Etymology and the Post-Thatcher Legacy


I’ve never considered it before, but I assume that delete must be the removal of a lete or –gelæte (OE) – related to lætan (OE) – which gives us leat (16th century), which gave us water, with Sir Francis Drake turning the first sod and galloping on his white horse from Meavy to Plymouth ahead of the glittering line. We were small boys crouching on the bank, bruised knees and caps in our back pockets, arms plunged blue into the icy water that birthed Scott of the Antarctic and other adventures of derring-do – from dorryng do, misprinted in a 16th century edition of Lydgate as derrynge do – which gave us common newts and common dreams, our common tongue, and the Common Market for half a century, freeing Sir Francis Drake for his four wood singles, his precise delivery disturbing the head. When did boys stop wearing caps? When did the leat sigh into dry stone? Delete, delete: I’ve never considered it before, but it’s a long, dry season, without adventures and with borders wreathed in briars. A white horse carves itself into a hill above The Sound – from sund (OE/ON).





Oz Hardwick
Illustration Nick Victor

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