Tuesday, 31 December 2013
‘I don’t know. Something’s not quite right here. Words have disappeared before; remember when the stigma of association became too much for Politician and he went to ground? Now, that case was easy enough to work out but Crusade’s disappearance? There’s nothing to indicate why and we’re left with that odd scene in his room. A mystery.’
Constable leaned back and stared at the ceiling as if the answer might be found there. He wore a blue suit – he considered a full uniform to be overkill – and liked to carry a notebook on his person at all times: a notebook which he now flicked through with a frown. Across the table, Cracker sketched meandering doodles on an A4 pad and pursed his lips.
Sunday, 22 December 2013
At 5am in the morning, Crusade walked towards the I-block and, as ever, his gaze was drawn to the top of the building. There, looking for all the world as if it was floating above the 28-storey tower, was the distinctive circular ball which made the building replicate a lower case “i”, complete with tittle. The tittle was attached by ten-foot high reinforced steel rods and, here, technology and engineering combined to stunning effect. A sensor within the structure charted the sky colour which was simultaneously superimposed on the steel rods. At 5am on a December morning, the steel rods were as dark as the night sky, creating a convincing silhouetted i.
Tuesday, 17 December 2013
The clock by her bedside showed it was 3am. Treason had spent a restless night after her encounter with Crusade. Had she been too harsh in dismissing him? He had, after all, been rather sweet in his attempts to woo her and she’d enjoyed the many hours spent in his company. But she was who she was. Treason continually looked for adventure; she enjoyed flirting with danger and was happy when she found herself in situations with a frisson of excitement. Had Crusade suggested that they abseil down from the room high up in B-block to his own room, this would’ve appealed to her more than the elaborate arrangements he’d gone to. She craved the spontaneous, the dramatic and the unpremeditated.
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
As on the previous day, lethargy prevailed among the small group assembled in C-block; this time, the location was a bar in the same building and their pale faces and muted chatter bore testimony to the excesses of the night before. Correspondent gazed into the distance, Cynic idly swirled the ice cubes in his gin and tonic and braced himself before tasting it, Clever exhaled as he leaned back on the banquette, Correct warily sipped his drink and both Coin and Cutback nursed soft drinks and grimaced when the door slammed shut as Conspiracy joined them.
‘Morning,’ he said, checked his watch and added: ‘Or afternoon, more like. Looks like you guys feel much the same as me. Good fun last night, though.’
‘It was,’ said Clever, groaning as he looked at his watch. ‘Hell, I’ve got a meeting to attend soon…just as I was getting comfortable, or less uncomfortable, here. ’
‘Unavoidable?’ asked Correspondent.
‘Unfortunately, yes. There’s a shindig planned today to officially launch the ATM app. It'll feature a lot of smug self-congratulation so I'd rather stay here but that wouldn’t be viewed favourably, methinks. I have been one of the participants in the project.’
Saturday, 30 November 2013
Crusade, thrown by Treason’s forthright accuracy, mumbled: ‘What I was trying to say earlier is that I really…’
‘Ssssh…’ she placed a finger to her lips. ‘You don’t need to explain. I’m flattered by the lengths you’ve gone to…I am, I really am, it’s just that…Look, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t really go in for the romantic novel stuff. Oh, I’m susceptible to a bit of flattery and somebody making an effort but I thought you’d be aware of the sort of thing which really works for me.’
Crusade continued to stare at her, waiting for her knowing smile to re-appear but Treason merely looked around the room and waited for him to reply. He remained silent and she, unsettled by this, returned his gaze and sighed.
Sunday, 24 November 2013
Treason laughed and nodded approvingly towards Dissident. ‘An OED spring...sounds like Dissident’s plotting it already…watch this space. OK, we haven’t got long this evening, comrades, so I’d like to introduce somebody who’s having a rough time at the moment and could use some support from us. This is Spellcheck, one of our younger colleagues, with a sorry tale to tell.’
Hesitantly, a young man stood up and blinked as all eyes turned to him. His skin had a ghostly pallor and his eyes darted around the room before they finally settled on a point on the wall, high above everybody. He coughed, closed his eyes, swallowed and spoke.
Friday, 15 November 2013
As Crusade left the C-block, he thought of the various blocks and how they seemed to assume a dominant characteristic of their own based on the proliferation and importance of the words housed within. C-block, for instance, contained many words with underworld connotations and, in the eyes of some, was tainted accordingly.
‘You get saddled with a reputation,’ Coin once pointed out. ‘Remember when Knave tried to get his name changed to Cnave just so he could hang out with the undesirable element of C-block. He claimed that since the K was silent, it didn’t matter if it was changed to C. What a creep! Speaking of which, Creep is another word we could do without here.’
And then there was the notorious C-word itself. C-word was rarely accorded its proper name and remained in a secluded cell, allowed out only on occasions when regular profanities were deemed insufficient and something more derogatory called for.
Saturday, 9 November 2013
In this episode, we take a step back and find out about Wordsdrow and the rules which govern it. Immerse yourself in this mix of fact and conjecture.
What would eventually be the Oxford English Dictionary took about 70 years to complete and its origins in the second half of the 19th century – the epoch of Victorian achievement, invention, confidence and ambition – saw few limits imposed on the nascent dictionary. James Murray, he of the long flowing beard, watched the dictionary grow and grow under his lengthy stewardship as editor. When it was completed in 1928, it ran to over twice the size anticipated by Murray at the outset of his tenure as editor in 1879. The proliferation of words had been expected but the accommodation available for them was soon seen to be woefully inadequate.
Friday, 1 November 2013
Cynic rolled his eyes. ‘What’s it this time, Conspiracy? You’ve just seen them yourself? Who’s “them”? What’s “it”?’
‘This time, our plot-obsessed friend has a valid concern,’ said Crusade, a serious-looking man wearing a donkey-jacket and jeans. ‘He’s referring to the return of word-traffickers…you know how they often try to exploit the collective dumbing-down around Christmas time. Everyone’s guard is lowered - stupefied by food, drink and rubbish television – and unwanted words can sneak into popular usage. I’m afraid we have a prime example here in the building right now.’
Conspiracy leaned forward, dropped his voice even lower and said, ‘Onesie.’
Monday, 28 October 2013
‘It’s all kicking off down in the bar,’ Crisis gushed. ‘Crook, Criminal and Culprit have taken offence to Omnishambles and his entourage. Trending was chatting up both Cutie and Curvaceous when Crook and his cohorts arrived and it looks like it could turn nasty.’
Correspondent shrugged. ‘So what…one of the downsides of being in C-block is proximity to all those low-lifes which the letter C seems to attract but if that bunch of low-lifes send Omnishambles off with a flea in his ear, good. C’mon, Crisis, leave them to it. Join us here.’
Crisis glanced towards the table and closed the door behind him. ‘Don’t mind if I do. I’m entitled to some relaxation every now and then. God knows I have enough to deal with all year round.’
‘That’s the spirit,’ said Clever. ‘No point in making a drama out of yourself. So, has it been busier than normal this year then?’
Friday, 25 October 2013
Words: we use them continuously. We speak, read, write, text…all without considering the words themselves. But that’s understandable; words don’t exist, you know, really exist. Or do they?
The black-and-white cat padded along a corridor, otherwise deserted and dimly illuminated by uplighters which cast conical shadows below them on the yellow walls. The cat paused intermittently at various doors for an exploratory sniff and glanced up at the uplighters’ illumination reflected back from windows which showed darkness outside. Darkness arrived early at this time of year – so soon after the winter solstice – and a hush prevailed in the C-block building in Wordsdrow, the sprawling campus which housed the occupants of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Coming to a halt outside a room where light seeped around the frame of the door, the cat tried to wiggle a paw underneath. He seemed to have found his destination and stood on his hind paws to scratch the door until it was opened. A man peered out, frowned at the apparent phantom presence while the cat daintily skipped past him and into the room.
‘OEDipuss! You’ll trip somebody up one of these days,’ the man said, smiling as OEDipuss headed towards a window sill and jumped up on to it.