Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Andy Flegg’s Word For The Day (or how to avoid hippomonstrosesquippedaliophobia)

Since The Andy Flegg Survival Guide hit the bookshelves last week, a lot of the feedback I’ve received so far has been all about Andy’s weird words.

For those that haven’t read the book, After Andy’s mum instructs him to include a new word in each of his diary entries in an attempt to help improve his vocabulary, Andy reluctantly starts trawling the internet in search of good ones to be his Word for the Day (WFD).

I have to say this was lots of fun to research for me too and I honestly learned almost as much as Andy. For example who knew that cacology was a bad choice of words or that a pronk was a weak or foolish person?

If you like this sort of stuff then please go and buy the book. But I wanted to list a few of my favourites here if only to encourage myself to start using them in everyday language.

Just imagine how your friends and family will look at you in a new and admiring light when they ask how your school day was and you can tell them it sucked because your wlatsome teacher is a total blatteroon who threatens dippoldism every time one of your friends snurts, snirtles or feffs. And worst of all his breath is jumentous and you think he’s a blattoid crissum.

Or for the boys amongst us, when you meet a hot girl and you can tell her she’s totally pulchritudinous, and you have an epithymy to go out with her because you are ensorcelled by her callipygian figure. Then when she’s in awe of your language skills and instantly accepts you can say that’s skookum news and you are totally mabsoot.

 Seriously, how could that fail to work as a great chat up line?

So if this kind of thing appeals to you then the good news is that there are literally hundreds of fantastic words out there just waiting to be rediscovered. I used heaps of sources for the book but just to get you started this is a link to one of the better compilations that I found.

Remember just check to make sure they’re not ersatz and never try to hornswoggle. But other than that, go for your life! Who knows maybe one day you’ll be a WFD cognoscente just like Andy Flegg.

By the way in case you are wondering what they all mean I failed to find a clever way of linking the text to the definitions so have resorted to listing them all below instead.

wlatsome (adjective) –repulsive loathsome, detestable

blatteroon (noun) - senseless blabberer or boaster who will never stop talking

dippoldism (noun) – the act of beating school children

snurt (noun) – the explusion of mucus while sneezing.

snirtle (verb) – to suppress laughter, to snigger, to snort

feff (noun) – a foul smell associated with a child breaking wind.

jumentous (adjective) – smelly like horse urine

blattoid (adjective) – having the characteristics of a cockroach

crissum (noun) – a bird’s anus

pulchritudinous (adjective) – beautiful, angelic, charming, hot, cute, dazzling

epithymy (noun) – a vigorously lustful desire

ensorcelled (adjective) – bewitched or enchanted

callipygian (adjective) – having finely developed, beautiful or shapely buttocks.

skookum (adjective) – the best, ultimate, excellent

mabsoot (adjective) – happy, joyful, pleased 

ersatz (adjective) -not real, fake

hornswoggle (verb) – to trick or deceive

cognoscente (noun) – a person who has a vast or superior knowledge in a particular 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

It's arrived and I don't mean the Royal baby!

After many months of waiting, The Andy Flegg Survival Guide has finally arrived on a bookshelf near you (hopefully)!

I’m guessing the fact that you’re even reading this means you already know what it’s about so I won’t bore you with that. However just in case you were still looking for that American plastic surgeon also called Mark Pardoe and found me by mistake then this very first review at Books &Publishing should enlighten you a little.

What I mostly wanted to say was a big thanks to all at Penguin for picking it up in the first place and giving me so much support and enthusiasm to get it to this point. You know who you are, Lisa et al.

No doubt Heather’s wonderful and tireless editing has made it a far better book than we started with. Although I must admit I was wondering how long it might take when we were still changing several things the day before the print run!

Also I am sure readers will be relieved to hear that Penguin wisely pulled in a great illustrator (Tony) to revamp my original lame attempts at doodling. The illustrations were supposed be Andy’s and no one actually said so but we all knew that my artistic skills didn't quite match that of a typical 11 year old's. In case you’re wondering, no I didn't ever mention that I once did a 12 month stint as a primary school Art teacher. Sorry kids, but we did have some fun and who could forget that paper mache fight?

Finally thanks Tina for turning me into a global celebrity (work in progress but well on the way). And in a nutshell, it’s hard to imagine working with a better publishing team.

So go on, off you go. Go and read it. And please let me know what you think!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Alan O’Leeffe, I forgive you.

Alright Alan, I know we were only twelve or thirteen and at the time and of course it’s been a fair while since I last saw you. But I can’t help wondering, where you are now and what's happened to your amazing creative talent?

Are you still the size of a small dwarf or did you have a late growth spurt in your early twenties? And did your voice ever break or do you still squeak like a guinea pig on helium? That would be pretty embarrassing, even for a middle aged dwarf.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course I’ve got over it by now. It wasn’t your fault that you were the only shining star of our English class. That Mr Bignell thought the rest of us were only there to give you an audience.

Sure most of the other kids hardly even noticed. But then they weren’t the ones who sat next to you.  They weren't the ones that had to hold you up on the palm of my hand so that you could squeak out your latest literary wonder for the rest of us?

Sorry if  this all sounds a little bitter. Was it your fault that Mr Bignell barely knew my name? Was it you who said there was only one creative genius in his class and if anyone accidentally stepped on them we’d be answering to him?  No, it wasn't and I had no right to drop you on the floor as many times as I did.

So what happened anyway? It seems you didn't make it after all. I haven't seen your name on a single best seller. You’re not even on Amazon and anyone can do that! Or am I wrong? Do you write under a pen name- John Grisham? Dan Brown? The woman that wrote Fifty Shades of Grey perhaps?

No, I don’t think so. More likely you’re some poor washed up local rag journo, jaded and faded, sick of churning out four line obits and dumb 'cat up tree' stories.

Poor Alan. If only it had been you that Mr Bignell had totally ignored. If only it had been you who had their entire literary ambitions so effectively ground into the dust at such a tender age. Perhaps then you too would have been forced to do something more interesting with your life and then who knows, maybe you’d have something to say now?

Really, I feel sorry for you, Alan. What Mr Bignell did to you sucks. And if any teachers are reading this now then let’s hope it gives them cause to think twice, before putting midgets on pedestals and ignoring the rest of their class.

Ouch! – That was supposed to be funny but maybe I’m more messed up than I thought! 

Actually this is a mostly partly true tale that I have recounted on several school visits in an attempt to encourage kids to have faith in their own abilities, regardless of what encouragement or lack of, they may get from anyone else. Sadly the only feedback I've received so far has been a noticeable increase in bullying attacks on unusually small children.

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Today my family and I are very excited to be off to Melbourne for the school break. It will be great to meet my virtual friend’s at Penguin for the first time, and what could be better than 2 weeks of R&R in Victoria’s legendary winter climate. 

It’s only been five years since we left the cultural heart of Australia to move here to wonderful deserts of Western Australia, but I’m sure the weather this time of year can’t be as hideously disgusting as I vaguely seem to remember. 

T-shirts – check; shorts – check; sunblock - got it.  Here we go!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


If I was you and I’d accidentally stumbled onto this blog in search of some decent lion taming tips, or had perhaps Googled my name looking for the American plastic surgeon also called Mark Pardoe and found this instead, then I think these might be the sorts of questions I’d be asking:

Why have you started this blog?
Because my second book - The Andy Flegg Survival Guide is being published by Penguin Australia this month. And after twelve months of hiding under a rock since my first book - Not Bog Standard, came out,  I have finally decided that if I want to take this writing thing vaguely seriously then I should probably stop being completely invisible.

Why have you decided to take this writing thing vaguely seriously?
Because some people seem to like what I am writing and despite being trapped inside all day with my dog, I actually enjoy doing it a great deal. Also I think my dog really appreciates the company.   

Why do you write for children?
Because I can't write for adults.  Actually I've never tried that but to be honest I’m not sure I've got a choice.  Despite being a little older now, my brain still seems to be hard wired to think like a twelve year old kid's. I know this for a fact because my thirteen year old daughter tells me to grow up almost every single day. Also my favourite TV shows are Doctor Who and The Simpsons.

Why did you start writing in the first place?
That needs an entirely new post. Coming soon.....

Why is it called life in the lion cage?
Because if I had the chance to live my life again and I wasn't reborn as a baby girl named J.K Rowling. And I still failed to make it as international soccer or rock star, then I think I would like to go and work in a circus. No, of course I don’t condone keeping endangered wild animals in tiny cages and poking them with pointy sticks to stop them from eating me. 

But come on! Who wouldn't want to be a lion tamer!