Wandering Thoughts

December 8, 2008

The Perils of Words

Readers I need your advice.

There are not many of you I know, but I suspect that you are kind and thoughtful people, and quite possibly more wise to the world of words than I.

My story starts happily enough. Thanks to the wonders of prednisone, for the time being, I’m not in need of crutches. It may only be a temporary reprieve but it’s still making my life easier. In every way except one.

The trouble is, while I no longer need two crutches I still need to keep one with me at all times. My legs can lock up with little warning and caught without help I’ll be crawling.

Still, one crutch is much easier than two. Kind of…

Let me illustrate:

Last week I travelled to and from a conference with a very helpful colleague. We were carrying some gear and this kind person went out of their way to help me.

“Can I help you?” The question came as I was trying to fold myself into the car.

“Sure,” I said. “If you could just grab my cr…”.

I was saved by my mouth’s automatic safety mechanism.

Alternative phrases flashed through my mind. “Yes, if you wouldn’t mind holding my crutch…take my crutch for a moment…” and so on. None of them any use.

And so my eventual answer was. “Oh, no, I’m fine”. A statement I immediately disproved by collapsing painfully in the seat and dropping the crutch, with a clatter, on the ground.

Readers, I have a problem with my crutch. No wait…I mean…I have a problem with the words for my crutch…no…oh I think you know what I mean.

Knocking about, as I do these days, in bureaucratic circles my first solution was to refer to it not as a crutch but as a ‘ambulatory stabilisation and assistance device’. Yet the little litarary instinct I have suggests that to do this would be to offer a grave insult to anyone who has ever tried to make the English language a more beautiful thing.

So what am I to do? Get better I guess. In the meantime, alternative words welcome…



  1. Ohhhhhh dear. I really feel for you. I was originally going to say that surely we are all big enough that it doesn’t matter if someone says to you “can you please grab my crutch?” but then I tried it in my mind and giggled lots. So maybe I’m not so above that sort of ‘humour’ after all.
    Perhaps “support”? Courtesy of http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/crutch

    Comment by Nikki — December 8, 2008 @ 7:26 pm

  2. or maybe ‘buttress’, except that “can you please grab my buttress” still doesn’t sound that healthy…

    I do like the add on the thesaurus page though:
    http://www.crutchcozies.com/home.php (as endorsed by Arnold Schwarzenegger!)
    Those things are pretty cool. I gotta get some…

    Comment by terence — December 9, 2008 @ 6:10 am

  3. Try just calling it a “walking stick”.

    So glad to hear the steroids have had the desired effect.

    Comment by PC — December 9, 2008 @ 9:09 pm

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