My friend Myra went on a rampage yesterday. (This should explain to most people why she's my friend, one of my most beloved, as it happens.) "I HATE THEM!" she shrieked, as various teenagers looked on contemptuously. "WHAT DOES SCUDDING EVEN MEAN?"
We double checked, just in case scudding did not, in fact, mean moving along in a straight line as if propelled by the wind. It did.
"WHY NOT SKIDDING CLOUDS? OR FLAPPING CLOUDS OR SCOOTING CLOUDS OR FLIBBERTY-GIBBETING CLOUDS OR ANYTHING?" (Myra is not, I hasten to say, a writer. But she cares, dear reader, she cares.)
At this point, the teenagers left the room, embarrassed beyond belief that a person of middle years could rant so much about anything, much less a stupid word.
"AND YOU WANT TO KNOW THE WORST THING? PETER CAREY HAS USED SCUDDING CLOUDS AND SO HAS HILARY MANTEL."
A shocked silence fell over the remaining occupants of the room. Hilary Mantel? The goddess? The font?
Life is full of crushing disappointments. Or do I mean squeezing disappointments? Whatever. It's soul-destroying. Erm, I mean, pig-irritating.
As you may have guessed, I'm with Myra all the way. I hate scudding clouds. And limpid pools and flashing eyes and hearts pounding like hammers and thundering hooves and crushing disappointments and on and on and on....
It's a short message today, my August lovelies, but a heartfelt one.
Don't use a cliche when a real combination of words will do.