Cedric made me

This week I bought popular linguist David Crystal's 'The Story of English in 100 Words'. The words are not only fascinating in themselves, the first one - hailing from the 5th century - being roe (as in roe-deer), but present a brilliant way into the history of the UK. Celts (Britons), Romans, Picts, Anglo-Saxons... This first word of roe stems from inscriptions made from our 5th century ancestors. I was quite taken with the fact that, when making pots or other tools and suchlike, it wasn't uncommon for the maker to state the name of its creator. 'Cedric made me', being one example given, scribed on a humble pot. It makes one realise the power of creation; of craft. It also testifies to Marx's notion that the opposite or antidote to the wretched condition of alienated labour is the craft of the individual. When the Cedrics, the Edmunds and the Annes of these times made these things they could immediately put it to their own or their close ones practical use. They were one with their tools. They had a tangible product to show for their efforts, which makes all the difference. The writer, I believe, along with all those who want to write, do so because of this innate need to create something that can only come from the 'I'; each pot as unique as the person who made it. And so, each story, each poem. Poetry features a fair bit in Crystal's book; he cites Beowulf as full of instances of word 9: Riddle. Originating in the 10th century, those on these isles loved - and still love - a good 'riddle me ree'. It also has much in common with both metaphor and metonymy, along with word 11: bone house. This is described as 'word painting', and harking from the 11th century. It's fascinating and I should think it will be a book that I will dip into and ponder.

Today is my birthday. Thirty-nine; I have begun the last year of my thirties. I did nothing out of the ordinary. Received lots of lovely messages and then got on with geeing myself up with iced coffee and tackling more of the Mary Burns rewrite. It's coming along, it really is. It's even developed in a way that I hadn't envisaged. So, onwards, as they say. One film that's getting net unanimous five star rankings from the critics is the Chilean documentary film 'Nostalgia for the Light', which I may have to fit in tomorrow.


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