Friday, 13 January 2017

First Snow

Maybe I shouldn’t mention New Year’s resolutions, but I did have a sneaky little plan to do more short distance walking than usual, rather than always taking the bus. It started well enough but was rudely interrupted for a week when I was obliged to stay close to the box of tissues and the eucalyptus oil infused into a container of warm water as an inhalant. I refuse to name the mischievous ailment as it doesn’t deserve the publicity. Fortunately I was able to resume my plan, although now we have some interesting snow and ice, with further wintry showers forecast for next week*. I think the striding along vigorously type of exercise is on hold for a while.

* Omission phrase "ne(k)s(t w)eek"

Living in the south east of England, we rarely get serious snow, and it is a few years since it has fallen thickly. I still have the new snow boots that have been sitting in the wardrobe for two or three* years, fresh clean and unused. But I am ready. The footwear* drawer is getting more crowded, as I have been using up the yarn to make socks, house slippers, leg warmers and wristies*. Looking at the weather news has, however, put a stop to all our musings about the fun and prettiness of the white scenery. Up the east coast of Britain there have been snow, ice and storm surge warnings, with thousands of people being advised to evacuate their homes. Leaving your home and not knowing what will happen to it is a ghastly* thought, but this is at least* better than the North Sea flood of 1953, when people and their homes were washed away in the night, without any warning at all.

* Omission phrase "two (or) three"

* "footwear" Insert the vowel, as this is similar to "knitwear" and "underwear"

* "wristies" = wrist warmers

* "ghastly" Advisable to insert the vowel, similar to "costly"

* "at least" and "at last" Always insert the vowel

Last night I was taking photos of the big soggy lumps of snow falling and rapidly accumulating, but tonight there are only a few streaks and traces of it left. The winds we have had throughout the day have eaten most of it away. My goldfish are all gathered on the bottom of the pond, where the water is warmer or at least* the temperature more stable. They do not eat in cold weather but when it becomes milder they start to move about a bit and then I test them with a few crumbs to see if they are interested. Pretty as a snow-covered garden may be, I do not like really bitter mornings when the pond surface is frozen, although it has been quite a few years since that has happened. The job of clearing the ice must be* done before all else, so that the water remains oxygenated and free of waste product gases.

* "at least" and "at last" Always insert the vowel

* Omission phrase "mus(t) be"

My day indoors on the computer has been constantly interrupted by going to the kitchen window to see our resident pair of robins, and the blackbirds (one male with a poorly foot and two competing females) politely requesting their next portion of crumbs and bird pellets. The dunnock* with its tiny beak needs the bits broken up and scattered under the hedge. It is difficult to resist the robin sitting motionless on the branch right by the window pane, with his little black eyes fastened on my every movement. “It’s me. I’m here for the usual, please.” It is not possible* to refuse, of course. (547 words)

* "dunnock" = hedge sparrow

* Omission phrase "it is not poss(ible)"

Doubled Or Not

This article practises derivatives of outlines that use doubling in their basic form. The derivatives sometimes do not use doubling because of the additional sounds and syllables, and it is a good idea to give these lots* of practise, as it can be quite unsettling to begin* to write a doubled form and then realise that it cannot be* finished correctly. Generally the suffix -ing can be added without a problem but past tenses and adjectives need extra attention so that you are confident when they occur. If you do write the doubled form in error, just continue and write the second part separately, rather than hesitate over it all. Drilling and practice will prevent it happening again.

* "lots" and "masses" Always insert the vowel, as these are similar in outline and meaning

* "to begin" Through the line, based on the short form phrase "to be"

* "it cannot be" Keep the K the correct length, so it does not look like "it would be"

To ponder means to think about for some time*. I PONDERED the question* for many days. You should not pander to his whims. It is quite wrong that he should be PANDERED to like that. Plunder is taking goods by force after a battle. The invaders PLUNDERED the villages in the area. A carpenter may get a splinter in his hand while working at his CARPENTRY. Wood that is not hard can be SPLINTERED. The rough sawn plank was very SPLINTERY. Splendour means gloriousness, and the term many-SPLENDOURED refers to the object having several glorious attributes at once*.

* "for some time" Halving for the T of "time"

* "que(stio)n" Optional contraction

* Omission phrase "at (wu)ns"

The workers often engage in friendly banter but yesterday they BANTERED for their whole lunch hour. If you make a blunder, you will have to correct it. The animals BLUNDERED into the crowd and caused a big commotion. This report is going to engender some heated discussion. His remarks ENGENDERED some annoyance amongst the staff. We listened to the thunder all day. It THUNDERED all through the afternoon. The weather was very THUNDERY. I like to embroider hats and last year I EMBROIDERED one for my friend. I really enjoy EMBROIDERY as a hobby. I like to tender my payment in bank notes but this morning I TENDERED it in coins. I never squander my money, but I know that large sums have been SQUANDERED by others. These people will not tolerate any slander against them. If someone is openly SLANDERED they can take legal action. The newspaper article was highly SLANDEROUS. The horse was free to canter round the field. The horses CANTERED from one end of the field to the other. Last week* I had a chance encounter with an old friend. I ENCOUNTERED several difficulties during the project.

* Omission phrase "las(t w)eek"

We must counter this false statement with the truth. The problem can only be* COUNTERED by correcting what caused it. The outline for counter in some compound words changes in order to* make a good join: A COUNTER-ATTACK is a response* to being* attacked by others. If you sit on a see-saw, you are the COUNTERBALANCE to the other person. A COUNTERCLAIM is what you say when someone tells you there is no use for shorthand. In shorthand, circles are written COUNTER-CLOCKWISE on straight strokes. The COUNTERFEIT notes were seized by the police. A COUNTERFOIL is part of a document that is retained, such as a tear-off slip. A COUNTERSIGNED document is one that has a second signature added. COUNTERVIEW is an opposing or contrasting opinion. Another meaning for COUNTERWEIGH is to balance. Keep the Kay stroke clearly under the line and consider inserting the diphthong to prevent misreading as “country”.

* "can only be" The outline for "only" can be written thus in phrases where convenient, but full form when alone

* Omission phrase "in ord(er to)"

* "response" As this is the same as the short form "responsibility", it is advisable to always insert the dash vowel

* "to being" Through the line, based on the short form phrase "to be"

The fat in the pan will spatter if you get water in it. The liquid had SPATTERED all over the wall. Talk clearly and calmly, and try not to splutter. He lost his temper and SPLUTTERED something about bad service. They used tempered iron for the main structure. It was a well-structured course that had been well planned. There was a spider in the middle of the web. Our server-friendly robot has SPIDERED your website. Her letter was written in very small SPIDERY writing. We hung the picture on the wall. The item I was looking for was PICTURED on the website. You flatter me with your words. I have never been so highly FLATTERED before. It is not a good idea to resort to FLATTERY. The moths always flutter around the lamp. The bat FLUTTERED past my window. Flitter is a less common word that means the same and comes from the word flit. The butterflies FLITTERED over the flowers. Try not to fritter away your spare money. He FRITTERED his savings away very quickly.

I received a letter this morning. A LETTERED person is someone with letters after their name. The sign writer has LETTERED the poster in big red capital letters. You must not loiter on the street corners. The group of boys LOITERED around outside the shop. Can you please alter the height of this shelf for me? I have ALTERED the list of items that we need to take with us. I am always making ALTERATIONS and finding ALTERNATIVE ways to do things. I like to filter my drinking water. Has this water been properly* FILTERED? To falter means to move unsteadily. He FALTERED and missed his footing on the rough ground. We are going to swelter if we don’t open the windows. The tourists SWELTERED in the hot coach. You have to solder these wires together. Were the wires SOLDERED correctly before? The farmer* knew he would have to slaughter these sheep. The animals were SLAUGHTERED at the farm. The bonfire can smoulder for a long time in this weather. The damp wood SMOULDERED but did not catch fire. You bewilder me with all this talk of fast shorthand. I am completely BEWILDERED by their decision.

* "properly" Always insert the first vowel, and the diphone in "appropriately", and in derivatives, as these are similar in outline and meaning

* "farmer" Special outline, see entries for "farmer, framer" and "former, firmer"

We will venture into the woods today. Yesterday we VENTURED down onto the beach. It will be quite an adventure for us. The verb adventure and ADVENTURED has a similar meaning to venture and includes more of an idea of risk. Note that VENDOR does not use doubling because of the vowel in the last syllable. It is time to scatter the seeds on the ground. Tomorrow will bring SCATTERED showers in all places. Sound waves can shatter glass. The SHATTERED pieces fell to the floor. I am going to put up a window shutter. It is common to see SHUTTERED windows in hot countries. I told them all about this matter. These are the things that MATTERED to me at the time. I took my motor out of the garage and MOTORED my way around the country. A meter is an instrument that measures consumption*. This house has a METERED electricity supply. He was told to speak clearly and not mutter. The child MUTTERED something about not wanting to go. A mitre is an oblique surface on a piece of wood for making a join. A MITRED corner is made by joining two sharp angled pieces. The birds twitter all day in the trees. The starlings TWITTERED on the roof before flying away.

* "consumption" Omits the lightly-sounded P

The club members like to natter when they meet. Yesterday they NATTERED on for hours. To neuter means to render an animal incapable of reproducing. The cat and the dog have been NEUTERED. We will enter the building by the front door. We ENTERED the office with the reports in our hands. He put the paper in the centre of the desk. I have CENTERED the heading on this document. I often saunter in the park. The ladies SAUNTERED down the high street. I enjoy watching nature films. He is very mild NATURED. A naturalist studies nature, whereas a NATURIST is another name for a nudist or follower of NATURISM. These processes denature the food. I do not wish to eat DENATURED food. We decided to charter a boat for the summer. We CHARTERED a small yacht for our holiday. I wish to order twenty of these items immediately. I have ORDERED some new plants for the garden. There was a lot of disorder in the accounts office. The filing was a DISORDERED mess of paper and booklets. We came to the border of the country. His frankness BORDERED on rudeness at times. I did not really want to barter in the market. I have a friend who BARTERED for me instead.

They are going to render the wall in white plaster. The outside has been RENDERED in a cement mix. We will never surrender to them. I think they have SURRENDERED to us. I thought I would wander down to the shops. The children WANDERED away from the playground. I wonder what they will think of this? My friends WONDERED what I was up to. This is a WONDERFUL piece of news. The engine is WONDERFULLY* smooth. I have no words to describe the WONDERFULNESS of this outcome. “How will you get there?” he asked WONDERINGLY. The new white building was a WONDROUS site in the sunshine. It is nearly winter here in England. My friends have WINTERED in Italy this year. They wish to avoid* the WINTRY weather. These storms will hinder the building work. The work has been HINDERED by wet weather. I believe the ship will founder on the sandbank. The project FOUNDERED through lack of planning. He has a job working at the FOUNDRY in his home town. The children began to flounder in the water. The fish FLOUNDERED in the shallow rock pool.

* "wonderfully" Same as the short form "wonderful". If necessary to differentiate, you would have to write the "-fully" part separately to ensure accurate reading back.

* "avoid" Always insert the diphthong, as "evade" has a similar outline and meaning, especially in a phrase where it is out of position

The children had no mother. Their aunt MOTHERED them instead. I tried to smother the flames. In the end I SMOTHERED them with a wet towel. My father lives in the town. This bull has FATHERED many prize-winning animals. I found a feather in the nest. I always feed my FEATHERED friends when it snows. The lacy fabric was soft and FEATHERY. A fetter is a chain or shackle for the feet. The prisoner was FETTERED and held in a cell. This is a really good feature to have on a car. The film FEATURED our favourite actors*. We have a bright future ahead of us. We like to design FUTURISTIC furniture. I saw the snake slither away. It SLITHERED into the long grass.

* "actors" Note that the outline for "actress" should always have its second vowel written in, to differentiate from "actors"

I did not show my anger at the time. I did not want to appear to have been ANGERED. He may become ANGRY when he hears about this. The ship dropped its anchor in the harbour. It was ANCHORED a short distance from the pier. The animals were driven by hunger. The lions HUNGERED for days before they could feed. They were extremely HUNGRY. To hanker means to yearn or long for something. They HANKERED after the tasty meals that their mother used to make. To hunker means to crouch down or hunch over. The animals HUNKERED down under the bushes during the snow storm. I thought it would be dangerous to linger there. I knew it would be unwise if I LINGERED for too long.

Some doubled straight strokes abandon the doubling when the diphthong sign can no longer be joined and these are generally plurals. I bought some washing powder for my washing machine*. The paints came in different coloured POWDERS. There was a POWDERY residue on the base. The scientist POWDERED the rock for analysis. Gunpowder is made in a POWDER-MILL and is stored in a POWDER-MAGAZINE. We found the ladies* in the POWDER-ROOM where they were applying makeup with their POWDER-PUFFS. We have a very old pewter tankard. He is an expert on the different types of PEWTERS that were used. I do everything on the computer. I have two COMPUTERS at home. My work is now fully COMPUTERISED. I have a very good physics tutor. He is the oldest of all the TUTORS. He TUTORED me all the way to my college exams. He wrote a book about the Tudor monarchs and listed all the TUDORS and their activities in history. They built a house in the TUDORESQUE style. We enjoyed the chowder soup. The chef was very good at creating different CHOWDERS for the restaurant. (1978 words)

* "ladies" Helpful to insert the vowel in this and "lads" "laddies" to prevent misreading

* Omission phrase "wash(ing) machine"

Not doubled but quadrupled, this is me at 20 ft tall

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Train Journey

Clapham Junction

Let me tell you about today’s railway train journey, which will provide an opportunity to practise some railway and travel vocabulary. I arrived at the train station in good time for my travel plan. I walked past the waiting room and ticket office, and out onto the bridge. I touched my card on the reader (this is called touching in and touching out), listening for the bleeping* sound and seeing the indicator light changing from orange to green, which shows that it has been accepted. I descended the steel staircase carefully* holding on to the handrail*. It is not a good idea to put the card away whilst going down the steps! I walked along the platform past the coffee and snack vendor’s* hut and the other travellers and commuters waiting for their* trains. I went further along the platform as far as the last shelter, so that I would be about level with the end carriage, which is usually less crowded than the others. At last* I saw the train’s bright white headlights approaching out of the mist in the distance. The announcer informed us that certain trains had been delayed by several minutes, but I am glad to say that* mine arrived on time.

* "bleeping" Keep the hook clear, as "beeping" means the same

* "carefully" Optional contraction

* "handrail" Necessary to emphasise the angle between the two strokes

* "vendor's" Does not use doubling, because it is an "-or" sound, not "-er"

* "for their" The short form "for" is never doubled, and "if" can be doubled, in order to ensure clarity in phrases. "If their" would be doubled.

* "at last" and "at least" Always insert the vowel

* Omission phrase "I am glad (to) s(ay) that"

In our trains the seats are mostly* in pairs, with two or three* seats facing another two or three*. I found some newspapers on the seat and put them in the luggage rack out of the way. I sat by the window and then I heard the rapid bleeping* sound which indicates that the automatic doors are about to close. In busy stations some people still try and dive onto the train at this point, but this is not a safe thing to do at all. The scrolling LED display board on the ceiling welcomed me to the south-eastern service and gave the final destination, as well as listing all the stations at which the train would be calling. Sometimes the driver or guard also makes an announcement*, such as an apology for the late running, or information on where people need to change trains, if they have other destinations in mind. Each station is announced with the words “We shall shortly be arriving at” and then a different voice says “Please mind the gap between the train and the platform edge.” On curved platforms and at older stations, this gap can be quite considerable, both in width and height.

* "mostly" Omits the T

* Omission phrase "two (or) three"

* "bleeping" Keep the hook clear, as "beeping" means the same

* "announcement" Omits the M of "-ment". Keep the halved N clear, so that it does not look like Ing "announcing"

Charing Cross Station

I watched the scenery* whizzing past, mostly trees, grass and weedy* verges. All the plant growth is cut back at intervals and one sometimes sees gangs of men in high visjackets working by the trackside to remove all the vegetation within a set distance of the tracks. The fast-spreading buddleia shrub can be seen everywhere, as its seed is dust-like and prolific, being drawn along the tracks in the turbulence created by the passing trains. It grows in every tiny crack in concrete and brickwork, and can soon demolish any structure, including brick railway bridges, if not removed. I saw the back yards* and car parks of various factories and warehouses, and all the back gardens, from the very untidy and messy, to the neat and well cared-for ones. Many of them seem to have the same notion that the end of their garden is a convenient place to dump their stuff, away from the house. I often wonder whether those living there get used to the sound of the trains and no longer hear it, or whether they consider it preferable to being* overlooked by more houses and buildings, or near heavy traffic.

* "scenery" Helpful to emphasise the angle between the srokes

* "weedy" Insert the vowels, to prevent misreading as "woody"

* "high vis" = high visibility

* "back yards" As a suffix "-yard" omits the R

* "to being" Through the line, based on "to be"

I noticed all the trackside equipment, without having any idea of what they were for, metal boxes of various shapes and sizes, cables snaking along on their brackets, and large wide overhead gantries. On some routes my train passes the huge sheds where the rolling stock is kept and maintained. I mentally frown at the defacing graffiti on railway property and even on some of the houses alongside if they are very close, and wonder how the perpetrators* would react if they came home to find a stranger had done the same to their furniture, car or prized possessions. Apart from the defacement* and the trespassing, they are risking their* lives and those of the train passengers as they climb about by the tracks.

* "perpetrators" This is two P strokes, and one doubled T stroke.

* "defacement" Omits the M of "-ment". Keep the halved N clear, so that it does not look like Ing "defacing"

* "risking their" Doubling for "their"

I recognised the carriage wash, a wide arched structure several metres long containing rows of revolving brushes, an oversize* version of a car wash, although I have never seen it in use. Sometimes I see a fox settling down under the trees, or crows and magpies looking for insects amongst the overgrown disused tracks and sidings. There always seems to be piles of gravel and granite chippings, bricks, broken concrete, lengths of rusted rail track or bundles of wires scattered about. Maybe this is the archaeology of the future, scraps of items left over, that get buried with the next phase of building work and remain hidden for years, long after everything else has been recycled and reused.

* "oversize" Needs careful listening and writing, as "oversized" means the same. This latter uses Stee Loop instead of Circle.

I arrived at the mainline station and listened to the announcement* telling me that “This train terminates here” and reminding the passengers to ensure they take all their personal* belongings with them when they leave the train. I stepped down onto the platform and joined the crowd of passengers queuing at the exit barrier gates. The main concourse is a very large open space, full of people either standing and staring at the destination boards on high, waiting to see which platform their train will be leaving from, or walking in all directions and miraculously not bumping into each other. I went down the escalator, touched my card on the reader again and took the underground train to my destination in the far south west of London. After leaving the city centre and travelling through the suburbs, most of my journey took me through the countryside, bare for winter but still much more* pleasant than the barren looking cityscape.

* "announcement" Omits the M of "-ment". Keep the halved N clear, so that it does not look like Ing "announcing"

* "personal" Compare the outline for "personnel" (= people, staff) which uses strokes N and downward L

* Omission phrase "much m(ore)"

Chesham Station
The end of the line was a small country station where time seemed to have stood still. The old signal box was still there as well as the brick water tower from the days of steam. The old-fashioned* waiting room was clean and bright but untouched by modernisation. It was filled with pictures of the history of the station and area, along with many certificates for prize-winning station floral displays over the years. One photograph showed a steam train standing in the station in 1889. I was pleased to see that the platform seats were big sturdy old wooden benches, comfortable and warm to sit on. Most stations have small cold metal seats, and on a chilly day it is sometimes preferable to stand, or find some spare free newspapers to place on the seat.

* "old-fashioned" The Ld stroke is always written downwards, so cannot be joined to the F

On my return journey to the city, I felt as if I was going “back to the future”. I travelled on the underground system once again*, some of which is in the open as it goes through the outer countryside areas, and mostly in tunnels in the city. I rode up and down the escalators and marched along tiled passenger walkways to find the correct platform. Everyone had to walk up the last escalator as there had been a power failure with the equipment. By now the place was filling up fast with the rush hour crowds. When the destination board changes for a particular platform, meaning that that train has arrived, a chunk of the crowd standing there suddenly breaks away from the rest and they all stream towards the gate for that platform. I like to stand close to the gates whilst still in view of the boards, in order to avoid* that initial crush and get through quickly.

* Omission phrase "wu(n)s again"

* "avoid" Always insert the diphthong, as "evade" has a similar outline and meaning, especially in a phrase where it is out of position

London Bridge Station

The mainline train that I thought I had missed was actually delayed, and so I boarded that one very quickly. I was relieved not to have to wait another half an hour with the other travellers on the concourse, which could only get worse as rush hour approached. It was a fast train going to my home town in the south-eastern suburbs. The word fast means that it would not be stopping at the intervening stations, as well as the fact that its speed is generally, but not always, higher than the normal trains that do stop at every station. Five minutes into the journey the inspector came down the aisle. He asked to see everyone’s card or ticket, and politely thanked them as he approved each one. Inspectors often choose fast trains for their work because there is no opportunity for fare dodgers to leave the train at the next stop to avoid* getting caught.

* "avoid" Always insert the diphthong, as "evade" has a similar outline and meaning, especially in a phrase where it is out of position

I got off the train at the large station that serves our town, and had to catch another train to go back one station. The information board display indicated that it would arrive in four minutes, this went down to two minutes, and then back up to four minutes again. I am glad to say that* it finally arrived, the lighted carriages looking very welcoming as the daylight had now faded. The return journey was very short and within a few minutes I was back at the exact place where I had started. The ding of the bell meant that the train door could now be opened. I stepped out, ascended the stairs, descended them on the other side and took the bus home. All in all a good day’s travelling on our modern version of the iron horse, or at least* in one of the carriages behind it. (1603 words)

* Omission phrase "I am glad (to) s(ay) that"

* "at least" and "at last" Always insert the vowel