Friday, June 16, 2006

Too much chaff

I learned a new word in French this week: panaris. In fact, when I looked it up in the dictionary I learned a new word in English too : whitlow. This vicious circle is my punishment for insisting that my students always use a unilingual dictionary first. From their point of view, a unilingual dictionary is often just a big book that provides an incomprehensible definition of a word they didn’t understand in the first place; a bit like getting a great Swahili translation of an obscure Serbo-Croat saying.
Apparently, for those of you who didn't know this already, a panaris/whitlow is a finger or toe infection which is exactly what Z. has at the moment, for the second time in two months. Last time, I followed my Mum’s instructions for making a poultice. The recipe involved milk and bread and soap and baking powder and peeing on toads in the garden at midnight and it worked (okay I made the last bit up)( the bit about it involving urine and amphibians, not the bit about it working). But that was in the winter. The daytime temperature here hasn’t dropped below 32°C for ten days. I can’t send the poor boy to nursery in open sandals with a dog’s breakfast inexpertly wound around his big toe and rapidly turning rancid.
So I googled « toe infection » and was immediately reminded that the internet is next to useless if you just need a bit of practical advice. One of the first hits took me to a site that tells me that infected toes are a spiritual sign of a lack of groundedness:
it may very well be an indication that you are ignoring your lower body and not rooting yourself well enough into the nurturing earth source that is available to us.
Google urgently needs to add a "complete-and-utter-bollocks" filter.


deborah said...

very painful and have had them on finger because don't have dish washer and should use rubber gloves ....

Filter would be a good idea but nothing much would be left.

Sarah Mackenzie said...

You keep returning me to my childhood what with wains and whitlows. Whitlows must have been endemic in our household. It was a word that I often heard. The mere sight of it after - erhumph - 30?... OK... 40 years (and I didn't ever see it per se, but rather heard it) had me looking at my finger and seeing the black spot on the end of it and feeling the pricky pain. Which brings me to something else that occured to me just the other day. Do kids get warts now? They don't seem to. My sister was covered in them.

Lesley said...

Now you come to mention it Sarah, i don't think I have seen any children with warts recently. perhaps the virus is dying out. There's a man in Libourne who can cure you of them just by shaking your hand (or so they say).