Thursday 14 April 2011

Word-pecking Bibliomancy

I opened an old dictionary today, just to find a funny word. And the first thing that my lazy eye dropped on was this:

Word-pecker, one that play's with Words

And, yes, the apostrophe is in the original. But I was perturbed, perturbed and frightened. Have dictionaries turned against me as the fleas in a flea circus sometimes turn upon their trainer and, driving him into an itching frenzy, pursue him into the sea? I don't want to be a variant wood-pecker.

The Romans used to practice the Sortes Virgilianae, where they would open a copy of the Aeneid at random, stick in a pin and read the verse, which they would interpret as being about them or their future. Others do the same with the Bible or Jilly Cooper novels. I do it with dictionaries. That's how I know the practice is called bibliomancy. But if dictionaries turn against Inky Fool, then whither my desiderata and ambitions? Whither my megalomaniac whimsies?

So I glanced tearfully across at the facing page and found:

Wind-mills in the Head, empty Projects

The brain-scan results were unexpected


  1. So that's the answer- I've windmills in my head!

  2. Keep your pecker up! No crying.

  3. Um, did you mean 'whither'?

  4. I might have done, but, purely for the sake of variety, I'll change it.

  5. Well, changing it to 'whither' works, but, for the record, simply replacing the ?s for !s would also have been correct...

  6. O what is man? Wherefore does he why? Whence did he whence? And whither is he withering?

  7. Precisely. Wither my hubris!