Wednesday Word Tangle: why motel is like Frankenstein’s monster

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

You’re a bone idle layabout, you know that?

Now, before you start telling me you’ve regrouted the bathroom tiles whilst cleaning the floor with the mop gripped between your big toes and you’ve polished the windows with … Hang on, what did you polish the windows with? Nevermind, I’m best not knowing.

Anyhow, I don’t mean you personally. Well, I do mean you, but I also mean me, him, her, them and everyone else on the planet.

You see, without laziness and a huge helping of ingenuity, human beings wouldn’t have thought …

Sod this carrying rocks and logs and woolly mammoth steaks up to the cave each day, Ugg. What about I cut slices from the log and mount them on poles? Then I can stick a board on top of the round things and push the lot up the hill. That way I can keep one hand free for fending off that sabre tooth tiger. Too late. Aaaah!

Okay, the invention of the wheel probably wasn’t quite like that, but you get my meaning. Human beings have a long history of using their oversized cortices to find ingenious ways of having to do less.  

Don’t own slaves? Can’t even afford badly paid servants? Want a clean carpet but your just too damn messy? Then why not invent the vacuum cleaner?

Or

Want to travel the world but not keen on sailors, bilge water, rats or bouts of chronic vomiting? Then forget ship travel and invent the aeroplane instead!

Human history has been stuffed with opportunities for some bright spark to save us all from expending energy. And this craving for indolence doesn’t just stretch to the physical world. It also manifests itself in language.

Now, there are few of us who don’t use contractions when talking – I used one just then. But human laziness means we don’t just want to drop the odd letter here and there – we’re more inventive than that.

Today’s Wednesday Word Tangle is

PORTMANTEAU

No, not the lovely big leather bags so beloved of Victorian baddies and sinister physicians – ooh, the intruments!

I mean portmanteau words, where someone has thought,

Life’s too short to use two separate words to describe one thing. Let’s just drop whole syllables and smoosh what’s left together in some kind of Frankenstein’s monster stitch up.

Sometimes they work and capture a sliver of extra pizzazz along the way … GLITTERATI: (glitter and literati). Sometimes the result is similar to someone taking two really ugly dogs and letting them breed. Result? A HEROICALLY UGLY DOG. For instance, SPORK (spoon and fork).

Less offensive are words such as MOTEL (motor and hotel): MOOBS (man and boobs) and METROSEXUAL (metropolitan and hetrosexual).

These words are obvious mongrels, but here are a few you might not even think of them as portmanteaus.

NAPALM (napthlene and palmitate): MOPED (motor and pedal): BIOPIC (biography and picture)


Know any good portmanteau words? Then do share. The weirder the better, please.

Thanks to Kat, the founder of W4W

In the dark, all alone

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I’m in bed for the longest time, trying to fall back to sleep, trying to ignore the pressure in my tummy, but I won’t sleep while I need a wee so badly and I don’t know what to do because I know what’s out there.

But it’s no good and I think if I have to do it then make it quick, so I kick off my duvet, though it’s caught round my foot, and I push away my panda and my Sindy dolls and the others and I put my feet to the floor, scuffing dolls and bricks and books out of the way as I go.

It must be later than I thought, because I can’t hear the telly downstairs and all I can hear is snoring and the creak of the boards under my feet and the odd snap and crack which I tell myself is just from the house, just the voice the house has at night, nothing more.

I reach the door and wait. I want to be fast, so fast nothing can catch me, but I need to be slow too, because what if there’s already something waiting out there on the landing? But I know I won’t see it until it’s too late, because it will be hiding in the darkest shadows, breathing shallow, waiting for me, just me.

I think of Dracula and Frankenstein and ghosts and mad men, arms round their backs, all tied up in special coats, screaming between the bars of their cells. And I think of the faces that come at night, rushing from the darkness, their blank, open eyes, their hollow mouths buffeting my cheeks and I want a wee more than ever.

I step out on the landing, the door creaking so loudly I’m worried it will wake someone and I hope it will wake someone then I won’t be alone and I won’t have told anyone I was scared because I’m really too old to be scared of the dark.

The loo is across the way from my room, past my parents’ door, past my brother’s, very close but so very far away when you’re afraid, when you’re alone.

I run, open the loo door, switch on the light, lift the lid and sit, not daring to look down, not daring to look, in case the SOMETHING is there, staring back, in case it will reach up and snatch me. In the day I’d take my time, pick at the walls, peel off the brown paint with my fingernail, but not at night, at night I wee as fast as I can and I wipe myself, though not as well as when it’s light, and I won’t stop to wash my hands or to flush, because that means I’ll be longer, in the dark all alone.

I’ve pulled my pyjama bottoms up and it’s time to turn off the light, but I need to look first, need to check there’s no one there, nothing there, so I look out onto the landing and I see the brown swirly carpet and the airing cupboard, the Firebird paintwork and there is nothing, though I know that won’t stop me thinking there is. I can’t put it off any longer, so I pull the light switch and it’s dark, so much darker than before and the panic hits me, blinding, deafening and I worry I’ll be paralysed by it, that I won’t be able to run.

Then I’m running – one, two, three, four, five steps across the landing – I’m through the door, over the floor, in my bed, the duvet pulled over my head before I can think. I was sure this time there’d be a claw on my shoulder, teeth in my heel, but I’ve escaped, I’m alive and I wait for my heart to settle, for the shivering to ease so I can sleep again.

And I hope that tommorow night I won’t need a wee.


Day Seventeen: Your personality on the page

Today’s Prompt: We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

Today’s Twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

Here’s a stream of consciousness from a very vivid childhood memory. I think I watched too may scary movies as a child…

Wednesday word Tangle

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I often think of resurrecting things.

I’m not talking in the Doctor Frankenstein sense. I haven’t crowbarred a laboratory into my attic space, all impressive rubbery cables, glass tubes filled with bubbling coloured liquids and fizzing electrical contacts squeezed in between the cold water tank and the papery miracle of construction that is a deserted wasps’ nest (When I say ‘deserted’ I mean ‘intentionally evicted’ because they were committing acts of atrocity on the buttocks of the men who were trying to fix the roof- apologies my stripy, winged friends).

And when I say resurrect, I’m not talking fashion. I DO NOT wish to bring back paisley flares, glittery platform heels or the kind of cheese-cloth blouse my mum used to make for me when I was a kid in the seventies.

On a side note… What a tragedy it is I can’t share with you all the yellowed photo of my brother and me on our way to a friend’s birthday party around 1974… Sir is sporting a dazzling baby pink, wing-collared shirt, brown flared slacks and a brown and pink floral tie. While Little Miss is wearing a matching pink satin ‘A’ line dress, which with her ‘Rubenesque’ figure, makes her look like Humpty Dumpty let loose in the dressing up box . To complete the ensemble, these two doyens of the fashion scene have identical flowing locks which curl up at the ends so sharply, one could use them as  ski-jumps…

Having experienced these atrocities first-hand, I cannot see them as ‘kitsch’, ‘retro’ or any other groovy descriptive. They can only bring horrific flashbacks, although nothing as bad as the ra-ra skirt, the pirate shirt or pedal-pushers all of which spelt the death of my dreams of being coolly on-trend and gorgeous.

But I digress.

What I want to resurrect are words. You know, those weird, wonderful, awkward words that are slipping out of use, kicked into touch by such newbies as respawn, permadeath and mahoosive.

So, in honour of that weirdest of all national days, that celebration of daftness, the wonder of silliness that is April Fool’s Day, I wish to nominate for resurrection…

LIGHTMINDED

Now, if you look it up today, a dictionary will tell you it means someone who doesn’t take life too seriously. But whilst researching for the Elizabethan section of my YA fantasy novel, I discovered the Tudors used it to describe someone who ‘wasn’t all there’, a bit feeble mentally. In short- and to be very un-PC- an idiot.

I imagine someone happily skipping down the street, trailing a string and bobbing along on that string, bouncing high above one shoulder, is their brain, light as a cloud, buoyant as a cork on a pond.

So, there’s my nomination- LIGHTMINDED. If you’ve got any sense, you’ve gotta love it.