I am feeling brave this morning. I shall expose my stupidity to all who care to read it.
Words I have misunderstood.
Two immediately spring to mind, from way back when I was a mere child, and I do mean way back. You younger readers must appreciate that my childhood was wreathed in a thick mist of- ‘children should be seen not heard’, or ‘if you don’t understand, that proves you were not listening’! My parents were in actual fact really unusual and allowed us to have opinions and a voice. However in the general climate of ‘us v them’ I still didn’t question as much as a child today would do.
The first of these two words I heard and used a great deal was dimsy, It was my mother’s word and I always assumed it came from her part of Wales as it didn’t seem to be a word in common usage in London. I really liked this word. Used to describe that brief period of time before the quiet magical moment twilight descended – and there’s another word I have a liking for -twilight – soft, mysterious and deepening evening shadows.
So as a family we had dimsy which, it seemed to me, was a perky little word to describe the last kick of day and the first nip of night. How old was I when I finally worked out it was ‘dim-see’ or maybe even ‘dimly see’? Far too old to be sensible! Was it a Welsh word or just a made up one of my mother’s? I have never researched to find out. It’s hers, and mine.
Equally long ago in that distant past I first heard the word moorish. Now I did know about Moors. They peopled many of my childhood reads. They hailed from Arabia, that magical land of sultans, flying carpets, hidden, dragon defended gold piles, jewelled heaps and genies in lamps. I always told Mum, if she requested help with the housework, that if the dusting would produce a genie with wishes I would gladly polish all day and never complain:)
Arabia had exotic foods such as dates (Christmas treat only)growing in the deserts on the fringes of oasis – so wonderful. I would allow the sweetness to melt through my mouth and send my mind spinning across the starlight skies.
I always said Jaffa oranges (my all time treat) came from there, never believing others who would scoff. They were another sensory delight and in a time of rationing I just knew they came from Arabia. One of my favourite reads when very young was A Moor in Spain therefore I was well aware that Moors lived in more than one exotic sun drenched land.
I knew what Moorish meant – it indicated some wonderful foodstuff from far off sunny climes. Treats of a high order, brought to our tables over land and sea – probably involving ships of the deserts as well as of the ocean. Maybe pirates and brigands had been involved and if luck was shining bright the dates I ate had been picked by some beautiful Eastern maiden or even a prince:) (I did say I was very young?). Foods which offered an experience of sensual delight. I knew my Moors.
The fact that people would call chocolate biscuits and cake Moorish didn’t puzzle me one jot. They were using the expression as a generic term. Moorish meant rich magic.
Not at all. It just means greedy lack of self control !!
Ah well the magic was good while it lasted. I was well into my twenties before I worked that one out!
Oh so slow, moi!