A Monster Calls

I went to see A Monster Calls on Friday night, and really enjoyed it. Without spoiling much, it was a tougher watch than I expected, but still quite beautiful and touching at the same time.

I’ve been ruminating on the word monster since then. While the meaning hasn’t changed greatly in the many years its been in use, I’ve been interested in its complexity and layers of meaning since learning something of its etymology a few years ago. It comes from the old Latin monstrum, meaning divine omen or portent. The appearance of hideous figures was believed to indicate the arrival of some great event. Monstrum is derived from the verb monere, which means both to warn and instruct. From this root also came the verb monstrare, meaning to show or point out. This word gained the prefix de-, with demonstrare meaning to demonstrate, with the prefix meaning entirely.

So while the words demonstrate and monster might seem quite different on the surface, there are some basic similarities in their individual meanings. The appearance of a monster was believed to demonstrate that something momentous was going to happen, and throughout all the time we’ve been telling stories, monsters have been used to demonstrate one thing or another, and instruct us in some important life lessons. Continue reading

Little Christmas

In most Christian traditions, today is the last day of Christmas. The most common name for this day is The Epiphany (meaning a moment of sudden realisation or revelation). It’s so called because it was believed to be the day that Jesus revealed his divinity, when the three magi arrived to see him.

As well as religious celebrations, the day is marked in different ways around the world. If you’re lucky enough to be Spanish or Italian, you might get extra gifts on 5th or 6th January. Despite the various traditions throughout Continental Europe though, in the UK and Ireland, we don’t do too much to celebrate the end of Christmas, unless you count taking down the tree and decorations. For most people here, the Christmas period lasts until New Year’s Day, and then life for most people goes back to normal. At least when I was a child the school holidays didn’t end until the 6th (although that changed a few years ago) and I could still enjoy the first few days of January playing with my new toys, though there was always a creeping dread as it got closer to going-back-to-school time.

In the past though, the Epiphany was quite a big deal. Continue reading

6,999

My god, what a number. Objectively, you might think it only somewhat interesting, largely, if not solely, due to those three consecutive nines. But it has a special, infuriating significance for me. Arriving home yesterday evening and going to my laptop, one of my primary thoughts was of my blog activity while I was away, a daily thought for me.

And as I was opening the laptop, a more specific thought occurred to me: having started the blog in May, I realised that the yearly section of the stats page was now slightly more interesting. Even though I’d only been blogging for six and a bit months, I was still curious to see what my final total views was. So I had as look and it was… Continue reading

2017

So here it is, 2017. Hopefully it’s the start of a great year for you. Hopefully none of your favourite celebrities die (but statistically, some probably will). Hopefully if you’re living in Trump’s American or in Post-Brexit Britain, things aren’t too hard for you.

Typically of course, I’m most interested in how you actually say the name of this year. Is it “twenty seventeen,” or “two thousand and seventeen?” Or even “two thousand seventeen,” if you’re American. For me, there’s no hesitation: Continue reading