World-building, word building and mac’n’cheese

The second time it happened I was in the bath. The first time I had happily been watching TV. Then up pops some commercial (it was Channel 4, not ITV, I should clarify) for Sainsbury’s and they mentioned a recipe for mac’n’cheese.

WTF?

I was informed it was an Americanism for macaroni cheese, a dish that we have a perfectly good name for, recognisable by generations of UK school children, so they’d immediately know to avoid it on school dinner menus.

Then this morning, in the bath, I was reading the otherwise excellent Jay Rayner restaurant review in the Observer and there it was again: mac’n’cheese! Mac’n’fn’cheese!

mac and cheese
The only Mac and cheese I’ll ever need!

We don’t need your mac’n’cheese, thank you. It’s unnecessary and irritating and just smacks of desperate ‘trendy’ promotion.

I should add at this point that I do not have a general problem with Americanisms. In fact, truth be told, this was part of the joy of first discovering the writing of Raymond Chandler. I loved his 1950s American world full of Chesterfields and Davenports, sharpies and shamuses (shami?), ‘dropping my nickel’ and ‘clam juice’ and if I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, it didn’t matter! It was all part of the joy, the magic of his world, the poetry of the street. And you could work out what was going on even if the exact provenance of a word or expression wasn’t immediately clear.

It was almost inevitable that when I started writing I shouldn’t just get into world building but word building too. The Citadel is a different kind of place and my dwarf detective Nicely Strongoak, does things differently too. So it’s not surprising, with a different history too, that they have different words and expressions too. It’s all part of creating a wonderful space for other people to come visit and it’s great fun too.

So, here are a few choice terms from my work in progress that I’m particularly pleased about: ‘filth-fellowship’, pop-the-pea’, ‘going bite-size’, ‘ground-hugger’, ‘thumb font’ and ‘bleach’. If you don’t understand them now, you’ll soon pick them up, and I hope you’ll enjoy them too, as much as I did the Chesterfields and Davenports and sharpies.

There will not be any mac’n’cheese though.

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nicelystrongoak

Author and scriptwriter, Terry Newman

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