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Tuesday 8th January 2013

After writing yesterday's blog on the balcony of my water bungalow, as the sun went down and twilight turned to darkness and a strong breeze buffeted me I felt pretty good. I have long harboured a dream of coming away somewhere like this to do some actual writing. It would be peaceful and romantic even and I think I could get enough done between five and eight pm to justify spending the rest of the day on the beach sipping cocktails. It's worth a try. I bet I will never try.
It was only when my wife got back from having a massage and tried to log on to read my blog (internet access is very patchy here and she didn't manage to) that I suddenly had a horrible thought. What if the people who I had written about slightly viciously knew who I was and were reading my blog. That could be awkward. It seems highly unlikely for many reasons, not least because they haven't given me a second look whilst I've been here. Even if they did vaguely recognise me from some TV appearance then what are the chances that they'd know I had a blog? Or that they'd read it? Luckily the internet access makes it unlikely. But it's a small island and there's no escape and I hope they aren't reading. One day this blog will get me punched in my stupid face. Hopefully not in the next week.
I've been flitting between Peter Akroyd's "History of England (Volume 1)" and Caitlin Moran's "Moranthology" for the last couple of days. I am reading them both on my kindle which as always comes into its own on holiday. I love ebooks (having predicted them and their success to the disbelief of my friends in the early 90s) and love the fact that you can (usually) get the definition of any word just by touching it on the screen. I must admit that on a couple of occasions I have tried that with a regular book, forgetting that they don't have that function and if you want to use the old tech you have to lug another massive book with all the words in it around with you. The future is brilliant. Burn the books. Burn them.
I should know more about history than I do given I supposedly studied this subject at University. But what little I learned has largely been pushed out of my brain by euphemisms for the penis.
My favourite fact so far from Akroyd is that Manchester was originally called Mamucio, after the Latin word for a hill shaped like a breast (and why don't we have a word for that?). It got misread as Mancunio by some idiot and so the name got changed. But I will be calling all Macns, Mamms from now on. Or just tits.
I wish some of the idiots who talk about England remaining English would read a bit about the history of our country as we are a nation of mongrels with so many different invaders from so many places we almost have the right to call ourselves the melting pot of the world. It's true to a much lesser extent to the other British countries (which managed to repel at least some of their invaders and keep something approaching a continuous bloodline). But Englishness is an ever evolving property, as is the English language itself. The people getting annoyed about me using the word "airplane" (in a joke that necessitated it) don't seem to understand that our language (just like our nation) is an ever evolving and fluid thing. I think given the Americans invented the airplane they should probably get a shot at naming it, especially when they've adopted most of our language. But what I love about language (and England) is that although there are rules they aren't immovable and if enough people start talking in a certain way then language will change. Sometimes it will be a mistake, like in the case of Manchester, sometimes it will be human laziness and sometimes someone will just think of a different way of expressing something. I love language and appreciate the power that it has, but I also like the fact that things change, that if you read an English document from 1000 years ago you wouldn't understand most of it. I like that it's become "5 items or less" rather than "5 items or fewer". In this case less is more.
I also like the fact that there are some place names and words that have stayed with us for thousands of years and haven't really changed. I love being English and I love speaking English, but I am glad there is no proper definition of what either of those things are and that in another 1000 years time definitions of both things will have changed as much as they have in the last 1000.
But the book is a bit heavy going for a holiday so it's good to have Caitlin Moran prattling on about Sherlock and Lady Gaga to lighten the mood.

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