Monthly Archives: June 2020

Bellwether (noun)

Photo by Frantisek Duris, via Unsplash


  1. One that takes the lead or initiative: leader; also: an indicator of trends

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 15 June 2020)

Use it in a sentence

Anthony scowled, and then rolled his eyes. He almost snorted derisively but then he remembered he was in a crowded meeting room and coughed instead, something polite and involuntary. Historically, the company was the bellwether in ballpoint pens, but lately they were losing their market. They had a quality product, with all component parts made in-house. Their pens had always been regarded as a stylish and elegant, but practical and hardy too. But as the CEO, Max, said, there was nothing original about them, nothing unique anymore. Nobody wanted just a good pen, they wanted a pen that made a statement. If they wanted a pen at all! But it was better not to dwell on the latter.

The meeting was a free-for-all think-tank. How could we increase sales, compete with Waterman, Cross and Mont Blanc again? So far, the ideas were rubbish – different colours, an add-on bonus retractable pencil, a free notebook. Rubbish. Anthony was just waiting for the right moment to chime in. Let all the other monkeys throw their peanuts on the floor first, and then he would sail in on a Tarzan rope and save the day. This was it. He caught Max’s eye, held his hand in the air – a half wave, half school-boy request to go to the toilet.

‘Yes? You have a suggestion.’ There was a bit of quiet. No one ever expected Anthony to say anything. He was more of a behind the scenes kind of guy and that’s usually where he was happy to stay. But he just knew this was a brilliant idea and that it was his moment to shine.

‘Er yes Max. Yes, I do.’

‘Well? Go ahead.’

‘So, why don’t we set up an online system where you can order a pen with your name engraved on it. Or,’ Anthony had another sudden brain wave, ‘have your name picked out in diamantes – we could strike up a partnership with Swarovski – pink for the girls, black for the men. Individual, unique and beautiful to look at!’ He sat back in his chair, and smiled broadly, waiting for the praise and perhaps even a smattering of applause.

But the room was silent for a moment. Max narrowed his eyes and leaned forward in his chair. ‘That is the worst idea I’ve heard today. It’s terrible! It’s cheap and nasty and very …. I don’t know, very Paris Hilton. You might as well have said, “Why don’t we have a picture of girl on the pen, who’s naked when you turn it upside down.” God-awful. That’s not our audience. That’s not our audience AT ALL.’ Max was shouting now. He put his glasses on and peered at Anthony. ‘What department do you work in?’


Max shook his head and muttered, ‘Terrible idea. Awful.’ Then, more loudly, ‘You people better come up with some better stuff than this, otherwise, we are really up shit creek. You’ve got another 24 hours.’ He shoved his chair back and headed towards the door. He paused in front of Anthony. ‘You’, he pointed at him. ‘Not another word.’

Anthony shrank in his chair, glowing red, and hung his head until everyone else had left.

Capricious (adjective)


  1. Governed or characterised by caprice: impulsive, unpredictable

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 7 June 2020)

Use it in a sentence

The sea was capricious. There was no telling when she would snatch the already shifting sand from under your feet, sucking water back like a greedy child. Or when she would overwhelm you suddenly, a wave creeping, stealthy, at your back, until it came to crash over you. You were hijacked then, held captive, held down, and only released when she was done with you.

Of course, she could be gentle too, pooling around your feet, tickling your ankles while you enjoyed the warmth of sunshine. You heard her at night sometimes, whispering at your open window, singing in your ear, sweet, seductive. She could draw you in with her siren voice, and you would sway towards her, forgiving and forgiven, comforted in the cold darkness of night. She was ancient, all consuming, powerful and vulnerable. You looked on her then with fondness, with terror.

That talent for capriciousness is what you fear the most. It’s what makes you shiver when you remember that morning your husband and child pushed off the shore in a little tin boat, rods and bait ready, and never came back. The sea is no friend of yours.

Compunction (noun)

Compunction (noun)


1a. anxiety arising from awareness of guilt

1b. distress of mind over an anticipated action or result

2. a twinge of misgiving: scruple

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 3 June 2020)

Use it in a sentence

‘I would have no compunction shoving you into the path of a speeding bus.’ 

‘So … we’re still not talking then?’

‘Likely never again. This is not even a conversation.’

‘Right. Well, I can’t apologise again. But. For what it’s worth. I’m so sorry. So very sorry.’


‘You would really push me in front of a moving vehicle?’

‘No compunction at all.’

‘Ha! You spoke to me.’


‘I told you – I’ll replace it.’


‘Tell me where you got it.’


‘Did you find it here… or….?’

*sigh* ‘One day, many years ago, in a tiny vintage store in the narrow lanes of Genoa, I struck up a conversation with the owner and her tiny poodle, Stella. We chatted about this and that as I riffled though dusty, moth eaten velveteen jackets and full-length floral skirts. Stella, chewing on a stuffed bear, started to wheeze and huff, coughing and spluttering. Choking. The owner flapped her arms and squealed a lot but didn’t have a clue what to do. I scooped up Stella, plonked her on the counter, stuck my fingers down her throat and pulled out the wool stuffed arm of her toy bear. She promptly vomited on the glass countertop and then looked at me, licking her lips. So, I put back down on the floor and the owner practically swooned from joy and relief. She thanked me over and over again and then told me to stay where I was. As I fingered a cream taffeta bridesmaid dress, she shuffled out the back and I heard her rummaging around, still thanking God and this miraculous stranger – me – who saved her precious Stella. Then she came back carrying a black leather handbag, plain but with the unmistakable bamboo handle of a classic Gucci and presented it to me regally. She told me she had put it aside for a regular customer – she only kept the cheap stuff, the tourist stuff out the front – but since I’d saved her dog, I could have it – for nothing. Nothing. She stuffed a vintage Hermes scarf inside of it for good measure. I wandered out of the store in a state of grace – a state that’s never been replicated. And then, last week, spring cleaning, you put that Gucci inside a garbage bag destined for the bin.’

‘Thinking that was what you wanted. It was a bit battered.’


‘Wait a minute though. Are you saying you treasure your Gucci handbag more than me?’


‘So, we’re really never speaking again.’