Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The smell of smoke

Week_7_2009_11

Smell is the most powerful sense when it comes to evoking memories. (Feel free to dig out the research references for this statement.) On the way home this evening I smelt smoke and it brought back memories - all good ones.

One of the oldest memories is of stubble fires. Kate Bush put it in the song Never Be Mine:
The smell of burning fields
Will now mean you and here
For me it brings back childhood memories of long rows of smoke and flame. It's not very common these days, which is understandable, but it's a shame because there's something quite exciting about a whole field on fire.

Once I helped someone clear trees and bushes from some land they'd bought so they could build themselves a house. The fire was struggling, but I managed to coax it into life and we burnt lots of wood.

When we first moved into our current house there were some Leylandii trees in the garden. I hate that variety for various reasons, and so I set about getting rid of them. The first stage was to cut off all the side branches and burn them. I spent a lovely couple of hours feeding a fire. I could have set light to the whole lot, but it would burn very quickly and probably set the fence on fire. It also would have meant the fun was over far quicker.

In France a couple of years ago we had a bonfire in the garden of the cottage we were staying at and cooked marshmallows.

Smoke and fire - good memories.

Photo from four4dots

Monday, September 06, 2010

Guerilla pedants

Wall's

You can spot them because they often carry two sheets of sticky labels. One is blank, to cover up spurious apostrophes that they find, such as at the greengrocer's stall at the market. The other contains apostrophes which are inserted where they are missing, often at banks: Barclay's, Lloyd's TSB, and supermarkets: Tesco's, Morrison's.

However the world of guerilla pedants is a divided one. Although they all share the same standard when it comes to English as she is spoke and written, they lack a similar benchmark when it comes to communities. The Pedant's Society was torn apart (soon after their triumphant Millenium Party held on the 31 December 2000) by argument and a separate Pedants' Society was formed (both are correct).

The guerilla pedants, although sharing a common need to put the written word to rights, are not united in the tactics. There are those who think that if people only ever see correct English they will absorb it and only produce it themselves. So they carefully print the word "fewer" in the correct font and colour and stick it on the sign at the supermarket that says "10 items or less". Others think that people should know just how bad it can get, and cross out "less" and scrawl "fewer" in black marker, so that you know what's right.

Pedantry

Photo's by neonbubble and Will McGree.