Thursday 28 July 2011


Merdurinous means composed of dung and urine, and if you can't find a use for that word, you have too few enemies. Merdurinous is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, which makes it a particularly satisfying word to say or shout. I've tested.

It was coined by Ben Jonson in a poem called The Famous Voyage, which I thoroughly recommend you read. It's a mock epic about two men who take a boat up the Fleet River in London. The Fleet River wasn't exactly a river, it was more of a ditch, and in effect an open sewer and the smelliest stinkiest place in Elizabethan London.

Jonson's poem is about two men who sail up it for a bet, just to see if their noses can take it. There's also an informative little digression of fast food in renaissance London, which shouldn't be read by any cat lovers:

Cats there lay divers had been flayed and roasted
And, after mouldy grown, again were toasted;
Then selling not, a dish was ta'en to mince 'em,
But still, it seemed, the rankness did convince 'em

The Fleet River has now been covered over and filled in, but the name survives. When people refer to the British press as Fleet Street, it's a metonym for the street that was once a river.

Jonson's full poem is here.

The truth about Fleet Street

1 comment:

  1. i just wrote this commentary about the bond market and someone responded with a link to your blog so i thought you might enjoy this.......................................................................................... I just walked across 52nd Street to get some lunch and it is a beautiful sunny spring Friday in midtown Manhattan. In contrast the mood in the bond market is less than festive and I think that I can employ one of my favorite words, merdurinous, to describe it. The belly of the curve held in early in the day (5s 10s moved from about 109 to about 112)but has since flattened. I think mortgages are partly the culprit as one paid up subscriber related info that 3s were lagging Treasuries by about 8 ticks. Fast money was a seller. We have also heard some talk of rate locking by prospective issuers for next week. In addition MBS probably suffer from the tapering conversations which have run rampant this week as many believe that when the Fed slows down the operation MBS will be the first instrument to experience the slings and arrows of that new policy. Risk assets are still ascendant as equities reverse the late day pallor which emerged yesterday.One can observe that same profile in Europe where Italy and Spain and Greece have outperformed Bunds by 8 basis points to 28 basis points. Finally, the yen has breached the 103 mark and the market wobble which began when the yen crossed 100 might intensify in Tokyo time with the advent of this new weaker level. I would also add that the race to lower yields yesterday probably squeezed out a fair number of shorts.