In a word: Fourth

When you realize you are the fourth child, you are really hoping that the split is two boys and three girls.  Woe betide you if you are a boy and you have three sisters.  It could also be as interesting, notice I didn’t say intolerable) if you are a girl with three brothers.

Hang on, I know someone who was in that exact same situation.  Fortunately, being a girl and the youngest, she could do no wrong in the eyes of her father.

But I digress (as usual)

The meaning of fourth is self-evident, just count to four and it’s the fourth number, perhaps better explained by the fact it is one after the third in a series

Then we use it with other words like,

Fourth-gear, usually reserved for the highway where one expects to geta clear run.  Of course, with more and more cars on the road, sometimes it’s difficult to get out of second.

The fourth estate, no, not what a rich person owns, along with a lot more one guesses, but another name for the press.

One fourth, your share of an estate, if of course, you have three other siblings.  And, in murder mysteries, usually those fourths seem to die mysteriously, and your fourth becomes a third, a half, and then you go to jail.

in fourth place, where it seems all the horse I back run

And,

This is not to be confused with the word forth, which sounds the same but means something entirely different, like

I’m sure we’ve all been told to go forth and be something or other, which means to go forward or come out of hiding

It is also a Scottish river, one notably called the Firth of Forth, and if it sounds odd, so do a lot things in Scotland

You could also place back and forth, much the same as you would in a hospital waiting for the birth of your first child.

In a word: Arm

Like leg, arm is a word that is mostly associated with a body part.

Like being legless, another description for being drunk, being rendered ‘armless’ means you are no threat, in a rather awful but funny way by saying it.

I guess we all have a dash of ‘sick’ humour in all of us.

However, arm can also be used to describe a part of a structure too.

It could also describe the arm of an ‘armchair’.

But…

Arm also means to give people weapons like guns, usually from an armoury.

I’m guessing that a whole lot of people with arms is an army!

You can also say that taking those weapons away would be to disarm them.

It might take the long arm of the law to do it, too.

And to disarm someone doesn’t necessarily mean to take away their arms, but to ‘charm’ them with your wit and humour.

An arm can also be a river or streams tributary, so I could say instead of staying on the main river, I’ll take the ‘named’ arm, but just remember, sometimes this can be dangerous, getting off the main route.

On a boat, there is a yardarm, and this was once used to hang seamen who committed serious crimes such as mutiny.

A call to arms was to declare war,

And lastly, an arm of the defence services could be any one of Army, Navy, Marines or Airforce.

Just steer clear of the Navy for the aforementioned reasons.

 

In a word: Dog

Yes, it’s that little or big furry thing that’s also known as man’s best friend, a dog.

But the word has a number of other meanings, like a lot of three-letter words.

It can also mean to follow someone closely.

If you are going to the greyhound racing, you could say you’re going to the dogs, or it could mean something entirely different, like deteriorating in manner and ethics.

Then there are those employers who make their workers work very hard, and therefore could be described as making them work like a dog.

Some might even say that it is a dog of a thing, i.e. of poor quality.

There’s a dogleg, which could aptly name some of those monstrous golf course holes that sometimes present the challenge of going through the wood rather than around it.

Tried that and failed many times!

A dog man used to ride the crane load from the ground to the top, an occupation that would not stand the test of occupational health and safety anymore.

And of course, in a battle to the death, it’s really dog eat dog, isn’t it?

In a word: Angle

We all know this to be an intersection of two lines like a crossroad is at a 90-degree angle

But…

It’s an angle bracket that keeps the shelf up, hopefully with books on it.

Did you know that it was something someone did in order to get something?

She began to angle for an invitation to a party that she would not normally be invited to, or he has angled his answers to the prospective employer in a bid to be more likely to be selected for the position.

It can also refer to a position, or judgement, so that someone might say, try and see it from my angle, or another angle.

Or that it refers to fishing, and the fisherman or woman is known as an angler.

It can be a position from which something is viewed, or in crime parlance, the CSI people will work out the angle of the bullet’s entry do they can locate the position of the shooter.

Angle can refer to people of Germanic origin, such as an Anglo Saxon

And, here’s something even I didn’t know, in Astrology, it is each of the four cardinal points of a chart, from which the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth houses extend anticlockwise respectively.

What we would all like to have…

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A colourful garden, and the time to look after it.

To be honest, I had expected, when I finally retired, that I would have all the time in the world to build and tend a garden.

Flowers here and there, a few fruit trees, like an orange, a Mandarin, a lemon and lime, perhaps a mango, all that fruit that costs a fortune in the supermarket.

Then, in a corner a small herb garden with the basics, you know, rosemary, thyme, sage, a chili bush, dill, and parsley.

Then, some tomatoes, pumpkins, runner beans, peas, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, maybe lettuce of two.

A good idea.

But, just don’t have the time.

Good thing we have public gardens we can go visit, and think to ourselves if only I had more time, and enthusiasm, my garden could look like that.

Searching for locations: Shanghai, China, by night.

When we arrive at the embarkation site we find at least 100 buses all lined up and parked, and literally thousands of Chinese and other Asians streaming through the turnstiles to get on another boat leaving earlier than ours.

Buses were just literally arriving one after the other stopping near where we were standing with a dozen or so other groups waiting patiently, and with people were everywhere it could only be described as organized chaos.

Someone obviously knew where everyone was supposed to go, and when it was our turn, we joined the queue.  There were a lot of people in front of us, and a lot more behind, so I had to wonder just how big the boat was.

We soon found out.

And it was amusing to watch people running, yes, they were actually running, to get to the third level, or found available seating.  Being around the first to board, we had no trouble finding a seat on the second level.

I was not quite sure what the name of the boat was, but it had 3 decks and VIP rooms and it was huge, with marble staircases, the sort you could make a grand entrance on.  The last such ornate marble staircase we had seen was in a hotel in Hong Kong, and that was some staircase.

But who has marble staircases in a boat?

We’re going out across the water as far as the Bund and then turn around and come back about 30 to 40 minutes.   By the time everyone was on board, there was no room left on the third level, no seats on the second level nor standing room at the end of the second level where the stairs up to the third level were.

No one wanted to pay the extra to go into the VIP lounge.

We were sitting by very large windows where it was warm enough watching the steady procession of the colored lights of other vessels, and outside the buildings.

It was quite spectacular, as were some of the other boats going out on the harbor.

All the buildings of the Bund were lit up

And along that part of the Bund was a number of old English style buildings made from sandstone, and very impressive to say the least.

On the other side of the harbour were the more modern buildings, including the communications tower, a rather impressive structure.

I had to go to the rear of the vessel to get a photo, a very difficult proposition given here was no space on the railing, not even on the stairs going up or down.  It was just luck I managed to get some photos between passengers heads.

And, another view of that communications tower:

There was no doubt this was one of the most colourful night-time boat tours I’ve ever been on.  Certainly, when we saw the same buildings the following day, they were not half as spectacular in daylight.

I never did get up to the third level to see what the view was like.

In a word: Maybe

This word, where I live, had taken on a new meaning.  We have telephone scammers who ask your name when you answer the phone, and when you say yes, they hang up.

It doesn’t take much imagination how they can use that recording.

So, I now answer the phone with maybe, which confuses the real callers who want to know if it is you.

Of course, maybe is one of those words that have so many meaning, but the best one is to use it while you have time to think of a proper answer.

For example, did you get the potatoes?  You haven’t been out, it slipped your mind, or you just plain forgot, but run with a ‘maybe’ so you can judge the reaction.

Angry face, you know no matter what, you’re in trouble.

Genial face, you know that it didn’t really matter and all is forgiven.

Then there’s the person who doesn’t know you and comes up to you in a crowded room.  Are you [put name here]?

Maybe.  We want to know if we’re in trouble, or if it for something good.

Using ‘maybe’ in writing probably isn’t the best word to us, but I like defying the experts.  You can always find a maybe or two in any of my books.

I want one in my backyard

Just what everyone needs in their backyard:  A Gazebo, or a small bandstand!

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Often when we go to different places, it gives us ideas, sometimes ideas beyond what is possible.

I have always wanted a gazebo, perhaps not on the same grand scale as the one above, but one where we can put a BBQ and a few seats, and relax on a sunny afternoon.

Shade, a cool breeze, a cold glass of wine or beer, and the aroma of meat cooking on an open flame.

But…

Reality sets in.  The backyard isn’t big enough, so my dream will stay just that.

But I will frame the photograph and put it in my office as a reminder that one day, maybe, it might be possible.

In a word: Stern

It’s what I’d always expected of my teachers, having to stand up the front of the classroom and look like they were in control.

These days, not so much, but back in my day, teachers, and particularly the men, were to be feared, and stern expressions were the features of an effective teacher.

So, in this context, it means a hardness or severity of manner.

Whilst in a sense that was frightening to us kids, another form of the word also can be used to express a forbidding or gloomy appearance.

Grandfathers also have that stern look, but it’s more forbidding, more authoritarian, more severe, more austere, well, you get the picture.  A six-year-old would be trembling in his or her boots.

There again, in facing up to either possibility above, you could stand firm with a stern resolve not to buckle under the pressure.

Of course, not a good idea if you’re facing a tank (with a stern-looking tank master)

Then…

If you’re standing at the end of the boat, not the front, but the rear, you would be standing at the stern of the boat, or ship.

Oddly, when issuing instructions to go in reverse, not something you would say if you were on the bridge, you would instead say, or possibly yell, full speed astern, because you’re about to hit an iceberg.

Or some idiot in a jet ski who likes to think he or she can beat the bullet (or 65,000 tonnes of a ship that has very little mobility).

The devil features prominently in a lot of sayings

For instance, I’ve heard someone mutter, “the devil you say…”

Or another, who was telling his friend, who, at the time was in a spot of bother, ‘You’re between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

Wrong.  We all know the sea is green, not blue.

But whatever the circumstances, the devil seems to pop up a lot.

For instance,

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

It seems I’ve heard that somewhere before, or at least a part of it.  Hmmm.

Maybe you’ve “gone to the devil”.  Can that be paired with “going downhill at a rapid rate of knots”?

OK, it’s impossible to go downhill using the speed measure of knots, that only applies to boats, so who came up with that saying, a landlubber sailor?

Hang on, isn’t there a team called the New Jersey Devils?  Funny, I didn’t see if the players had horns or not, and they were using hockey sticks not tridents.

Maybe I misheard.

Neutral men are the devil’s allies, therefore there must be a lot of devils in Switzerland

The devil finds work for idle hands, oh yes, my grandmother used this often on me whenever she caught me doing nothing, or digging around in her magazine room … which was a lot

But my favorite,

When in hell, only the devil can show you the way out.

I’m still trying to find him!