Wednesday 26 November 2014


I was reading the excellent Twelve Curious Deaths in France by John Goldsmith, when I found that one of the characters was described as having:

…what I always thought was an excessive veneration of The Blessed Virgin, at time almost amounting to Collyridianism.

You see, Collyridianism is one of my favourite words, but it’s very hard to drop it into conversation. Unless the conversation happens to be about the heretical belief that the Virgin Mary is herself a goddess, which the conversation very rarely is.

Partially, I like it because of it sounds a bit like collywobbles and a bit like Collyweston (an old word for nonsense). But it’s related to neither of them. Etymologically, comes from the Greek kollurida, which meant little cakes. This is because the original Collyridians would bake little cakes and sacrifice them to Mary. Actually, that’s another reason I like the word. I like the fact that there’s a heresy named after cake.

Anyway, I thoroughly recommend Twelve Curious Deaths in France, if you like mysterious, funny short stories.


Friday 14 November 2014

Rhetorical Advertising

Just a link today to this article that I wrote for the New York Times on the rhetoric of advertising slogans.

Be all you can be.
To be or not to be.
Et c.
Et c.