Christopher Hawtree

the pillowbook of Christopher Hawtree, writer and Green Party councillor for Central Hove

Saunter

Today is World Sauntering Day, something which brings to mind another of the spectacular mistakes (“ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance”) which are one of the many charms of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary. He defines it as “to wander about idly; to loiter; to linger”. What’s more, the examples that he quotes of the word use it in […]

Truck

“Keep On Truckin’.” First used in a Thirties blues song and made popular several decades later in a cartoon by R. Crumb, this phrase could also hang from a lamp-post on Wall Street. First used as a verb in the thirteenth century, truck derived from various European forms, themselves rooted in medieval Latin, and meant […]

Tush

In his recent, Fifties-set thriller False Negative, Joseph Koenig takes one of many opportunities to refer to a girl’s tush. The word – for bottom – has been one of those American terms not to cross the Atlantic (I first noticed it when Ronnie Spector used it in her memoirs to speak, admiringly, of her […]

Hamartia

In the New York Times, Parul Sehgal discusses essay writers and notes that “Susan Sontag suffers from the sama hamartia” as befell choreographer Julie Taymor when thinking that she could make something of Spiderman: The Musical. That is, “the lack of self-knowledge [which] makes self-betrayal inevitable”. The term is from the Greek for fault or […]

Triskaidekaphobia

The thriller writer Lee Child not only has a Manhattan apartment with a tremendous view but the productivity which netted him that has brought a separate one, in the same block, to keep up so unstinting a pace. As he notes recently in the New York Times, such diligence entails keeping the second place free […]

BRUNCH

When challenged temporally on her query about the suitability of reheated curry for breakfast, Hannah James sidestepped the matter by dignifying such orts as brunch. Many might assume that the word is American, a case of flapjacks before noon; in fact the word is of English coining: the OED cites Punch from 1896 as crediting […]

Bunting

As rain falls upon the put out more flags exponents of the Jubilee, bunting comes to mind – and proves to have a German antecdent. The noun was first used as a bird, perhaps with roots in the sense of bunt meaning thick or plump, and even cognate with the Welsh bontin which means the […]

Skeuomorph

In a fascinating interview with Apple’s design chief, that master of cool, Jonathan Ive, the Daily Telegraph’s Shane Richmond remarks that the operating systems have “been marked by something known as skeuomorphism, a tendency for new designs to retain ornamental features of the old design. Thus the calendar in Apple’s Macs and on iOS has […]

Armamentarium

In the New York Times, Amanda Fortini refers to a reality series Extreme Couponing “which portrays outlandish superconsumers clearing shelves and maintaining armamentaria of processed foods in their homes”. The noun is perhaps used ironically, for, of later nineteeth-century origins, it denotes a surgeon’s equipment, and replaced the seventeenth-century noun of armamentary which emerged soon […]

Donnybrook (n)

In a recent piece about a natural-history programme Queen of the Savannah, Clive James observed that “when half a dozen new queens are born at once, one of them will poison all the others, usually with a quick stab through the cell wall but sometimes as the climax of the full bitch-slapping donnybrook”. This has […]

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    Christopher Hawtree is the Green Party Councillor for Central Hove but items are posted here in a personal capacity as an individual.

    Christopher Hawtree
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