All that glisters is not gold

Funny word, isn’t it? A mixture of glitters, sisters and blisters. The dumb-down-everything brigade are perpetually trying to replace glisters with glitters because people are, in their reckoning, unable to make the mental ‘hop’ from this funny-old-funny-sounding word to the (very similar sounding) word they may have occasionally heard used on some gameshows on TV, even if it isn’t part of their teensy-tiny little personal vocabularies.

Oh, I am so bitter today!

One interesting thing – apparently the exposure of the paedophilic activities of ageing British pop singer Gary Glitter has caused ‘glitter’ to become less popular. It is even possible that people will once again prefer Shakespeare’s poetic alternative. On the other hand, it has got more than one syllable, so they’ll probably plump for ‘bling’.

The quote is from The Merchant of Venice:

O hell! what have we here?
A carrion Death, within whose empty eye
There is a written scroll! I’ll read the writing.
All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscroll’d:
Fare you well; your suit is cold.

[By the way, if there are any ‘s’s missing from any of my posts, it’s because this keyboard is refusing to type them upon the first striking of the key. No, you have to repeatedly strike the ‘s’ and then it might… However many times I check, I always seem to miss one or two.]

I had to ‘do’ The Merchant of Venice at school. I remember enjoying it, at the time, and it being about a pound of flesh, and there being a court case involved, and that a lady called Portia – or was it Desdemona? – no, she was the one that got strangled by Othello over a handkerchief – no, Portia, dressed up as a man to defend – someone or other. Or did she?

This demonstrates the scant usefulness of most of what we are forced to learn in schools, although you might say that, even if I can no longer remember the plot of either The Merchant or Othello I still love Shakespeare and his genius with language – more and more so in retrospect.

So, one little story to illustrate the saying All That Glisters Is Not Gold:

You may or may not know that I have been volunteering with an Organisation that helps Old Folk in a number of different ways. I’m not much of a volunteer, even, since I have but a single client, a very old lady with dementia. This was not much of a challenge to begin with – just a short bus ride/drive once a week, and an hour spent mostly listening and eating chocolate biscuits. Unfortunately the dementia has taken a sudden turn for the worse, as often happens (I remember it with my Mum) and things have become more challenging. I am finding it difficult, really, after Mum, to find myself on that slippery slope to oblivion all over again, albeit with less responsibility.

Anyway, since before Christmas I kept getting these emails from my contact at the Organisation, asking me to pop in to the Centre whenever I next happened to be in town, as a small Christmas gift awaited me. I kept forgetting. To tell the truth I go into Town as infrequently as I can manage, since it depresses me. I come away feeling as if I have been Captured By The Dementors and Imprisoned in Azkaban for several millennia. Well, an exaggeration maybe but all those tattoo parlours, all those £1 stores, all those boarded up shop (s, keyboard, s!) …

However, the only way to stop the emails was to get in the car and drive to Town specially. I knocked on the back door and was admitted. (Luckily the chiropodist didn’t pop out of his lair like a Scottish spider in a white coat, as I am avoiding him.) The girl led me through to the office and handed me a beautifully wrapped little gift attached to a card. It even had that ribbon that they make all curly by stroking it with the blade of the scissors. Someone had taken a lot of trouble.

‘We had decided to eat them if you didn’t come in by the end of the week!’ she joked.

Ah, so chocolates. But chocolates is/are OK.

I thanked them and made for the door, once again avoiding that beady-eyed chriropodist. I walked the entire length of the High Street back to Tesco, where you can park your car for free for three hours (then they send rude letters to you). I drove all the way home. I put the kettle on and opened my Little Gift, and it was a tiny packet of Maltesers.

Maltesers are OK I suppose. Just not worth that long drive into town, that long, cold, drizzly walk up the High treet (s! foul keyboard – how hard can it be?) past all those tattoo parlours, boarded-up shops, £1 stores and bunches of hoodie-wearing teenage louts who no doubt all carry knives, or at least have perfected the art of looking at you as if they do…

But, a Malteser is a Malteser. Not much chocolate involved, maybe, but…

I opened the box and sat there, with my cup of tea and my half-read historical novel (Lamentation by C J Sansom), and proceeded to pig the lot.

10 thoughts on “All that glisters is not gold

  1. A) I’d had NO idea it was “glisters” and if I saw that in my (discounted mail order books) Shakespeare collected works, I must’ve thought it a printing error; b) as for your “s” key, you might try blasting the keyboard’s every cranny with that can of compressed air (with the straw you’ll lose before you can ever use it again) expressly for keyboards; c) we call Maltesers “malted milk balls” here (mostly because that’s their name, here) and although they used to be a favorite of mine simply because of volume, I can’t believe they wrapped those up for you as a GIFT — can’t imagine why they didn’t wrap up a package of chewing gum to go with it; d) first it’s talk of “illegal Scotsmen” and now, “Scottish spiders”! I am so tempted to visit Scotland. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the tip about the ‘s’. Scotland – well, large chunks of it – is lovely, and I’m sure you’d enjoy it. Sadly all three of us, the Illegal Scotsman, the spidery Scottish chiropodist and I, live about as far from Scotland as possible to go without getting our feet very wet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another lovely rambly story to brighten my morning, and I sympathise over the ‘s’s key. With my keyboard it’s the cap shift. Maddening – especially as I’m something of a grammar nerd.
    I don’t think I’ve eaten Maltesers since I was 16. I used to buy packets of them to motivate myself through ‘O’ level revision sessions: 15 minutes work = 1 Malteser. Sadly, then, they will forever be linked to extreme stress in my mind, which probably explains why I haven’t eaten them since.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree, if they were going to hound you to come pick up your gift, they should have made it at least a little bit nicer! Odd how people can make a gift an actual chore. When my daughter got married, a neighbor made a big deal about giving her a flag holder with lots of seasonal flags to put on it. We heard about those flags for months…how she had to special order them because the store no longer carried the brand she like, how she searched for just the right flags and had to send a few back because they were the wrong size, etc. Ultimately, it wasn’t a gift to my daughter, it was a pain in the butt to us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh, a seasonal flag holder! I could never have conceived of such a thing. Now memories of bizarre and disappointing gifts come flooding back – the horses’ head key rack, the doll wirh the puce face and the orange hair (and one eye permanently closed), the clamshell-like plastic soap dish teetering about at the top of a kind of narrow plinth…

      Liked by 1 person

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