Tag Archives: Notes and nonsense


Dearest creature in creation,
study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up.

The moose test

This is a 2016 Toyota Hilux failing the “moose test” a.k.a. the “elk test”.

View a few more spectacular failures here.

Our humble middle-aged Subaru Impreza passed such a test when we swerved to avoid being taken out by a careless lane-switching taxi driver yesterday.

Aged by an extra second

I discover that at 23:59:60 UTC 30 June 30, 2015, I will age by more than expected.

The time it takes the Earth to rotate (a day) is getting longer by about 0.002 seconds a day, as it is ever so gradually slowed down by the drag of the tides and the atmosphere. It’s not precise enough to define a second as simply as an 86,400th of a day. It’s now 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a 133Cs atom at rest and at 0°K, as measured by ultra-accurate atomic clocks.

Since 1972, 26 or so leap seconds have been inserted in our timekeeping to keep Universal Time in step with the atomic clocks, on the advice of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, thus increasing my age by a total of about 1.2235*10-6%. Scandalous!


With the violence and grief relating to anti-religious cartoons, it’s good to see that some Christians allow themselves the occasional tasteless religious joke. That said, perhaps I don’t have the GSOH so desired in dating advertisements. For example, most of the winners of a 2005 competition left me cold. (I had seen a couple of them previously.)

These made me chuckle, however:

Mother Superior calls all the nuns together and says to them: “I must tell you all something. We have a case of gonorrhea in the convent.”
“Thank God,” says an elderly nun at the back of the room, “I’m so tired of Chardonnay.”

The Trinity were planning a holiday. The Spirit, manifesting the creative part of the divine nature, was coming up with the ideas. “Let’s go to New York,” he suggested.
“No, no, no,” said the Father, “They’re all so liberated, they’ll spend the whole time calling me ‘Mother’ and it will just do my head in.”
So the Spirit sat back and thought. “I know, what about Jerusalem?” he said. “It’s beautiful and then there’s the history and everything.”
“No way!” the Son declared. “After what happened the last time, I’m never going there again!”
At this point, the Spirit got annoyed and went off in a huff. Sometime later he returned and found that the Father and Son had had a idea they both thought was excellent:
“Why don’t we go to Rome?” said the Son.
“Perfect!” cried the Holy Spirit. “I’ve never been there before!”

Jesus came upon a small crowd who had surrounded a young woman they believed to be an adulteress. They were preparing to stone her to death.
To calm the situation, Jesus said: “Whoever is without sin among you, let them cast the first stone.”
Suddenly, an old lady at the back of the crowd picked up a huge rock and lobbed it at the young woman, scoring a direct hit on her head. The unfortunate young lady collapsed dead on the spot.
Jesus looked over towards the old lady and said: “Do you know, Mother, sometimes you really piss me off.”

Is God offended?

The ranking entries in the ‘most offensive’ category of the Ship of Fools competition were just that—offensive. And too many of them were about priests doing bad things to young boys and girls. When Ship of Fools tried them on a live audience, few laughed. This one made me smile, though.

An Indian man dies and arrives at the Pearly Gates.
“Yes, how can I help?” asks St Peter.
“I’m here to meet Jesus,” says the Indian man.
St. Peter looks over his shoulder and shouts, “Jesus, your cab is here!”

Are you offended?

And speaking of transportation:


Scottish vindaloo

30 November, just gone, was the feast day of Andrew the Apostle, a day for me to remember and honour my Scottish heritage. Andrew is, of course, the patron of Scotland, his feast is the Scots national day, and his symbol is the Scottish flag, the Saltire, with its diagonal cross.

Just as Andrew was the first of the Apostles, so his feast signals the beginning of the church year, the first Sunday of Advent being the Sunday on or nearest Andrew’s feast. St. Andrew’s is also the day for ordinations in our diocese, Canberra and Goulburn, and the Saltire is flown above the cathedral.


James and I will celebrate with some very un-Scottish food, at our favourite Indian restaurant. We’ll talk of plans for 2014. Each year, Advent, the new year season, is a time to prune, chop off no-longer-useful tasks and commitments, and make room for more important things—more time for prayer, exercise and writing.

Christmas derailed

As Christmas looms, it’s hard to believe that I have experienced rather more than sixty of them. Many were at home with my parents, brother and sister—and good fun too. More recently there have been younger relatives, and James too. But the Christmases are blurred together in my memory so that I can’t distinguish one from another.

One I do remember was spent here, on the platform of the Yass Junction Railway station.


I was travelling by special train as part of large group of YFC teenagers from Melbourne to Brisbane; we planned to be on the Gold Coast for Christmas. A train ahead of us was derailed and we spent many hours on this platform, with a Christmas service in the hot sun and meals of sandwiches sent from Canberra—60 km or so distant. We slept on the floor of the train.

Christmas wasn’t really derailed; there was worship, there was fellowship, there was even Christmas food (cold, in Sydney the next day).