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A Potter's Moll: The Bard And The Slug

Now I like oxymoron (coupling opposites together) as much as anyone and the language would be poorer without ‘bittersweet’ and even ‘sweet and sour’. If ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’ was good enough for the Bard, it’s good enough for me. (Cliché?) But I have noticed a trend that has spread from Art criticism to book reviews. On the blurb of the novel I am currently reading, I read:

‘savagely funny and authentically tragic’


‘both familiar and extraordinary’

‘very funny as well as heart-rendingly sad’

To coin another cliché, could this be called ‘sitting on the fence’?

Liz Robison turns her thoughts to Bardic matters – and slugs.

For more of Liz’s delicious humour please click on A Potter’s Moll in the menu on his page.

And do visit the Web site of Liz’s husband, internationally famous potter Jim Robison http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

A gardening theme and another ‘tribal’ outing with the Welsh Society are on the agenda this week, together with some more observations about language.

On a very wet and windy afternoon recently we visited a very unusual garden in Glossop, Derbyshire. It was open under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) with the proceeds from admission and refreshments going to charity.

The back wall of the garden was a quarry face, and the floor was partly rocky. The owner had used imaginative climbing plants, alpines, water-features and containers to create a pleasing and harmonious whole. She had borrowed several large planters from my husband, potter Jim Robison, and they were displayed to great advantage. (A TV crew had been to film a few days earlier and the producer bought one of the planters. Hurrah!)

Gardening is so full of ups and downs. I’ve just come indoors from a ‘slugathon’. I hate them. They have decimated newly planted Nicotiana, yet I dislike the idea of slug pellets. Without thinking the other day, I cut one in half with the secateurs. Aargh!

I have a list from an old gardening magazine of plants that slugs do not like, allegedly. From that list I can vouch that the following plants grow slug-free in my garden: Monkshood, Cosmos, Echinacea, herbaceous geraniums, primulas and nasturtiums. Perhaps I should just stick with those.

Our Huddersfield Welsh society had an annual outing to the Yorkshire Dales. We have afternoon tea at the church hall of St Peter’s, Addingham and then proceed to a nearby church for a bi-lingual evening service which always concludes with a hearty rendition of ‘Mae hen wlad fy’n nhadau’ (Land of my Fathers). Even if the organist is not aware that Welsh people always repeat the chorus, the congregation does so anyway, leaving the organist to catch up!

This year the service was held at St Mary’s, Embsay, where the vicar, Dr John Daniels, is a Welsh-speaking Cymro. Afterwards I was chatting to a man who regularly attends that church who had married a Yorkshire woman, though he hails originally from New Quay in Carmarthenshire.

When I told him that I grew up Welsh in Birkenhead, Merseyside, and that there were seven Welsh chapels in the town at that time, he reminded me that the 1918 National Eisteddfod of Wales was held in Birkenhead and the occasion is still mentioned at the annual Eisteddfod as the Bikenhead Cadair Ddu (Black Chair).

The winner of the bardic chair that year was a young man called Hedd Wynn who had been killed in the trenches weeks before. In honouring his memory the bardic chair was swathed in black at the ceremony. One of many poignant Great War stories.

Now I like oxymoron (coupling opposites together) as much as anyone and the language would be poorer without ‘bittersweet’ and even ‘sweet and sour’. If ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’ was good enough for the Bard, it’s good enough for me. (Cliché?) But I have noticed a trend that has spread from Art criticism to book reviews. On the blurb of the novel I am currently reading, I read:

‘savagely funny and authentically tragic’


‘both familiar and extraordinary’

‘very funny as well as heart-rendingly sad’

To coin another cliché, could this be called ‘sitting on the fence’?

I have been persuaded by my family that I need a mobile phone ‘for emergencies’. I have long been a Luddite as far as most new technologies are concerned. I could not bear all the faffing around of going to choose one so I sent Jim with instructions to just come back with a suitable one. He agreed that the hour and a half that it took to sort it out was ‘frustrating’, to say the least, but I had to laugh at his account of how the salesperson began by offering him a phone with a ‘sports facility’. Asked what this meant, she replied that you could use the phone when you were out jogging. ‘Do I look as if I jog?’, was his reply.

Neologisms (new words) develop all the time. So although I still refer to ‘mobile phone’, to others it’s just ‘a mobile’. Then I heard my son making arrangements on the phone to meet up with friends and the conversation ended with: ‘Anyway, we’re all mobiled up so we can get in touch if necessary.’

More from me in a fortnight.

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