Experimental Writing: Forgotten English 2016

At the tail end of last year, I got my hands on the desktop calendar version of Jeff Kacirk’s Forgotten English 2016. Always a fun little thing to have, it’s basically a massive block of 300+ old and weird words that have fallen by the wayside, with each page usually accompanied by a short essay detailing something else suitably obscure but possibly related to the main word of the day. More details about the series can be found here, there’s a book that can still be purchased from Amazon (£10.23 paperback – Feb 2016): Forgotten English by Jeff Kacirk, and a larger format calendar available here: Forgotten English Day-to-Day.

Forgotten English 2016 Calendar by Jeff KacirkAs an experiment (and purely for fun), I decided to try and cram every main word for January into the beginning of a story, with predictable results: it started off well but then wavers considerably. It’s important to note that there’s usually only one word for Sat/Sun and an example spread of pages from the calendar block has also been included at the bottom of this post for reference/sample (just click on it to enlarge), but I encourage you to try and fathom them out for yourself or otherwise look them up.

Not entirely sure if I can continue this project given the first word for February is mingicummumbus: an inseparable mass, as of pounds of butter stuck together but it has been quite the learning experience, and rather fun to sit down and pen new and increasingly bizarre paragraphs in an effort to maintain continuity – arguably, it’s also 1000+ words I wouldn’t otherwise have written. Comments and opinion are encouraged of course, but please be kind…

(project started Jan 1st 2016)

As nazzed and daft as he felt after that debacle with Nuala, he was ahoight within hisself, and already decided to shanksnag it back home – the street runners were not getting any of his short change today, and sure as damn it, doubten he had much to give anyways.

Sore as his head was and light as his mood was also, he couldn’t help thinkin’ that Ellerton¹ fellah had the right idea, to travel on foot always with a stone on your head was to be ready for any ‘ventuality. Dammit, he should’ve thought that through before gettin’ into a barney-ruck with that weeshy Tom Thumb Stratton² fellah. Sure wasn’t his best move in front of Nuala, and now he had to be doubly careful in case Barnum saw fit to send his heavies onto him. Damn the girl, pretty as a picture but full to burstin’ with trouble in ‘er she was… Iscariot’s arse³, she was a colefire for sure, and double dangerous when the wick was lit he s’posed. Best get hisself home and grab some shut-eye was what any right-thinkin’ man would say, and woman also. S’pose.

She’d be bundling with somebody t’night, of that he was sure, either that or be havin’ a maroon-party with some lucky fellah. A horse and cart drew up alongside him and he looked up at the saddle on instinct. Jeesh! A vision of Barnum’s pair o’ smarty-pants horse-leapers jumping him from top of’ the horses right there in the street brought him up to straight-standin’ soon enough… he patted himself down as they rode on. Bigg’uns, those ‘orses… the dark carriage trailing behind them was swallowed up eagerly by the fog-ridden streets of Haytown.

Desultors they were called… those fancy horse vaulters… made ‘em sound like fancy-pantsy tax takers chasing collarage to ol’ Keni. He smirked and chuckled at that. Was fed up thinkin’ about Barnum’s posse, Stratton, and Nuala; far as he was concerned the lot of ‘em were just playing a grand game of chantage, screwing each other for whatever they could get. Bunch of tree-geese scraping the bottom o’ the boat is how he saw ’em, an’ tha’s all they were good for… A wry grinny finally spread across his face at that. Yeh, ol’ Keni was ahoight, and on ‘is way home to bed.

He wondered if him and Nuala would ever be copulatives one of these days, if his own blockishnesse would stay at bay long enough for them to become real lovers rather than leaving him looking the fool and her thinkin’ him a moke. Eeyore-Eeyore he thought, chuckling again at his own mirth.

Home was a cold single room at the bottom of Treepit Lane. A big ol’-fashioned stove sat cold as you like at one end, and a smaller one at t’other, a large block of wood served as a table in the middle. Nervously fingering his hat, something he always did when leaving and returning again –being galericulate in public was important, even if the rest of ‘im was prob’ly a bit scruffed– he plucked at the smaller stove, shuffling coals and wood before striking a light and setting a small fire going, settling back on the old armchair and throwing his hat to the floor. With graveyard working now long at the back of ‘im, it was good to get home of a night knowin’ he had nowt to be getting up early for the next day.

A man’s home was ‘is castle they said, but livin’ on his tod was drivin’ him to distraction, and Nuala was still not right-thinkin’ in her head. Maybe she just needed a good bowssenin’ to soften ‘er up – a healthy dunkin’ now and then would put paid to some of the libertar’an thinking these modern women were tootin’, and maybe help ‘em see things clear again. Heard tell the world used to work like that, he had, the way it was s’posed to, and he hoped there’d be no need for anyone to be considering gettin’ jugulators in to put things back to rights. Dark as that thought was, he sorted his effects, carefully removed his jacket –nowt that scruffy-lookin’ ‘bout that, really– and spreading it open like an ol’ wet sandwich, threw it over hisself. His head tipped back and his face was sporting ivory from one side to t’other as he tried to get some shut-eye. A grande evenin’ it’d been for sure…


Morning brought a stray beam of sunlight through the window, through the splintered, broken-off bit of the outside shutters in point of fact. We’ll ‘ave to get that sorted one of’ these days. Morning also brought a dry thirst at the back of his mouth, like he’d been playin’ tongues with a sand castle… Ahh… but the castle he was thinkin’ of was on a wine bottle… nowt like whetting your appetite in readiness for the mornin’. Clambering up from the armchair, he shuffled past the table block and found his glory shelf in a small rough-shod side closet that had never had a door far as ‘e could remember. Snaggin’ the cork in his mouth, he yanked and let some of the wine dribble down his chin. Nice bit o’ whet in the mornin’ sure beats the Dutch. His thoughts drifted to Nuala once again as he wondered whether there’d be babies-in-the-eyes⁵  next time he sought her out… Turn the peats, Keni, nowt good can come o’ this obsession m’laddo… More wine spilled on his trousers as he looked down and took in his own bearing, banging the bottle on top of the closet and deciding new threads was what’s needed, he was overdue some hardwearin’ inexpressibles for sure by now.

The dink-dink-dink sound of Mozart’s Turkish March played in his head as he readied hisself for the mornin’ ahead. Mozart… now there was a composuist who knew his stuff… bet he was a kintra-cooser in his time, for sure. Thoughts of Nuala drifted back, shifting in and out of the tightest gaps in Mozart’s jolly ditty like some kind of bizarre death music accompaniment, with Nuala as executrice at the other end… bah, maybe he’d be lucky if she didn’t pierce his eyes out and stuck to an anabrochismus this time round… Pfft…


¹ Jan 2/3: Simon Ellerton (1696?-1799) – a noted pedestrian, often employed by gentlemen in the neighbourhood on commissions to London and other places, which he always executed on foot with fidelity and diligence.

² Jan 4: Charles ‘Tom Thumb’ Stratton (1838-1883) – a tiny man, a member of P. T. Barnum’s menagerie of curious performers, stood 25-35 inches high, and married tiny woman Lavinia Warren. Also appeared on the cover of Harper’s Magazine (Feb 1863).

³ Jan 5: Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve apostles who sold Jesus down the river for 30 silver coins. (“Kiss of Judas”).

Jan 14: Moke, slang name for a donkey or ass. The word moxio was the gipsy name for a donkey.

  Jan 25: An anonymous 17th-century British book of spells suggested, “To know if your husband or wife be bewitched, look well into their eyes, and if you can discern your picture in them they are not bewitched. If you cannot discern your likeness, some person hath bewitched them.”


Forgotten English sample