As I had some time on my hands last week – who hasn’t these days? – I started reading “War and Peace” written by Tolstoy (not to be confused with the Disney sequels “Tolstoy 2 & 3” and last year’s “Tolstoy 4”) for the first time. I bought it so long ago, I’d forgotten I owned a copy.
But. having read all the newspapers in the house, re-read last week’s “Beano” three times and thumbed through all my back copies of “Advanced Knitting Patterns” magazine, I was desperate for something to do while I waited for “Tipping Point” to start.
As I’d bought the book in 1987 and never opened it before, it was still in the original Woolworths paper bag, so if there’s any rare paper bag collectors out there – and there are people who collect far weirder things – send in your bids, starting at a not-unreasonable £500. Well, it seems reasonable to me.
“War and Peace” contains 587, 287 words within its 1,225 pages – yet there’s only 26 letters in the alphabet!
Yes, that impressed me, too.
That’s the literary equivalent of building the Taj Mahal* out of a half-a-dozen bricks and a bucket of cement. (*Other Indian restaurants are available.)
But as clever as he was, there were three words that Leo Tolstoy just couldn’t put in the book, which can only be used in one context.
Let me tell you the words and you’ll understand why.
“Bundled”. People aren’t ‘put’ into police cars. They’re ‘bundled’. A word you never hear in any other context.
‘Potter’. People don’t mess around in their gardens. They ‘potter’. A word you never hear in any other context…unless they’re making clay pots or a trainee magician at Hogwarts.
And thirdly…‘Traipse’. the word that describes ‘wandering around somewhere for hours’ which you never hear in any other context. No-one says ‘Let’s traipse down the ‘pub’ do they?
Well, not lately, anyway.
However, you’ll notice I’ve managed to insert all three words into this article – which means I’m one up on Tolstoy!
Now, where was I? Oh yes, page 896…