Sunday, June 13, 2010


A lady of the Grumbler's acquaintance (she cannot be named because she made me promise not to) recently had an accident and ended up with a scratched cornea - an exquisitely painful condition. Fortunately, it seems to be getting better now, though there have been a couple of flare-ups.

After the last day spent sitting in the dark with a cold cloth to try and get some respite from the pain, a return visit to the local barber-surgeon was in order. Of course, the National health service isn't much round here, and if the quack can't diagnose your ills by the taste of your piddle, or fix what's broken by sticking leeches to it, then he or she will be pretty much stumped and may refer you to a more qualified authority; such as a hedge-witch, for example.

So it was that when I was chatting to the good lady she informed me that, having donned a feathered head-dress and cast the bones (presumably they belonged to someone he'd failed previously failed to cure) our local shaman determined that the auspices were good, but if the eye got any worse she should visit an ornithologist.

Now you may, as I was tempted to, scoff at this quite obvious malapropism, but may I point out that the root of the word 'auspices' is 'auspex' - latin for "one who looks at birds".

Still, since this amazingly clever comment was followed up with "Apparently, you can get some kind of contract lens thingy to stop it from hurting" perhaps it was a mistake after all...

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