At 8:12 am today I took part in ‘All the Bells’ to ring in the first day of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The event was masterminded by Martin Creed and the aim was to ring all the bells in the country as quickly and loudly as possible for 3 minutes. It was timed to be exactly 12 hours before the opening ceremony of the Games, which starts at 20:12 this evening.
At St. Michael’s Church, Boldmere in Sutton Coldfield we chimed the heaviest 6 of our 8 church bells. An official Olympic volunteer at the football in Coventry, Debbie, came along in her (very smart) uniform to support us and took the picture below (I’m the one in the middle with the black T-shirt).
All this Olympic mania made me wonder what happened to the 100 chosen to be ‘Olympic Storytellers’ after the invitation for us all to apply last year. I wasn’t successful and have heard nothing about it since. But a quick trawl of the web has thrown up the Olympic Story Tellers’ Website. Here each of selected writers has published their news and views of the Olympics. There are poems, photographs and blog posts – take a look if you get a minute.
Did you know that many of our swear words have religious roots? Or have you any idea where the phrase ‘mincing your words’ comes from? I’d never really thought about it until I heard Thought for the Day on Radio 4 last Monday with Clifford Longley.
He explained how years ago swearing in public could get a person arrested and punished. Bad language would be noted down by the police officer who had witnessed it and then, in court, the piece of paper would be silently shown to the judge so that he could decide on the offender’s comeuppance.
The most offensive swearing had its basis in religion and therefore contravened the commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Hence, the reason that many people took offence.
To avoid the repercussions of their bad language, people used to ‘mince their words’ to disguise what they were really saying. Here are a few of the minced expressions:
By Our Lady (which referred to the Virgin Mary) became Bloody
God Blind Me became Blimey
Christ became Crikey or Cripes
By God’s Wounds became Zounds (I have to admit I’ve never heard of this one)
These minced words passed into common use at different times in the last few hundred years. So, if you write historical fiction and have characters with a tendency to bad language – take some time to discover exactly what they would have said and whether they would have been in danger of getting arrested for it!
All the names went into a cereal bowl (not with the Weetabix!) and the winner was drawn.
It is … (pause for effect with camera close-ups of all the contestants to see how they’re bearing up to the tension) …
Thank you to everybody that entered – it’s reassuring to know that I’m not blogging into a big black hole where nobody’s listening!
No, not the spongy, creamy, totally bad for you kind – CAKE is a project to help unpublished writers get their work in front of
the public. It’s based in Manchester and distributes short stories free of charge via a network of cafes and bars. Each issue of CAKE is also available to download from the website.
There’s no payment for the stories printed (as you would expect since no-one appears to be making any money out of this) but CAKE will do their best to give feedback on any stories submitted plus, if your story is selected for publication, you will also get a plug for your website/blog.
Stories up to 2200 words will be considered and there are no rules about having to live in Manchester to submit. Full details of the submission process are here.
Sadly, those of us who have been published in magazines are not eligible to submit stories but there is still something useful for us to take away from the FAQs on the website. Apparently over half the submissions they receive are about death in one form or another, so if this is the subject of your story then you need to find a unique way of making your tale stand out from the crowd or write about something completely different. I’m sure this advice will apply equally well to any short story competition that you choose to enter.
By the way – did you know that this is Love Your Local Bookshop Week? It runs from 30th June to 7th July. Reading about it made my conscience prick about the purchases of both traditional and e-books that I make at Amazon. So I used my postcode here and was amazed to find that I would have to travel 15.66 miles to get to my nearest independent book seller, even though I live close to a large city. These shops have suffered badly from the growth of internet and supermarket purchasing and, sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any way back for them now.