Thursday 15 April 2010

Auntie Mim and Her Talent With Bullets

Auntie Mim 

Auntie Mim’s name was really Alice but throughout her life she was known  as Mim. They said it was because as a small child she would say me-mim-me a lot. She got a lot of attention.

Like all in our family she was fascinated by words. Her brother, my father, wrote wonderful letters and read and did crossroads. My brother not only did crosswords but made them as well. My sister has written and was a keen cross-worder until seduced by Sudoku.  I write. My daughter and son write and love words.  And so- on …

In the present day this blog is part of contemporary word-play, as is Twitter,  which I have just begun to ‘play’.  For the uninitiated this involves writing something in 140 characters or fewer and posting it  (see sidebar here). Then anyone who reads it can respond to it  in 140 characters or fewer. And so on. Anyone can respond to anyone.

They are all out there. There is a lot of verbal  flotsam and jetsam floating about.  But the ones I enjoy are cryptic, punchy, imaginative, speculative, fluid, quick. It’s amazing what you can get into 140 characters (ie letters, not words…)

Back in Auntie Mim’s day she was obsessed with this thing called Bullets. I can remember her hunched over a competition in either the People  or the News Chronicle  where you created cryptic phrases of under so many letters (can’t remember whether it was 140 but it was tight) creating cryptic phrases for the ‘Bullets’ competition and sending them away. She won prizes now and then.

In recent days,  getting to grips with Twitter, my Auntie Mim came to mind for the first time in some years. It occurred to me that she would have loved the mental gymnastics of Twitter but would have been disappointed, I think, that there were no money prizes involved.

I thought you might be entertained by a few of the tweets cooked up by me in response to those of others. The other people are highlighted if you want to know what they said…

@paulmagrs Friendly Whitby ghosts mean I can be there in spirit, writing.

@nwndirector Alnwick Castle water falls beat all earthly dress, even Phillipa's

@daneetsteffens Truth is only the first step to understanding perhaps. Or understanding is a precondition for truth, more likely.

@normblog An old friend of mine had a party to decorate her straw coffin, thus introducing meaning to her funeral - but not yet...

 about @Adelica Politicians wives wheeled out to order, in the old tradition of the vicar's wife or the wife of that old devil at the manor?

I have to say, as a word-junkie, Twittering is fun. As I say, Auntie Mim would have loved it.



  1. Lovely post. And yes, sometimes I am breathless by how clever the tweets are - people are very funny. (ps this post is a prize for Auntie Mim!)

  2. Nice to see you here, Sarah. I am enjoying your site very much. I think Auntie Mim (or her spirit...) appreciates her prize.

  3. I really loved your prison post WEndy - the information about the WAxler programme was fascinating. What a pity we don't have more imaginative things like that here. Lack of money I suppose. - enjoying the snippets from your latest novel too. It's interesting to get a glimpse into 'process'.
    I have failed miserably to get to grips with Twitter. I'm just too busy to tweet!!

  4. Hi Kathleen - of course you experienced the Changing Lives process in our prison as a visiting writer didn't you?

    Really, Bob Waxler was so inspring. Talk about Mr Can-Do!

    I've had D here cooking up a storm and she ]persuaded me to try Twitter. So far it's been fun (for the reasons above) and takes no time. I like to learn something new... ( just wish it was called something else..)
    Keep well and keep busy

  5. So glad you've joined in the Twitter fun, Wendy. Did you see the recent comment from no less a Twitterer than Margaret Ashwood? She loves Twitter, says it is like having fairies at the bottom of the garden. And we could all do with a few of those. (And didn't we all have a good time during the leaders' debate last night?)

  6. Hello Boots

    How Twitter made the rather predictable debate fizz. Political fairies at the bottom of our garden. It is indeed Twitter-fun. Nice counterpoint to my blog which dips on the serious side, rather.

    Hope you're feeling better now

  7. I'm pretty sure 'Bullets' was in John Bull magazine as well.

  8. My father, John Irvine, won the biggest prize ever with a bullet in John Bull, in 1933. The money was 4,000 guineas (the equivalent today of £300,000.) He was a humble joiner in Paisley and with the money he moved with his family (wife and four children) to Troon, bought a bungalow and gave us all an education. He died at the age of 91. His winning bullet - at a time when monuments showing a soldier with a rifle were going up - was "Man with a Gun" (given words), completed by him with "Wasn't Greatest Sculptor's Design". I shall be eternally grateful to the John Bull magazine and to my father for the opportunity they gave us to better our lives.

  9. I am one of John Irvine's children mentioned above. I am 81 now and the other three are still alive. Yes, we moved from a Paisley tenement into a Troon bungalow and went to Marr College where we got an excellent education. His winning bullet was considered at the time to be the cleverest there had been.



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