March 5th, 2008

Fishy Circumstances

Social whirl (with bonus non-etymology)

It takes two-three years for me to really feel I've settled in a new place. I've been back in the UK for two-and-a-half years now, and I had the sort of weekend which made me feel settled, the sort of social whirl which is exhausting if it happens to frequently, but ever-so-satisfying now and again.

There was easterbunny's baby shower and J.'s dinner party; there was brunch with the long-lost C., and book acquisitioning and cake-eating with rosamicula. Since, I helped celebrate nisaba's aging, and met the mythic steer. I discovered I don't know him, which was a relief; I thought I might, and had been uncertain about this for years. Alas, I began our acquaintanceship by shaking his hand over the back of a chair, a quick way of whacking someone else's hand against immovable wood while intending to be polite.

The best thing I have eaten this week was at J.'s: plantain fritters topped with a dollop of guacamole and a squeeze of lime. The apple crumble at Charlotte's Place was awfully good too.

Apropos of a conversation earlier this evening: The OED has no idea where the word "gazump" comes from - "Origin uncertain". It originally meant "to swindle" and, for all I know, may still mean that as well. I've only heard it with regards to houses in the UK, and never before here. It means that the seller of a house reneges on his/her verbal promise to sell the house to one person, and sells to someone else instead. Here are the OED's oldest two exemplars of it:
1928 Daily Express 19 Dec. 2/7 ‘Gazoomphing the sarker’ is a method of parting a rich man from his money. An article is auctioned over and over again, and the money bid each time is added to it. Ibid., I ‘gazoomphed’ a friend of mine with complete success last night. 1932 G. S. MONCRIEFF Café Bar xvii. 185 'Ere 'e is..parasitin' on people all day..and then 'e objects to a little gasumph! Ibid. 187 That's all we are, gasumphers an' researchers of tripe.