

Whilst some MPs are asking for taxpayer-funded childcare for sitting on a Saturday (this is only the third occurence in 70 years), the question that the rest of us in the UK are asking is – will they vote for Boris’s deal or won’t they? We’ll know later today. Our political situation continues to provide ample material for the history students of the future.

OilAnd on the home front – will I or won’t I need that stockpile? I’ve not added a great deal more to it since I last posted on the subject, perhaps a dozen items, no more.  Even if the stockpiling proves completely pointless, at least I should be able to ride out the olive oil shortage for a while. With supplies threatened across the world thanks to an invasion of froghoppers or spittlebugs (variety Xylella fastidiosa to those of you in the know) in Italy and several drought years in Spain, it’s been suggested that the price of our favourite culinary oil could soon become prohibitive. Pity the poor Greeks, each of whom apparently consume an average of one pint every week! Where else, I wonder, would froghoppers and Boris appear in adjacent paragraphs!

In other news this week, Lewis Hamilton, who urges us all to become vegan to save the planet, decides to do his bit for climate change and puts his private jet up for sale (but not his six-miles-to-the-gallon car). Well done, but I’m one up on him; I didn’t buy either in the first place. That jet is still out there. If Hamilton was serious about eliminating the damage it does, he’d have destroyed it; the new owner hasn’t bought it to keep it in his garage!

I loved English language all through school, and much later at university so when my nine year old granddaughter told me that it was her ‘worst subject’ at school, I was hugely disappointed. I refrained from saying that if she paid a little more attention to it then she’d have known that she should actually have described it as her ‘least favourite or least liked’ and instead asked her why that was. “It’s so boring,” she said, “and really hard”. She’s a bright little girl and I couldn’t understand what she was finding so difficult. Then I read the comments of Professor Alice Roberts who was at a loss when trying to help her struggling nine year old with her English homework. How many people, wondered Professor Roberts, knew the meaning of a ‘front end non-finite clause’.  Various eminent linguists, and even a professor of linguistics agreed that they didn’t know either, nor had they ever needed to. Needless to say, my degree had thrown no light on the subject either.  No-wonder my granddaughter finds the subject so unenjoyable.  My letter to the Daily Mail about grammatical pretentiousness destroying children’s love of learning was published but no-one has provided the answer to my question about who is responsible for this travesty. We are told that fewer than half of all GCSE pupils are gaining good passes in English. I wonder why!










  1. There are some who preach, and some who just do: referring to the rich jet-man. Or, as my Mum used to say: words are cheap. On another note, what are all of these new definitions for English grammar? Like particles ?And the above mentioned “thing”? I am learning another language and some how all of these English grammar terms are being used to make it “easier”. But no, there are all of these new terms and I find it really frustrating. Or is it my age? (sigh)


    • When I went to uni they were talking about descriptors (e.g. in the phrase ‘six dogs’ six is the descriptor because it describes the number of dogs). I’d never heard of descriptors! I wonder who decides all these things and they certainly don’t make learning easier; they overcomplicate it.


  2. I’ve no idea about a front end non-finite clause, never heard of one and I’m a product of a girls’ grammar school!
    As for olive oil, well I gave up buying that several years ago and, instead, buy cold-pressed English rape seed oil. It’s more expensive than olive oil but is supposed to be better for us – well, that’s current thinking (I was tempted to write “currant” thinking, ha ha!) and as we all know, experts change their minds all the time. Speaking of which, I read in today’s paper that putting an ice pack on a sprain or something similar isn’t the best thing to do now. It might ease the pain for a sportsman or -woman wishing to return to the playing field, but it doesn’t really help heal the injury and can, in fact impede the healing process. Perhaps it was a good thing then that I didn’t apply ice to my sore places when recently I tripped, fell down, and injured myself.


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