Manspreading, Wine o’clock and Awesomesauce?

Every year, and sometimes more than once a year, the Oxford English Dictionary releases a list of the new words that have been added to its august, learned and respected pages. I was really surprised to find that it was only in 2015 that the word ‘declutter’, as a noun, a verb, and almost every other part of speech, was added to the OED.

‘Decluttering’ has been a major feature of our family life since the middle of last year. It was almost as though, with the news that we would be moving from Sussex to Lincolnshire, and the beginning of all that inevitable ‘decluttering’, the OED decided to give the process that was about to dominate our lives its very own endorsement.

Of course, ‘declutter’ was not the only new word to be added to the OED in August 2015. There was also ‘manspreading’, ‘cupcakery’, ‘wine o’clock’ and ‘awesomesauce’. As I write this, I am desperately trying to think of a way in which these words could be used to improve and enhance my way of communicating with the people I meet every day.

When I travel on public transport I often encounter ‘manspreading’ (apparently, this is the way that men (!) spread out on a seat that is meant for two people so that they do not have to share the space). However, I struggle to think of a reason why such rudeness and selfishness needs to be dignified with a special word of its own.

I am not sure why I would ever want to describe a bakery that produces cup-cakes as a ‘cupcakery’, although I can think of the odd time when the phrase ‘wine o’clock’ might be useful!

I wonder if anyone has any idea what the last of the new words in my list means? ‘Awesomesauce’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the gravy you may be pouring over your roast dinner, nor is it a description of the latest culinary trend to emerge from the kitchens of all those celebrity chefs that grace our televisions. No! ‘Awesomesauce’ is simply another word for ‘excellent’.

It seems strange that my curiosity to discover when the word ‘declutter’ entered the English language led me down such cluttered and unnecessary by-ways.

Of course, there is nothing new about this level of obfuscation! It is so much easier for us to wrap things up in fancy language than to acknowledge the reality of our lives in simple (and frankly honest) terms.

In St Luke’s gospel we read of the call of Levi the tax collector. Two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire used local collaborators as vehicles for raising the funds they needed to finance their occupation of much of the known world. Those tax collectors were the pariahs of the societies in which they lived and worked. They would definitely have been guilty of ‘manspreading’ if there had been such a thing as public transport. However, in just two verses of Luke’s gospel, we read of how someone who had definitely taken the wrong path through life turned all of that around.

Luke tells us that Jesus said to Levi: “Follow me.” Then we are told: “He got up, left everything, and followed him.”

Now isn’t that the ultimate example of ‘decluttering’ one’s life? There are no long and fancy words, no new words had to be invented. There was no rushing to the ‘cupcakery’ to get a few provisions for the journey, and no need to wait until ‘wine o’clock’ to find the strength to follow that ‘awesomesauce’ call from Jesus.

On 15th May the Church will be celebrating the Feast of Pentecost (it used to be called ‘Whitsun’). The Church will be remembering the moment when God sent his Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us on our journeys through this life. The Holy Spirit did not come with a load of fancy trappings. The Holy Spirit came ‘pre-decluttered’ as a beacon to guide us into the life that God calls us all to lead.

I pray that you will find the strength to declutter all that stops you living your lives to the full, in the strength of God’s Holy Spirit. Amen.

Revd Stephen Buckman

Stella’s May

Button to chin till May be in,
Cast not a clout till May be out.
[Best wait!]

If you change in June you change too soon,
Change in July? You’ll catch cold bye and bye.
Change in August if you must,
But be sure to remember, change back in September!

The ancient sages were nothing if not pessimistic, and who can blame them, the weather lately has change from one hour to another!

One saying I have found, as I said earlier, very reliable So many fogs in March, so many frosts in May. So watch out, for March has had many mists and fogs, some in the first weeks when Buchan has a cold spell: 9 – 14th May.

On a cheerful note – When Mulberry tree begins to shoot, the last frost has gone. Have you a mulberry tree?
(There are Mulberry trees in the gardens of Grimsthorpe Castle – Ed)

May, the month of flowers – yellow buttercups, cowslips, dandelions, laburnum, blue speedwell, ground ivy, bluebells, dog violets. The horse chestnut pyramids of bloom, may blossom, apple and cherry blossom, mountain ash, lilac all scent the air.

The second Sunday was Chestnut Sunday when the horse chestnut trees were in bloom. This was celebrated by the Quakers in memory of the Pilgrim Fathers. In Lincolnshire, we have Tulip Sunday and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is 24th – 28th May.

I miss my walks in the woods and fields but it is amazing what you can see from the kitchen window. My long garden is full of wild life occasionally disturbed by cats or my dog, but the birds seem to understand the dog will not hurt them and ignore her completely, feeding within feet of her.

I have a flock of sparrows – about twenty which swoop in twice a day for food, they love sunflower hearts. This morning, I watched a tiny mouse which came to feed under the feeder.

Later, what I thought was a mouse turned out to be a wren amidst the snowdrops in the border. I am sure we have far more wrens in our gardens than we ever see.

If I am late feeding the birds, a robin comes to the window to remind me! It sits on the dustbin under the window looking in!

I have a pair of robins although I cannot tell the male from the female as their plumage is the same. Sometimes they come together to feed. One morning she fluffed out her feathers whilst he serenaded her. His head was held back, all his feathers were flattened and his tail elevated so that the tip pointed forward.

He sang and sang, swaying to and fro. His audience stood motionless and watched. Then he fed her with some mealworms from the feeder.

Robins do nest each year in my garden. The maximum recorded lifespan of the robin in the wild is eleven years, so although few achieve anything like that, I hope “my” robins will be around for a few more years.

Blackbirds also nest in my garden only yards away from my window in a jasmine shrub on a wall.

What a dull world it would be without our birds and their songs.

This is the weather the cuckoo likes,
And so do I!
When showers betumble the chestnut spikes
And nestlings fly
Thomas Hardy

May 2nd and 30th are the two Bank Holidays this month, so I hope the weather is kind especially then.

We have a new moon on the 6th and a full moon on the 21st May. May 5th is Ascension Day and May 15th is Whit Sunday or Pentecost. Trinity Sunday follows on May 22nd.

Gardens now demand our time and lawns require regular mowing. How good it is to be out and active, but also to find time to sit in the peaceful surroundings of nature and relax.

When did you first see this year swallows, swifts, house martins or butterflies or hear the cuckoo??