All the noise is about local elections we in Wiltshire were not part of. And despite the noise, we seem now to be in the tired doldrums between those elections and the probable Euro Elections. And those elections may not matter in the long run, but could be lethal to British politics in the short term.
We appear to be becalmed – a flat Brexit sea and no noticeable ERG gales to worry us. But there are lots of electoral runes to read and lots of rumours abroad.
One rumour is promising that next week will bring a ‘deadline’. One might normally give vent to a loud ‘Eeek!’ – but we have become a bit blasé about deadlines. In the current state of UK politics they are flexible friends to whomever is feeling lonely.
We might have been lulled into forgetting – as Easter turned into climate emergency – that we are in fact in a ‘flextension’. This may or may not (rather like that other May) last till October turns into November.
Yes, as if the word ‘Brexit’ was not a really ugly blight on our oh-so-flexible English language, they have added ‘flextension’.
At least that version of the word puts the spoken emphasis on the ‘tension’ – the stress and depression of the whole extended process. This word started out as a hyphenated ‘flex-extension’ – even in some newspapers as a ‘flexi-extension’ or, worse still, a ‘flexextension”.
Whatever you do don’t go Googling ‘flex-extension’. You may end up in an Amazon jungle of electric flex extensions leading you up the garden path – so you can plug in your electric clipper to have a go at the neighbours’ encroaching hedge.
So as campaigning continues in the coming days (months?) to take the Brexit high ground and/or the (weeks) till the low ground of the Euro Elections, we should remember the advice – or command? – written round the edge of the pulpit in St George’s Church, Preshute: ”Take heed how ye hear…”
Flextension apart, we can often be surprised by words that are not new, but look newly minted – or just silly.
When scientists captured the first image of a black hole, a young lady scientist was asked on Channel 4 News about the strength of gravitational pull exerted by a black hole. ”If”, she said with her calm seriousness, “you were approaching the black hole feet first, your body would become a string of atoms.”
That strong! She went to say that this is called spagettification. The presenter giggled briefly. How nice I thought that scientists can have fun with a black hole – however distant it might be.
But it turns out that spagettification is a real word of some standing used by astrophysicists. It was coined by no less a scientist than Stephen Hawking in his classically difficult read A Brief History of Time.
The alternative word for this effect of extreme – and apparently ‘non-homogeneous’ – gravity is ‘the noodle effect’. And that’s not a word with strong European roots. It’s even a bit comic.