This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Saturday Rave:The Young Visiters by Daisy Ashford

Yes, that's right: The Young Visiters. I know that visiter isn't usually spelled like that, but it is in this case - and this extraordinary book is easily strong enough to support the odd unconventional spelling.

Six of Daisy Ashford's stories have survived, of which The Young Visiters, the best-known, was written when she was nine. It tells the story of the beautiful Ethel ('who had her fair hair done on top and blue eyes'), Bernard Clarke ('nice long legs') and Mr Salteena (who is, sadly, as he himself admits, 'not quite a gentleman').

Poor Mr Salteena. He makes his big mistake at the very beginning of the book, when, before sitting down to 'eat the egg that Ethel had so kindly laid for him' he decides to take Ethel to see Bernard of the nice long legs. This, clearly, is something no elderly and besotted  man (he's forty two) should ever do.

I could easily quote almost the whole of this book. It's screamingly funny, shining with a gloriously straightforward determination to acquire the best things in life - 'ruuge', 'satin with a humped pattern of gold', 'merangs' - and an innocence so honest it knocks the breath out of you.

Oh, but poor Mr Salteena...

Word Not To Use Today Unless In A Quotation: visiter. The word visitor comes from the Latin word vīsitāre, to go to see, from vidēre, to see.


  1. This is one of my favourite books, too. And SALTEENA has always struck me as good name for a savoury biscuit. "Nothing like a Salteena with your cheddar cheese!"

  2. And Mr Salteena always reminds me of a dry old fruit.