Crossed wires

Isle of Arran seen from St Blane's

Isle of Arran seen from St Blane’s

The Cookiebite Cortex, the part of the HOH brain responsible for piecing together fragments of speech and making up fanciful interpretations of what is being said at any given time, has two error modes of output: 1. Utter Gibberish and 2. Strangely Poetic. In my experience, Utter Gibberish tends to be the default mode, and the cookiebiter owes a great debt of gratitude to the invention of written language, without which we would be condemned to an entire lifetime of people laughing at our strange turn of phrase whenever saying anything out loud.

Just occasionally, however, the Cookiebite Cortex swings into Strangely Poetic mode, in response to a series of contextual cues from its internal and external environment. I was reminded of this yesterday, as I heaved myself wearily over a stile whilst enjoying a nice country walk in the autumn sunshine. I managed to narrowly avoid ripping my trousers on the neighbouring barbed wire fence, and the brief touch of the vicious metal thorns strung from post to post stirred a long-buried memory; as a child, when I first saw a written reference to ‘barbed wire’, it took me a while to connect the concept to ‘bad wire’, my own misheard version of the name for the shin-ripping wire which lurked unseen in suburban undergrowth, waiting for its chance to painfully ensnare children who were running about after dark in places they shouldn’t…

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3 Responses to “Crossed wires”


  1. 1 Tina September 28, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    As a child I always thought that teetotal meant someone who just drank tea…

  2. 3 Tony C October 2, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    That’s exactly what it used to mean. When it was total alcoholic Britain someone decided to try to reform our population of drunkards and those joining the movement were asked to ‘sign the pledge’ That is, sign a pledge (formal document) that they would no longer drink alcohol. As there was not a lot of choice of other drinks around at the time, tea became their drink of choice instead. So as their total intake of drink was tea, they became known as teetotalers. Today it still means someone that does not drink alcohol.


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