A ‘Blur’ of opticians…
Although I’m not particularly a fan of tv’s Countdown, this talk proved to be something of a revelation.
After all, a discussion on collective nouns hardly sounds enthralling. But as is so often the case at this festival - and this is true of it every year - the unpromising or just plain lifeless can be brought to life in a manner and way that simply delights.
Which is precisely what Susie Dent - yes, that Susie Dent of Countdown fame - delivered; an absolutely riveting journey into the weird and wonderful world of, and I’ll say it again… collective nouns.
But before I explain how and why, let us first deal with the elephant in the room - what IS a collective noun? Well it’s this -
A ‘skulk’ of Friars
An ‘abomination’ of monks
An ‘obedience’ of servants
A ‘rage’ of maidens
A ‘herd’ of harlots
A ‘murmuration’ of starlings (I think I’ve spelt that correctly)
An ‘unkindness’ of Ravens
A parliament of Rooks
And best of all, an ‘implausibility’ of gnus.
So you get the picture.
And presumably too, an idea of just how much this subject proved a natural crowd-pleaser.
Ms Dent was eloquent, funny, and utterly down to earth.
And when I least expected it, I found my self laughing out loud, not just once but several times.
In short, a 24-carat, top-of-the-range success.
And best of all, collective nouns it turns out can be invented by anyone.
There are no rules - so start creating.