Rejoice! Lockdown is almost over – sort of. I was hoping this would be a universal moment of ‘euneirophrenia’: the feeling of contentment that comes from waking up from a pleasant dream. Sadly, for those exiting lockdown to enter into tier three, it probably won’t feel all that much different to being in actual lockdown. There is a ‘fremescence’ – a growing murmur of dissatisfaction – on the Tory back-benches on this topic like no other.
Talk about straining at gnats and gulping down camels. Suffer over 75,000 excess deaths due to the mismanagement of the response to the pandemic? No problem. Plunge the country into the worst depression in 300 years due to said mis-management? No problem. Allow the government to line its pals’ pockets at the taxpayers’ expense? No problem. Inflict the harm of Johnson’s thin-gruel Brexit, or even no-deal Brexit, on the people, on top of a pandemic, during an economic downturn, in mid-winter? No problem. Obey measures to cope with a public health crisis? No way! Threaten revolution!
The sad truth is that our hapless government learned nothing from the first lockdown, and so it entered into this one two weeks late – again. There doesn’t appear to be a sensible strategy for getting out of this one, any more than there was for the last one, either. Those vaccines can’t come too soon. Science to the rescue. That’s our only escape route.
As if the pandemic weren’t enough, anybody who knows anything about trade and economics will have the ‘mubble-fubbles’ (a 16th-century term for a feeling of despondency and a sense of impending doom) over Brexit. The Bank of England (now headed up by a Brexiter, Andrew Bailey), the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Institute of Fiscal Studies all tell us the impact and scarring of Brexit will be far worse than the pandemic.
What is our government doing about it? Nothing. They’re all ignoring it, hoping you won’t notice it, under the cover of Covid-19. ‘Politicasters’ (unstatesmanlike practitioners of politics) the lot of them. If challenged, all they do is spout ‘cromulent’ (seemingly legitimate but ultimately spurious) platitudes. We are being led to ruin by a ‘crambazzled’ (old Yorkshire for prematurely aged from excess drinking), ‘cakewalking’ (prancing stage dance with backward tilt) ‘mammothrept’ (spoilt child) and his phonus-bolonus (exaggerated trickery or nonsense) Brexit. What a ‘constultation’ (collective act of stupidity) Brexit is.
It is perfectly understandable if this ‘anxiogenic’ situation (giving rise to anxiety) makes you feel ‘bewittered’ (full of nervous apprehension). The UK government’s behaviour seems to be geared towards securing the maximum unhappiness of its citizens.
To guard against becoming too ‘yonderly’ (a 19th-century adjective meaning preoccupied, downcast, and weak in body and spirit) and in the hope of giving ‘respair’ (fresh hope), here is the final week’s daily compilation of:
- A political word to vent our frustrations with our elected representatives;
- A short Shakespearian quote that has passed into common usage, to remind us how much of a debt we owe to him for the expansion and embellishment of our language (and because I suffer from bardolatry);
- An exquisite word from our beautiful language, and
- A ‘mood’ word to help us focus on the positives in life.
Ipsedixitism: the dogmatic insistence that something is a ‘fact’ without providing any supporting evidence.
“My library was dukedom large enough.”
The Tempest, Act 1 Scene 2
Reverie: a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream.
Rapture: a feeling of intense pleasure or joy.
Pecksniffian: Mr. Pecksniff is a character in Charles Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit. He was a pompous hypocrite given to pontificating, who palmed off the work of others as his own and lined his pockets at their expense.
So distribution should undo excess,
And each man have enough.
King Lear, Act 4 Scene 1
Chanticleer: a rooster in a fairy tale
Ebullient: cheerful and full of energy.
Mugwump: one that withdraws their support from a political group or organization and instead backs their erstwhile rivals. It was coined in 1884 in America when Republicans withdrew their support from their presidential candidate due to his corruption, and instead supported the Democratic candidate. The modern-day equivalent is the Lincoln Project, which was set up by Republicans for Biden. Boris Johnson, who, ahead of the 2019 UK general election, called Jeremy Corbyn a “mutton-headed mugwump”, was therefore unintentionally complimenting rather than insulting him. Mugwumps have great political integrity.
O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
Measure for Measure, Act 2 Scene 2
Solace: comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness.
Mollitous: luxurious or sensuous
Bloviator: a speaker of empty rhetoric and blower of hot air; someone who talks a lot but says very little (19th century).
Be great in act as you have been in thought.
King John, Act 5 Scene 1
Patulous: spreading (of the boughs of a tree, for example)
Effervescent: vivacious and enthusiastic
Misprision: neglect or wrong performance of official duty; misconduct or maladministration by a public official.
An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.
Richard III, Act 4 Scene 4
Edacious: having to do with eating or fond of eating
Fun: enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure.
Pilgarlick: poor wretch; self-pitying person.
For courage mounteth with occasion.
King John, Act 2 Scene 1
Starrify: to decorate with stars
Maffick: to celebrate exuberantly and boisterously
Malversant: breaker of trust of public office, from ‘malversation’ (16th century).
Boldness be my friend:
Arm me, audacity, from head to foot!
Cymbeline, Act 1 Scene 6
Epiphany: a moment of sudden and great revelation or realisation.
Audacious: showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.
With thanks to I CAN children’s charity, The Oxford English Dictionary, The Thesaurus, The Phrontistery, Open Source Shakespeare and, particularly for political terms, the always amusing tweets of locution-queen Susie Dent (@susie_dent).
If you missed previous weeks’ Weird and Wonderful Words, you can find Week One’s ‘here’, Week Two’s ‘here’ and Week Three’s ‘here’.