“Well, that was a weekend down the booby hatch.” Marilyn Frack looked uncharacteristically like a tired wet hen. Her head was leaning against the heel of her hand, her elbow (in the usual black leather jacket) planted on the table, her whole body slumped in distinct disgruntlement. She lifted her head – and her other hand – long enough to toss a half glass of meritage down the hatch.

“We went sailing,” her other half, Edgar Frick, explained. I thought I heard an apologetic note in his voice.

Marilyn glanced up through her top lashes, which were leaking mascara. “And who hatched that plot, in mid-October?”

Edgar splayed his hand, palm up. “You saw the forecast.” He dashed back some of his glass of Hacker-Pschorr.

“What a hatchet job,” Marilyn said. “Sunny, my itchy cha-chas. The sky was cross-hatched with clouds in the morning, and by lunch we had to batten down the hatches.”

“Yes, well, things did get a little sketchy in the afternoon.”

“Sketchy?!” Marilyn raised her head, her eyes a bit wider. “I thought I was in the coney hatch!” I resisted the usually insurmountable impulse to ask whether she knew that this term for a madhouse came from the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum in London, and whether she was a fan of the Canadian rock band Coney Hatch.

“The girls got especially excitable,” Edgar said, a touch ruefully.

Marilyn looked at me. “A clutch of chicks, barely hatched. That’s why he wanted to go on this wretched trip.”

“You seemed rather fond of the crewmen,” Edgar said.

“Chet and Chico? I spent all my time with Chuck. Up-chuck.”

“It was wretched,” Edgar allowed. “And I ratched my back in the parking lot. I was clutching the catch on a hatchback…”

Marilyn smirked. “I thought it was from catching your britches in a hatchway.”

“Well,” I said, hoping to switch the topic. “This is quite an affricate festival we’re having here. And all these Anglo-Saxon words…”

Marilyn looked at me and half-smiled. “Don’t lose your touch, hot-shot. Oh, I have some Anglo-Saxon words to hatch and dispatch at my match…” She glanced over at Edgar, who was doing his best to look like a sorry puppy. “But…” she said with a shrug, “ah, frick it.”

4 responses to “hatch

  1. The note on affricate started the way this one has ended! Ah, frick it!

  2. And there is the hatchment, the shield of a coat of arms tilted sideways to show that its owner is dead. Usually it’s in the form of a lozenge — a diamond shape.

    A ‘Scutcheon hanging lozenge-wise
    And draped in crape appals his eyes
    Upon the mansion’s ample door,
    To which he wades through heaps of Straw,
    And which a Butler drowned in tears,
    On opening but confirms his fears:
    ‘Oh! Sir! — Prepare to hear the worst! …
    Last night my kind old master burst.’

    • And to whom do we owe that brilliant bit of doggerel?

      • It’s by Hilaire Belloc: ‘Lord Roehampton’, from his book More Peers. These books of verse, of which the best known is Cautionary Tales, consist of cynical moral fables for children. The versification is immaculate: in this extract, where Belloc used the not quite full rhyme door/straw, he added an asterisk and an apologetic footnote:
        This is the first and only time
        That I have used this sort of Rhyme.

        The full text of the poem may be found at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s