Sunday, March 31, 2013

Notices, laziness and thingamajigs

I have always been  intrigued by notices. They seem so final, so exclusive. And yet ... An apostrophe missing after "owners"in this one in the Station yard,  and  there are questions unanswered.  I remember a notice on London Routemaster buses in the old days which I liked so much that I made a note of it. "It showed a picture of the two types of bus stop then in use. The request stop and the more reliable stop where drivers were required to stop regardless. The wording had it seemed to me the precision of a poem:  At the sign shown the right all buses stop. At the sign on the left the bus will only stop if you hail  the driver.  Do not get on or off a bus while it standing at traffic lights. Yet I fancied universal applications, buses streaming in the infinite spaces between the stars. And I love the idea of hailing drivers.

My favourite chair for reading is beneath a bay window. The light is good but it is far from the nearest radiator in this still cold weather I rely on a little fan heater to top up the central heating. The plug and switch are hard to reach. But a remote switch allows me to use it without moving from the chair, a luxury about which I feel no guilt. In fact as I can apply the heat at will I have the excuse that I am saving fuel. But it is the facility that I enjoy most.

The English language has a limited number of words, most derived from "thing", to describe objects or people, whose name escapes you. We have thingummy, thingamabob, thingamajig. We sometimes  say  just thing or even thingy.  "Whatsamacallit" strikes me as clumsy and not to pretty.  The French on the other hand have some rather neat words which are not related to chose, the French word for thing. Truc is probably the most common but they sometimes say machin which is distinct from machine, the French word for machine and fourbi which literally means kit as in army kit. My favourite, bidule has a wit and music which makes me long to use it.

 

3 comments:

tristan said...

a rosy-cheeked girl i once adored used to call me thingy-wotsit

Lucy said...

I'll never forget whatsisname...

Joe Hyam said...

I did, though.