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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Thursday, 22 August 2013

It sounds so persuasive

Professional Bleeder, the ex-phlebotomist, is staying with us. As an act of kindness she volunteered to re-register VR with the National Lottery, a niggling task that took years off the life of her sister, Occasional Speeder, when she tried.

PB often acts as the Family Ferret, sent into dark places to roust recalcitrant people at the end of phone lines. The registration was proceeding slowly when PB was asked for our post code, HR2. Then asked to spell it. "Hello - Roger - Two," she said. The recalcitrant one pounced: "No, Hotel - Romeo - two."

Later PB and I decided to teach ourselves the official Phonetic Alphabet to avoid future clashes. It took less than five minutes since we already seemed to know a lot of the terms. Then we tested each other and I became Romeo-Oscar-Delta-Echo-Romeo-India-Charlie-Kilo. Doing Symonds Yat I briefly forgot Y (Yankee) but I'm fluent now.

Most people don't bother. But it can be a source of techno-superiority while others struggle. If you like that kind of thing.

WIP Second Hand (28,965 words)
Working days (at the supermarket) reminded her of a holiday spent at Brighton as a six-year-old. It had rained continuously and her parents, desperate to find indoor entertainment, had entered an amusement arcade. The distorting mirrors, the quoits and the worthless soft-toy prizes were seen as trashy but Francine had been drawn to a bagatelle played with a ball-bearing so heavy her childish fingers could hardly set it in motion. The fascination lay in the ball’s path, worn away over the years on the game’s vertical playing surface. For two-thirds of its trajectory, before it reached diverters, the ball lacked freedom, was compelled to follow the same route...  Francine’s young mind grappled with the fact that the early part of the route was pre-ordained.

5 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

I guess you have your reasons, but I know what you call a "games parlour" as an "amusement arcade".

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: Nothing more than pure forgetfulness. As you can see, I have modified the clip and am now about to modify the MS. Your suggestion much appreciated.

Joe Hyam said...

I am afraid I have never learnt the official phonetic alphabet, though much of it has rubbed off. My problem was(is) that fancy drives me to suggest fanciful words to indicate an intial letter. A Angostura bitters. B Belladonna, C Catastrophy and so on. Useless, self-defeating and confusing I know ... X for xenophobia. But there you go...

Lucy said...

When last in England, I was tasked with getting Tom a new tea mug. I found two, bought both and presented him with a choice. One had the official phonetic alphabet, the other the periodic table. He chose the latter, since he said he already knew the former well enough, and we spent quite a lot of time of a morning quizzing each other on chemical symbols (we don't get bored but make our own entertainment, y'know), so that our knowledge of these is no much improved.

I'm somewhat puzzled as to why it's called the phonetic alphabet, as my understanding is that phonetics are to do with the sounds of letters, not their names, and in fact the true IPA is to be found here:

http://www.anenglishaccent.com/IPA.html

I've never really mastered it successfully, and have when it has come up in textbooks, I ask the student(s) if they're interested in using it, and have yet to come across one of any age who is.

I've just checked, and on the mug it's called the NATO alphabet, and I gather it's proper title is something even longer and more acronymous!

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: Wonderful punchline to one of Blackadder's jokes: The long winter evenings must have just slid by.

I can't see a couple of intellectuals like you and Tom being diverted for long by such a basic version of the periodic table game. How about in French?

Just checked. French not much cop, the words are too similar. German, then? Yes, much better. Sodium = Natrium, Iron = Eisen, Carbon = Kohlenstoff.

Phonetic alphabet? A product of the military-industrial complex, a very rare contributor to the cause of linguistic elegance.