This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Thing To Do Today: verge.

Painters paint, sawyers saw and, this isn't working out as well as I'd hoped...but anyway, what I want to know is, why don't vergers verge?

The Verger
Maurice Yeatman as the Dad's Army verger.

You might not have come across a verger unless you're English or have watched Dad's Army (and if you haven't watched Dad's Army you've missed a great and harmless treat) but you find them in English churches. They do crowd control, of a respectful and hushed variety, and sometimes look after a church's day-to-day housekeeping. 

To verge means to move or incline in a certain direction, and vergers tend not to be very good at verging. Well, they're upholders of the dignity of the church, and although, for instance, if a clergyman pleaded very hard indeed he might be allowed to bring a donkey to church for Palm Sunday, a verger will obviously have grave doubts about braying during the General Confession or droppings getting down the gratings and onto the heating pipes.

Fortunately for the rest of us, we, with no official responsibilities, can verge all we like. It's a generally a good thing, unless you're driving a car and you verge towards the river. But even in then, verging doesn't mean you'll necessarily end up in the drink: it's only a change of direction, not a whole journey. Verging is a sign that the brain that's still alive and has an awareness that there are truths out there to be discovered and cherished.

If you're not prepared to verge from your customary path then I'm tempted to say that you might as well have a head full of concrete.

But that would be verging on the ridiculous.

Thing To Do Today: verge. The verb comes from the Latin vergere. Verger comes from the Old French verge, from the Latin virga, rod or twig. Vergers still sometimes carry a stick as a sign of office, particularly in processions.

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