"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Sunday, 21 April 2013


   The word pure has obvious and well-known meanings such as - unmixed with any other matter (pure gold); free from dust, dirt, or taint (pure springwater); spotless; being thus and no other (pure nonsense);
free from what vitiates, weakens, or pollutes (pure mathematics); or containing nothing that does not properly belong (pure blood).

But what would you be doing if you were carting pure about the streets of Liverpool in the nineteenth century? 

The answer is picking up dog turds for use in darkening skins in the tanning industry.  Pure was a Victorian term for dog turds.

I'm only including this as an excuse to tell you the following story -

A giant inflatable dog turd by American artist Paul McCarthy blew away from an exhibition in the garden of a Swiss museum on the night of July 31st 2008, bringing down a power line and breaking a greenhouse window before it landed again, the museum said Monday.

The art work, titled "Complex S(expletive..)", was the size of a house. The wind carried it 200 yards from the Paul Klee Centre in Berne before it fell back to Earth in the grounds of a children's home, breaking a window.

I wonder if Museum Director, Juri Steiner, said "Oh S(expletive..)"' when he saw the damage?  (Sorry couldn't resist that!)


  1. What a wonderfully amusing story. If every word came with such an aide memoire wouldn't life be so much easier.

  2. Nearly managed to get the ? onto the end of the last comment before it vanished into the ether.

  3. yuk! pure's meaning has certainly changed. you fooled me with this word, I wondered, "How am I going to learn from this?" well, I did! bravo, John!

  4. Sounds like both the museum and the children's home were SOL!
    Funny, funny blog, Scriptor. Well done.