Archives for category: General

I came across a great website the other day. It was referenced in a BBC article on the best countries to live in. It’s called The Good Country.

Want to know how your country ranks globally across a range of different criteria? Maybe you’re thinking of relocating or going on an extended break somewhere and want to check out your new host nation? The Good Country is just what you need.

The Good Country measures each country’s global contribution along a bunch of general axes:

  • Science & Technology
  • Culture
  • International Peace & Security
  • World Order
  • Planet & Climate
  • Prosperity & Equality
  • Health & Wellbeing

Within each axis it then subdivides into sub-criteria. For example, under Planet & Climate they score you according your performance in these areas:

  • Ecological footprint
  • Environmental agreements compliance
  • Hazardous pesticides exports
  • Renewable energy share
  • Ozone

Each country is ranked on each axis, which rolls up to an overall rank. Spoiler alert – Finland is top.

The Good Country is a fascinating resource if you like those macro indicators and trends.


I used the phrase ‘between you and I’ in an email the other day, thinking this was the correct version of the second pronoun in that colloquial clause. Fortunately, the subjective and objective pronouns for the second person – you – are the same.

Not so the first person singular – or plural for that matter – where we have to go with either I or me, or we or us. I thought that between you and I was slightly over-formal, but correct.

Wrong! Apparently it’s between you and me, because the you and me are objects of between, if you get the grammar there. Making this mistake appears to have vexed a lot of people, if you google the incorrect version of the phrase…

I guess I could argue that email is a hybrid form of spoken English and written English and, therefore, I can get away with it. Maybe I’m clutching at straws. Far better to do what one of my American bosses used to do a few years ago. ‘Between us girls’ he would say, even if there were no people of the female persuasion in the conversation.

Or is it between we girls? Argh! Same mistake as between you and ! :-).

And so we conclude this short burst of 3 of my favourite examples from Jeff Kacirk’s Forgotten English calendar, a daily dip into ancient and obscure words. If you want to see more of them, you’ll have to make a purchase, unless a showcase a few more towards the end of the year.

My last choice is:

Blatteration. Glorious! Defined in Samuel Johnson’s famous mid-eighteenth-century dictionary as a senseless roar, from the Latin blatteratio, which I’d never heard in my years of classical study. It’s also related to blatent (sic), as in bellowing.

It might not be related to blatant, as in screamingly obvious, which is a pity…

I can’t see this word finding its way into everyday twenty-first-century conversation, can you?

Today I’m continuing this week’s 3-part series of my favourite days from Jeff Kacirk’s Forgotten English page-a-day calendar, which sits proudly on my desk.

My second selection is this:


A glorious word, not least because it comes up on my birthday. It’s a great word to enunciate as loudly as possible, giving one a relaxing sense of release.

It means a difficult or complicated situation, and originates in Southern Vermont where presumably these kids of quandaries were regular enough to coin a word for them.

I haven’t a clue as to the etymology of the word, and neither does anyone else from a quick trawl of the ‘net, but I love it all the same.

This week my three posts will be my favourite examples from a 2019 page-a-day calendar, a rather nice gift that I received for Christmas. I have a soft spot for linguistics and language, so this daily nugget is right up my street.

Jeff Kacirk’s Forgotten English is a delightful daily combination of a defined ‘olde’ word or phrase and a short celebration of something or someone notable. The word and the celebration are often connected.

Here’s my first choice:

For All Waters

This feeds right into my generalist leanings. If you’re for all waters it means that you can turn yourself to any job, rather like one of those fish that can thrive in either the sea or rivers, lakes and ponds. Apparently it’s from Bill Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which is nice.

I’m going to try and fit into conversation without sounding pompous.

This is not an April Fools’ post. This is a serious post.

What are we doing anything for? Ultimately, it’s to be loved, right? To be loved trumps everything. Not as a destination – I’m doing it so people will love me – but as a journey – I’m doing this because I am loved.

To be loved, properly loved, and to know you are loved, by your family, your friends, your fans, your customers, your partners, or your suppliers, is as good as it gets.

When someone loves you, they haven’t necessarily given you money, or even their time. They’ve given you their everything. They’ve made a total sacrifice to you, a total commitment. They are emotionally invested in you, and this transcends the financial, physical or material aspects of things. They’re being as generous as it is within their power to be. They are saying, “you are so worth it.”

To be loved is the ultimate status. To be loved is to be able to put everything else in perspective. It is true luxury.

The opposite, not to be loved? Well, for a human being, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

We all go through lean periods. From a sales perspective, a winning perspective, business, pleasure, whatever. You have to have downs for there to be ups, so you can appreciate the ups.

Sometimes, when you’re in that trough, or on that plateau, it’s hard to see your way out or over, respectively. The one thing that keeps me going, however, is this.

Stuff comes through for you. It always does. If you keep working, making the effort, doing the right things, eventually stuff drops your way. It works out for you.

As Gary Player is thought to have said: “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Luck is one thing, but working hard, working well, and working with your eyes wide open reaps its rewards.

It’s no more, and no less, than you deserve. Your just deserts.



I don’t know what all this Brexit fuss is about…I’m kidding! It’s hard to imagine a topic that’s more pressing and more invasive for people, businesses and countries right now.

So it’s about time I jumped on the bandwagon. It’s not Brexit, or it shouldn’t be at any rate. Britain, or Great Britain to use its full moniker, is comprised of England, Scotland and Wales, in descending order of population.

Unfortunately, however, Britain isn’t scheduled to leave the EU on 29th March 2019. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is leaving. Northern Ireland is heading away too. That’s an extra country and about 1.8m more people. I wonder how the people of Northern Ireland feel about the term. Their opinion may well boil down to their upbringing.

So it’s not Brexit, it’s UKExit, technically. Should we say U-K-Exit, or Ukexit? Not as snappy and rollable-off-the-tongue, but more accurate nonetheless. Perhaps we could shorten it to NUKE – Non-UK Europe?

When you’re getting introductions to people over social media platforms like LinkedIn, it always helps to see a picture of the person. It helps you put a personality to the person.

When it’s the other way round – in other words when you speak to someone over the phone before you actually meet them, and you don’t know what they look like – you have to speculate on what the owner of that voice will look like.

Voices and faces are strange bedfellows in my experience. I often imagine what someone looks like and acts like from their voice, as it helps me make the connection in my head. I almost always get it completely wrong.

When you meet them, the face never seems to fit the voice you’ve listened to. Or, put another way, the face we put to the voice is not the face that belong with that voice.

Try doing it with a radio DJ, whose picture you’re not familiar with, obviously. If you don’t know what they look like, and ten people take a guess, I’m sure the guesses will vary wildly. Is that guess based on our own unique experiences? Probably.

It always reminds me how much can be wrong with the assumptions we make about people.

When I lived in the US I loved the drive thru. One of the benefits of living in a country which is relatively new and whose growth exploded at the same time as the growth of the motor car, is that places are geared to arrival and departure with the combustion engine. The US can be a very convenient way to do drive thru business.

Drive thru fast food, banking, liquor stores, car washes, and even drive thru mail boxes which are a fantastic thing; there are so many ways to get what you need done on the move.

Drive thrus never caught on as much in the UK and Ireland, probably because of the infrastructural thing I alluded to. Fast food stores like McDonalds abound in Ireland, but that’s about the only sector that has embraced it. I can think of one cash machine drive thru in south Dublin, that’s it.

Did I mention how convenient a drive-thru mailbox is? The alternatives for someone in a car faced with an inner city or inner town post box is to park and walk and post and walk and drive off, or else block the traffic and send a passenger or yourself to the post box for a few seconds which are agonisingly long for both you the driver and the vehicles behind you.

Of course, we’re being discouraged to drive less, walk or ride for a short trip, and generally take better care of ourselves and the planet, which I’m totally on board – rather than bored – with. Often, though, we bundle our errands and things to do into a single time-saving, efficient trip on the way to somewhere in the car, and for that the drive thru is invaluable.