Whiffling Away

September 22, 2009

As we’ve come over all literary (and don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t last) did you see a little article in yesterday’s Independent, entitled, ‘Raise your brendice to a new lexicon’? It was all about a book called The Wonder of Whiffling, a compendium of quirky words from around the globe.

Obviously I am beyond sad, but it is the type of thing I love. Immediately one of the words, petrichor, meaning the smell of rain falling on dry soil, brought to mind Vermeer’s beautiful painting, A View of Delft:

Can’t you just smell the petrichor? I had the luck to see the original, nestled in the glorious Mauritshuis in The Hague, when I was still happily married about a million years ago. If you peer in very closely (risking the wrath of the curators) you can see that Vermeer has painted thousands of tiny pinpricks of white on the details of the buildings, which seem to break through the clouds and shine joyfully. I love the fact that he has caught such a subtle shift in weather, that moment after a shower when everything looks so dewy fresh and reborn. Storm clouds can, and do pass. I really ought to have that printed on a T-shirt. Maybe then I’d believe it.

On a more prosaic note, one of the other words in The Wonder of Whiffling was the blissful shubi, an Australian word for someone who buys all the surfing gear, but doesn’t actually surf. We may not have the waves in Dulwich, but we certainly have an awful lot of shubis – chaps who brandish their squash racquets, yet are never seen on a court, and ladies, of course, who do the school run in their pilates gear but are somehow strangers to making that core connection. Not me, of course – I’m just off to my class. In a minute. Or two. Er …..shubi doobi do, anyone?

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  • Ladybird World Mother September 22, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Yes, I'll shubi dooby doo! Love that word… have done a shubi'ette by buying loads of tennis gear… but does it count if I actually played a tiny bit of tennis? And might play some more? Felt a bit of a shubi, anyway.

  • Not Waving but Drowning September 23, 2009 at 3:49 am

    I haven't discovered this book BUT have a sneaky peek into Brewer's Dictionery of Fact and Fable the next time you're in Waterstones.


  • dulwich divorcee September 25, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Hi Ladybird World Mother, lovely of you to stop by, you know, I don't think you're a real shubi if you actually play tennis, I think you're what's called a proper tennis player, well done you!

    Hi GG, I don't think the Whiffling book is out yet (I've given you a sneak preview). Will definitely peer into Brewer's Fact 'n' Fable, sounds like a good one, thanks for the tip!