I was talking to the woman who owns the company where I buy the firewood for our log burner and I asked her what sort of summer she’d had. She said she’d been rushed off her feet with demand for charcoal and her besoms. “I’m a broomsquire, you know.” “A what?” “A broomsquire – someone who makes besoms.” To find out more, look no further than
Sabine Baring-Gould’s 1896 novel The Broom-Squire, while in his 1903 ghost story The Blood-Eagle, Robert Hugh Benson hints at links between broomsquires and paganism, Wikipedia informs me.
I know I have fulminated in the past about ridiculous, gussied-up job titles. You know the sort of thing – innovation evangelist, dream alchemist, weekend happiness concierge, time ninja (all real, I assure you). So I was overjoyed to be introduced to broomsquire. Now all I await is the imminent delivery of some logs.
Colleagues can be wonderful sources of material for this column. Take this, for example: “On the radio, I heard a copper railing against ‘men who predate against women and children’. (At least it’s not pre-dating.)”
And thank you to reader Phil Wood for the following: “I take the weekly magazine, Antiques Trade Gazette. In last week’s issue, within an obituary of someone who sought to sell at antique fairs, she was described as someone whose ‘greatest pleasure was to be stalling out with her friends’. It is , for me, a new use of the word ‘stalling’ even before the addition of ‘out’ and, I think, is very splendidly ugly.”
Thanks too to Michael Darvell for this: “A new word has recently come to my notice, created by, of all people, a journalist. Apparently, when you put an entry into your calendar, you diarise.” I can’t say how glad I am to have avoided this.
• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist