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The Botanical Room part 14 - Language rhymes with sandwich

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

My blog is officially a teenager and well on its way to being a proper grown-up. There is not much botanical stuff in this blog, just my musings, as I have my sister visiting from Oz. We are reminiscing and looking through the archives that my parents have left us. It is such a lovely thing but overwhelming too. This month, the four siblings will be reunited to celebrate my father's life. It will be the first time we have been able to do this since he passed away at the beginning of the covid pandemic. It seems way too long, way too long, but it is also exciting and emotional.

'My big sis Jane and me, in our prime, though actually

my sister looks precisely the same to me now ©billy showell

If you follow my blogs, you know that I like to write poetry; you may disagree with me and think that what I write is just 'rhyme', and you may be right.

I do, however, sometimes write poems that don't rhyme (my serious stuff), and I do like to think of myself as a part-time poet, however misguided that is.

I never really understood English grammar lessons at school, but I loved and always wrote poetry. I think my lack of understanding of grammar came about because I changed schools quite a lot, and I'm not sure why that was so.

I started off in one excellent local school; I did pretty well there. I was flourishing, but then I left and attended another school, which I think was because my sister was there due to her best friend moving to that school. My mum would have wanted to get good use of the hand me down school uniforms; also, it's easier if your kids attend the same school.

Here I am, pre uniform infant school days at the excellent school

(I was daydreaming)

I learned nothing at my second school.

I wasn't unhappy there; I was able to do lots of drawing and painting. I was overlooked and perhaps prematurely written off when it came to anything academic. (I will admit to being a slow reader, and to this day a poor reader of events diaries as I have a dislike of table grids).

I then left that rubbish school and was returned to my first, original school, where I was now horribly behind in my education. I realised this at the start of my first french language class, all the class knew french, and I knew nothing, 'diddly squat' (this means-almost nothing) as they say.

I stayed at that school until we moved house, I was 10 years old, after which I had to join a new school for the two years before going to a huge secondary school.

Interrupting one's education can be annoying and can hold you back. One is often confused as to where one sits in the overall intelligence level of the class (haha, I sound like the queen 'one sits'). You do, however, learn how to make new friends and can almost reinvent yourself at every new venue.

This is what I did. In fact, it was only after I left school that I learnt about maintaining long friendships, something I was ill practised by moving so many times.

When it came to having my own children, I was determined that they would both stay at the same school, support one another, and maintain long friendships. When big school began to loom, we did, however, have to move out of that catchment area. By then, the school system of Tunbridge Wells and all the various entry requirements had broken me. I recall sitting on the stairs weeping over the lack of options and realising that we would have to move to give the boys an excellent free school that would suit both of them. A school that would have the ethos we were looking for and, more importantly, be a school we liked.

NB No one warned me about school choices before I had kids, it makes me really cross, so I think we will leave that topic just there to spare you my opinions.

'je suis une tomate' copyright Billy Showell (a new tutorial coming out this year)

So, excitingly, my online school has just begun offering automatic translation, which is incredible, thrilling, and wonderful. I love that such things can be done, as anything that spreads communication and understanding is great. My one concern is translating the various words that I speak while painting. I will be honest here, I am so nervous in front of the camera that I often run out of breath, talk gibberish, and use my own vocabulary. In my head, adding a 'y' at the end of most words will suffice for making things 'more so', but of course, that does not always translate to another language.

I have only English, meaning it's the only language I know, that is if you omit 'Numpty'.

'Numpty' is the funny way my husband and I used to speak about things in front of the kids when we didn't want them to know what we were saying. 'Numpty' is English but spoken with no proper pronunciation. You sort of block your nose off to express it. I am very good at it, but it's not an official language. We would speak it when we wanted to discuss a special event that we wanted to remain a surprise or speak about somewhere we knew the boys would not want to go to. The boys soon learnt Numpty and even discovered other kids who had fluent Numpty parents.

I have a smattering of French words that I can string together to make some kind of sentence if I am pushed to do so. I say this with my head hanging in shame. I can only blame my many schools and my lack of understanding of how useful and brilliant it would be to speak a second language.

Also, at school, I actually faltered in my one language! Yes, I failed my English language exam, but strangely, I passed English literature with an A! I loved reading poetry and poetic prose. I love the multiple meanings hidden in prose and poetry. I love playing with words and sounds, and I adore inventing words. It was the rules of the language I didn't like.

Mmmm.. here it is! The history of my hating rules, I hate restrictions in creative pursuits. I do, of course, know there has to be some kind of guide to laying out language. Still, the rules can often be petty and, let's face it, obviously too difficult for the young me to remember.

Oh, the disappointment of a ditsy brain.

I did eventually pass my English language exam. I had to, as all options going forward required it, and to be honest, I wanted to pass it and have at least one language that I was good at.

I think creatives are often consumed with guilt over what they can't do. It's a burden as they realise the effort to become proficient in one thing eats away at the time to become proficient in other things. I am no polymath, that is for sure.

I have found my strengths; for this, I am grateful. Maybe the rubbish school was right to leave me alone with my drawing and painting. Perhaps the excellent school with its french lessons and high achievers just made me feel unable and inadequate. There is some proper fodder for a therapist right there.

Taking this matter of languages further, no one was more daunted than me when I realised that plants had official names and common names. Another language to learn! So you will understand why I am fearful of saying the Latin names out loud. I recall more 'plant Latin' than my mum used to know. She was very proud of me for that little progress.

In honour of my own inadequacies, last Christmas, I compiled a list of silly words that I use while painting and teaching. It was a bit of fun, inspired by the help of a kind student Val, who had made a list to get the ball rolling. I have called them 'Billyisms' (well, actually, my students named them so). I hope you enjoy the silliness of them it is a 'Ridictionary', a ridiculous dictionary of words.


Your guide to the silly things I say when teaching online and elsewhere

(Please note that the words are not in alphabetical order in this Ridictionary to remain faithful to the spirit in which the terms were conceived.)

Thanks must be given to Val (a lovely student of the Billy Showell School) for her diligence and enthusiasm in recording many of these Billyisms in preparation for this Ridictionary.

The List-

Gloupy- definition- a similar consistency to a thick soup or gravy-soupy!

Putsy- definition-very small indeed

Teensy-weensy- definition-just a little bit bigger than ‘iddy-biddy’, smaller than Putsy

Iddy-biddy definition- a bit smaller than Teensy-weensy

Itsy-witsy- definition -smaller than Iddy-biddy

Mimsy definition- smallish (though not always) and a bit floppy- can also be used to suggest disappointing eg 'she mimsily examined the broken gift'

Stuchery- definition- erratic and or repetitive mark-rarely used and often said in desperation

Bluebellish- definition-to be more bluebell or to be similar to a bluebell

Smirgy- definition-to smear and merge colours or textures together (used when one doesn’t want to, or like to use the word smear)

Precising- definition-to make things more accurate pl- Precisings

Sploppy- definition-somewhere between droppy and sploshy

Droppy- definition-the process of allowing paint to gentle fall from the brush (very subtly, almost dropping)

Sploshy -definition-to splosh and enjoy simultaneously

Gnew-definition- shortening of ‘going to do now’

ellipsey-definition-to ‘sort of’ create an ellipse shape

Trumpety-definition-to create the illusion of a trumpet shape

Wizzle-definition-to wiggle your brush or eradicator in order to lift paint and or imitate texture

Lush-definition-really lovely and gorgeous

Mawoon-definition-maroon in Billyspeak, it happens when you lose your R’s when very nervous

Skwadge-definition-a plump squeeze of paint

Blueey-definition-very blue or to be more colour blue in it than before (of course you can just use the word ‘bluer’ but that doesn’t sound as pretty.

Dancey-definition-to allow your brush to dance on the paint, letting the brush move freely and be light on the touch.

Rubber-duck-colour-definition-really yellow!

Lighter -light-definition-really light!

Scrunkled-or ‘to scrunk’-definition-to crinkle paper so as to scrunch it up- usually happens if one is erasing too vigorously and accidentally scuffs and creases up the paper. Invented in 1977 Emma Showell

Petalet-definition-a very small, cute petal (I am sure this should be added to the real dictionary)

Squiggle-definition-to pick up a decent amount of paint on the very tip of your brush

Pittle petals-definition-a precisely, small petal

Appeariance-definition-to appear as fluffy or out of focus

Soggified-definition-to really wet something

Blop -definition-the careful and very small motion of plopping on paint pl- Blopping

Zebra zig-zag dotty pattern-definition-the pattern along and around a hellebore stem

Sweep wash-definition-the gentle application of a tea wash

Bwave-definition-to be brave in Billy speak

Yumptious-definition-to appear rather delicious and full

Vavavoom-definition-rather gorgeous

Temporariness-definition-to have beauty for a very short time- for it to be transient

Pockety technique-definition-to

Pockety-definition-the appearance of raised areas on a leaf- these can also be described as ‘pillow boxes’ to be full and pocket.

To give your aunt a plant -definition-to gift in rhyme where possible

Glowing glazes-definition-to apply jewel-like colours in transparent washes

Flannels-definition-a rag or small towel used to wash your face but once stained can be transformed into a very useful Dab pad for tempering the moisture on your brush.

Painterliness-definition-to have more expression in your mark making (this one is a grown-up word)

Swave-definition-to blend colour on the curve of a petal

Swip-definition-to sweep and flick the brush in one movement

Bulbous belly-definition-the fullness of the stomach or widest part

Splerge-definition-the way the paint spreads on its own through the water on a round shape

Extra lineage-definition-to add extra lines or layers (silly)

Similaritry-definition-to be similar and symmetrical at the same time

Whoopsa-daisies-definition-small painting mistakes

Rammel-definition- Clutter from everywhere

Cluttermonkey -definition-One that collects rammel

Let us make the world more rhymey and less serious, and more Onomatopoeic

To conclude here I have added a serious poem (one that doesn't rhyme) about conversations in later life.

Speak up

speak clearly


Speak louder

say that again


What's that you say?

Never mind.

'May your blossom be more blossomy every year' Billy x

Written in honour of the author Dennis Potter.

me in front of mum's roses, probably eating soil!

And here is my dad in his school uniform.

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12 comentarios

val aloian
val aloian
07 may 2022

You're very welcome BS! Nice to see your billyisms could be used to raise an important topic. May the days when teachers/schools try to diminish students for anything soon be over! Your timidity and humility are what makes me want to learn from you because what you share is done so gently, kindly and funnily. Your billylingo makes me laugh, relax, practise ....and sometime even nod off :) You inspire us always to haveago with live subjects, to take chances and riff-off on our own. You are generous with your gifts and I love coming to your school. Thanks for the mention :D Val🤓

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Billy Showell
Billy Showell
09 may 2022
Contestando a

Ha Hello Val, yes thanks again for your reply and hard work, sorry to send you to sleep, my voice was very useful for bedtime reading as it never failed to get the boys to sleep. Glad you get so much from the school. :)

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What a joyous, splendiferous blog. Loved it.

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Billy Showell
Billy Showell
09 may 2022
Contestando a

A dream come true to bring splendiferous joy :)

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03 may 2022

Billy, you have put in to words,just how My life was a school, I found language so hard I love my art class but was put down my art teacher l just couldn’t do right,but today I have a new art teacher one of the best keep them coming Billy

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Billy Showell
Billy Showell
09 may 2022
Contestando a

Of course Art is a language too, expressing happiness to anger to whatever emotion you want to tell, it can be very sophisticated too, let's be top in that class

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03 may 2022

Absolutely love the Ridictionary. Priceless. What enjoyment this brings with each tutorial. Thank you for sharing your love of family, words and creativity. It is this and more that makes you uniquely you.

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Billy Showell
Billy Showell
09 may 2022
Contestando a

'Priceless' is a great bit of feedback, that made my day xx

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02 may 2022

Simply honest and lovely,

Enjoy your family you deserve lots of squidgiest xx

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Billy Showell
Billy Showell
09 may 2022
Contestando a

Catching up on my 'squidgy' cuddles. Thanks Nextdoornanny xx

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