Sunday, September 13, 2009

The word of the week....

...was 'scutter'.

Our Mancunian construction site son made good use of it last week while we were in Greece and it has sort of ear-wormed itself into my head. It's a good descriptive word. I like it.

I'd assumed it was Mancunian construction site argot for general detritus; the sort of stuff that gets littered on pavements and table tops, bits of tacky Car Boot tat - that sort of thing. My cryptic crossword brain would like to think it was an amalgam of scuzzy and clutter. It would make sense wouldn't it?

However, nowhere can I find it defined in that way; contributors to my favourite Urban Dictionary use it as a derogatory term to describe the unwashed, couch-potato low-life at the bottom of the social scale - and even to describe a part of the male anatomy which rarely sees the sun. The OED notes it as a variant of 'scurry', to run or move hurriedly often with short brisk steps. Bor - ring. I feel imperious today and declare it to mean 'bits of tat'.

I rolled the word around my tongue a number of times in Greece; we were on Paxos, an island so picture postcard pretty that one would think the word 'scutter' could never apply. It does, however, have a rough and ready, unsophisticated quality which is part of its charm. Up north they'd say 'there's no side to it' - meaning unpretentious. It's not a place to strut and swagger but a place to stroll and be one's comfortable self. I feel the luxurious yachts and floating gin palaces that occasionally tie up in the little harbour at Loggos are slumming it and that their natural habitat would be the more flashy moorings of somewhere like Puerto Banus or Marbella.

Paxos is slightly scruffy, so sometimes it is best to look at the bigger picture and ignore the small detail; take in the turquoise Ionian, the pretty fishing villages and the hills with their columnar Cypress trees and twisted Olives. Let's gloss over the defunct olive oil presses and the crumbling boats abandoned up in the olive groves, the unfinished building projects and the abandoned old houses disappearing back into the rocky soil. Sadly there is litter too - and litter is completely without charm. Why, I wondered as my eyes left a magical panorama and caught a glimpse of the rubbish heaved into a deep ravine, why lob your rubbish down here? A rusting moped. Builders' rubble. Cans and bottles. A shoe. A fridge door and an olive oil can. Sigh. Get that scutter shifted.

Anyway. Can't complain about much else. Our week away was just what the doctor ordered and hot, hot, hot. A couple of quick thunderstorms refreshed the air and provided a few moments of drama as people ran for cover and taverna owners lifted tables and chairs in out of the rain. Otherwise we could just bask in the sun or snorkel and swim. Look at that blue sea. Look at that blue sky.

We noticed few changes - Loggos has a new litter bin! A couple of the older folk and their antiquated 3-wheel vehicles were missing. Perhaps now they prefer to sit and sip their ouzo at home.
Good food and drink once again, but oh dear, things were expensive. I know the euro is almost on a par with the pound but prices seemed to have risen too. We bought the usual can of olive oil from the 'shop' in Gaios, which as well as the vast vats of oil sells cigarettes, wine and a few spirits from its gloomy cave-like interior. The oil has quite a distinctive flavour - too heavy for mayonnaise but a treat for a dressing to remind ourselves of summer's sunnier days. We find ourselves dipping wedges of the crusty, chewy local bread into it and savouring the heavy, almost smokey, taste - and feeling fairly guilt-free about this indulgence.
That's it now - we're home - glad to arrive back to a few days of sunshine which eased our passage from Ionian isle to Welsh hilltop. Today is cold and I have lit the Aga, a small task which seems to sign off summer for us.

We're back to our usual tasks. The Glamorous Assistant is making great progress with his field shelter. More of that later....


rachel said...

Back in the days when I had a son at home who watched 'Red Dwarf' I think there were some little mechanical drones with attitude that were called scutters. Suited them, too.

It makes a nice term of abuse. I shall tell my Aussie friend. "Ya flamin' scutter!"

elizabethm said...

Definitely mancunian and I interpret it as you do. Great word too. Love the last photo, well all of them, but that is particularly evocative.

Pondside said...

Mancunian?????? Another trip to google for me.
Over here scutter means 'scurry' but in a very derogatory way - a filthy thief might scutter, or a nasty pickpocket would scutter away.

Twiglet said...

The holiday sounded perfect - just whats needed to boost the batteries before Autumn descends. Scutter - plenty of it here - my daughter has moved back in prior to moving into her new home in October. We seem to have inherited all of her scutter!!!