Monthly Archives: July 2020

Farrago (noun)

Photo by Samet Kurtkus, via Unsplash


  1. A confused mixture: hodgepodge

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 1 July 2020)

Use it in a sentence

The house was a farrago of souvenirs from past holidays, relationships, hobbies – past lives. Drawn, old-fashioned heavy drapes cast out any redeeming light. Dark though it was, eventually you could make out two hockey sticks, crossed like swords, perched against boxes of gardening almanacs that dated back to 1971. A Christmas wreath, propped against a stack of books on the floor, had become a crispy, leafy skeleton after an intense summer. There was no telling what colour the overstuffed lounge was anymore as it was covered with a floral, velour rug, several disparate shaped and coloured cushions, a creamy fringed shawl and the travel section of an old broadsheet newspaper. The coffee table was covered in the same tide of detritus as the rest of the house – teacups, several wine bottles and glasses, a plate of stale crackers and cheese crumbs, and a large bronze statue of a horse mid-gallop. Pushed into the spaces in between these items were pencils and notepaper, some scribbled on, some not; crumpled up pages; pictures ripped from magazines; and a crochet hook plunged into the heart of a ball of blue yarn.  

The real estate agent stood at the lounge room entrance and blinked several times. She had seen all this before. The room could be tidied, things thrown away. But the owner’s recklessness, lack of care, extended to the bones of the house. The floorboards were visible through holes in the threadbare carpet, sticky splashes of an undoubtedly saucy take-out dish stained the wall like a shooting victim’s blood spatter. A crack from cornice to skirting board was so wide it could be used as a larder. The loose sash windows, hidden behind the drapes, made themselves known with a throaty death rattle every time a vehicle drove by. Smokey residue left blotchy, cloud-like formations on the once white ceiling.  

And this was only the lounge. She racked her brain for something from her timeworn collection of clever phrases and ambiguous descriptions but stopped short. In the end, despite the narrow and difficult sloped block, despite the heritage laws that would hinder modifications, despite the haunted sense of decay, she wrote in her posting: ‘Quirky and charming character home. Renovators delight.’

Gourmand (noun)

Photo by Mod By via Unsplash
  1. one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking
  2. one who is heartily interested in good food and drink

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 24 June 2020)

Use it in a sentence

Gabriela’s parents were famed for hosting lavish lunches. The first hot Sunday of the summer, her mother would commandeer the kitchen, whilst her father was ordered outside to tidy up the courtyard and set the enormous, heavy wooden table. Her father had made the table from old railway sleepers when they were first married, even though they’d had nowhere to put it back then. It didn’t take long, though, for them to enjoy success and purchase the seaside summer house that they now lived in permanently. The table could be set comfortably for 12 but there were always at least 16 chairs crammed around it. Squalling babies were perched on laps, and newly betrothed couples happily squashed together. In the stifling hot summers, their large leafy courtyard was a cool and shady haven to all.

Gabriela’s mother was renowned throughout the neighbourhood as a gourmand. Her plump cheeks, her curvy hips spoke of her keen interest in rich sauces, creamy pastries and piquant cheeses. Her mother could chat for at least 20 minutes with the local baker, about the right flour for a particular type of bread. My mother always made her own, but the baker always indulged her in conversation because they were the only two left in town who bought their own grains and had them milled.

Lunch always started with a seafood antipasto. So close to the sea, there was always an abundance of fresh sardines and octopus. Her mother battered and fried all of the whitebait herself, and stuffed the calamari and simmered them in her own sauce. Everyone’s favourite second dish was the spaghetti with vongole. So simple – garlic, olive oil, chilli. And yet everyone agreed there was something lush and decadent about it, that only her mother was capable of creating.

Her mother, flushed through, her face glowing with pride mixed with greasy steam, would not sit down until the fruit and cheese was on the table. Someone else would offer to make the coffee and pass around the crunchy crostoli that had been fortified with their own grappa.

Thus far, Gabriela had never shared her mother’s fondness for food. She avoided the kitchen, preferring to read a book in the garden. But lately, she noticed her mother had waned a little, had needed to sit down for a while after a long frying session.  

So, on one of those gloriously sunny Sundays, Gabriela rummaged around in a bottom drawer for a spare apron, put it over her head, tied it up and faced her mother who was startled to see her in the kitchen at all.

Gabriella smiled. ‘Teach me how to make the stuffed calamari.’

Her mother beamed back.

Incontrovertible (adjective)

Photo by Alvaro Serrano, via Unsplash


  1. Not open to question: indisputable

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 27 June 2020)

Use it in a sentence

‘I was not at that hotel yesterday afternoon. I was offsite, yes, but it was that new building site, at least an hour out of the city. I spoke to at least six people while I was there. We didn’t get back until 6 and then I came straight home. All that is incontrovertible.’ He rushed a hand through his long fringe, clearly flustered.

‘Honey that’s six syllables of high and mighty. Come on down and speak to me like a human being.’  With that sarcastic tone, she might have been chewing gum, one hand on her hip, flipping him the bird. But she was far from it. She was poised and elegant, all 6ft of her frame drawn up tall, her feet firmly planted, her eyes level with him.

‘All I can say is, whoever sent you that note is just trying to cause trouble. I don’t know why. I just know it’s a load of bullshit. I wasn’t at that hotel.’

She narrowed her eyes at him, and then turned away. ‘We’ll see,’ she said quietly. She started to set the table for dinner. He stood for a moment longer, hands in his pocket, before he got two wine glasses down from the shelf. This wasn’t done. Not by a long shot. It was going to be a long night.