Thursday, 19 March 2009

Spelling Thursday: Wrap and rap.

Wrap: put a covering on; or wind or coil round. At the end of filming a director says 'that's a wrap'; and people talking about wrapping up a project; or wrapping up loose ends.

Rap: to knock sharply or perform a rhythmic speech with a musical backing. It's also a legal charge -- a murder rap (probably only for headlines in punchier papers). You can also take the rap for somebody else's crimes -- meaning you take their punishment for them.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Stories I would like to sub: Number nine

A parish council and a church warden declare that they have grave concerns about youths congregating in a cemetary to drink cider and make a noise.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Spelling Thursday: wrrrowl -- reek, wreck, wreak, rack and wrack

Reek: to smell strongly and unpleasantly of.

Wreck: to destroy or smash up, as in a shipwreck, or if you are American, a car wreck. It can also refer to something that has already been broken up. 'It's an old wreck.' It can also refer to items brought ashore after a shipwreck.

Wreak: cause a lot of damage. Pronounced 'reek'. 'Page planning have wreaked havoc on page three.' 'The damage wreaked by that woman ruined my wedding'. NOTE: Every time you write 'wrecked havoc', your chief sub kills a kitten.

Rack: this is a framework for supporting things, as in a luggage rack. You can rack up points in a game -- or rack up trade deals or successes. It is also an instrument of torture -- so someone who is on the rack is probably being dragged over the coals as they receive a bollocking.

Wrack: Seaweed; or thin high cloud.

Here's where it gets complicated. A rack for holding things is never spelled 'wrack'; The seaweed is never spelled 'rack'; however, you can rack, or wrack, your brains when thinking hard; and be racked, or wracked, with guilt. Something falling into disrepair can go to 'rack and ruin' or 'wrack and ruin'. And a diaphanous wrack, or rack, of cloud can cover the gibbous moon.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Stories I would like to sub: Number eight

I am very disappointed that I have never had a story about an evil Scout group.

We had a story here about a youth band that received poison pen letters from an anti-fan; but they were simply loud and tuneless (if the letters were to be believed), rather than deliberately evil.

I think the evil Scout group activities would include:
  • stealing unripe fruit from people's gardens -- but they'd do it in quite an obvious way, probably leaving a few caps and woggles behind to show it was them
  • chalking words like 'bum' and 'fart' on the pavement outside the Post Office
  • running sticks along newly painted railings
  • leaning over a fence to shout 'yah' at passers-by
  • making posies for their mums using flowers stolen from municipal flower beds
  • something unmentionable (involving marbles) to the toilets in the church hall

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Spelling Thursday: Ring and wring

The bell ringer ran rings around us, and the experience made me feel as if I'd been put through the wringer. I could have wrung his neck.

To ring something is to either make a circle round it; or to make it chime like a bell.

To wring something is to twist it -- either to squeeze water out of it by twisting (hence, a wringer as another word for a mangle; and also 'wringing wet'); or to kill something by twisting its neck.

Handwringing describes a gesture of powerless distress where the hands are clasped and twisted.
Wring someone's heart: hurt them emotionally.
Ring down (or up) the curtain on: To begin or end an enterprise (don't let those mean old subs make you change it to 'bring down (or up)').
Ring fence: This is a fence surrounding and sealing in a piece of land; but it is used in talk about funding and finance: "About £10m has been ring-fenced for research into HIV."
Ring the changes: This creeps into stories about... well change of any sort really. A writer who does this is wearing down the real meaning. To 'ring the changes' means to ring bells in a specific sequence which changes with every repetition. Be amazed -- check the Wikipedia article.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Stories I would like to sub: Number seven

While stealing some lead from a church roof, a fishmonger is struck by a portion of frozen white fish (possibly battered and with chips) that has fallen from an aeroplane. I would write the headline 'Hand of cod'.