October 12: churlish

The word churlish is one I always like to use. It means surly, awkward, obdurate. It comes from churl, which was a serf back in the olden days. The other word in the same vein is refractory. I’m a fan of this one too. I picked it up from the TS Eliot poem on the Magi where he applies it to camels. The camels refractory. I think you might call camels obdurate. I don’t know if you could have a churlish camel. Maybe because the word churlish has something very human about it, whereas refractory comes from a phenomenon.

My question is what would you rather be: churlish, refractory or obdurate? It’s a question we should all ask ourselves. Why doesn’t it figure in one of those quizes in women’s magazines? As in: your boyfriend has left the apartment in a mess after a night in with the lads. You come back home after a hard day at your fashion booking agency on Madison Avenue. The next morning are you a) obdurate b) refractory¬† c) churlish.

That’s my kind of quiz. Would fit nicely with the two tattoos I’ve just had applied, one on each shoulder. On the left shoulder I’ve got ‘Taxis are for weddings and funerals’ in Ancient Sumerian and on the right shoulder it says ‘Say No to A vegetables’ in the Apache script. By the way A vegetables (Asparagas, Aubergine, Artichoke) are not proper. They were invented in the South East of England. C vegetables are more proper.


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