The Year of Words: Day 364 - Passing Go - Where's my £200?

The penultimate year of words offering brings an above average pairing for the day.

My archaic word reminds me of a former colleague from radio days, a young lady who was part of the Guinness family. She was attempting to earn a relatively honest living as a journalist between living the high life at weekends with her 'London' set.

More than once the week would start with a loud and heartfelt complaint that 'I'm in the bloody twattler again'.

The Tatler Magazine

For the uninitiated this declaration would often cause a rustling in the dovecotes. However, it was explained to me that those featured in it's social high life columns considered it nothing more than a gossip rag.

It that sense the name was felt to be apt - the tittle-tattler being the other variation. The Twatler being a derivative of twattle today's archaic word dating back to the seventeenth century.

Never having appeared within the august pages of the Tatler (and unlikely to do so any time soon) I'm unable to comment on the varacity of this explanation. However, it is included as perhaps limited evidence that twattle still has some currency in these here parts.

I should go no further without offering wishes of a Happy New Year to all those who would welcome it. I've always found 1st January to be something of an odd fish. People celebrate the day with vigour in the early hours then go to bed (mostly) so by the time you wake up on the actual day there's always an anticlimactic feel to the rest of the day.

This year was somewhat different as I've been almost single-handedly revisiting the Yuletide season with emphasis on season (rather than a single day). As a result, it's been Christmas since 25th December and today is only the 8th day of Christmas. Depending on whether you're Catholic or Anglican will determine the emphasis placed on the day,

Las doce uvas de la suerte

Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary, mother of God. Anglicans mark the naming of Jesus and his circumcision the latter being a Puritan addition. Somehow I can imagine the Puritans celebrating circumcision., but I digress.

Speaking of strange celebrations, consider January 1st in Spain.

Across most of Spain the New Year is marked by consuming 12 grapes with bubbles. Called las doce uvas de la suerte each grape represents a bundle of good luck, one for each of the coming twelve months. As a result, it's the day you're most likely to be given grapes in Spain. It's also the day with the biggest spike in ambulances called for blocked airways - I can't help but think the two may be related.

As the son of a northern mother, I miss the idea of first footing - crossing the threshold (yours or a friends) offering a piece of coal for good luck,

Traditional Danish plate breaking

If you think a stranger with a lump of nutty slack is an odd thing to find on your doorstep in the early hours, be thankful you're not Danish.

Traditional New Year's celebrations and greetings include rocking up at your neighbours house and belting the bejazus out of their house frontage with plates, crockery and the like.

Think big Greek wedding but in a colder climate and probably with herrings.

I must make a note re any potential new neighbours - are any Danish? A lump of coal seems suddenly normal doesn't it? Equally if your neighbours have been particularly irritating this year just pop next door and whack some crocks at the house - but be certain to shout "Godt nytår" (happy New Year) to show your friendship and respect.

Some traditions are, of course, worth preserving and listening to the Vienna New Years concert is certainly one of them. At the time of writing that is providing a most enjoyable backdrop.

A further seasonal tradition since around 1860 is fireworks on the Thames. We were to be there this year, but our event was cancelled around ten days ago. However, there was a pretty spectacular fireworks and light display showing Greenwich and the Thames off to great effect. For those who didn't get a chance to see it I hope it will post at the end of this blog entry. There was no computer generated imagery involved. The light 'images' were generated by hundreds of drones each emitting sequences of computer controlled lights.. I normally think it's a pretty close call between UK and Australian displays. This year I have to say, I think we edged it.


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