Pigtail prejudice

Pigtail prejudice

A charming example of prejudice, demonstrating its capacity to target just about anything, and with bewildering precision and disregard for logic: pigtails must be OK because sailors used to wear them (and we like sailors), but on the other hand, sailors only wore...
Cragfast

Cragfast

Stuck?  In a tight corner?  No going forward … or back?  Call yourself Cragfast. A sheep cornered on a crag, to starve in the absence of rescue. It happens to people too, hope never to me or you. In Arthur Ransome’s Winter Holiday an intrepid boy edges...
Gummocks

Gummocks

This glorious word being no longer current, I invite you to revive it the next time someone does something daft or useless. Perhaps combine it alliteratively with ‘galoot’. ‘Fair couple of gummocks, I’d call you,’ said Mrs Dixon.  ...
Trim, trig and tickety-boo

Trim, trig and tickety-boo

Came across the upright word ‘trig’ in another of Arthur Ransome’s charming children’s adventure stories, Winter Holiday, which I read on suitably cold, blustery nights. It seems the word is used only in Scotland or in northern English dialect...
Mutton-headed galoots

Mutton-headed galoots

Arthur Ransome’s characters have some out of date but still appealing ways to describe their own, or others’, stupidity.  I had never heard ‘galoot’ before reading his children’s books, and quite like the combination with...
Leadership as multi-tasking

Leadership as multi-tasking

You get to steer the ship because you can handle multiple tasks at once. Here, John demonstrates his leadership skills: tiller in one hand, pork pie in the other, and lemonade secure between his knees.  A CEO in the making, or at least an Admiral.The Arthur Ransome...
A waste of an island

A waste of an island

Wonderful notion this, from one of the best of Ransome’s enchanting children’s books. Of course if you land on an island, you should light a fire, or what good is the landing?’They had landed on the island near which they were anchored.  They had...
Catspaw

Catspaw

Seems to be a type of wind, quite distinct from the more common term of ‘cat’s paw’ which refers to someone used to do someone else’s dirty work.   In Arthur Ransome, however, I found: ‘There was very little wind, though now and again a catspaw hurrying from the south...
Roger

Roger

‘A Roger is the Norfolk name for a sudden squall which makes a loud hissing noise as it comes sweeping over the reeds.’ Source: Arthur Ransome, Coot Club (London: Jonathan Cape, 2009 (1934)), p....
A blank map

A blank map

‘You’ll start with a blank map, that doesn’t do more than show roughly what’s water and what isn’t.’What a metaphor!   Doesn’t that describe so many of the journeys we begin?  The book even includes a black ink sketched version of this rudimentary map, allowing you to...
Publishers, monkeys, monkeys, publishers

Publishers, monkeys, monkeys, publishers

I love the way Captain Flint sees his mission to find a monkey for the children as a refreshing change from tramping around London looking for a publisher for his book. That line: ‘I’ll go and look at monkeys by way of a change from...
Sea-boot rough

Sea-boot rough

Winter sea hoarseness and tight-swallowing soreness.‘My throat’s as rough as the inside of a sea-boot.’For more of a taster of these timeless classics, see our review here, or simply enjoy some splendid cover illustrations for the books. Source: Arthur Ransome, Secret...
Battering-ram power

Battering-ram power

Nancy is a character with battering-ram energy in all she does, exuberantly seeking opportunities to go to ‘war’ with her friends and family. A warm-hearted warrior tomboy.‘Nancy … gave Susan a look as powerful as a battering ram.’For more of a taster of these...

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