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Like a metaphor

I remember learning about metaphors and simile in English at school. It didn't take long to learn the difference (similes use the words "like" or "as" in them), yet it felt like we kept on having tests where we would have to work out which one a particular phrase was. I checked whether the phrase had "like" or "as", ticked the appropriate box, and moved on. "I've got this already", I thought.

At the time I considered them overrated. I was reading a lot of Science Fiction and I liked ideas that tickled the imagination and a clever plot. All this flowery metaphor and simile didn't add to the story, and I could do without it.

As I grew older and my literature tastes expanded I began to understand the appeal of language that painted a picture with words. Like a maturing tree I spread my branches into different genres - the classics, historical detective stories. There I found phrases that were sugary on my mental taste buds and, like a perfect bit of Prog, conjured up visions in my mind. As a coal miner pursues a seam relentlessly into the earth, I mined the rich vein of Literature with a capital L and discovered perfect gems set into great works.

As I considered this, like an athlete looks back on their performance, I wondered if it meant I had a lack of imagination. Later I thought it was probably because, like one's taste-buds become dulled with age, and food needs to be more highly flavoured, actually it was more that I had a great imagination then and now it was getting more dull. Maybe back then those SF stories conjured up great visions in my mind as a conjurer conjures up great tricks.

Imagine then, if you will, that I travel back in time like some Eighteenth Century explorer, and visit my younger self. I go to that child sitting at one of the desks arranged in rows as if they were some grid for learning, and whisper in his shell-like ear. I tell him of my subsequent discovery of the benefits to the mental palette of this rich flavour that can be found in writing that paints pictures in the mind's eye. I encourage him to use more metaphor and simile, as his English teacher has already done many times, like a broken record. He hands in an essay for her to read, and waits as she digests it like a good meal.


"Happy?" he says to the English teacher as she finished it off.

"As a sandboy," she says.

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