This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Thing To Do Today Unless You're Australian: perk up.

This must be easier for those in the Southern Hemisphere at the moment, because here in Europe the days are shortening and the nights are, naturally, lengthening, and quite honestly most of us are thinking wistfully about the possibilities of hibernation.*

So how to perk ourselves up? Well, if you're a coffee bean then all you need to do is to jump into a coffee percolator. If you're a human, then drinking the resultant fluid might do the trick.

If things are too gloomy to perk up properly then how about just perking up the ears? I admit this is easier for a dog or a horse than a human, but it can be done, with practice, and is said to be good for the jaw-line.

Or perhaps a trip to the wonderfully-named Perk Castle might help.

(It's in Belgium, in the equally wonderfully-named district of Steenokkerzeel.)

Your jacket can be perked up at the dry-cleaners. The stuff they use, tetrachloroethylene, C2Cl4, is also called perk. It was first made by Michael Faraday, and has been used to eradicate hookworm infestations, which surely must have perked up those concerned considerably.

If all else fails, then there are always perks to perk ourselves up. If you're a freeman of the City of London, you can, if you wish, drive sheep over London Bridge. A Freeman of the City of Dublin can graze his sheep on St Stephen's Green.

For those of us with our sheep already in the right place, then there are other perks to be had. A writer gets fan mail from time to time, and a piano teacher might even get the odd present.

Not that I'm hinting...

Thing To Do Today: be perky. This word appeared in the 14th century, and may have come from the Norman French word perquer, from the Latin pertica, a long staff.
Perks meaning benefits of a job is short for perquisite, from the Latin perquīrere, to seek earnestly for something.

* Having said that, you Ozzies had best ignore this one...**

**I'm afraid it's Ozzie slang for to vomit.


  1. Is PERKING UP your ears the same as PRICKING UP your ears? Very perky post if I may say so, in the alert and bright-eyed sense!

  2. The dictionary says: to rise or cause to rise briskly. It gives a dog's ears as an example. So yes, it does seem to be just the same thing.