The Linguistics Engagement


Prep: indicating contrast

A little while ago I went on a difficult conversations course. It was ran by an HR support company and I went along because at the time I was beginning to work with new people who I didn’t know as well as I knew the people I’d previously been working with.

Aside from picking up some useful bits about body language, I picked up one good point – use of the word ‘but’.

The word ‘but’ is quite negative in its day to day usage.  It suggests by its very definition that it is about to contrast away and usually is used to put a negative into the conversation. For example:

I really like what you did with the planet but I would have preferred it with more ozone.

The question was then raised of what word do you use instead?  ‘However’? It’s still a but, using none of the same letters and instead seven new ones.

The answer is ‘and’.  Coupling a positive with another thought maintains the positivity in what you are trying to convey.

I really like what you did with the planet and I would love to see more wind farms.

I’m still suggesting there need to be more wind farms and I embracing the idea that it would be positive to see more.

So, my new years resolution about 2 and a half months ago was to stop using the word ‘but’ and instead switch to using ‘and’.  It has to say the least been a challenge.  I have enjoyed it though for I like to be nothing but a cunning linguist.

If I’d thought about it, I’d have suggested this to others for Lent… maybe next year?

The Petroleum Recharging Quandry

I have a bit of an issue and its not one that I can resolve easily on my own without either a bit of trial and serious error (if it goes wrong its a big error) or help.  So, I’ve opted for a bit of help:

Well, actually, that needed a little quick clarification, just in case:

So, this sparked a few conversations, including first cars, comparison of what I’m getting, toys, wheels and so on… but this also showed me several things:

  1. Some people use Service Call
  2. Some people use PinPoint
  3. Some people don’t use anything
  4. One person is waiting for their child to hit 16 so they can learn how to fill the car for them!

So what are Service Call and PinPoint?  They are remote keyfobs that send a signal to a receiver in a petrol station which would, in theory at least, alert a member of staff to assist you refuelling your car.

Service Call Receiver

Service Call Receiver

Service Call I had, I confess, heard of before but forgotten the name of.  It is usually a bright orange box on the window of the petrol station kiosk.  The box tends to sit up high and require line of sight in order to work which, according to the website, has 50m of range.

During my Twitter conversation, I found one user said the following:

Now that is useful in itself, but given the competition…

So, this then makes me ask a question of will I see more use of one more than another.  At this point my mother had already very kindly told me to order a PinPoint device for my birthday present which is upcoming (hint, hint you lot).

So – this seems like a good time to review the PinPoint offering.  This was developed by a company called Contacta and has been endorsed by Disabled Motoring UK, which is a campaign group.  It is not widely installed at the moment but claims to be more reliable than older beacon systems, which I suspect includes Service Call.  A quick check in my local area shows 2 installations, compared to Service Call’s 8 or so.  Neither of them included Tesco though, which is where I am most likely to fill up because of the pay at pump option and club card discounts.

Indeed, PinPoint is widely known:

So – I’ve ordered PinPoint with thanks to my Mother. I’ll probably end up ordering a Service Call too.  Alternatively, I could follow this idea:

Got a bit of a wait though until my eldest reaches 16 though…


The Mobility Powerhouse Examination

So, since new year I have been working on a personal challenge – one, if you will, that requires immense concentration and patience.

I have been educating myself in a skill that has required me to master all control, to be able to be calm in situations where I wish to scream profanities and above all else – remember the order in which I should do things.




In little under 7 weeks, I’ve had to master theory, learn about hazard perception… as well as the practical element of the brumming, the beeping and the screaming from the passenger seat.

As a disabled driver I’ve found the automatic fairly easy to come to grips with (i.e. don’t).  My teacher was quite patient with me and got me through all my manoeuvre’s, showing me useful tricks to making sure I knew what was going on all around me.  Above all though he also reminded me to maintain my confidence without being over-confident.

Now, the rest of my learning begins, just on my own.

The Omnibus Ownership Query

Bit of a short one this – but almost sad, too – I am close to saying yes to taking on a bus and preserving it. Sadly, however, its a little beyond my means and far beyond my own capabilities to say yes.

Someone mentioned they had some Optare Solo’s available to preserve. Someone else has told me that they could look into getting it here – someone else offered it somewhere to live.

Quite gutting really, then, that I know sensibly, I’d have to say no.

Almost in tears…

The 1000 Mile Analysis

WP_20150206_13_45_34_ProIt’s been two years since I fitted an odometer to my Sunrise Quickie Xenon and near on three years since I took delivery.  In that time its seen the hold of planes, been on many trains, been used when photographing cranes (but only to sit in)… and of course, met many a bus.

As I reached a major mile marker this past week, I had a bit of a think about how far the chair has gone and what it has gone through, including:

  • Carrying the children on my knee
  • Countless meetings and walking to them
  • Humidity in butterfly houses
  • Mud in country parks

If it were a car, it’d be having its 3 year service by now – as it is, this chair has had two sets of rear tyres, three sets of front soft-rolls, the left brake broke and had to be replaced and at new year the seat support on the front left broke off, which is now being replaced.

Its a good chair and has worn well – given the choice in the future, I’d probably get another in a flash.  It fits in well with my family life and has taken the brunt of everything it has had thrown at it. 

Would I have another? Certainly.  My only recommendation – get yourself a speedometer and odometer and measure how far and how fast you go – it does make for some interesting numbers.


Travel methodology

It is dark outside and I am currently repeating a journey I have done many times before, hurting along the track towards big city lights.

There is a realisation that now I escape and returns under the cover of darkness, a spy for the children of the night, a few more time linear events and soon the daylight shall grace us if not me with its presence over my journeys once again.

In the meantime I sit in my tunnel of nocturnal travel, intermittent breaks of intermediate stations where my train has no desire to call, Underworld and Orbital for company, dreaming until the fabled announcement of my arrival.

This is Stratford

A thesis review

It’s been a year since I wrote in which a lot has happened, where a lot of my life became ‘offline’ in that there is less for the world to see.  Some of what has happened came about because of the natural flow in the order of the world and some it has occurred because I chose to pursue new opportunities.  I blog less now though as I no longer commute.  I sometimes wish I made more time to write – at other times, I don’t miss it at all.

There has been some crucial news in my health, which I’m not touching on right now for good reason.  Work be work and perhaps it is something I may focus on in the future.  However, in the essence, perhaps it is best to know for now that I am well and have not left the planet.

The Mainline Experiment

I find myself back where I have been previously.  I use Chiltern Mainline very infrequently but not through choice.  However, as I write this I find myself on a Mainline train, sat in the Business Zone (trying to look like I mean business but probably just looking like I mean to go to sleep).  However, like two years ago, I have already encountered items worth noting. 

I journeyed in from Chelmsford to London Liverpool Street, a regular journey for me and one that excellent staff and colleagues assist me with to great humour and willingness.  It keeps me going back time after time and means I complain a lot less.  A quick(ish) taxi across London and I arrive at London Marylebone with time to spare. 

Once I had made it into the station up the surprisingly steep entrance ramp, I popped along to the information point, where I made myself known to Bob (not his real name).  I explained I wasn’t pre-booked, that sometimes you do only get 20 minutes notice of when you can shoot out the door and that I would dearly love (exaggeration, I know) to go to Kidderminster.

To his credit, he leapt into action and when I returned from a quick pit stop, he told me all was arranged and he’d be assisting me on to the train when it was available for boarding – which he did, with great politeness and efficiency (a credit to Chiltern). 

All did not stop there though – it transpires that the wheelchair accessible coach does not line up with the platform at Kidderminster.  Because of this, the guard and Bob were unsure of what to do.  The easiest solution, they suggested, was for me to move down a couple of carriages at Stourbridge Junction and that way be able to get off the train at Kidderminster with minimal fuss.  Kudos for the simplest thinking, saving me a taxi journey (which I hate) and means that I will land bang on time. 

This was customer service, pure and simple. 

After a fairly quick 2 hr journey, I arrived at Stourbridge, where the station staff were quick to assist me off the train and run down the platform with me to assist me on to another coach.  Even the lifts were in operation at Kidderminster when I arrived. 

That’s what train travel is about – the system working, even when I have to work with it.

The Faux-Sus Scrofa Domesticus Principle

I would say that, as a former meat eater, the only things I possibly miss are roast beef and of course, the usual one, bacon.  I no longer miss roast beef but veggie bacon was always a let down for me.  I can handle that sausages are not porky or horsey.  The beef slices from Quorn are not amazingly beefy.  The chicken pieces, like real chicken, have their flavour changed with a good bit of stock and 20 minutes thought.  But the bacon… this was never really a winner… until I analysed it.

Talking to people who know another secret recipe, I have finally cracked how to make a Quorn Bacon sandwich taste like the real thing.  So – for you, exclusively on my blog until I copy and paste – here is how to make a really tasty Quorn Bacon sandwich.  You need a frying pan, a hob and if possible to do the de-frost, a microwave.


  • Quorn Bacon – 1 frozen packet from the freezer in your local supermarket. Must be Quorn, must be frozen. Any other brand tastes very different. Did I mention it must be the frozen variety, not the fridge?
  • Salt – preferably sea salt in the grinder
  • Olive Oil
  • Sauce – your choice of
  • Bread – two slices minimum
  • Salad (Optional but I like it)
  • Hot beverage (Tea or coffee)


  1. Quorn Bacon in SaltingDefrost the Quorn Vegetarian Bacon in the microwave – two minutes and then leave to stand for 15 minutes.  If you are re-freezing 4 slices, take the 4 off you want to use and put the rest in the freezer.  You can also leave the pack in the fridge over night or put it in the sun for an afternoon or in your polytunnel for the week.  There’s room for a bit of freestyling here.
  2. Heat your pan and add two teaspoons of olive oil at most.
  3. Lay your veggie bacon out on a chopping board and crack salt over the top of the bacon substitute to ‘cure’ it.  Not sure what we’re curing it of but comments welcome on that.Turning the bacon
  4. Put the bacon into the frying pan salt down and cook until you suspect it is crispy or burning.  Salt the now-top side and turn.  Not toss – that could result in no one wanting to try your sandwich if it all goes wrong… which it will.
  5. Take the two slices of bread.  Check for mould and then place them on a plate.  Put your chosen sauce on each slice.Quorn Bacon Sandwich
  6. Take the cooked bacon out and add to the sandwich. I like 4 slices with some salad between them but that’s just me.  Some people prefer cheese, but they’re not here to argue the case on that one.  Freestyle a bit more with it.
  7. Eat, with a beverage of choice.

Sandwich with CoffeeBon appetite.  The secret ingredient, much like the Colonel?  It’s the salt…


The Elevation Principle

I used to love an inanimate object. I called her Loretta.

She was, frankly, amazing. She would say things – simple things – to anyone in the breathiest, sexiest voice. Everything was a come on.

“Going down.”

“Doors closing”

But sadly, after a recent refit, Loretta is gone. Her sexual prowess torn out. She is, sadly, a shell of her former self.