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Writings of Albert Morris
Article 77 - Piquant persiflage made to a secret, age-old recipe


THIS column, as readers should know because I have often told them so, has long been regarded as a site of special semantic interest and an area of outstanding syntactic beauty but, as some are asking, has it been genetically modified and is it safe to touch, let alone read?

Some believe - wrongly - that it has been marked out in an unholy and unwholesome series of government-sponsored and editorially-directed experiments that would result in this space becoming even more concentrated in the form of grammar-rich granules that could be sent to intellectually-impoverished third world countries and, with water added, be distributed as food for thought.

The words "musical" and "jobs" appeared in the introduction to a recent column. Both were not home-grown, were ir-relevant to my subject and seem-ed to be the result of cross-contamination from another column. Harmonics are not a no-table feature of my writing and "jobs", with its over-and-undertones of wage slavery and trying to catch or avoid the boss’s eye, is inimical to my work ethic as a liberated columnar spirit.

Investigations have concluded that a mere, electronic columnar blip occurred that may never recur, but readers have expressed unease and alarm that, despite its innocuous appearance, this space may be prone to insidious alien influences with harmful side-effects such as frustrational teeth-grinding, cold flushes, feeling hot under the choler, stiffening of moral rectitude, rushes of indignation to the head and lockjaw induced by immoderate yawning.

"Fear not," I said, for sudden dread had seized their troubled minds.

I explained that readers are in columnar country where free-range ideas roam uninfluenced by the corrupting influences of originality, where, in its still, cerebral seas, deep observations move with the slow, fathomless purpose of strange, sightless fish, where petty piques - mountains made out of molehills - saw-tooth the prose-purpled sky, where bitter-sweet oxymoron is blooming true, its leaves always a lot to be desired and in which paradox stands proud on the horizon and irony scuttles in the semantic shadows.

This column - and I am certain the same applies to similar spaces in this newspaper - is pure in thought, word and deed. It is also honest, sober and trustworthy, has no artificial adjectival colouring, is free from hyperactivity, especially in its passive verbs, has only editorially-approved sweeteners in its thought processes and does not contain boil-in-the-bag, heat-in-the-foil, quick-digesting opinion formers.

Much of what this space offers is a result of my training in sentence drainage, paragraph assembling and military phrase-fitting in the Royal Army Mobile Stationery Corps (The Pen-Pushers From Hell: Regimental March - The Deil’s Awa Wi The Paper-Clips).

Stationed at an African outpost of strategic grammatical importance - where the anapaests bit and the tropical tro-chees rustled in the bush - and in charge of native auxiliary verbs while overseeing a rough lot of insubordinate clauses who would neuter your gender if you turned your back on them, I soon learned the fundamentals of Army word hygiene and no-one was prouder when, after the parsing-out parade, I received my War Office Certificate of Field Service Sentence Construction from Brigade Grammarian, Col J Bracket himself.

Readers will also know that this space is a haven for misunderstood question beggars and abused or ignored apostrophes, word-worn refugees from other journals and contains a heap of nourishing things such as the delicious, heart-warming goodness of home-made prejudices, toothsome, untreated verbiage and piquant persiflage, the last made according to an age-old secret recipe of Granny Morris, the ingredients picked at rosy-fingered dawn from a 1922 Chambers Dictionary. It was from that dear old grammarian that I learned the value of two-for-the-price-of-one compound sentences, to avoid cheap-skate clichés like the plague and to seek out juicy words from which the marrow of meaning could be sucked.

What of the future? A refreshing, anti-oxidant-enriched, free-radical-free drink, containing essential columnar ingredients, suitable, with modifications either as a stimulant or soporific, and columnar-concentrated nut fudge or chewy caramels are on the cards. The possibilities, discounting any attempt to modify the column’s grammatical genes, are endless. Watch this space.


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