The Year of Words: Day 360 - The fourth day of Christmas


Today's words bring me to within touching distance of concluding the year long challenge set by Mike Durston. I hoped I would be able to complete it but seeing the number 360 brings the finish line into pretty sharp focus.

Some will know I've made an attempt to focus away from the purely commercial aspects of a modern Christmas this year. It's also helped avoid the crashing anti-climax that can follow a hyper commercialised Christmas Day.

This year I chose not to build up to Christmas for three weeks only to arrive at the day which is practically over by midday. So, as an experiment, the tree went up with the arrival of Advent and we're marking the 12 days of Christmas. Perhaps not in the pure religious sense, but re-visiting the idea of Christmastide - so far so good.

So welcome to the fourth day of Christmas - traditionally the feast of the innocents, where Christians would traditionally remember the children killed by Herod in search for the infant Jesus. In more recent and secular times this has been extended to include those killed upholding their faith against unjust oppression.

I'm not sure anyone I know will have been lunting over the Christmas period though I'm willing to be surprised.

It seems to be an activity and verb still popular in parts of the Americas so maybe my Canadian family will have had the odd lunt thinking nothing of it.

However, I'm more than certain that a sizeable number of my friends and family will have encountered more than one or two agraffes over the past few days. Originally an ornate tie on a piece of armour it evolved into mainstream clothing. The latest incarnation was the hook and eye fastener.

The last couple of years saw French champagne houses reviving the word (in its French variant). They used it to describe the ornate metal twisted plate securing the cork in a bottle of wine under pressure.

This year sees both the CED and Merriman Websters include this use as a new sense for what would otherwise be an archaic word.

It's one of the rare examples where in its original sense the word could have appeared on the left of the page and in its new sense on the right.

The first bridge over the Thames

As this year is one of those years where Chrsitmas Day and Boxing day fall on the weekend, we found ourselves enjoying the rescheduled Boxing Day Bank Holiday today.

I took the Mem'Sahib for a Boxing Day spin along the Wiltshire/ Gloucestershire border including a walk to the early stages of the Thames we all know so well in London.

This may not have the splendour of the Albert Bridge, the intrigue of Vauxhall bridge or the familiarity of Tower bridge, but it is the first bridge over the river and a charming waypoint on a country walk.

I did point out to the Mem'Sahib that should we ever find the M4 and railway to be unavailable I could always arrange a shove-off from this bridge and four days letter (allowing for a decent river current) you'd be at Vauxhall. I'm not sure that plan B was entirely appreciated but it's filed away for future reference.

We also took a little diversion over the border into Gloucestershire to see the

British Airways 747 fleet being scrapped.

last remaining British Airways 747 aircraft in a queue for the scrapyard.

Nothing quite prepares you for the incongruity of tuning a corner in the cotswolds to see several jumbo jets looming overhead in a very sad plane graveyard.

These four speed birds rather than calling birds rounded off a much needed couple of hours out of the house and boosted the monthly step count to boot.

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