Sunday, 29 October 2017

Crunch Time



One definition of crunch time is: a critical moment or period when decisive action is needed*, especially when pressure to succeed is great. I have just finished a weekend of crunch time situations, dealing with a host of adversaries and opponents. The longer I had put up with them, the more they just kept multiplying*. At first I ignored them, especially when they were few in number, but a sudden moment of shocking discovery pushed me to the brink of my tolerance and the edge of my patience. In short, these admirable qualities were now working against me, as the progressive and unwholesome situation was taking advantage of my inactivity and slackness. My neglect had allowed an accumulation of little nuisances and irritations to turn into much larger ones. I had got very close to an eye-level bookshelf and noticed that the surface was not smooth and white. I ran my finger along it and found a nasty, horrible, embarrassing, unpleasant and humiliatingly shameful thick layer of dust. As far as I was concerned*, this was crunch time for the foe.

* "needed" "ended" Helpful to insert the vowel in these and their variations

* "multiplying" No triphone, as the I sound is included in the Dot Ing

* Omission phrase "I was (con)cerned"


Fortunately I have a very effective weapon, a fluffy nylon duster that attracts the particles, and can be relieved of its load by running the hand up and down it, whilst holding it out of the window. It was very satisfying watching little clouds of dust blowing away into the sky, the ideal use for a windy day. The books are in quite good order, so moving them around to clean resulted in just a few for the charity shop. The miscellaneous shorthand folders were all piled together for future rummaging, little treasure troves of interesting features and outline lists, and that will be a treat to delve into on a chilly wintry day when the sky is leaden and the rain is icy* cold.

* "icy" Insert the final vowel, as "ice cold" also makes sense


Once the shelf dusting was complete, other storage areas had to be attacked. After all, you can’t clean on top of the wardrobes without looking inside to see what needs doing there as well. I did not really need any reminders, as I knew that running out of hangers is just a sign that there are too many clothes in there. I tried on every single item in quick succession and this made it easier to make instant and irrevocable decisions. There were two piles, the keeps and the chucks. The chucks were in two parts, the worn out to be binned, and the purchasing errors to go to the charity shop. The not-so-good items suffered from the instant comparison with the comfortable, elegant and easy to launder ones, so the decisions went unchallenged by the usual nagging thoughts. I think I heard the two wardrobes breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t know what the binned items were murmuring, as I deafened* my ears to them.

* "deafened" Same outline as "defend". In order to distinguish, a cross can be placed against the vowel sign of the stressed syllable. In practice, it is generally sufficient to insert the cross, and not bother putting in the vowel.


The shoes and boots in the second wardrobe were in heaps, fighting for space with boxes of photographs and empty albums waiting to receive them. These were evicted and relocated to the top of the wardrobe. This is only permissible for project items that are awaiting time to deal with them, and they will not remain there when done. At last* came the turn of the sock drawer. I was getting quite brutal by now, and having found several bags* of new white socks, I just turfed out the whole lot of current ones, which were nominally white but not actually white at all. Socks are humble little things and they did not squeak the slightest protest. Maybe they did not realise that their end had come, with no return to their comfortable life next to the scented soap that perfumes the drawer.

* "At last" "at least" Always insert the second vowel

* "bags" Insert the vowel, to distinguish from the similar "box" "packs" and "pockets". All these need extra care in formation, as the vowel alone would not distinguish all of them.


The final* job was washing things that will be packed away for winter. As I took them down the garden to place the clothes-horses* in the sunny* patch, I found that the trees had had a clothing clear-out as well, and the wind had brought in extra quantities of crunchy dried leaves and deposited them all over. Their efforts were not quite so tidy and methodical as mine had been but were equally ruthless and unsentimental, and it was definitely crunch, crunch, crunch time underfoot, all the way back up the garden path to the house. (713 words)

* "Final" Helpful to insert the diphthong, and the first vowel in "official", as they are similar and can often both make sense

* "clothes-horses" The first large circle represents two small circles, i.e. a Circle S and the circle of the Hay stroke, see www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/theory-12-hay-aspirate.htm#large-medial-circle for more examples

* "sunny" Always insert the vowels, to distinguish between sun/snow and sunny/snowy