Monthly Archives: May 2008

Boll to be Hertford North Station Master

Boll didn’t want to be outdone by her Japanese lookalike Tama, so has donned a 1951 station master’s hat and is rumoured to be taking over at Hertford North.

Station Cat in a Hat

A cat has become station master at a railway station in Kinokawa, Japan. Bollinger lookalike Tama, 9, has an office, wears an official cap and is paid a salary of cat food. Profits have gone up by 10% since Tama was employed.
We should try it here. Get a cat to run Heathrow Terminal 5 perhaps.
And Bolly would make a great Prime Minister in my view. She’s popular, knows what she wants, and rarely does u-turns.

A Few of my Favourite Dings

My friend Ding the horse has just moved house to a new yard quite near to Hertford. He seems to be settling in very well and did a Hello-style photoshoot yesterday with his human Henrietta.


I popped into the wondrous Van Hage garden centre in Ware today and discovered the Baobab Jungle shop in an African hut near the cafe. Among other things, they sell West African brass hooks and I bought one featuring a peacock turning round to groom its back.
Apparently, it’s an Adrinka symbol called Sankofa. This means ‘return and fetch it’ (se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi). The philosophy represented by Sankofa is that it’s fine to return and fetch something when you forget. In other words, you should always learn from your mistakes and from history.


I also like the Keerapa symbol for good fortune because it makes me think of Bolly. The philosophy it represents is ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ or, more specifically, ‘sanctity, like a cat, abhors filth’ (kerapa te se okera – kyiri fi)


The Epa symbol is a self-help book in itself. It means ‘you are the slave of him whose handcuffs you wear’ (onii a n epa da wo nsa no, ne akowa ne wo).


The Fofoo symbolises envy and appears to be inspired by a jealous plant. ‘What the fofoo plant wants is that the gyinantwi seeds should turn black’ (se die fofoo pe ne se gyinantwi abo bedie). That’s the last time I plant a fofoo in my rockery.

Dismal Pies Latest

The magpies are getting worse. My neighbours saw them swooping on little Jess the cat. They didn’t hurt him, but he was apparently a bit ruffled. Thankfully, I reckon Bolly’s too big to be a Magpie target.


I’ve just heard a TV reporter describing something as ‘very unique’. No. It’s either ‘unique’ or not. ‘Unique’ is an absolute adjective, like ‘dead’. You can’t say – ‘I’m sorry – he’s slightly dead’.
But I must applaud a friend who massively overdid it with ‘unique’ the other day. He was describing how distinctive and eccentric an acquaintance was and getting quite carried away.
‘She’s the most uniquest creature you could ever meet,’ he said. Fantastic use of English. But not if you’re doing a report on BBC News.


I had to email a student (a uni student) the other day. His reply – soz m8- ASL?

This apparently means I’m terribly sorry but I’ve totally forgotten who you are. I had to go on Google to translate.

Soz m8 = sorry mate

ASL = age? sex? location?

Clearly 20 is the new 2. Uni is an infantilised world – an 18-30 holiday with one or two bookiewooks to read and little tests at the end. Grown-up words are strictly for essays.

You don’t have a boyfriend. You have a boyf. You don’t eat kebabs. You munch on babs. You don’t get drunk. You get trollied, muntered, clangered, bazzeracked or wombled.

Degree classes have childish nicknames too.

A First is a Damien (Hirst)
A 2.1 is an Attilla (the Hun)
A 2.2 is, of course a Desmond (Tutu)
A Third is a Richard (III), Thora (Hird) or Vorderman (after Carol, who got one) and
A Fail is a Dan (Quayle)

I’m aware of the linguistic argument that this is all very healthy and that students are excellent at code-switching (between slang and formal English). But clearly Mr ASL didn’t possess this skill.

Of course we used childish slang too. A disco was always a bop for instance. I openly used acronyms like narg (not a real gentleman). And one boy in my college frequently appeared in public with a teddybear under his arm. Brideshead was on TV at the time.

But the point is that we did do grown-up things as well. My tutor called me Mr Peacock. We had to wear gowns for formal hall. We had to sign an exeat book if we went home for a weekend. And we read lots of books and talked about them – sometimes till dawn.

In some ways, that world was a fantasy too. Just a different one. A Merchant Ivory version of youth, as opposed to the Hollyoaks/Friends/Big Brother one they have now.

But at least we didn’t say uni. Soz m8, but you’re a narg.