This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Thursday, 17 April 2014

What the Dickens? a rant.

I mean, you expect it of hairdressers.

The Cut Above; Shorn To Be Wild; Fringe Benefits. I could go on, but there's a limit to the amount of pain that I can bear.

At least, I thought there was a limit until my recent visit to Rochester (that's Rochester in Kent, England). Rochester has a castle, a cathedral, city walls, a long history and many fine houses.

Charles Dickens didn't live there. No, he lived a little way outside the town. But you wouldn't have guessed that from the shops in Rochester.

Walking innocently down the High Street, what did I find?

A shop called Sweet Expectations.


Later, there was a restaurant called A Taste of Two Cities.

Those were the worst, but there were also Pip's, Copperfield's (that was antique place; I thought they'd missed a trick until I discovered The Old Curiosity Shop further down the road). Then there were Tiny Tim's Tea Shop, Mr Tope's, Fezziwig's, Peggotty's Parlour, Micawber's Fish Bar, and Little Dorrit's Revival.

Good grief.

Only two things stopped me shrivelling up and dying of sheer agony. One was that (thank heavens!) the Bridal Shop was not called Miss Havisham's, and the other was that several shops had branched out in other literary directions: Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith) Pastures New (Milton), Demelza's (Winston Graham) and the Rochester Grill (Charlotte Bronte. Possibly).

I won't say don't go to Rochester.

But if you do, steel yourself.

Word To Use Today: dickens. This word is usually heard in the expression what the dickens? meaning what on earth? It comes from the 1500s and is a polite form of what the devil. It comes from the name of a Mr Dickens (not the writer) who can't have been very nice to know at all.

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