Shropshire Star

Dan Morris: Words and nerd herds

Recently, I had the honour of being personally taught a new word by a certain well-known TV lexicographer.

We all have our favourites...

The word in question was entirely delicious, as was its meaning. ‘Crambazzled’ – an old Yorkshire word that has long fallen out of use – is a term for ‘looking prematurely aged or rough from drinking/partying/a dissolute life’. As I said – delicious.

Naturally, such a wonderful word made me think about other favourite words, and, indeed, my affection for words in general.

As someone who grew up to be a writer, I suppose its only natural that an appreciation of vocabulary and the fun of English caught me at quite a young age. As I’ve grown older, the delights of our language have hooked me more and more, with a dictionary ‘favourites’ lists taking shape over the years. ‘Discombobulate’ has been up there for a while. ‘Tabernacle’ rocked straight in at number five. ‘Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia’ – the fear of long words – had to make the cut for just irony’s sake. And ‘forsooth’, ‘petrichor’ and ‘brouhaha’ were stored in the locker has soon as I heard them. The latter of which not least because for sometime I thought it may well have meant the maniacal laugh of an evil tea magnate destined to cause havoc in a rather beige Bond flick. I maintain, there’s a script waiting to be written involving ‘Gaffer’, à la Tetley, sporting an eye-patch and stroking a white cat.

I suppose though, and like for many people, my true love of words came from song lyrics – namely belting them out alongside my father on various childhood car journeys.

I don’t know when our dynamic duo first started dipping our toe into the carpool karaoke water, only that by the time I was 10 we were summoning harmonies that would have made The Everly Brothers shiver. The best of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons was a go-to record for our many drives – my pre-pubescent status certainly helping me to hit those iconic high notes.

It wasn't many years before our two-piece grew in membership, with several of my childhood chums making appearances as guest vocalists. A particularly gifted pal – who incidentally still reads this column despite now living all the way over in Hong Kong – provided a beautiful baritone on several far flung jaunts, including on a five-hour trip to bonny Scotland. His talent for mimicry could have assured him a Rory Bremner-esque future, and I remember my father's sides being well and truly split when he treated us to his version of ABBA's Dancing Queen in the style of Cartman from South Park.

Aside from deafening fellow road users with our less-than-dulcet tones, a big love of our youth was a certain science fiction franchise that this Thursday was honoured by nerd herds far and wide.

Forget council elections – May the fourth (be with you) will always first and foremost be Star Wars day. As most readers will be bored of hearing, my love for the galaxy far, far away has certainly not faltered over the years, and I've truly enjoyed watching a new generation of Padawan learners fall head over heels with it since Disney took the reins.

Recently – to the utmost disdain of my beloved fiancée – I have been attempting to do my bit in the way of 'passing on what I have learned' by introducing my daughter to Star Wars in a shamelessly Pavlovian manner.

For the two-week holiday that surrounded my stag do (crambazzled, by the way), I spent my time introducing Little Miss Morris to the sacrosanct saga, rewarding her attention to each film with extra cuddles, kisses and any treat I could think of. Take that Peppa Pig, and jog on Bluey – this chick dreams of landspeeders, lightsabers and Leia up-dos now.

As a parent, you have a responsibility to inflict your passions on your kids with ruthless abandon, and over the last fortnight I was proud to get the ball rolling. As soon as she's got a Fender Strat in her grip and belts out the Mos Eisley cantina tune, I'll know my work as a father is done.

My other half – an English teacher by trade – has also had a love of language for a long time. Funnily enough, with regards to me at least, she seems to recently have discovered a few new favourite words of her own.

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