On finding things, ie my inspiration…

*** WARNING: a long and rambling entry that may
not be suitable for minors or those of a nervous disposition ***

I haven’t written for ages; sorry about that. I think post-edit it takes me a while to get my mojo back, added to which I feel all liberated and get a sudden urge to do all those things I’ve not been able to do whilst editing, like getting my hair cut and putting the car through its MOT.

This evening, however, I feel inspired to write! Hurray!

It all started because I was talking about Revenge of the Tide today, with some lovely people from the Writer’s Club affiliated to Crowthorne Library in Berkshire, and when I got back I had a sudden urge to re-read bits of it. I went through my Kindle (although I could have just reached for a copy from the bookshelf and spared myself the following two hours of trauma) but I couldn’t find it. The reason why? I seem to have 385 documents on my Kindle.

I’d made a half-hearted attempt once upon a time to put them into Collections for ease of use, but I hadn’t kept this up and as a result I had to scroll through page after page of books that I haven’t quite got around to reading yet. You know that feeling of wishing you hadn’t started something? Well I started to do some tidying up. First I added a Collection called ‘Authorgraphs’ to house all the signatures I’ve collected. That got rid of a few. Then I created one called ‘Classic Compilations’ (did you know you can buy ‘Complete Works Of’ various insanely brilliant classical authors for next to nothing? Dickens, Austen, D H Lawrence, James Joyce – I’ve got them all! Lord knows I might get stuck in an airport somewhere and have a burning desire to read The Lost Girl or Dubliners again, who knows) and filled that up too. Next came ‘Diet & Health Management’ as a category because heaven knows I’ve got quite a few of those books (mostly unread, I confess).

Almost as an afterthought I put a one in called ‘My Books’. Very self indulgent I know. But once I’ve completed an edit I find it helps to load the latest draft onto the Kindle because then I can re-read it easily (and make notes if I need to. Usually they say things like ‘crap!’ and ‘not according to p 43!!’ and ‘delete’). So I have nine documents in there now, various versions of each text.

The biggest category, however, is one now called ‘Non Fiction & Research’. It’s an eclectic mix and really I could sub-divide it into ‘Research’, ‘How to Write Books Books’, and ‘General Aids to Procrastination’. Under ‘Research’, you would find a curious mix of books about lap dancing, trafficking, neuro-linguistic programming and mind control (boat renovation and forensics tend to lend themselves to picture books, of which I have plenty). I do have a few ‘what it’s REALLY like working for the police’ books, including Foxtrot Oscar by Charlie Owen*, Diary of an On-Call Girl by E E Bloggs* and Perverting the Course of Justice, by Inspector Gadget*. All of which I can highly recommend, if you feel like spending a few pleasant hours chortling with horror.

* not their real names. Probably.

Under the third of those sub-categories, ‘General Aids to Procrastination’, you will find all those lovely books that I might previously have left on the bookshelf in the bathroom (I had one, until I realised the books didn’t take kindly to a humid atmosphere) – including 1,227 QI Facts to Blow Your Socks Off, ‘Words of Wisdom: Philosophy’s Most Important Questions and their Meanings and The Horologicon: A Day’s Jaunt Through The Lost Words of the English Language.

The latter has a companion piece: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through The Hidden Connections of The English Language but I have to confess I got a bit side-tracked by the Horologicon and after that I came STRAIGHT HERE to write this blog.

This book (the Horologicon) is a GEM.

And now for a little aside: in the course of my research into the ins and outs (so to speak) of Under a Silent Moon (coming soon!) I found myself looking at the definitions of several fetishes and slightly unusual sexual practices. You know how you start researching one thing and end up following other interesting tangential leads until you wind up looking at something with raised eyebrows several minutes later, blinkingly wondering how on earth you got there? Well, in the course of legitimate research (into queening – don’t look it up unless you really want to) I came across FIGGING. I won’t suggest you use Wikipedia here and I won’t provide the link because goodness knows what will happen to my spam content then, but suffice it to say for the curious amongst you that figging is the act of using a specially carved piece of ginger as an anal plug. Needless to say this required a considerable amount of brain power to process, especially the ‘specially carved’ bit – as well as the ginger – and immediately I want to know who did this first, what were they actually doing when they discovered that this might be mildly more entertaining than just whittling root vegetables for fun (did someone tell them where to stick it, and they thought they might as well?) and most of all, WHY IS IT CALLED FIGGING? Did they start off carving figs, not realising that the inherent squishyness of a fig does not lend itself to insertion past the sphincter**?

** ‘sphincter’ is my favourite word of all time. I don’t get to use it very often, so I’m high-fiving myself right now.

Now let me tell you about one of those moments of serendipity, when you hear a word for the first time and think ‘I’ve got to the grand age of 41 and never heard of that before’ only to have someone else mention it shortly afterwards! And then you see the same word everywhere!

I was reading the Horologicon on my Kindle whilst trying to archive it into the ‘Non Fiction & Research’ Collection and I came across this:

‘Uhtceare’ (pronounced oot-key-are-a, although how anyone knows this as it’s Old English I couldn’t tell you) – anyone like to hazard a guess what that means?

It’s the act of lying awake before dawn worrying. We need a word for that, and here it is!

‘Decubitus’ – another gem. It’s a word for the lovely warm posture you get in bed when you’re all snuggly and comfortable.

Shortly thereafter (and you’ll be relieved to hear I’m finally dragging myself back to the point at last) I came across FEAGUE. The description of it runs thus:

“To feague a horse; to put ginger up its fundament, and formerly, as it is said, a live eel, to make him lively and carry his tail well… feague is used, figuratively, for encouraging or spiriting one up.”

So firstly, A LIVE EEL!!! Who thought that was a good idea, and more importantly how the actual chuff did they manage the act of inserting? Secondly, a horse’s ‘fundament’!!  I love that word. I am going to have to use that somehow. And thirdly, THIS must be where the term ‘figging’ comes from! They used to insert specially-carved pieces of ginger into horses’ fundaments! And it was called ‘feaguing’ (for some reason) which over time must have turned into ‘figging’! It has nothing to do with figs at all. Oh the relief.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived at the point of my blog for today. I know where the term figging comes from, I can die happy.

As you were…


  1. Thank you for interesting read. I am recovering from wrist surgery on right hand, so will keep this brief. Thank you as well for information on limit on number of kindle books–I am fast approaching that number, and I never bothered to catalogue mine, either. With regard to the figging, all I can say is men are sick! I can’t imagine a woman coming up with that idea. Poor horses! I’m looking forward to your next book!

  2. Ah, I always wondered where “figging” came from – etymology is neat. Also, the next time you hear carolers singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” you’ll start giggling because you know it’s only a matter of time before they ask for a figgy pudding.

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