Random Combinations

Kind of boring title, right? But ‘combinations’ is a frequently-used British name for the long underwear also known as a ‘union suit’. It’s funnier when you know that, right? Long underwear at random! I’m picturing it falling from the sky onto people’s heads.

Random combinations of words can be hilarious. For example, I was playing Word Jigsaw on my iphone – it’s a fun game, if you like words – and the five six-letter words it threw up last night had me in stitches.






I swear I’m not making this up. I had to show it to my husband to prove that I didn’t start laughing in the middle of his political rant for no reason!

And then I started trying to fit the ‘double galley’ into it. Is it a reply to the claim of ‘Beauty before sodomy’? A strange slang expression meaning that someone has both qualities? An enthusiastic endorsement of both qualities in the abstract? is ‘Double Galley’ the person being told to step aside for beauty? Or is ‘Galley’ someone being informed that the speaker is ‘double’? I couldn’t decide which I liked best. But I’m pretty sure an exclamation of ‘double galley!’ is going to crop up in my writing somewhere.

Years ago, frustrated by the absolutely appalling quality of my handwriting, I started actively trying to improve it. I bought myself a fountain pen (because they, like bow-ties, are cool) and started just filling page after page of my notebooks with random words for practice. Sometimes I’d just do whatever word came into my head, but sometimes, to make it more interesting, I played a game I dubbed ‘in context’. I would write down a word, then add another word that potentially made sense following that word, then a third that made sense with the second word but not with the combination of first and second. Say ‘cherry pie chart’, this being the first example that came into my head, or ‘lugubrious tone deaf’. And then I’d keep going, with repeated words not allowed. Longest ‘sentence’ I managed was about thirty words, I think. You guys know I don’t care for writing exercises, but this one was fun as a challenge to my linguistic flexibility.

I really should put it into a Writercise ‘workout’. Playing with words is a great way to limber up for writing.