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Maree’s musings

December 19, 2017 December 2017, Regular Features No Comments


Relax … this is not a political message; for now, that’s history. However, togetherness is here to stay.

Sticking together, making connections and collections – we all do it. Group behaviour ensures survival. Think ‘safety in numbers’, ‘united we stand’ etc. Over time, we’ve learned a plethora of tricks from the birds and the bees. Bees swarm and birds flock. And locusts? Some swarms weigh hundreds and thousands of tonnes with a total head count in the trillions. A veritable plague – like boils. When not swarming, bees live in a hive, like industry. In your bonnet? Not advisable. Ants form armies. Worms are in a can or farmed. Webs, tangled or otherwise, have spiders or deceits.

There’s (ahem) heaps of these terms. We call them ‘collectives’, to coin a phrase. Back to birds, for example. Rarely do we spy a solitary one, which gives rise to the saying ‘Birds of a feather etc’ It’s a parliament of owls, a watch of nightingales, a charm of hummingbirds, and a tidings of magpies – often associated with either bad or good news – ‘One for sorrow, two for joy, and so on’. Poet Denis Glover uses ‘qwardle’ instead. A flock of starlings flying in formation? A murmuration. More appropriately, ‘chatter’ or just ‘bloody nuisance’, maybe. A ‘murder of crows’ comes from the belief that these chaps circle in large numbers above predicted death sites. I prefer a ‘scare of crows’, myself. Of course, there’s the maritime ‘crow’s nest’, hopefully not populated by cuckoos. From a basket, clutch or nest of eggs: a counting of chickens, a box of fluffy ducks, a gliding of swans or ominously, with a coming of Christmases, a cooking of a hapless goose from a gaggle, or a stuffing of turkeys.

You realise by now that I’ve been inventing some. The animal kingdom has sheep in flocks when mustered, or disordered mobs otherwise. Herds are easier to assemble. Think cows, goats, elephants. Rabbits are found down holes, or in top hats; while madness groups March Hares or snakes. Monkeys in barrels will be a bundle of laughs.

But back to musings. DEADLINES. Don’t get me started! One story relates that the word was connected with camps during the American Civil War; defining a physical line beyond which prisoners were shot. A familiar feeling. Owning ‘a round of tuits’ (a tarting up of deadlines) results in a burden of guilt. So – deadlines. There’s looming of, dreading of, and sadly, the missing of, when they pass. No good relying on a making of excuses or blaming a shortness of time. Failure may produce a mere raising of eyebrows, but possibly a torrent of abuse. Meeting them, however, will result in being full of skite and heaped with praise.

Sadly I’m now facing a running out of space. More another time … The best of festives, readers!

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