Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Curse of the Impressive Epithet

For a number of years I worked with a man who was a master of the Impressive Epithet. He did not eat figs, he ate Smyrna figs. He did not wear slippers, he wore Morland slippers. At breakfast, he would offer you not marmalade, but Cooper's marmalade. And so on across the entire range of his possessions and habits.
And now, in the evening, well, the very late afternoon, of my years, I am once again assailed by Impressive Epithets. I used to look for wheatears, but now I must look for Greenland wheatears. The chiffchaff, a bird hardly big enough to warrant any qualification at all, now comes in Iberian - or is it Siberian? - varieties these days; when I was a sprog it was lucky not to be dismissed as a willowchiff. As for the Herring Gull, it's gone positively polyschizophrenic.
It's all getting too much for me, Doctor. I wonder: do you know of an outdoor hobby without too many adjectives attached?
PS It might have been a White Wagtail I saw this afternoon............

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