Word Of The Day : Pencil

Word of the day : Pencil.

Today we are going to consider, in all its ramifications and from every conceivable angle, the word pencil. Before we do so, however, imagine yourself steaming open my correspondence and, with the aid of a flaming torch in the darkness, reading the latest missive to plop onto the Key mat:

Dear Mr Key : Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Poppy Nisbet and I am the downstairs neighbour of your pesky serial Word of the Day correspondent Wlad Onanugu. Or, should I say, I was his downstairs neighbour. I am pleased to say that the upstairs flat is now empty, Mr Onanugu having been dragged away, very early this morning, by a whirling tangle of ruffians dressed in police uniforms. Next stop : Durance Vile, a barren rock far out at sea, from which no convict has ever escaped, and where there are no stationery supplies. You will not be hearing from Mr O. again. That will teach him to spit at one of my kittens in the hallway.

I have innumerable kittens, and I also have a great love of words, which is why your Word of the Day series has proved such a tonic. At one point I was so damnably cheerful that I even considered letting Mr Onanugu off the hook, and not making that call to my pals on the Legally Questionable Abduction Team. The spat-upon kitten gazed at me plaintively, however, and wiser counsels prevailed.

Anyway, to business! I am a very busy woman, so it is only today that I have found the time to enact the illustrative sentence you gave for the word parp. I clattered into a room full of tots, having first smeared my face with beetroot juice and boggled my eyes. I then parped my hooter. I am pleased to say it was a roaring (or should I say parping?) success.

When I can find time within my schedule I intend to act out all the words in your Word of the Day feature, whether or not you provide an illustrative sentence. For verbs this should pose no serious challenge. As for nouns, I have already resolved to make purchase of a mop and some glue and a pencil, and will take it from there.

I will not, however, be pestering you with daily letters keeping you abreast of my doings, as I am mindful that you only have limited space available for the Word of the Day, and I appreciate that you must become exasperated when that space is taken up, as it is today, by foolish wittering letters from your readers. I fear I have already prevented you from paying due attention to pencil, thus increasing the backlog of words which you still need to get to grips with if you are to maintain your dignity as a Word of the Dayist. By my reckoning, that includes toot, hooter, tots, boggle, clunk, glue, and nap..

Perhaps I can be of assistance by performing some sort of stage flummery utilising all those words at one fell swoop, and writing an account of it for you. Then you would be able to put each and every one of them behind you and “move on”, as the airheads say nowadays. First of all, though, I must feed my kittens, and wipe them free of any neighbours’ spittle.

Yours terrifically, Poppy Nisbet

I am most grateful to Ms Nisbet, and shall await her report. In recognition of her efforts, I have decided that tomorrow’s Word of the Day will be nisbet.

Word Of The Day : Mop

Word of the day : Mop.

Mop is the technical term for the stuff that grows on top of a Beatle, hence moptop, as in the illustrative phrase “four loveable moptops who conquered the world”. There are other meanings of mop, both as noun and verb, but you know what?, I think I have already told you about them, out of turn, when I was meant to be telling you about the word glue, as well as boggle and clunk, none of which words I was able to give proper attention to because of a flurry of correspondence from pesky reader Wlad Onanugu. See previous Word Of The Day entries to relive the full horror.

Speaking of Mr Onanugu, he has sent me yet another letter. It arrived while I was writing the above paragraph. Here is what he has to say for himself:

Dear Mr Key : Why are you telling us about mop when you said you were going to tell us instead about nap? Also, if I am keeping proper track of things, were you not meant to be telling us about pencil? I have a few further questions for you regarding parp – as well as toot and hooter and tots – but I need to marshal my thoughts very carefully before putting pencil to cardboard torn from a packet of breakfast cereal.

I confess myself utterly befuddled by Mr Onanugu’s ability to know what I am writing about before I have posted it here at Hooting Yard. The awful, terrifying thought occurs to me that he might be some sort of phantasmal being whose only existence is inside my skull, an emanation of the brain brought on by god knows what.

At times like these it can be helpful to slosh out the ears by listening to a few Beatles hits. By the way, if you are not clear what a Beatle is, you will find several references to them elsewhere on Het Internet. One word of warning : if your source of Beatle lore is the pronouncements on the subject by the late Kenneth Williams, please note that “that Beatle who married an Asiatic woman” was not, as Williams has it, Ringo Starr.

Word Of The Day : Glue

Word of the day : Glue.

Today I want to look at the word glue. I also want to take the opportunity to mop up the two earlier words of the day I have not yet had a chance to examine, boggle and clunk. Mop, incidentally, is a fine word in itself, so let us pencil that in for tomorrow. And while we are about it, let us pencil in pencil for the day after tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have received yet another letter from Wlad Onanugu. I presume it is another bit of wittering about parp. I cannot say for sure, because – with iron in my soul – I have thus far made a titanic effort not to open it, and thus have not yet read it. Perhaps I never will. I might shove it, unopened, into my wastepaper basket, from whence it will be tipped along with all sorts of other papery detritus, into a great roaring furnace, when I have located such a furnace.

I ought to make it clear that it is not my habit to treat all correspondence from readers so shamefully. Usually, I pore over your letters, rereading them a couple of times, until I have winkled from them every last drop of whatever it is they contain – wisdom, wit, top tips, a scattering of breadcrumbs – and then I chew the end of my pencil before scribbling a response. If you take the trouble to write, I ought to take the trouble to reply. So I have terrible misgivings about Mr Onanugu’s latest missive. But quite honestly, if I have to bang on about parp yet again, this series is never going to get anywhere.

After I wrote that paragraph, my terrible misgivings got the better of me, and I decided after all to open, and read, Mr Onanugu’s letter. If it turned out to be all about parp again – and toot and hooter and tots – then so be it. I would frame a response which, I hoped, would dissuade my pesky correspondent from ever putting pencil to paper again for so long as he lived.

As I reached across my desk for the letter, however, I knocked over an opened can of Squelcho!, from which I had taken only a single dainty glug, with the result that I ended up with a puddle of fizzy luminous highly-coloured chemically-enhanced liquid on the floor. I was not entirely sure how high its acidic content was, but I feared it might start eating through the floorboards, like the blood of the alien in Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979). So at once I fetched a mop to mop it up. See what a great word mop is? It is both a noun and a verb. One mops with a mop. And I won’t even begin to talk about Beatle-hair!

Anyway, I was so exhausted after my mopping (with a mop!) that I had to go and take a nap. Which means that I will have to set aside boggle and clunk and glue for another day. On a more positive note, it could be argued that I have already composed an illustrative sentence for tomorrow’s word of the day, mop. Perhaps I can substitute nap for mop, tomorrow. Wait and see.

Word Of The Day : Clunk

Word of the day : Clunk.

I had hoped, today, to deal with the word clunk, as well as catching up with yesterday’s word, boggle, which as you recall had to be postponed while I addressed further matters regarding parp. Alas, I am diverted from my proper course by another letter from Wlad Onanugu. This time he writes:

Dear Mr Key, I was touched by your thoughtfulness in recommending to me further reading on the knotty problem of parp and toot and hooter and tots, et cetera. Indeed, I was so touched that I am afraid to say I let a few tears run down my cheeks. My weeping and snuffling soon ceased, however, when the significance of those parenthetical words “(out of print)” appended to the recommended title sank in. Sure enough, as I trudged around the bookselling kiosks of the dilapidated seaside resort where I live, I discovered that this Dobson pamphlet was completely unavailable. I was met with blank stares, looks of incredulity, a pitying pat on the head, and, by one particularly apoplectic bookseller, the threat of his slavering, sharp-fanged guard dog.

Eventually, at a jumble sale at the local self-esteem ‘n’ diversity awareness hub, my rummaging did unearth a pamphlet by Dobson. A glance at the Gestetnered cover, however, revealed that it was devoted to a wholly different topic. The title was Several Potentates Of The Ancient World With Collapsed Lungs & Their Concubines (out of print). I bought it anyway, for tuppence, and took it home hoping that perhaps the pamphleteer might have a passing word to say somewhere about the whole parp toot hooter tots business.

Arriving home, I snapped open a refreshing can of Squelcho!, plopped myself down in my armchair, and began to read. Shortly thereafter, I was weeping again, but this time from brain-jangling frustration. The pamphlet seemed to me the most utter poppycock, and try as I might I could wring no sense from it whatsoever. If this is a typical example of Dobson’s work, I am feeling quite relieved that I did not continue my search for the pamphlet you recommended. Please send me a postal order for tuppence as compensation.

I am sorry that Mr Onanugu found Dobson’s prose intractable. There is a possibility, however, that he may well have stumbled upon a copy of the notorious “rogue” edition of Several Potentates Of The Ancient World With Collapsed Lungs & Their Concubines. This was the one where the original text – a model of shining clarity and Dobsonian oomph – was translated into Hungarian, and from Hungarian into Tagalog, and from Tagalog into Dog Latin, before being translated back into English. It was the work of the mischievous literary prankster Hector Nuisance.

Tomorrow I hope to crack on with boggle, and clunk, and tomorrow’s word of the day, glue.

Word Of The Day : Boggle

Word of the day : Boggle.

I am afraid that before we move on to boggle, we have unfinished business with yesterday’s word of the day, parp. Reader Wlad Onanugu writes :

Dear Wordmaestro, I am confused by your maunderings on the word parp. You say it is pretty much identical to toot, but then proceed, in your illustrative sentence, to refer to a hooter, rather than, as I might have expected, a tooter or parper. My mental chaos is compounded by the fact that you also make mention of tots, virtually the same word as toots, though entirely different in meaning. I looked forward to improving my word power with your new series. Instead I find myself quite dreadfully unhinged.

Mr Onanugu will find it helpful to consult Dobson’s pamphlet Parp. Toot, Hooter, Tooters, Parpers And Tots : A Complete Guide For The Bewildered (out of print). I have not read it myself, but am told it is almost, but not quite, “the greatest pamphlet ever written”.

Word Of The Day : Parp

Word of the day : Parp.

Parp is a verb, pretty much identical to toot. Here is an illustrative sentence: In an apoplexy of rage, he parped his hooter. To act out this sentence, for example in a classroom full of tots, you will need a hooter. You should also smear your face with beetroot juice to give it that “purple with rage” look, and be able to boggle your eyes convincingly. Tomorrow we will consider the word Boggle.