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July 2013


Fishing For Business


Hot Weather Cold Water


Free Shorthand Dictionary


July Thunderstorms


Fishing For Business (9 July 2013)

The fishes at my local garden centre at Polhill have kindly donated one of their internal newsletters to provide some business vocab and phrases.

Dear Colleagues, Further to your recent enquiries, I am delighted to be able to answer all your queries and questions
* regarding our operations and activities in our new premises here at Fish World. As you may be aware, some years ago we had to carry on our day-to-day* tasks in a cramped, cold and uninviting building, which meant that business was largely confined to our existing customer base, with no new contacts forthcoming. A replacement building was constructed for us and we are pleased to report that our comfortable new offices have proved to be an excellent investment. We are especially pleased with the improved lighting, specially designed to illuminate each section of our workspace. Extra windows mean that we can make constant friendly contact with prospective customers who are now able to talk to us face to face*, and admire our smooth-flowing operations much more* easily. We can truly say that we are no longer fishing in vain for new business and that the scales have been tipped very much in our favour. We do not now have to battle upstream against the flow and I can confirm that all our staff are tanked up, full of enthusiasm for the future and ready to dive in to all the new opportunities that we have for the improvement of our business.


* "questions" Optional contraction


* Omission phrases "face (to) face"  "much m(ore)"



In reply
* to the many requests for further information* on some of our new products, I have pleasure in enclosing several promotional photos. With reference to the* Fashion Department, after careful consideration* we decided to import some new variations on our usual stock and here are our colleagues tastefully demonstrating* some of our latest lines in swimwear. The stripy pyjama look is very popular at the present time*, being a simple, elegant and timeless design that flatters all figures. I can confirm that we are holding a large stock of this item in the warehouse, in anticipation of great demand over the summer season. The yellow and purple one-piece suit is our newest arrival, and here is sales assistant Fynn modelling it in one of our best showcase aquariums. If you are interested in obtaining this particular outfit, we would suggest you purchase well in advance of your requirements, as this has to be specially ordered and imported from our suppliers overseas and it may at times be out of stock for brief* periods.


* Omission phrases "In (re)ply"  "further (informa)tion"  "W(ith re)f(eren)ce (to) the"
"caref(ul con)sideration" (careful is an optional contraction)


* Omission phrase "at (the) present time". Best not to use this in the adverbial phrase "at the present" as it could equally be "at present", so not reliable.


* "demonstrating" Omits the R


* "brief" Always insert the vowel, to differentiate it from "number of"

Our third item is aimed at the dedicated young professional who requires summer wear
* that is informal while retaining a smart and business-like appearance. These off-white crease-free easy-care shirts with contrasting collar and cuffs can be ordered in any colour combination, so that customers can match them to their existing wardrobe, uniforms or business logo design. We are expecting sales of these to increase as they become more well-known. Our staff already have invitations to model them at many of the national fashion exhibitions and will be gliding coolly to and fro amongst the visitors, wearing this item and handing out the appropriate* promotional material, as well as freebies and samples. Hopefully by the end of each day they will be awash with orders from everyone who sees them, from the small fry to the larger fish in the sea.


* "summer wear" Keep the S and R Hook clear, as this could begin to look like "swimwear" if not neatly written


* "appropriate" Insert the diphone, and the first vowel in "proper", as these are similar in outline and meaning


The sober Mr Greysides - Abounding enthusiasm from our staff

With reference to the
* staff changes, we are very pleased to welcome Mr Greysides as our new shop manager. Although our staff are always very energetic and we have many colourful characters working for us, you may find Mr Greysides somewhat staid and laconic in his manner. This is a necessary part of his very worthwhile* contribution to our business, as his job is to observe how we operate on a daily basis, and to come up with changes and improvements to our methods and routines, for the benefit of the customers, the staff and the shareholders. Following a meeting with senior management, Mr Greysides is drawing up plans to introduce some new and exciting activities into the Staff Sports and Leisure Club. Please feel free to contact him in order to* contribute your own ideas for the ongoing expansion of these facilities. He has informed me that he is happy to examine any new proposals and to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with interested parties. We are grateful for his refreshingly different managerial approach to our business and the well-being of the employees, and I am sure that we will all get to know him much better when we have the chance to converse informally on our Annual Firm’s Outing to Fishbourne later on in the year.


* Omission phrases "W(ith re)f(eren)ce (to) the"  "in ord(er to)


* "worthwhile" Optional contraction that omits the Ith stroke



Our job enrichment programme is progressing very well indeed
*, and we have had a wonderful response to our memorandum asking staff to act as models for our ornamental sculptures artist who has been commissioned to produce new items for sale* in the garden centre. A few of the more outgoing members have made extra overtime earnings in this way, and are to be commended for their initiative and co-operation. Miss Fishley was delighted with the result of her input, and this statue has been selling really well from the moment it was introduced onto our shelves. There were* unfortunately* no takers to model for the fierce dragon garden ornament, as our staff seemed to think that this might reflect adversely on their career prospects. However, we have received* comments that the finished articles do bear a resemblance to some of the more long-standing members of our Board of Directors*.

* Omission phrases "very (w)ell indeed"  "There (w)ere"  "we have (re)ceived"  "Board (of) Directors"  (board on its own is full strokes B and Rd)


*  "for sale" Downward L to make a good join


* "unfortunately" Optional contraction


No-one is owning up to being the inspiration for the smiley chickens, but we do have one or two ideas who provided the faces for the sharks. I think it was our Managing Director* who said we should strive to be as wise as sharks and harmless as chickens (a useful quote recorded for us verbatim by Mrs Wiggley who has learned the unusual skill of shorthand, another
* example of the success of our training programme). We think these decorative goods will result in increased sales to customers who prefer to make purchases that require no maintenance. Our range of ornamental goods is real value for money but please note that exact designs, colours and prices are subject to change at short notice, although we will endeavour to keep them at their present economical level in order to* attract new custom and interest from the buying public. We believe this approach will enable us to maintain our market share* without harming our profitability in any way.


* "Managing Director"  "market share"  Write the intersection first, in the order the words are spoken


* "another" Helpful to insert the vowel, to help with smooth reading back


* Omission phrase "in ord(er to)"

One at a time, please

At the meeting with the staff last week
*, we were delighted to have the opportunity of conversing with our hardworking and loyal employees, as well as the trainees and internees, in an informal atmosphere. Everyone boldly opened their mouths and spoke up with many helpful and practical suggestions for the future of our venture. Nobody was coy and there was absolutely no carping. Some of the smaller contributors occasionally got a little drowned out, but after testing the water they soon got into the swim of proceedings and put forth their ideas for the streamlining of our business. The meeting concluded with a rousing message of hearty appreciation from our Chairman, who spoke at length on the successful working relationship between colleagues and business associates. At the conclusion of proceedings, there was not a dry eye in the room.


* Omission phrase "last (w)eek"

We are now in the early planning stages of our next Team Building Day, and I duly enclose our staff attendance form. I would request that you
* fill this in and return it to the administration* department at your earliest convenience. Your immediate attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated. Please let them know if you have any special ideas, suggestions or requirements. They will be contacting those attending nearer the date so that the necessary arrangements can be made in regard to* accommodation and catering. I look forward* to meeting with you all at that event and if I can be of any further help in any way, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me, either by phone, text, email or in writing. Yours most sincerely, Mr Waters, Personnel Manager (1342 words)


* Omission phrases "I would reques(t) that you"  "in (re)gard (to)"  "I look fo(r)ward"


* "administration" Omits the R

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Hot Weather Cold Water (21 July 2013)


The last few weeks* here in England have been very hot and dry. Our summer weather has been rather late in arriving, and as the British weather is so unpredictable, we tend to give it an inordinate amount of attention when it changes, or fails to change as we want it to. It is always an acceptable conversation opener to comment on the weather, but innocent observations on such a harmless subject can sometimes result in a grumble. This seems to me* to be conversational quicksand and I do not enjoy participating in being dragged down. Extra efforts are needed to counter it with a more positive view, in order to* purposely deflect the grumbler’s intention. Other than destructive* storms, there is always a good side to whatever weather comes our way. The snow provides a brilliant light on the normally* grey winter days. Freezing* weather breaks down the farmer’s lumpy soil, or can be a convenient excuse to stay indoors by the warm radiator. The downpours water the gardens and replenish the groundwater levels, and the wind and fresh air keep the roses from getting mildew. The sun makes everything grow and ripen and a grey day is the best time to concentrate on catching up with other jobs, so that one is more free when better weather comes.


* Omission phrase "last few wee(k)s"  "seems (to) me"  "in ord(er to) 


* "destr(uct)ive" Omits the middle syllable


* "normally" Insert last vowel, as "normal" would also make sense


* "freezing" and "frozen" Always insert the vowel

Hot days require cold water and during one seaside holiday I had enough pocket-money to buy a toy water-carrying bottle. It was an oval shape made of yellow plastic, with bands and straps made of red plastic, fully adjustable with an array of buckles and poppers. It was made to look just like a traditional leather bottle, and I could go round with the strap over my shoulder and the bottle itself swinging at my side. I used it all week, duly filling it to the brim every morning and taking warm plastic-flavoured sips all day while we explored the beaches, cliffs and shops. I soon realised that my thirst was generally greater than the amount it held, so I rationed it out, and took the last big swigs at the end of the day, when I did not have to save any more of it for later. I could enjoy everything so much more* when I had the answer to a parched throat. I began to wonder how many of these bottles I would need for proper
* thirst quenching all day, and concluded that I could not* practicably carry my entire day’s requirements with me. But it did give me a taste of how life can be improved by having the right equipment and supplies, especially when out and about away from home.

* Omission phrase "so much m(ore)"


* "proper" Insert the first vowel, and the diphone in "appropriate" as these are similar in outline and meaning


* "I could not" Generally "could" is not phrased, as being out of position it can be misread as "can, but here it is safe, because "cannot" is a different outline.


When I was at primary school, we used to walk home through Hornfair Park in Charlton, London, and past the lido, that wonderful repository of enormous quantities of cold fresh water. On a hot summer day I would long to go in and join in with the raucous shrieks and splashing sounds that I could hear wafting over the high perimeter wall. Sometimes my Mum had brought along our swimwear* so that we could spend the remainder of the afternoon there, after school. On really hot sweltering days, there was always a long queue but I was very happy to join it, knowing what pleasures were to come. The cost was a few pennies, and once through the entrance turnstile we went immediately to the changing cubicles. We then took our clothes and other belongings to the storage area counter where they put them in a metal cage-type crate, with a large compartment for clothes, and a separate pocket for shoes. The crates were stashed on long shelves and the staff gave out in exchange a round plastic numbered* token on a loop of string, which people generally wore round their necks or wound round their wrists.

* "swimwear" It is the W stroke that goes through the line, hence the unusual placement of the M stroke


* “numbered” Both present and past tenses would make sense here, so use the optional short dash through the last stroke, to signify past tense in a short form or contraction that has no other method to show the difference

Then we had to go through a lobby, treading through a few inches of water that washed our feet, finally emerging into the brilliant sunshine once again*. The red brick wall and concrete surroundings were somewhat drab, but the water, sky, swimwear and towels were bright and colourful, and we could see the green waving tops of the surrounding trees outside. The lido consisted of one very large rectangular pool with slides and diving boards. At the far end was a small shallow pool with steps at both ends for children, about waist-high for adults. At the two far corners were waterfall fountains, where people could sit and soak and between them was a place where refreshments could be bought. In between the two foot-washing lobbies was a café and those who had not* come to swim could remain there and watch the swimmers, as shoes were not allowed in the main lido area. There was a large clock over the café, especially important as people would have put their watches in with their other stuff in the storage baskets.


* Omission phrase "wu(n)s again"


* "had not" This is the official outline, but it is probably quicker to write the two separate outlines, than to go back and put in the dots

The ideal place to position our towels was near to the shallow end, but away from the edge and its dripping wet traffic and splashes from people jumping in. People were lying about everywhere, apparently enjoying being cooked from below by the hot paving and from above by the sun. I was perplexed by people’s desire to lounge about like this, as to my mind the whole purpose was to play in the water and not sit on the hard concrete for a single minute of our time there. They were obviously either warming up again or resting, a concept that eludes a child full of excitement and enthusiasm to take advantage of limited time in this watery heaven. Outside people would lounge on the grass and that was more understandable to me.

Hobby horse wishing he could get into the lido in the background (mid 1960's)

The tokens were an occasion for the young men to show off, throwing them into the water and then having to dive down to retrieve them, a watery game of dare. I think they were often competing against each other to be the first to get the disk, and maybe even boisterously snatching them off their friends' necks and throwing them about. Meanwhile, I pursued* the more interesting activity of learning how to float or swim in different styles, copying as best I could those about me who knew how to do it properly*. Doggy paddling was easy but wasteful of energy and I was glad to at last* be able to glide forward faster when I learned to synchronise the movements of arms and legs. Butterfly stroke was the least favourite, as it meant a big faceful of water on each stroke.


* "pursued" Note that the outline for "pursue" has a stroke S


* "properly" Insert the first vowel, and the diphone in "appropriately" as these are similar in outline and meaning


* "at last" and "at least" Always insert the vowel

I found it was better to literally take the plunge, to just get in the water straight away rather than dilly-dallying at the edge in case the water was cold. Time was of the essence and I did not want to waste precious swimming minutes in hesitation, although the children’s shallow pool was warmer and a good way to let oneself in gradually*. On one afternoon we visited the lido on a quieter day, with not many people there, and I found to my dismay that the smooth undisturbed water surface had long streaky shapes of thousands of dead black-fly lining the edges. Such things would usually be masked by the movement of the crowds of people. After some hesitation, I finally jumped in but restricted my playing to the centre of the pool, with extra efforts made not to swallow any water. At the end of each visit, we did not relish the prospect of returning to our former hot dry existence. There was an exit at each side of the lido, where you had to go through a full-height turnstile. The fast clanging and clicking noise as the vertical row of bars went round signalled the end of cool and refreshing activities and the beginning of the long walk home, clean and tired, but wishing the lido time could have lasted forever.


* "gradually" Not using halving, so as not to look like "greatly"

In the park there was also a playground area with a large paddling pool, and we could run about in this without having to bring a change of clothes or towels. My dress was tucked into underwear for convenience rather than to keep it dry. The water was about eight inches deep, and running through it was a delight, but the closest I could get to the experience of swimming was to lie down in it and thrash about, getting nowhere but always hoping that some slight forward movement might result. Once when I did this rather too energetically, I emerged from the pretend swim to find that I had grazed my arms and legs. I had no idea at the time, as the cold water prevented any sensation of injury, and I went home with bits of sticking plaster dotted about my knees, elbows and wrists. After that I was much more* careful* and not so exuberant with my swimming efforts.


* "careful" Optional contraction


* Omission phrase "much m(ore)"

Hornfair Park paddling pool now with wire fence (2006)

The paddling pool was most attractive when it was being refilled, as there was a large noisy gushing outlet at one end in which we could play and make attempts to resist the surge of water. I was pleased to know that there was an endless supply of water somewhere, and I hoped that it would never be turned off, but unfortunately
* it was not always flowing when we visited. I liked to play in the very centre, as all the sides seemed so far away and I felt I was in a small blue sea under a spacious blue sky, but safe in the knowledge that Mum and Nan were sitting on the grass not too far away. The only thing that would have brought us out of the pool was the prospect of ice-cream.


* "unfortunately" Optional contraction

Greenwich Public Baths in Trafalgar Road, now a swimming and fitness centre

In later years we visited the indoor swimming pool at Greenwich Public Baths, a smart red brick building with white stone detail, and two arched entrances at the top of two wide flights of steps. Inside, the floor and walls were tiled in a dark Victorian style in white and green, with heavy wooden doors with brass fitments, all very opulent and theatrical* looking. Immediately upon entering we could hear the same excited shouts and splashing sounds coming from what seemed like some distance but really just muffled behind more doors. There were* two swimming pool halls but unlike the lido, these had timed sessions. Having bought a ticket, we had to wait until the current session ended before being allowed in. The experience was quite different from the open-air lido. We were enclosed with no sun shining on us, it was not so crowded and the sounds bounced off the ceiling and reverberated around the space. The air had a faint bleachy smell from the chlorinated water. Rows of wooden changing cubicles lined the sides, and a high level gallery above could be used by those supervising their children.

* "theatrical" Retains the doubling of "theatre" for convenience


* Omission phrase "there (w)ere"

I mainly played in the area from shallow to middle, but occasionally I would make the courageous effort to swim a width over the deep end, knowing that there was no reachable floor under my feet. This was my idea of bravery, in that once I had started, I could not just stop and change my mind, but had to keep going. Making for the steel hand bars or the ladder on the other side* was my goal. On one occasion I made an effort to bob down vertically to the bottom at the deepest corner, and was surprised to eventually make it to the cold tiles on the “seabed” but I soon shot back up out of that silent and airless world where I had no business staying for too long. Having been successful a few times, I decided that holding my breath was not so much fun as playing in the shallows. I did learn that a half-hearted effort was a waste of time*, as I did not have enough breath to make more than one attempt to reach the floor tiles on the same dip. Another time I realised I could open my eyes under water, which took some courage to do the first time, but I soon gave this up as being too uncomfortable and it exacerbated the sore eye effect next day from the chlorination of the water.

* Omission phrases "on the oth(er) side"  "was(te of) time"

Happy squawking and energetic showering from the starlings


Leaving the baths and going home was always a hot, dry, dusty experience and we invariably came up with the usual question* “Can we come back again tomorrow?” to which the answer was “We’ll see.” I went once with the school to Greenwich Baths but as the sessions were structured and educational, no doubt to ensure everyone knew how to swim and stay safe, I did not really enjoy it as much as when it was a family outing on the weekend. I knew that my quest for summer water activities would never be over, and the best we could manage at home would be to fill the largest container we could find, a large old zinc washing bucket, placed in the middle of the lawn. It would not be swimming but it would at least provide the desired relief from the heat. Nowadays, I can get the same cool effect by watering the pots scattered about the garden, splashing some water onto the paths, and sitting in the shade surrounded by damp air. There is no planning necessary, no queue, no charge, no announcement at the end of the session, and no need to leave it all behind to start the long tramp home. Other than when the hose springs a leak that sprays water on me, all the refreshing outdoor bathing is now done by the birds in my bird baths. (2275 words)


* "question" Optional contraction

http://www.charltonparks.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Hornfair-Lido-by-Andy-Hoines-2004.pdf History of the Hornfair Park lido

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/oliver.merrington/lidos/lidos1.htm Info and links about other London lidos

http://www.thegreenwichphantom.co.uk/2009/07/charlton-lido-2/ Article with recent aerial photo


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Free Shorthand Dictionary (27 July 2013)



Every shorthand learner needs to have their* own shorthand dictionary, but this is not always possible, either through unavailability or cost. The only downloadable dictionary available on the internet is the 1913 Centenary version from the Internet Archive. You cannot use this if you are learning New Era, as many of the outlines are different between the two versions. I have now produced a Dictionary Update illustrating all the outlines that are different (just over 3,000 out of 60,000 total), which will enable you to make use of the Centenary dictionary for your New Era studies. You need to download both the Centenary dictionary PDF
* (or acquire a copy of the original book) and my Update PDF*, and use them in combination. Further details and the download links are on my main website.


* "have their " Doubling for "their"


* "PDF" Suggested contraction


Printing out the Centenary PDF is quite cumbersome, and I managed to fill three large A4 folders with all the full-page printouts so that I could make copious notes while compiling the Update. I was very glad when I was at last* able to shred all these and get some space back on my desk. But if it had been the only dictionary I had, I would have willingly kept it permanently* on the desk, so that I would not have to struggle with guesswork on my outlines. Better than a bulky printout would be to obtain an original published* book*. To avoid having to consult both lists every time, you can mark up the relevant changed outlines in the book or printout, either just highlighting them to alert you to which ones are different, or actually writing the New Era outlines in the paper margin. You can also mark up the PDF with sticky notes in Adobe Reader for the same purpose, although they will not show up in any printout. You can make other marks in Adobe Acrobat which will print.

* "at last" and "at least" Always insert the vowel


* "permanent" See www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/distinguishing-outlines-list3.htm for "prominent, permanent, pre-eminent"


* "published" This is the same outline as "public", so this will always need either the optional short dash through the last stroke, to signify past tense in a short form or contraction that has no other method to show the difference, or writing as a full outline


* "book" See Introduction in the Update regarding apparent print-on-demand copies of this


Centenary and Update PDFs arranged side by side on the same screen

Although a shorthand dictionary is indispensable to the shorthand writer*, it is not the best way* of expanding vocabulary. Reading and practising passages and exercises will add to vocabulary without you having to constantly turn up the dictionary pages every few seconds. I have often checked some outline, then forgotten it a short time* later, and had the annoyance of having to look it up again. If you keep a shorthand pad especially for this purpose, you can write the new outline in the margin and leave a line or two blank, then come back later on to practise it. This will* ensure you only have to dive into the dictionary once for each new word, and you can go back over previous pad pages for revision from time to time*. I would not recommend writing the longhand alongside it, as that defeats the object and wastes your time. You can grab the pad when you know you will have some spare or waiting time during the day, and so improve your shorthand in otherwise wasted minutes.


* Omission phrases "short(hand) writer"  "short (time)"  "this (w)ill" (downward L to enable the join)

Speaking with Sir Isaac via my Time Machine, he is delighted with the PDFs = Pitman's Definition Finders, as he puts it ...

Another way to save a huge amount of your study time is to also learn all the derivatives while you are on the dictionary page, because knowing one outline and not its related ones can cause serious hesitation, especially when a derivative has a slightly different form. Getting them all "under your belt" in one go will, over time, save you the frustration of constantly spending precious seconds and minutes just flipping paper and finding the right page over and over again*. Turning the leaves over will exercise your fingers but not your shorthand.


* Omission phrase "over (and) over again" The second  Vr is reversed to gain a good join


Even roaming down the column and squinting at the small print is time-consuming. When my eyes are getting tired of locating and focussing* on the right outline, I sometimes muse fancifully on how convenient (and lazy) it would be to be able to give orders to some willing helper "Please look up disestablishmentarianism" and then I would only have to glance down at their finger-tip! It has taken about 18 months to produce the Update with a large amount of dictionary work. In that time I have come to realise that the eyes will automatically and rapidly scatter their attention over the entire dictionary page, unless there is something drawing them to one particular spot. I adopted the habit of finding the outline in a strictly methodical manner, with my finger choosing the correct column and then sliding down. This is much more* efficient and comfortable than using eyes alone.

* “focussing” and "fixing" Insert the first vowel, as these are similar in outline and meaning


* Omission phrase "much m(ore)"

If you managed to read the shorthand for "disestablishmentarianism" before looking at the text key, award yourself ten gold stars, two pieces of cake and the rest of the week off!

It can be very educational at times to make an effort to form the unknown outline before looking it up, as this forces you to think hard about it, and possibly realise that there is a need to revise a particular piece of theory. In a dictation, you would have to come up with something immediately, and so strengthening this skill is essential. Regular vocabulary extension will greatly reduce the need for such guesswork or struggling with outlines. Guessed or doubtful outlines should be circled in red, so that they can be checked later on, preferably away from distractions and where you have time to roam onto other related words or ones with a similar sound or construction.


I would like to reiterate that no shorthand writer* just memorises sixty thousand arbitrary outlines from a dictionary. They are all based on a logical system of construction, just like longhand is based on a few letters and language is based on endless combinations of a relatively small number of familiar syllables. The ten commonest words account for 25% of usage, and a hundred for 50%, but hesitating over one uncommon word can cause the loss of the next few words which may all have been easy and well-known ones. As Pitman’s Shorthand has been designed for high-speed writing, basic theory does not always produce the ideal outline, and so there are often variations to accommodate this, in order to* maintain a high level of readability and reliability, even long after the note was written. When someone searches my web pages for the shorthand for “a” or “the”* I know that they are very likely to be in great need of some of the other 59,998 outlines as well! I hope that the* Update list enables you to speed up the learning and accuracy of your shorthand, so that you can use it in real situations with confidence and enjoyment. (1055 words)


* Omission phrases "short(hand) writer"  "in ord(er to)"  " I (h)ope that the"


* This was written when my statcounter was able to show search words, a facility now greatly reduced

Starving for outlines? Dinner is served - eat up and grow strong

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July Thunderstorms (31 July 2013)

Our July thunderstorms are with us once again*, after several weeks* of hot weather. I have always enjoyed the drama of thunder and lightning* and I can vividly remember a night many years ago when the storm went on from evening until dawn. Brilliant flashes of forked lightning filled the sky all around for hour after hour, with the thunderclaps* following on almost immediately. It was impossible to sleep, but I did enjoy the spectacle, even though it sounded as if the sky was breaking up and falling on my house. It seemed as if the storm was stationary over us, instead of moving along over the country. After the last rumbles in the hours before dawn, I finally got to sleep and no doubt the same was happening with deafened but tired heads on pillows throughout all of South London*. My sense of adventure only extended to opening the window to get the fresh air but shutting it rather quickly when the downpour started, with the satisfying click of the catch letting me know that I had a safe haven.

* Omission phrase "wu(n)s again"  "several wee(k)s"


* "lightning" is the noun referring to the flash; "lightening" is the verb (present participle) and has a different outline, based on "lighten" = L + Tn + Stroke Ing


* "thunderclaps" Note both the N and L hooks are included between the strokes

* "London" Downward L for convenience as it is a common and well-known place name. The outline for the similar "linden" has upward L + N + Dn, according to normal theory rules.

This was before the days of the digital camera with its easy and virtually cost-free* photo snapping and storage. I am sure I would have ended up with some great pictures and movies of lightning streaks* and illuminated clouds on that night. Nowadays I would feel really hard done by if I did not have the camera handy to capture it all. It is an ingrained habit to start counting when I see lightning, marking the four seconds for every mile of distance between us and the storm. This is really no longer of interest now, as we have the convenience of being able to consult the British Meteorological Office website for the latest satellite images of our area.

* Omission phrase "cos(t)-free"

* "streaks" Insert vowel, as it could be mistaken for "strikes" and "strokes" if written hastily, both of which also make sense

No such thing as too wet

I think overall* I prefer to know what is coming, so that I can make extra efforts to go out in the warm sunny weather, instead of wishing that I had made the most of it before it clouded over and the rain started. Instead of looking at the sky to wonder what the weather will be, it is now more likely to be a quick check towards the west to see for real what the website weather map has already shown us in diagram form. Our comments are also less vague than they used to be*. Rather than saying, “Grey clouds, looks like rain,” we now tend to say, “Here it comes, the low pressure* system off the Atlantic Ocean*, just like they said, bringing a band of changeable conditions and precipitation from the west!” (436 words)

* "overall" Use this outline when it is one written word i.e. this sense and the noun "overalls". When it is two words, the phrase should use the short form for "all" e.g. "he was king over all"

* Omission phrases "use(d to) be"  "low (pre)ssure" Similarly high pressure/blood pressure"


* "Atlantic Ocean" Shun hook is used to represnt "ocean" likewise Pacific Ocean


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"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)

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