'Coming out tonight, Al?'
'Nah, I'm stony.'
So what did Al mean? That he had no interest in, or warmth for, his friend?
No, what he meant was that he was stony-broke: that is, without money to spend.
(In America I understand the expression is stone-broke.)
Nowadays, with money to be borrowed more or less everywhere, stony is becoming uncommon as a concept - though when I say more or less everywhere, going up to a stranger in the streets and asking for a couple of quid is likely to get you a pretty stony reception.
But don't be stony. A heart of stone may keep you safe from hurt, but only in the same way that living in a box makes you safe from measles.
Yes, there are people out there ready to bruise you heart, but then there are these:
That's Egbert the hamster. Photo by Keith Pomakis
That's Oliver. Photo by Voiceboks
Photo by Deskana
Is your heart melted, yet?
Okay, then here I call up the irresistible force:
Photo Marie-Lan Nguyen
That's better, isn't it.
Thing Not To Do Today: be stony. This word has been around almost unchanged for thousands of years. It's related to the Greek stion, which means pebble.