January 12th, 2011


new word : spider-catcher

Quite cold and tired this morning. Also, we're now in the zone of the active axe (cuts wise) and each morning is touched by that slight uncertainty (will it be today?) and the knowledge that I should be seeking exploring sorting it out. Anyone got any jobs to spare? I'm not very good at anything much, and while I certainly learn quickly, many would say also rather sloppily.

Speaking of which, a question: does anyone know what years comics writer Peter Milligan and artist Brendan McCarthy were born in? I'm praising them to the skies for a book that wants to include their years, as in Peter Milligan, 196*-present... it's for posterity, see?

Once again I failed to take comics to the pub for the Oxford comics meet-up. I suck at scene-building. What a spider-catcher....

Oh yes, I was sent a new catch-all insult by the OED. Spider-catcher!

spider-catcher, n.
Etymology:spider n.

a. One who catches spiders. Chiefly fig., and freq. as a vague term of abuse (obs.).

1579 W. Wilkinson Confut. Familye of Loue Brief Descr. p. iii,Not only in the priuate assemblies‥did these spidercatchers swarme together.
1599 Hist. Syr Clyomon & Clamydes vii. 64Charm, enchant, make a spider-catcher of me, if I be false to you ever.
1620 Bp. J. Hall Honor Married Clergie iii. ii. 262He that would doubt whether such an Epistle were written‥may doubt whether Spider-catcher corner-creeper C.E.‥wrote a scurrilous Letter.
1625 J. Shirley Love Tricks i. i,If I fail, call me spider-catcher.
1711 J. Addison Spectator No. 21. ¶7Innumerable Retainers to Physick‥: Not to mention the Cockle-shell-Merchants and Spider-catchers.

Vague terms of abuse are great, especially when almost all the context has been eroded away.

the hypothetical pike

This morning, walking across Donnington Bridge, I spotted a commotion underwater. A duck's wing was flapping up through water opaque and khaki with flood, describing crazy circles, while all around other ducks dibbled and preened and did unconcerned, duckish things, only pausing to snap and heeb when splashed or smacked by the flailing wing. Its head came up for a moment and then it went under again, up and then under, and then a long desperate underwater flight was dimly visible as a trail of splashes and bubbles across to the fast-moving central channel of the river, where the duck came up, flapping, splashing and tail-wagging in a classic escape from threat display.

Of course, there's no way of knowing, but I suspect a Pike. Not least because the slightly sad swan family lost a cygnet in mysterious circumstances from about the same point. Pike are ambush hunters; they dart and grab, but a grown duck would be big enough to break free.

Yesterday, the wind was blowing strongly on the river; rowers were catching the wind, being knocked sideways and blown downstream, making crazy times (in both directions). I made a joke about it with my boss, trying to be light-hearted (while we still can).