The London Foxtrot

The London Foxtrot
Once per day, usually between the hours of midnight and 3am, I sit on the front step outside my house in a busy suburb of London to get some ‘air’.
This summer has been unusually warm so far, with long spans of hot temperatures starting as early as late April.
In the 5 minutes it takes for me to finish this ‘air’ one usually sees 3-5 cars passing through the nearby junction, fifty percent of which have noisy radios or noisy exhausts. Three out of seven days during this 5 minute period I will watch a pizza delivery moped pass by, with its customary “L” plate denoting the fact the driver is a perpetual learner, presumably with no intention of ever taking a test. 2 in 3 times a passer-by will walk past. One in about 20 times the passer-by will ask me something. (Usually such people are to be ignored, because they are rude or scary in some small way.) Once, whilst I was sitting outside on the telephone, a man on the opposite side of the road shouted over asking me for a cigarette. I didn’t respond because I was deep in conversation, and he crossed over and shouted “hey, I’m talking to you”. He swore. I pointed at the phone to indicate I was busy talking, and he became verbal abusive. I explained firmly that he could see I was talking on the phone, but he swore at me and asked who the hell I thought I was to ignore him.
This year, foxes pass me by. Foxes always walk trot elegantly and quickly along the street from my left to my right. About a third of the way into my view, they clock me, stop as still as the night itself and stare. We exchange quizzical stares for five to ten seconds, dead still. About 5 seconds into the stare I raise my eyebrow. During this summer, this chain of events happens every time I go outside.
Why do foxes trot?

 

Once per day, usually between the hours of midnight and 3am, I sit on the front step outside my house in a busy part of London to get some ‘air’.

This summer has been unusually warm so far, with long spans of hot temperatures starting as early as late April.

In the 5 minutes it takes for me to finish this ‘air’ one usually sees 3-5 cars passing through the nearby junction, fifty percent of which have noisy radios or noisy exhausts. Three out of seven days during this 5 minute period I will watch a pizza delivery moped pass by, with its customary “L” plate denoting the fact the driver is a perpetual learner, presumably with no intention of ever taking a test. 2 in 3 times a passer-by will walk past. One in about 20 times the passer-by will ask me something. (Usually such people are to be ignored, because they are rude or scary in some small way.) Once, whilst I was sitting outside on the telephone, a man on the opposite side of the road shouted over asking me for a cigarette. I didn’t respond because I was deep in conversation, and he crossed over and shouted “hey, I’m talking to you”. He swore. I pointed at the phone to indicate I was busy talking, and he became verbally abusive. I explained, with a robust tone of voice, that he could see I was talking on the phone, but he swore at me and asked who the hell I thought I was to ignore him.

This year, foxes pass me by. Foxes always walk trot elegantly and quickly along the street from my left to my right. About a third of the way into my view, they clock me, stop as still as the night itself and stare. We exchange quizzical stares for five to ten seconds, dead still. About 5 seconds into the stare I raise my eyebrow. During this summer, this chain of events happens every time I go outside.

Why do foxes trot?

Why is it generally considered okay in prose to mix digits with the number written out in text, seemingly randomly?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 comment

  1. There are in fact accepted guidelines for the use of words and numerals, but few people outside academia know of them. The most thorough dealing of them originated in an OUP book called Hart’s Rules, from which is derived the modern-day equivalent, New Hart’s Rules: The Handbook of Style for Writers and Editors.

    I won’t bore you with the (quite lengthy) details of the guidelines, suffice to say that your self-professed random usage does not meet them consistently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *