The Bigger Picture by Susan Grimsdell

We’re in the midst of one of the Biblical afflictions we were warned about in Revelations – floods, locusts, fires, pestilence, darkness, and in our case here and now – plague.  Covid can’t be described any other way. A plague on the Earth Governments everywhere were caught unprepared. Most dealt inadequately in the early days of the virus, resulting in literally hundreds of thousands of people dying.  New Zealand was one of the countries that did pretty well, through a combination of good luck and good management, and for a while we… Read More

Fans and stans by Angela Caldin

I came across a word that was new to me the other day. It was at the end of a Randy Rainbow tribute to Dr Fauci which was itself a parody of the song Gee, Officer Krupke from West Side Story. Randy sings ‘Dr Fauci, you’re the one we stan.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUiDLcp_hIw I thought this was a strange verb and that maybe it was a mistake and had some letters missing. But then I saw the word again in The Guardian when the columnist Hadley Freeman wrote that she was ‘no Prince William… Read More

New Zealand on the map by Angela Caldin

There was a time when quite a lot of people were vague about where exactly New Zealand was. Somewhere down at the bottom of the world was a good guess; fairly near Australia perhaps. Sometimes maps of the world left New Zealand off altogether, as though its two islands just a bit bigger than the UK were too insignificant to bother about. Containing the virus But in the last few months New Zealand’s stock has risen dramatically, because under the leadership of prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Covid-19 has to all intents and… Read More

Staying alert by Angela Caldin

I’m living in New Zealand at the moment, but I’ve been following developments in the UK as well. On TV here, there’s an adaption of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker prizewinning novel The Luminaries. I read this book when it first came out and couldn’t put it down. The only problem was that when I arrived breathless at the end, I had no idea what was going on among the huge cast of characters. It was good therefore to understand from the first episode on TV that two of the main protagonists, Anna… Read More

Angela’s ABCs flout and flaunt words sometimes confused

It seemed to me that flout and flaunt were sufficiently different for it to be difficult to confuse them. I thought their meanings were clear. If you don’t comply with a rule, you are flouting it. If you make a big display of your success, you are flaunting it It seems that I was wrong. I was tut-tutting to myself the other day because I noticed that one of The Guardian’s coronavirus update writers had used flaunt to mean flout. Nobody seemed particularly bothered. When I did some research, I realised this… Read More