Thursday, December 09, 2010

I’ve just been putting our rubbish and recycling out into the dark and snow – there’s no doubt, the air is warmer. Yesterday was one of the coldest I’ve ever known, with Edinburgh sheet ice underfoot. It will be rather satisfactory to be in London if only to stride about, after a fortnight of picking one’s way with great caution. I’ll probably trip on a paving stone. We won't see much of James, because Rachel says he works late and she thinks he is going to his in-laws in Cheltenham this weekend to welcome his wife and children, newly-arrived from China. We should catch glimpses.

And we’re all set to go. Back the middle of next week.


Stashhaus, I like your idea (comment yesterday) of trying on the Round-the-Bend sleeve to see how it’s blousing – I’ll do that. I have been aware of the difference between the yarn I’m using and Meg’s prototype, without giving much thought as to how to adjust, except for calculating K.


Some years ago Alexander gave us the Oxford English Dictionary, a wonderful Christmas present – the whole 12-volume thing, on a CD-ROM. (My husband calls it “Murray’s”, no doubt for sound historical reasons.) The only trouble with it is that every so often you have to “validate” it with the “data disk”. This becomes absolutely maddening, for a product one has legitimately owned for more years than one can precisely remember.

To my shame, I couldn’t find the data disk yesterday morning. However, I have recovered it, and will be more careful in future.

Apart from its comprehensiveness, it is also much more up-to-date (2002) than the paper dictionaries in daily use here – Webster’s International Second Edition, 1935; and the Shorter Oxford, 1933. For “fey” it gives 1) fated to die; then three obsolete meanings: 2) leading to or presaging death; 3) accursed, unfortunate, unlucky; and 4) feeble, timid, sickly, weak.

But finally, a modern meaning which will justify Alan Bennett’s use: 5) "Disordered in mind like one about to die; possessing or displaying magical, fairylike, or unearthly qualities. Now freq. used ironically, in sense 'affected, whimsy'."

It's not a word I would ever dare use myself, but I thought of it when we went to visit C. in hospital the day before her surgery, when she had just heard her own death sentence. See my blog post of 9/11.


  1. Enjoy the 'sure footing' in London
    and when you return look into ordering some Yak Trax. They slip/pull on over your shoes or boots and allow one to walk very comfortably and confidently on icy ground. I found mine at Amazon and imagine that Amazon UK will have them avaliable.

  2. Susie B1:37 PM

    Have a safe trip, Jean.

  3. =Tamar8:25 PM

    Thank you for the warning about the digital OED. I will stick with my ancient two-volume complete fine print OED, even though it lacks the more modern additions. My main interest is the older words anyway.

    Good fortune and safety for your trip to London!

  4. Hope London provides welcome relief. I was amazed to see the quantities of snow being shifted by the army last night. Re fey: I would have thought of it as "fairy-like", confusing it with "fay", no doubt. Perhaps the Scots connection brings out the first of the definitions.