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MAY 2018

Words, Words, Words


Greetings to all

Words, words, words our days, nights and forevers are full of them. There are wonderful words, woeful words, wacky words….and with the budget we will no doubt get lots of weasel words; a seemingly constant situation no matter what party is in Government!

The power of speech as a communication tool evolved from the Paleolithic age and every culture has it’s version, shaping not just what we do but also what we feel or aspire to — or believe in.

Some cultures have fewer words in their lexicon. For example the Taki Taki language spoken by inhabitants of Suriname in South America comprises just 340 words.  In contrast English has the most words (at least 250,000).

Others such as in the German culture have extraordinarily specific words for many different abstract states of being. In English we’d need a phrase to capture something which in German would be one word.  Consider the wonderful example of witzelsucht which is “a person who laughs at their own jokes sometimes symptomatic of a brain lesion”. (though in this case perhaps for some, a state of being  without the accompanying diagnosis).

I stumbled across this when reading a text on Neurological diseases!

The Germans are so precise regarding details to be conveyed in a nano second. Other gems I’ve come across include:

Verschlimmbessert — Making something already bad much worse when you try to improve it.

Kummerspeck         —  Extra bulges developed from comfort eating (Literally ’sad bacon’ a specific pain after pleasure)

Weltschmerz   —          Depression caused by contemplating the sad real world and contrasting it with what the world should be.

Treppenwitz —              Thinking (with regret) of a witty comeback long after you could have used it.

There are many more with even greater complexity.

The power of the thoughts words convey to us is huge. They can inspire works of philosophical, scientific and creative brilliance (and yes…sadly…insight violence and hatred in fertile minds).

The author Emily O’Grady who won this year’s Vogel literary Award for her book “The Yellow House” wrote the book when she heard of comments made by fellow murderer and cousin of the dreaded serial killer Ivan Milat. He had said “You know my family, you know my last name Milat; I did what they do….”  His crimes were committed years after Uncle Ivan’s but clearly he was inspired by him

She was so struck by these comments that it made her consider the repercussions of crimes on others, especially the families of the promulgators. Her book is centred around this theme.

A few words shaped my current life – unbelievable but true. Of course I had to be ready to respond to them; and I was..

Reading the book “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes came at the time when my parents had both died and us “kids” had been left some handy cash and a block of land between us. The thought was to sell the land and divide up the proceeds but it was a fabulous block in Beaumaris and my sister—knowing that I love the suburb (we all grew up there) casually mentioned I should buy them out and build a home with a sea view.

I dismissed it immediately. It sounded wonderful…but disrupt my life?   Sell our home in Brighten after 30 years? Pack up, move on?  Build when everyone knows how expensive and chaotic this is?  Do this when I’m over 60?

I happily shoved the whole crazy notion away… until well into the book.

At one stage in this great story (it won the Man Booker prize in 2011) the protagonist looks back on his life realizing with old eyes what his young eyes missed or completely misinterpreted. He reflects on lost opportunities and the easy, safe unchallenging pathway he had chosen for himself; At one stage he writes “…I’ve always been the sort of person to let life happen to me”.

I remember reading these words as if I’d suddenly been struck by a cattle prod. Was this me?  Was I always one to go the known way; the safe way? – Never having the guts or imagination to think life could be lived differently?  That risks could be taken and bugger the consequences?

Well, 4 years later my new house is halfway towards completion. I packed up, sold, engaged an architect, had the usual planning battles with neighbours and the Council and now expect to be insitu well before Xmas (2018…that is!)

I could write lots about these years (horror stories, French farces, Money worries, Grand-Design-like stuff ups, the whole lot). Central to my realisation of this dream is my sister who took us in for 6 months 3 years ago!!  She is a saint beyond reckoning.

But I still go back to those words when the going seems impossibly long.  Sometimes words mean more in what is left out…or left dangling.

“You do have such a pretty face”

(But your body is indeed a tragedy)

“My wife doesn’t understand me like you do”

(Wonder what he’s after)

“I think the plain block colour is more flattering

(You look like vomit in the floral)

“This jack is so flattering at the neckline”

(Shame it does not hide your Uluru of a backside)

I love to hear a few euphemisms and jokes during the day at work. A little confusion here and there can mean lots of opportunities for a shared laugh.  One day a lady was told that she was “Resident of the Day” – she expected cake and balloons but it’s a health check; temperature and the like.  She
announced to all at lunch “Well what a letdown, I was excited…and what happened? Someone put a revolver in my ear and asked about my
bowels…I won’t be sucked in like that again”.

Last year Sonia had been having trouble with someone who was agitated and refused their medication. She approached with a smile – and a huge sense of the democratic and said “Well now this is your choice – would you like the tablet or the pill…?  Nonplussed at being given the option the lady put her hand out…”I’ll take the pill” she said.

Recently, our lovely Megan Shiel – her of the jaunty berets who thought Fairway was a Hotel – slowly started to “fade away”- literally. Her adorable and quirky personality was really what remained as she declined food and seemed held together by tiny twigs.

In bed for her final days she was tended to with huge love and care. Staff filled her room with aromatherapy, lovely flowers and soft music.  One nurse bent over and gently asked “Megan…how do you feel…”?  Her answer “I feel like I’m on a lovely beach and about to float away”.  And not long after this – she did.

I have seldom heard words which touch so deeply – and inspired greater gratitude for a fitting farewell.

Blessings to all


We listen.
We respect.
We care.