Word Origins and the NHS

There was a interesting article in the Guardian G2 section a week or so ago about words and their origins. Did you know that the word chortle was created by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass? He blended chuckle and snort to come up with that one.

We have Dr Seuss to thank for the word nerd. There are lots more in the article and if you’re interested you can read the full article here.

And if like me you’ve been exasperated by the constant slagging off which the National Health Service has been getting over the past few years you will be pleased to see that the NHS has been declared the world’s best healthcare system by an international panel of experts. You can read the article here.

Sadly the powers that be have been taking every opportunity to attack the jewel in our crown. Obviously they intend to say that the system is broken beyond repair and will use that as an excuse to sell the NHS off.

Nothing is perfect but I know plenty of people who have had wonderful care from the NHS and also know people who have been completely let down by private care. They are after all only interested in making money out of you.

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

or The Murder at Road Hill House.

I got a hardback copy of this book as a birthday present but just about every charity shop that I have been in recently has had a paperback copy, so it looks as if everybody has already read it.

Kate Summerscale wrote this book which is based on a true crime which took place in 1860 in a large detached Georgian house in Wiltshire. The family woke up one morning to discover that their small boy was missing from his cot. The house and grounds were searched and eventually his body was found. The grieving family are suspects.

Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard is sent for, he is a famous detective at the time that the profession is in its infancy. The whole country is horrified by the case and Whicher is sent letters from all over the country from people who think they can help him solve it.

The case inspired Wilkie Collins, Dickens, Conan Doyle and Mary Elizabeth Bradden amongst others, but it was years before the true identity of the murderer was known.

Kate Summerscale has interspersed the story with other cases from the era. It is breathtaking how stupid the murderers often were. They seemed to be good at leaving articles of clothing behind at the crime scene, which just happened to have their names sewn into them! Or maybe Mr. Whicher did a lot of ‘fitting up’.

He does seem to have been one of those detectives who decided immediately who the culprit was, because he didn’t like the look of them. I doubt if he was always correct.

Unfortunately there are still detectives around like that today and it takes years for their victims to have their convictions overturned. At least nowadays they aren’t hanged.

I did enjoy this book, although it does skip around a bit between various different cases. If you enjoy a Victorian sensationalist novel now and again, you should like this taste of the real thing.