Valerie Yules Letters

November 19, 2014

Think about spelling

Filed under: Education, humor, social innovations, social problems, spelling — Tags: , , — valerieyulesletters @ 6:33 am

Think about spelling

1 Which are the most common words?
36 irregularly-spelled words make up 12% of almost every text. Which appear here?

Once upon   a   time,   the   beautiful   daughter   of   a great   magician   wanted   more pearls to put   among her treasures. “Look through the centre of the moon when it is blue,” said her mother in answer to her question. “You   might   find   your heart’s desire.” The princess laughed, because she   doubted these words. Instead, she used her imagination, and moved into the photography business, and took pictures of the moon in colour. “I perceive most certainly that it is almost wholly white,” she thought. She also found that she could make enough money in eight months to buy herself two lovely huge new jewels too.

Answer: 27 very common words are here: 14 common words are difficult to spell.
Once a the of a more to put her through when it is said in you your because she I most that could make in two too.

2. Which letters are not needed in words?
Once upon   a   time,   the   beautiful   daughter   of   a great   magician   wanted   more pearls to put   among   her treasures. “Look through the centre of the moon when it is blue,” said her mother in answer to her question. “You   might   find   your heart’s desire.” The princess laughed, because she   doubted these words. Instead, she used her imagination, and moved into the photography business, and took pictures of the moon in colour. “I perceive most certainly that it is almost wholly white,” she thought. She also found that she could make enough money in eight months to buy herself two lovely huge new jewels too.

These words have letters that they do not need:
beautiful daughter more pearls treasures through centre when answer you might your heart’s laughed because doubted instead business colour perceive certainly wholly white thought could buy two lovely

3. Which letters are misleading in words?

Once upon   a   time,   the   beautiful   daughter   of   a great   magician   wanted   more pearls to put   among   her treasures. “Look through the centre of the moon when it is blue,” said her mother in answer to her question. “You   might   find   your heart’s desire.” The princess laughed, because she   doubted these words. Instead, she used her imagination, and moved into the photography business, and took pictures of the moon in colour. “I perceive most certainly that it is almost wholly white,” she thought. She also found that she could make enough money in eight months to buy herself two lovely huge new jewels too.

These words have misleading letters:-
Once beautiful daughter of great wanted more pearls to put among treasures. “Look through centre of when is blue,” said mother answer to you might your heart’s desire laughed, because doubted these words. Instead used moved into business took of colour I perceive certainly is wholly white thought could enough money I eight months to buy two lovely new.

4. Which letters are missing from words?
Once upon   a   time,   the   beautiful   daughter   of   a great   magician   wanted   more pearls to put   among   her treasures. “Look through the centre of the moon when it is blue,” said her mother in answer to her question. “You   might   find  your heart’s desire.” The princess laughed, because she   doubted these words. Instead, she used her imagination, and moved into the photography business, and took pictures of the moon in colour. “I perceive most certainly that it is almost wholly white,” she thought. She also found that she could make enough money in eight months to buy herself two lovely huge new jewels too.

These words have missing letters:
put might find used imagination moved most almost also huge

5. How would you spell this story?
Once upon   a   time,   the   beautiful   daughter   of   a great   magician   wanted   more pearls to put   among   her treasures. “Look through the centre of the moon when it is blue,” said her mother in answer to her question. “You   might   find   your heart’s desire.” The princess laughed, because she   doubted these words. Instead, she used her imagination, and moved into the photography business, and took pictures of the moon in colour. “I perceive most certainly that it is almost wholly white,” she thought. She also found that she could make enough money in eight months to buy herself two lovely huge new jewels too.

6. Is this spelling esier to read?  Cud u mak it esier?

Ons upon a  time,  th   butiful   dautr  of  a grat   magician  wonted   mor perls tu puut   amung   her tresurs. “Luuk thru the centr of the moon wen it is blu,” sed her mothr in ansr to her questn. “u   mit   find yur hert’s dezir. Th prinsess lafd, becos she   douted thez werds. Insted, she usd her imajinatn, and muvd into th fotografy biznes, and tuuk picturs of th moon in culr.”I percev most sertnly that it is almost holy wite,” she thaut. She also found that she cud mak enuf muny in ait munths tu by herself 2 luvly huj nu juwels too.


May 26, 2013

Scots language – and English culture

Filed under: humor, Pleasures — Tags: , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 6:12 am

The Language of a Culture – Scots English

If more Celtic words had survived into the English language, in what ways would it have been enriched? (Tod, 2000.) Difficult to tell. If more standard Scots vocabulary were now part of our common English heritage, it would be enriched indeed – and curiously enough, the compilers of Chambers Scots Dictionary (1911) claim that we might then have more of a tongue that was the lineal descendant of the Anglian speech of Bede and Caedmon.

It is fascinating what a dictionary can reveal about a culture. you can tell about a culture by looking through its dictionary.
Here is vocabulary taken from random samples of pages of the Chambers Scots dictionary (1911). Much of it sounds very expressive indeed – but what does it express? For a holiday game, players could provide definitions for Scots words, – and then see how close they were to the actual Scots usage.
And then, inspired, make up similarly lively adjectives to describe whatever and whoever you like.
The Scots have spoken their own English in the Lowlands and along the east coast, since long before the Union with England. However, The Scots Dictionary contrasts with an English lexicon such as the Oxford Concise Dictionary in the sort of culture it contrasts with modern English. It is pawky and couthy and canny, very observant, and rather self-righteous – particularly about wantonness and drunkenness, which appear to be have been very common, from the large amount of vocabulary developed to describe a full spectrum of both. Much of the vocabulary in the Scots dictionary is now antique, and out of common use except by Scottish writers, but American English and the lazy general terms of our more limited conversation today have by no means yet fully taken over. Sassenachs can still not know whether to be upset or tickled if they are introduced at a public meeting as kenspeckled, and bairns can still be peely-wally.
The Scottish language was full of concise words that gave exact and specific meanings to observables that modern English can only describe with a phrase. For examples –
Frieshoch, a red, flameless fire, Gribble, to feel with the fingers, Gromish, to crush severely parts of the body, Grimesdike, a ditch made by magic.
There is not much vocabulary for love or high-flown emotions, but there is affection and humour, an interest in clothes and tools and livestock – although a narrow range of food.
A sample of Scottish adjectives
Grimly, grewsome, grippit, grisk, grobble, groff, groo, groogle, groose, groosh,(excellent) grooze, groozle, gropsey, (gluttonous) gropus (stupid) grou, grouble, grouf, rouff, grounch, grounge, grouse, grousome, grousy, growe, growble
The vocabulary of a rural peasantry –
Greth, gressum, grettlin, grew, greydog, grice, greive, grin, grind, grinstane, grintal man, grinwan, groatie, groilach, grip, gripper, gripping, grisket, grisset, grister, grizzle, grone, grool, groop, groot, groozlins, grosset, grotty (consisting of groats – now you know where that word comes from) grougrou, grounch, ground ebb, groundie-swallow, ground master, groundrotten, grounds, grout –
Hap is an implement to scrape up sea-ooze to make salt with.
Relationships. The Scots were clear about relationships, and had many handy words for them it could be no bad thing to adopt ourselves. .
Gruffer or gutser, grandfather, Gudame, grandmother, Gude-billie, brother-in-law, Gudeson, son-in-law, (And also, gudefather, gudemother, gudedochter) Half-cousin, a first cousin once removed, Oey, grandchild, Heir-oye, greatgrandchild,
Outsider, not a relative. (That says something about the strength of families.)
Eeldins, persons of the same age, (a better word than peer group)
Creepie, child at crawling stage
There are also many words for different types of friends, at different stages and ages
Teenage behaviour. The vocabulary suggests an amusedly tolerant though critical attitude. Certainly there is no great anxiety or adult fears of lost control. Some of these words would be useful today.
Halflin, a half grown boy, Halick, a giddy girl, Kelp, a rawboned youth, Keulins, young people, Hallachins, noisy, foolish conduct, Hallickit, haspan, a stripling, Jillet, a young girl entering puberty, Nickums, a mischievous boy (as in ‘Yon loon’s a right nickums,’) Bufflin boys, Knidget,a mischievous, saucy boy or girl, Laddie band, a band of boys.
Picturesque vocabulary –
Cauldkailhetagain, a sermon preached twice to the same audience.
Crying bannock, special cake eaten at feast on birth of a child
Grind, to study hard
Groaning-malt, ale brewed on the occasion of a confinement.
Groffins, prone on one’s face,
Grooschin, any disgusting liquid
Grouk, to become enlivened after sleep, or to overlook suspiciously.
Guller’s spree, guleravich, Guide ye, exclamations of contempt
Gum, the condensed moisture on the walls of a crowded church
Hamesucken, the crime of violently assaulting a man in his own house
Handthieves, steal with the hands
Hashrie, reckless waste
Hissieskip, housewifery
Holy-dabbies, shortbread used as communion bread
Hoozle, a paper band round a bundle of papers to keep them together
Houchmagandy, fornication (That’s a good word for the celebrity pages of women’s magazines.)
Jimmer, to make a disagreeable noise on a violin
Kail-kirk, a church where they ate together afterwards (Kale is of the cabbage family)
Leetach, to deliver a speech or sermon, incoherent talk, rambling speech, talk a great deal foolishly
Newance, the first kiss a child gives on getting a new garment (That would be a fine idea, now.)
Nip-lug, a school master (literally, ear-puller)
Ort, to pick out the best part of food and leave the rest; to crumble or waste food
Paigle, the dirty work of the house
Plotch, to work slowly
Polist lair, a finishing education
Pregnancy, fullness, ripeness, richness of promise (and its present more limited meaning not given)
A remarkably high proportion of the Scots vocabulary describes character and traits, and much of that is derogatory. It seems to rellish fining down aspects of being mean, lazy, stupid, worthless, churlish, clumsy, halfwitted, gluttonous, silly, and slovenly (oozlieness, etc.), and to criticise excess of anything, even virtues. A ‘predominant’ is a predominant passion or sin. If any behavior has an approving description, it will also have another that can take someone down a peg. If you want to put someone down, Scots will have a word for it.
Here are some Scots characters and traits described, with single words to depict folk rather carefully observed.
A professor is, among other definitions, one who claims an unusual amount of religious faith and fervour.
Carl-wife, a man that meddles with household matters
Grosie, fat and clumsy woman
Guldie, a tall, blackfaced gloomy looking man
Gust, an officious, flighty talkative woman, who means nothing in her talk.
Gweed-frauchty, ready to give to the poor
Haggersnash, a spiteful person
Hagmahush, a sloven
Hielant, a) Highland, b) silly and clumsy (A Lowland word)
Kneef, vigorous for one’s age
Maulifuff, a young woman without energy
Musch, a small person with a shock of dark hair
Mushlin, one who is fond of dainty food eaten secretly
Nebsie, an impudent old woman
Preek, to be spruce, conceited
Prejink, precise, smart, hypercritical
Pretty could also mean insignificant and petty
Prose-folk, people who talk in prose
Prossie, annoyingly nice and particular in dress or work
Queer, entertaining, amusing, humorous, or the choir or vault in a church, or the persons in the choir.
Drinking. Gluttony appeared to be regarded as worse than drunkenness, with harsher words for it, but there are more words for various ways of drinking and being drunk, such as kiss-the-caup, o- piper-fu, pouting, prime, exciter with drink, bosky, boke, blybe, blabber, bitch-fou, birl, banged, to belly puggy, swack, toom-the-stoup, drunkily, doon.
When young people had no toys, they were not bored, because they played games – and so many games, with so many names for them. Here is only a selection:
Hurley-whush, cahoo, catbeds, catanddog, catinthebarrel (a barbarous game,) hammer and block, habbie gabbie, harie-hurcheon, harry-purcan, hatty, heckle-birnie, heckery-peckery, henners, hickety-bickety, heytie, Hey Wullie wine, hespy, hie-spy, hop-my-fool, huckie-buckie, hunt-the-staigie, Jack’s alive, janet-jo, Jenny-mac, jump the cuddy, king and queen of Cantelon, King’s chair, King-come-along, kipperdy smash, kirk-the-gussie, kittle-kowt, knapsack, knurl, leads, line-him-out, lubin, namie and guessie, needle-cases, nineholes, nine Os, paipie, peavor, pillie-winkie (a barbarous child’s sport against birds, says the dictionary), pintacks, pirley pease-weep, poachie, plunkin, poor widow, popthebonnet, prappin, pretty, prickie and jockie.
Stories in Scots dialect in the past have tended to be unreadable, as thick with apostrophes as a briar with thorns, but since Lewis Grassic Gibbon and others have been ditching this unnecessary kowtow to an different English speech, other readers in the English-speaking world can have access to a very distinctive corner of it. Before, perhaps, too much of it has disappeared. But why, with the many flourishing and even growing Englishes that are now being studied across the globe, need the Anglian dialects of Scotland give way, from Doric and Shetlandic in the north to Glaswegian and the borders in the south?

The gude Scots folk were agin swearing. They did not need to. They had plenty of other words, sufficient to say anything at all.
A language that is queemly, querious, quirksome, quisquous, quirky, quirty and quistical.

Warrack, Alexander. & Grant, William. (1911). Chambers Scots Dictionary. Edinburgh: W. &. R. Chambers, Ltd.
Tod, Loreto. (2000). Where have all the Celtic words gone? English Today. 16.3.

May 4, 2013

Setting New Statesman competitions

I set NS Competition questions mostly but not only in 2005. They were meant to arouse thought, but I stopped setting them because instead competitors only tried to be clever.
I set New Statesman Competition questions mostly but not only in 2005. They were meant to arouse thought, but I stopped setting them because instead competitors only tried to be clever.

Some questions sent in and mostly published included:
1. Much modern comedy is about being horrible to other people. Is it possible to be funny about being nice (random acts of kindness, etc) without the punchline being that it doesn’t work or has horrid unintended consequences or it’s not nice after all?

2. Biblical prophets despaired that supernatural visitations could ever change anything for the good, and so it has generally seemed. Describe a supernatural visitation that could achieve something useful today.

3. List ten items that a museum would keep hidden away as sacred totems of modern British society.

4. As fast as globalism opens the world and the internet to everyone, forces try to privatize everything or keep it secret – from water and knowledge to museum artifacts and government activities. Here is the struggle in the next Harry Potter book. Outline the story-line.

5.The New Statesman decides to get its various acts together, and make sure that one thing happens each year that can ‘make the world a better place’, rather than being a pot-pourri heavily into schadenfreudia and dystopics. What feasible concern would you urge NS to take up and push for 2005? Give reasons.

6. A famous poet rewrites some of her/his famous lines in light of modern knowledge. It might be Byron for example, finding that man’s ruinous control does not stop at the sea-shore, or Blake’s Tyger facing extinction.

7. The custom of beginning sessions of Parliament with dedication by Christian prayer has been condemned as biassed. Replace it with a secular reminder of members’ awesome global responsibilities in these critical times, of high liturgical quality and memorability, and not one platititude.

8.In 200 words, list ten ideas for inventions that could save the world from the catastrophes that loom ahead.

9. A non-profit DVD has been invented for self-help in learning to read. Write the report of an educational institution recommending that it not be trialed, or similar report by any organization against trialing a humane invention that might affect its interests.

9. It is discovered that since children learn more out of school than in school, however – schools are needed by society as baby-sitters. Selected children are therefore allowed out on probation into the work-force for two-week periods as assistants, after which they do projects and catch up on schoolwork from their computers and books. Disruptive children may be frequently selected. A longitudinal study includes a control group. Since the children are learning that life is a tricky business means, the school does not have to bother about legal liabilities or insurance.

10.The case that human beings are not Freudian plumbing systems puts paid to the public faith in ‘outlets’ for aggressive impulses and the value of continual excitation and stimulation.Instead, concepts of ‘fizzling’ emotions and redirecting impulses into sublimation actions. Rather than tensing up with worry beads and desktop gimmicks and throwing plates, send ideas for a new theory of therapy

11. A recent legal case was so complex that the lawyer spoke for five hours. At least two hours of this case must have involved Little Bo Peep. 200 words from the defence lawyers’ lengthy oration in any current or recent business legal case, that brings in Little Bo Peep in a way that can guarantee another two hours talkling.

11. Do a take-off of the New Statesman at the time of Kingsley Martin or now. Hopefully winners will include examples of both.

12. A future archaeologist interprets a modern urban midden

13. Write on the theology of the astrology in modern magazines.

14. Designer babies. Design a human with characteristics that already exist (ie feasible) that might best survive the environmental challenges ahead.

15. This crowded world. A new children’s game for a playground with 800 children in it.

16. The blurb for a fantasy novel with a quest, in which all the characters have names like Emma and Robert, they seek things like dish-washers, and a royal commission is – well, a Royal Commission.

17. ‘The Borrowers’ is a famous children’s novel by Nora . . . An exerpt from a further sequel in which a family of borrowers (Glitches?) live in a computer – and characteristically have taken over English vocabulary for themselves, as with mouse, ram, scroll, etc, – and how they take their entertainment at the back of the screen instead of in front.

18. ISAGIATT – It seemed a good idea at the time. Future-looking at unexpected consequences from say, translocation, designer babies, universal literacy, memory pills, ageless beauty, honest politicians, thought-reading or other dreams science might make true.

19. An art critic writes about Modern Art as the elaborate colorful graffiti that wayward geniuses spray on walls and fences.

20 An exerpt from the Ancient Mariner on the Last Albatross, Blake on the Last Tiger, Kipling on the Last Elephant, or Charlotte’s Web in a factory farm.

21. From a Just-So story explaining something like Climate Change.

22. A happy ending for any notable tragic play or novel – say, Hamlet.

23 Can you design principles for a reform for English spelling that is more way out than the extremes of those that are commonly proposed?

24 Translate some great passage of literature into modern English vocabulary of say, the hoodie or barmy-army type.

April 27, 2013

New Game for spelling

Filed under: humor, Pleasures, spelling, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 7:31 am

New Spelling Game – Spell a word as u think it ought to be spelld.


Play every spelling game by spelling a wurd as u think it aut to be spelld.


Win every spelling bee by spelling a wurd as u think it aut to be spelld.


Pronounce every spelling as u think it aut to be pronounced!   Grapes of wrath or wroth?


See how much we all agree on changes from present spelling. 

February 4, 2013

Fantasy – A Christmas Wake

Filed under: humor, social problems, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 2:07 am

A Christmas Wake

Social Messaging

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. No, that’s not right. It was Christmas Eve.

Hiras B. Nickelbury said, “Hmph!” and his hirelings went out and bought a Hmph for him. He did not want it. He wanted an Intercontinental Ballistic Missle Toe Scratcher, and he wanted it – not just now, because then the defence contract would be fulfilled too quickly and he wanted it to go on a few more years yet and then some. The Missile Toe itself was coming along nicely, always just a step or two ahead of the Scratcher, so that he had the equivalent of a nice little Billionaire’s Ping Pong going. At Blearstown he had the Missle Toe works, and all was nearly ready to test it on an Intercontinent – now where was an Intercontinent he could test it on? Somewhere where a good argument could be made that it had terrorists in caves or in the cooling systems . . At Smucksville he had the Scratcher, and it was all very well testing that on Little Missles, such as flying circles and crop hoaxers, but supposing it was found not to work? Better just to keep pedaling away nicely on that one, on the grounds that CIA agents kept feeding bits of Missle Toe code to enemies far across the world through evil agents. So the Scratcher had to be continually updated to keep up with what they thought up at Blearstown. Like a computer game it was . . in fact, there was a game about it in the shops right now, from the Nickelbury subsidiary, ScareyFutures. The kids might know what was going, on, but not realise what it meant. Nice touch.


The Muzak from the open door of the elevator wafted in, playing ‘Peace on earth and mercy mild, two for man and one for child . .’

Hiras purpled. How was he going to get downstairs if there was that sort of rap even within his own geodome, his own nerve-centre of his mighty octopoid businesses. No! Let’s have Valkyries – weren’t they a sort of vulture, girls with hats and feathers out the side?

There was an apologetic red burp from a light on his console. It was his electrectric seketeri, asking for the night off to go round the little town, singing at the doors, with a little lantern on a stick. It was what one did on Christmas Eve, said its blinking set of lights, the one night of the year, except for Anzac Day in Australia.

Anzac Day! Australia! That’s it! bellowed Nicklebury to himself. Isnt there a great dirty big nuclear desert in the middle of that place – isnt that where he could send off a Missle Toe to, and just pretend he was getting rid of a lotta toxic waste?

Nicklebury decided he would let his staff all go off home, after all. Let them disgrace themselves by putting foot on street and waving little lanterns on sticks. Let them see if they could have peace at home for kids of good will, and be awash with the paper wrappings around awkwardly shaped kiddies’ war machines. And when they were all gone, he, Hiras, would give himself his own Christmas present, the one thing that the supermarket Gift-Dobber would never have thought of. A Missle Toe Yippee! He’d let one off into SuperSpace, while everyone was busy stuffing themselves with MacPudd’n.

And when everyone and everything except himself had dared to go down the elevator to the tune of Bungle Hell It’s Just as Well, the company version that used to begin with Jingle until someone blundered with the sleigh-bells and some reindeer landed on the roof and fell down the security duct . . . The staff had tiptoed past him, in case he gave them a Non-Christmassy Greeting, but he had seen them going off and he had not cared.

Now he had the office, this great nerve centre of the great Death-is-Life Works, all to himself, except for the guards at every cornice and the dog-handlers in serried ranks on the roof, watching out for reindeer. The burgling alarms were disabled. All contact with the Black House was temporarily blunted with lead shields.

Hiras was a Lone and a Loof. He gurgled, as others might have gurgled when cameras were around to tape their foto-opportunities of triumf. He took a swig of Barnum’s Irish Blarney before settling down to go several better than the Three Wise Men who at that very moment might perhaps be trekking across that gindarichie desert where he . .


Something hit him, and he crashed to the emerald floor.


It was the Ghost of Sometime Past. It grabbed Hiras by the back-straps of his French dungarees and sped him to see the wonders of Ancient Civilisations. Its name was Ozymandias, and it was determined to make Hiras look upon its works.

It was like a free tour through a magnificent theme park. They started small, landing in an Arizona desert to see the Okipatchi ruins of a great civilisation, then swooped on south, diving under the human swamps around Mexico City to the buried remnants of a great civilisation, circling and dropping and puffing and whirling and whizzing around a Central American desert with the ruins of a Hutpah civilisation that nobody else had ever found or was likely to, and then down to the ruins of a Maya Civilisation and an Aztext civilisation and an Inca civilisation and a civilisation of Terra del Fuega, where fires burned day and night over its detritus.

They got pretty wet swooshing through Atlantis – now there were the ruins of a great civilisation all right, tumbled marble gods everywhere, swathed in octopi and sushi. Over to Africa . . Huge black civilisations of towering mud-bricks or obsidian set with diamonds – all gone. Table Rock at Cape-Town, with the dusty remnants of a great civilisation inside it, and She shrivelled to bits in a stone-blocked passage. Up under the Zambezi Falls, and great was the fall thereof, wushled the Ghost of Christmas Past, as Hiras tried to lean down to grasp at some of the open casks of great jewels set with skulls, in caves behind the torrents. Zimbabwe, Benin, Timbuktu, Thebes, the Pyramids, the Sphinxes, the layers upon layers of great civilisations covered with sand, stretching across the North African coast and around the Middle East, and over the new deserts of Afghanistan to Samarkand and the Gobi desert. The ruins of great civilisations lay under hills, barrows, jungles, tors, and the shallow seas of Europe, Japan and South East Asia. Hiras could hardly tell one from another.

‘And they rode on and further on,

and they rode in red blude to the knee

for all the blude that’s shed on erth

runs through the seas of the fer cuntrie.’

Hiras knew just what Tam Lin must have felt like. ‘Is there much more of this?’ he cried up to the Ghost that still flew on like a Doré engraving from the Old Testament. They flew over a valley of dry bones, that were more disturbing than anything because far down below they were a mass of re-articulating skeletons. ‘Can these dry bones just lie down and die?’ he asked. The Ghost whuffled. Christmas Past has more to show than this, he wheezed. ‘Come, I will show you more of the consequences of the battlefields of the world.’

There was hardly a square centimetre of level ground to be seen on the great curved globe down below that was not blood and bones. In triangular pyramidical piles were stone clubs and lances, tank traps and gurdgeons. Down from mountains fell avalanches of dead men with claymores and broken machetes. The whole creation was groaning with widows.

Hiras thought of what profits must have been made in the past by all those armourers and smithies, those manufacturers of chariots and route-march boots. All gone, and gone with them the civilisations, the great civilisations that they had so nobly protected.

‘Take me home, take me home, ‘ he pleaded. ‘I want to write myself a memo.’


Hiras had hardly made his memo for a History Subsidiary for his great armaments empire, to include a flow-chart for tribute branches from all great dead civilisations, when a cock crew far away on the nearest farm two States away. Immediately, the Ghost of Christmas Present whizzed in.

Hiras’ glutinous eyes momentarily unjelled. ‘A Christmas Present! I know just what I want! And I want it Now!’

‘I am indeed the Ghost of Christmas Present,’ trilled the ghost in the thrilling murmur of a sort of clockwork, ‘ I am Now! But I am Not. I am the great No. And I have come to fetch you as my brister fetched you last night – but – not quite – as – my – other relation – may – fetch – you – tomorrow !’

Hiras was always one for a free ride, so he agreeably lashed his buttons to the long swirly toga-tail of the Ghost of Christmas Present and prepared for more amazing horizontal bungee-jumping. But it was not so.

Instead, the Ghost of Christmas Present grabbed him, wrapped him tightly in ribbon with curly streamers – that at least, had some connection with Hiras’ first greedy expectations, and out into the stratosphere they went, and then just as quickly, down into the lower atmosphere of too much CO2 and demonic whiffs of nitric acid.

All around them came swirling packs of other Ghosts, each clutching a gift-wrapped Company President in its eagle claws. They swooped low over the surface of the earth. Hiras was terrified. Were they a bird? Were they a plane? Were they a superman? NO they were him, and at the mercy of all the surveillance rays, lasers, petards, and heat-detector missiles that bristled from the clouds as they passed over the United States of America. But none of these fearful engines seemed to care a hoot about him or his companion flight of CEOs. Unmarked, unspotted and unwrung, they dived under the clouds, and were still safe.

The only instruments of perception that could detect the flyers were human. They were children.

As they passed over the world, little children everywhere looked up with wonder, and raised their hands, and some laughed, and many pleaded. The laughing ones were riding little new plastic pedal bikes, or looking up from new electronic games bright with primary colors plus pink. The pleading ones were sitting amid floods, droughts, deserts, razor-wire, rubble, trash and patterned carpets set on looms for tiny hands. They sounded like mosquitoes from twenty metres up, but where there were intermittent bangs, there were also little screams. The fleets of Ghosts with their Christmas burdens wheeled and shimmied like schools of salmon used to do when the oceans were less trawled. And each CEO could see from time to time and place to place a hand rising as if out of quicksand, brandishing a silver sword labelled YOU HAVE DONE THIS. An there was a name on each sword, like Boeheed and Lockwing and Krustyl and Muppsie. And there would be a crater, or a tumble of cracked bricks, or fresh humps, and more children crying. Diseases were flying around, issuing out of plastic bags labelled TOP SECRET. Mudslides were pouring mixed with rain down hillsides, leaving only the cut stumps of trees whose rings showed their tragic lives, and children gathering sticks or bird-dung where no sticks or birds remained.

The tears were falling from the eyes of the CEOS as airborne they rose and fell on the thermal currents that the Ghosts of Christmas Presents travelled as on scenic railways of the air. The downward-falling tears hardened as they fell, and hit like bullets into the hearts of the children.

Seeing this, some of the CEOs wrenched their hands into their pockets above their hearts, and rained down dollar notes and cheques. These gathered speed, and hit the children below like brickbats.

‘Take me to Bethlehem!’ cried Hiras, forgetting that here too would be slaughter of innocents, and a surviving child that hardly anyone could hear or make sense of. Instead, he was transported above a country where what may have once been green was now khaki, in its own combat gear, its own camouflage, its own dried blood and dust. Out of the caves and out of the dry ground came arms without bodies, and the arms brandished swords, with his name on it. KILROY WAS HERE, said the signs, but the name did not read like KILROY however much that subterfuge was written on them.

No, no, cried Hiras. ‘There’s always been war and there always will be! I am not to blame for being what my destiny has determined, what my genes bend me to be! For serving my country, for being a bulti-billionaire! How was I to know that anyone would actually use those manacles, those spikes, those electric goads which have been so profitable to make! It was unthinkable!’

Torn with breezes he had never felt before, Hiras wilted in the grip of his daemon Ghost, and hung like a sausage tied in the middle while the implacable Ghost of Christmas Present mapped out his territory or terror.

So it was as they chased the sun around the globe, until even the sun fled their horizon, and the two landed, worn-out as pigeons, on the window-sill of MultiMurder Inc, one of his most profitable subsidiaries. Far up in the sky, the other CEOS were also being winged to their maleficent and profitable dove-cotes.


            Hiras was exhausted after having had such an eye-popping glimpse of the world’s misery. He did not feel like his dinner of X-rayed oysters and X-rated pate. He rang up one of his X-wives but the ansafone was not working, and he did not dare face any of his X-children after what he had seen of children that day. He lay down in his Eze-TweeZe capsule, thinking sleep would never come, but it did.

Tomorrow came. He was wondering what work he dare face after having seen all those children and bits of children. The Ghost of Tomorrow found him restless and resentful. “Come on now,’ said the Ghost, ‘You have to see what you have laid up for the wrath to come.”

Hiras had seen many blockbusters in his youth, and many realms of gold had been destroyed in noise and flames to delight young minds like his with horror. Cathartic it had been, for terror if not for pity. So he could do with seeing a bit of the wrath to come, after him let there be the deluge of brimstone and fire. It could pep him up, for looking at the balance sheets today.

The Ghost of Tomorrow was just as shady as the others, but more double-dealing. It stuck him in a rocket and said, ‘Now we’re off to see Planet Earth tomorrow.’ It counted down, and they were off in a puff of acrid smoke, while inside their rocket the Ghost and the man were equally weightless.

They landed – or was it re-landed – on Planet Earth. The Ghost blasted the door off and made a wind-tunnel for Hiras to reach down to the red ground. Its heat hit him through one boot and its cold through the other. The only thing that could be seen was the rocket itself with its landing gear, and the stars in a white sky, apart from small red -strewn rocks on red-brown grit as far as the eye could see. ‘Why, this is Mars!’ cried Hiras. ‘But some people said this place was Brighton Beach when they saw it on the telly. Is it – is it Brighton Beach then?’

As Hiras spoke , there was a little pouf, and out of one of the red pebbles a little green leaf was blown out and shattered, and the same happened to another red pebble, further away and more feebly.

‘Well, Brighton Beach is here somewhere,’ said the Ghost in a sort of chuckle, like a hen hiccupping during a fit of the giggles. ‘See what the notice says.’

There, as if they had landed on a comic strip, was a large notice stuck in a little pile of rocks. YOU HAVE DONE THIS.

All around was silence. It was very peaceful. ‘Never did like peace,’ said Hiras, crossly, but he was embarrassed all the same.

‘Well, you still have a choice,’ said the Ghost, ‘There’s still two sides to this question.’ It pushed Hiras back in the rocket, lit a fuse, clambered inside the door himself and slammed it, and pouf-bang, they were off through space again.

It seemed as if they were going through an aerial maze, and for all the twists and turns, coming back to the same place. When they landed, the Ghost opened a window, instead of a door.

Outside there were green meadows, and a stream, and a whole lot of black people having a picnic with a hamper and patterned rugs and red umbrellas. Birds sang in trees, corn was growing off left, and the sea with white sands was off right. There were little boats on the sea, catching fish. An informal line of all sorts of people of all colours came in from the wings and danced across at the front before them, happy as Larry.

‘Boring,’ said Hiras. The Ghost was so furious that it almost sent him back to Brown Tomorrow there and then.


The upshot was, well . .



Alas, you Ghosts of Christmas, where were you at Christmas 2014?





January 24, 2013

Fantasy solutions to major problems

Magic solutions


During the day we can seek practical solutions to the insoluble problems of our day.

At night, we can dream of Magic solutions.

Here are some favorites:


The Nasty Tastes – the second alcoholic drink in a day tastes awful

The Personal Car – you put it on like a garment; it is no bigger.  Then off you go.

The Speeded up Food-Chain – strait from the rocks and lichen, to appetising food, (and thence,  to compost for the soil)

The Libido Sublimed. A breeze blew over the world, and human sexual desires were changed to desire for affection.  At that breath were solved most of the problems of humankind, and much of its literature.

The Neural Attitude Card – to see with other people’s thinking

The Stuck Oil – Suddenly all the oil in the earth becomes stuck and gushes no longer

The Escalated Photosynthesis – we could do it ourselves, at the risk of turning green

The Palestinian Canyon – between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  Its river is navigable, and fresh water.

The Retrospective Videos –  find out what has really happened in history

The Self-Exploding Weapons –  pull the trigger and you blow up yourself

The Gun Catastrophe that ends the American Dream of a Gun for every Good Guy –  a man with an assault rifle or two manages to shoot most of the platform speakers and a good many of the audience at the National Rifle Association general meeting


July 29, 2010

My spellchecker helps me wert a story

Filed under: humor, spelling — Tags: , , — valerieyulesletters @ 5:59 am

My Spellchecker helps me wert a story

If you are like me and your fringes arr a bit clumsier than they used to be on a kerb yard, it is interesting to see what your Spellchecker suggests to admen your typing splits.  I gaster that all their substations are guenon worsts.

Here is what a short fairy story resulted in when my typing slips were checked by Spellchecker –

Acne upon a tmesis therm was a beatific prises who lidded in a levelly stonk castel on the banns of a girt revere.  She had a pet canny birk, a frog and a sawn, but she had been told that she must ever let them be seen all three together, or something would happen on the lines of the game Paper Stone Scissors.  So she kept one in her room o the windowsill, one on the riverbank, and one in a pion in the courtyard.

And she would say to them, ‘If cony you were a Prince in Disguise, then when I am sixteen there will not be ell the problems tat there have been with my three elder sisters, with Princes cueing form all over and wanting to marry them and going on questions and angering riddles or not being able to or never coming back or woes still coming bock. While al lethe time ter father wanted them to make strategic alliances with other castles down the river and their mooter wanted them to marry the sons of her old schoolf riends back in Braislavinika.  And they – they wee not particularly interested in marae except for the fun of the weddings.  Biot not wall three of the odder sisters had after all been married off, and they arere still not partially interested in their marriages, except for the gorgeous little princesslets and princelings that they burg to visit their loving parents once a yea at the Grato Annual Family Blathering.

That was a busy time for the youngest princesses, because the little children were more inversed in the canary, the frog and the swan than they were in their hula hoops or rice puddings, or face it, each other.

So, one day, the story tells . .

Do you want any mors of this?

Blog at