Lost for Words

Workmen have wonderful vocabularies and their swearwords can be adroitly placed. They have a sense of rhythm that poets would envy.
One of my early memories is of my father charging out of our house in Liverpool to stop garage-men swearing outside. Blake’s Garage used our street as its workshop and it was normal to have men lying under a car on the cobbles outside our house.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and as he shouted at them for swearing in front of his wife and child, I wondered what exact words we were being defended from.
Perhaps I have been searching for the spice of those forbidden words, convinced all the time that ‘real’words are elsewhere, a cache hidden in Ali Baba’s caves. So many of Grimm’s and Anderson’s fairy tales are about a secret being searched for, a treasure.
And while it can be translated as sex, even sex has to be wrapped in words now and again. The torrent of Mills and Boon (and later manifestations) testify to its impossibility, with the number of attempts.
On Desert Island Discs, Garrison Kielor said he had lost a story in a briefcase- it was stolen when he went to the gents. He tried, by saying the stories on radio, to recapture that one tale.
After a year or more, (several tales later,) he was not sure if he had repeated or reclaimed what had been in the lost story. Had he recreated it without noticing? He did not know. By that time he was well established and Lake Wobegone Town had become a new creation.
Do we write about what we have lost, trying to re-attain lost words,and with them,those past experiences that disappeared?
As for material, 500 words a day reach disadvantaged children, whereas middle-class children hear 1,000 words a day. Lost words indeed.

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