Monthly Archives: May 2020

Verboten (adjective)


  1. Forbidden; especially: prohibited by dictate

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 8 May 2020)

Use it in a sentence

Her family had gathered outside the window of the nursing home en masse, maintaining, as best they could, the required social distancing. Some great niece or other held up a big bunch of flowers, smiling and waving madly. No doubt someone would soon collect them, fumigate them somehow and duly deliver them. Another child with his two front teeth missing held up a giant handmade card with ‘We love you Nanna! Happy 100th!’ (capital ‘N’) scrawled across the front. One of her own children was wiping away tears, blowing kisses. Someone else had a large cake –she hoped that would make it inside unscathed.

They were all gathered to mark the occasion, along with a television camera and junior reporter, safely outside because nursing home visits were verboten.

Some tapped on the glass, as though she were some kind of animal at the zoo, others just smiled benignly and stood around, not knowing what to do. All the residents inside were clapping and ‘ooohing’ and ‘ahhhing’, and one of the nurses bobbed down beside her wheelchair.

‘Well, Mavis! What do you think about that!’ Bless her, the nurse was beaming, her eyes were red and she gave Mavis a pat on the hand. Without wanting to appear rude, Mavis quietly withdrew her hand. She smiled and waved but then she turned to the nurse, ‘I’ve always hated celebrating my birthday – I’ve never had a party in my life. That lot,’ she nodded to the crowd, ‘bloody know that. I don’t even like half of them. All the good ones are already dead.’ Then she nodded and smiled again, giving the camera a cheeky wink, as the nurse got up and with a tight smile started pouring very modest plastic glasses of champagne.

‘Hip bloody hurrah’, said Mavis, skulling hers.

Flotsam (noun)


1. floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo; broadly: floating debris

2a. floating population (as of emigrants or castaways)

b. miscellaneous or unimportant material

c. debris, remains

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 12 May 2020)

Use it in a sentence

‘Shall we see if there’s any flotsam on the beach after last night’s storm?’

She raised her eyebrows. ‘That’s sounds like a very Boy Scout thing to do.’

He laughed and shucked his head. Things were starting to get back to normal between them, but they were somewhat still reserved with each other, at pains to be polite. ‘We don’t have to.’

‘Actually, I think “flotsam” sounds like a 19th century maid’s name. Like Daisy or Bessy. I can just hear it – “Flotsam, tend to my muddy boots at once, there’s a girl. But first, fetch the tea”’.

He snorted. ‘And that sounds like a very romantic school girl thing to say’. He glanced sideways quickly, to check if he’d offended her. It happened to both of them so easily these days. But he caught a small, wry smile on her lips.

‘Well, what shall we do then? Look for flotsam or have tea?’ She sounded playful in a way that she hadn’t for a long time.

‘Maybe both?’

She turned to look at him then. Eye contact was still fraught, but she looked at him and nodded. ‘Let’s do both then’. They held the eye contact for a long moment and smiled at one another.

Indomitable (adjective)


  1. incapable of being subdued: unconquerable

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 10 May 2020)

Use it in a sentence

At first, the ship only rolled gently from side to side, as though tipsy on the French champagne served in the First Class dining room. It amused the guests to sway and trip lightly on the dance floor. The women tittered and the men chuckled, and they sat down, lightheaded, and chatted politely instead about politics and music. Nothing too outlandish or controversial. No one was in the mood to make a fuss. The orchestra had too fine a string section, and heads nodded gently, feet tapped.

When the ship started tipping forward and backwards as well, there were some cries of ‘oh!’ from the more delicate ladies. One or two of the young men coughed and excused themselves, declaring they were tired, but instead headed straight out on to the deck for fresh air. Not that it helped. Their tuxedos were soon damp from the sea spray and their carefully oiled back hair soon splayed across their foreheads in a reckless fashion.

Staff bustled about on decks, locking away shuffleboard equipment, folding up chairs and throwing cushions and rugs into a large metal container. ‘It’s going to be a big one!’ one of the staff sang out cheerfully as the remaining promenaders made their way inside, the wind slamming the watertight doors after them.

No one noticed the elegant lady in the beaded blue dress coming down the steps from the top deck. She was flushed with excitement, never having been outside in such a storm, and at sea as well! She braced herself against the fierce wind, her head piece had been whipped out into the dark night already. No one noticed either, when she was knocked off balance, tripped midway down, and catapulted forward and over the too-low deck railing. The splash as she hit the sea was lost in the roar of the indomitable ocean storm, that seemed to roar with pleasure at having claimed another trophy.