Saturday 15th November

Good morning everyone. We wish you all a 'jolly' weekend, starting right here:


Score these words on ‘the funny scale’, with 1 being hilarious, and 10 being humourless: ping, kipper, boobs, diarrhea, macramé, tenderloin, poppadom, squib, lobworm, flageolet, demijohn, chomp, alpenstock, jig, underlay.


  1. top ten stress busters:

    positive thinking
    reaching out to others
    achieving a good work/life balance
    a healthy diet
    professional help
    drawing yourself a happy face

  2. She is collecting words for her desert island – ephemeral, fruit, indubitably, trickle, dawn – ones she knows she’ll be able to live with for a very long time. Her daughter’s name.

  3. When I tried to tell Jonas the facts of life, he defeated me with laughter. Every new word provoked fresh merriment. It was simply the best joke he’d ever heard.

  4. Scaling
    in all directions
    on a map-
    large or small
    usually equals lost,
    late, asking for directions
    best scales
    say celebrate
    you lost two pounds again.

  5. “Right” said the Lord of Language (who was also Sultan of Syntax and Pasha of Psycholinguistics) “we need to stop this pronto: words should not provoke chortling amongst the masses”.

  6. Underlay had always seemed such a dull, humourless word to her. Until she met her new boyfriend Tony, a carpet fitter. Now they were always rolling on the floor laughing.

  7. American spelling becomes endemic among English writers. A list of words see-saws between the two variations but English will lose since the software highlights it as an interloper. Archaic.

  8. King Pipper covered his boobs with some macramé and with his alpenstock skewered the tenderloin, had a chomp at the flageolet and then washed down the poppadom with a demijohn.

  9. Skipping ropes, only little girls and big boxers use them. Only little children and old people get their back together mucked up words – however children will grow out of it.


  10. She is violet, dancer,
    a hard life,
    fishing, preserving salted
    fish , making nets, wine,
    toils by the kitchen,
    makes wafer, tends
    sick uncle, sweats
    flute making , bamboo works
    writing satire.

  11. "Your father, being hilarious." He felt sorry for Dad. Dad felt sorry for himself trapped with a humourless woman. Twenty years passes slowly. He cries alone. More darkness, than light.

  12. You’ll never guess, no really, what Bridget Reilly said today. Miss was so annoyed. ‘I never heard words like that in my previous school,’ she said in her city voice.

  13. You can laugh when your tickled,
    weep when you're pickled.
    What's hilarious to you
    may seem morbid to them.
    Some will roll in the aisles
    others boo from the stalls.

    Mary Rose

  14. study shows: out of a list of english words, non-english speakers chose diarrhea as the most pleasing.

    now i imagine a couple in china beaming at their new baby: diarrhea.

  15. “Stupid Gran!” Kieran’s voice rang from the back of the car.

    Sam saw my shoulders tense. “They’re only words Mum. They don’t hurt,” she said.

    “Sticks and stones,” Kieran’s tiny voice babbled. We were all excited. Athens! I was going to see the sights. They were heading for the beach.

    Has silly Gran, lost the tickets, forgotten her knickers, lost her purse? The pecking of abuse droned on until I finally dashed for freedom. I took a cab and soon meandered through the garlic heavy chaos of the Plaka.

    I walked up the path to the acropolis with my heart pounding. I was actually treading stones that Homer had walked. I stood and gazed across the bowl of Athens; a dish of modern buildings, with antiquity bursting through in every direction. I gazed down at the temple of Hephaestus gleaming white amongst green trees. My mind Drifted, I was dressed in a toga. Warm, pine scented air blew my hair. Unexpectedly, the machine gun rattle of a camera shutter close to my ear pulled me back. I turned to see myself reflected in the Cyclops view of a monster lens.

    “I’m sorry. You looked so wistful, my own Helen, looking out at the army awaiting the sack of Troy.”

    “Wrong city,” I said.

    He lowered the camera and moved close to show me the image on the tiny screen. “I couldn’t help it. Look, it’s a prize winner, but I’ll delete it if you want.” His eyes were bright and glowing enthusiastically. He was alone. We both enjoyed Greece. We flirted and laughed. Enigmatic, beautiful, educated, he tumbled words of charm and flattery to wash over me. I swam in his effusive adoration and loved it. Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can wound or warm me.

  16. Words I hate, in no particular order: moist, blouse, supper.

    He invited me to dinner, admired my blouse and cooked me a moist fish supper.

    I never saw him again.

  17. The funniest words at infant school were burp, fart and poop. Inevitable hysteria. In secondary, occasionally, they would still catch me… in assembly or physics. These days, sadly, it’s funerals.

  18. Things that boys think are hilarious, but that girls know aren’t: bogies, burps, farts, poo, stinky feet, big boobs.
    Things that girls know are hilarious: men’s genitals on cold mornings.

  19. 'Ping' is so not funny that it rates a 10. It's the word I see over my husband's shoulder on the laptop when he's doing weird stuff in a secret code that he refuses to divulge. Either he's doing something so boring that it doesn't warrant explanation or it's so exciting that he'd have to kill me.

    'Kipper' brings back memories of tedious times, of listening to a succession of children reading the same book to me whilst I faked surprise and interest. Definitely 1.

    'Boobs' is probably a 5 because it's not really all that rude but has a certain naughtiness that 'breasts' doesn't.

    'Diarrhea' is only funny (again, a 5) if it's someone else's. It is less than funny when you try to write it as it never looks right. In fact, OpenOffice (which, incidentally, is fully endorsed as recognisable), insists I put an 'o' after the 'h' and now I really haven't got a clue what's right.

    'Macrame'. I'm not going to cheat by looking it up but I think it's something to do with wool and old ladies. Fairly, unfunny, really. A 2, I think.

    'Tenderloin' bits of pork make me laugh out loud. A good 10.

    'Poppadom' sounds funny but it seems wrong to laugh at another language (especially when ours is so peculiar) so it gets a 5.

    I've no idea what a squib is except that they get damp and that can't be terribly funny. 1. Ditto 'lobworm'.

    'Flageolet' raises a tittering 2 under the umbrella of toilet humour and 'demijohn', whilst reminding me of failed attempts at winemaking, carries connotations of condoms. Inexplicable, I know. A 4 then.

    'Chomp, alpenstock and jig' leave me with a cold 1 but underlay is at least 8 as it never fails to prompt Mexican impressions.

  20. We never spent many summerdays on the beach. Temperatures are fickle creatures here, and more than one day of sun is needed to heat up the fringes of the atlantic ocean. Still we were blessed with pockets of white sand beaches trapped between green grass and fjords. The sheep were never far away, their breaking bleat intermingling with the calls of seagulls and the waves. Black turds would scatter the beach, next to the upcasted spirals of wet sand, the castle entrance to the lugworm's hole. Once tired of my own experiments in architecture I would try to scoop up the lugworm's casting with my shovel, watching the fragile structure crumble at the edges. I hardly ever saw the fat king himself, buried as he was in his underground gallery. But I did find the shrimps. Wading in the water till the pain circling my ankels was numbed, I would search out that very slight bump in the sand. Before my eyes adjusted they would often take me by surprise, tickling the soles of my feet as I overstepped. After the shrimps, our eyes would search for crabs, hermit crabs, small fish, whatever that was beautiful, bizarre, colourful, alive. We would fill our buckets, our cups or bottles, trapping those creatures in red plastic for a brief afternoon. Just before leaving we would run out into the sea for our last bath, daring each other to dip our head too, then race back and rub our trembling bodies with the hard towels, the sand scrubbing our red skin. Our clothing stuck to our skin, the sand to our sandals, we gave our borrowed treasures back to the sea. We waved, laughed, said goodbye, the echo of our laughter ebbing out with the waves together with the last jig of summer.

  21. The lethal funny scale fish is the one that swims against the current. Its secret lies in the belly of an ocean. An ocean that has no trouble with endings.

  22. If Customs refused to let you take the five items you’d bought as gifts, what would you leave behind, in order of preference?

    1. Nothing
    2-5. On second thoughts, myself

    coll @

  23. When my mother swears, it’s hilarious. She never uses real swear words, thinking them too crude. Instead she makes up her own: poopninny, fartface, bumbumhead, crapcakes, burpnoodles, poodlebiscuits, boobmuffins, buffalotesticles.

    Jamieson Wolf

  24. “Re-write it,” she says, blue pencil hovering. He pouts and she laughs. No matter how famous he is, she’s never going to approve of a character from Kansas ordering ‘poppadom’.

  25. I hate you!
    I'm sorry, we did all we could, but we lost him.
    You lazy good-for-nothing!
    I don’t love you anymore.
    It’s only words. Yet so much pain.

  26. Once upon a time I thought toilet humour was funny. That was until I started spending half my life in one. There is nothing funny about diarrhoea! Not any more.

  27. From Douglas Bruton:


    Each morning at work, Caledon a little braver. A little. Looking for her coming. Being where she would be. Dipping his head in something like a nod. Of recognition. Then smiling one morning. And she waves. And gifts him back her smile.

    And today, words. Caledon spoke to her today. Said ‘hello’. And not just ‘hello’ but her name too, as he’d rehearsed, and it came out breathless, stilted and broke, so she had to ask what it was he had said. And he said it again, a little easier this time.

    He noted the way she tucked her hair behind her ear using only her index finger. Some strands not obeying her and hanging thin and loose. She was maybe half his age, he thought. And she was wearing green. He noted that too, even though it was not important.

    She laughed, as if Caledon had said something funny. And said ‘hello, Caledon’. She said it soft, almost like a whisper. At least that’s the way he heard it, as though she was close and her mouth at his ear, or far off and Caledon straining to hear the words she said.

    Then a moment’s awkwardness and the stretched silence of no words, for Caledon had rehearsed no further, not ever believing he would come this far.

    ‘Hello, Caledon,’ she said again, as though to prompt him.

    He laughed. ‘Hello, Claire,’ he said again.

    She moved away from him then, and into the rest of her day. And he into his, smiling so she could see when she looked.

    That was it. Oh, except for Caledon’s jig. Thinking he was alone, flailing his arms above his head and high-kicking the air and all to no music. And Claire watching from the door, and shaking her head and laughing laughing.

  28. From Douglas Bruton


    do you remember as children, how the sounds of words made you laugh, like ‘cummerbund’ and ‘numbskull’, and my mum said don’t say ‘fart’ say ‘pump’, and that was funny too and didn’t really fit with the rhyme: beans, beans, are good for the heart, the more you eat the more you pump, so we said ‘fart’ and held the laughter in the cups of our hands

    I never really understood the ‘good for your heart’ bit, didn’t make sense to me, ‘better out than in,’ my dad would say, and so I thought not farting must be bad for one’s internal organs, somehow

    we laughed when my dad did it, farted, blew like a showman, and he laughed too, but my mother said it was disgusting and that he should go to the toilet or at least leave the room, she said we should not do it in company, that it was rude, and then one day we heard mother pump and it was a horror we dared not laugh at

    and ‘flageolet’ was a new word once, found in an old castle in Carcassonne, France, on the menu, the bit written in English, and dad explained they were beans, so we ordered a sausage and flageolet casserole, and mum made us put napkins on our laps, only she called them ‘serviettes’, and she scowled at us if we spoke too loud, and showed my brother and me which knife to use and which fork, and when we did not recognise the sausages or the beans, she said they were ‘good for you’

    we looked up ‘flageolet’ in a dictionary when we got home, found it was a high-pitched musical instrument, from the vulgar latin ‘flare’, to blow – proof, if proof were needed, that our playground rhyme spoke comic-truth


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