The big prune

From the age of about eighteen through to twenty-two I lived in households sans television. The result was that I read voraciously. At one point I set out to read a dictionary cover to cover. It was the Longman Concise English Dictionary and I read all 1,651 pages. I still have it on my bookshelf held together with sticky tape.

There’s some great word games you can play with reference books like guessing the correct meaning of obscure words or who can come up with the most synonyms. The synonym, now there’s a beautiful thing. Found in a thesaurus – the treasure chest of words. A guy called Peter Roget, an avid collector of synonyms, developed the first thesaurus in the 1840’s and it’s my favourite reference book. A must have for editing. I’ve been doing some short story and chapter editing recently and the thesaurus has been getting some exercise.

I was thinking about editing whilst I was out pruning the fruit trees the other day, as you do. It turns out that editing and pruning have a lot in common. According to the online power thesaurus, edit and prune have twelve synonyms in common, and are synonyms for each other.

The thought processes for pruning and editing have a lot in common also. Is this the right place to cut? Will it improve the structure? How much should I cut? I also discovered that both pruning and editing are much harder with a puppy in tow. I’m thinking of changing Harpers name to Distractor, though Destructor might be more apt given the hole recently chewed in the sofa whilst watching Paris Texas. Maybe she just thought she was pruning.

Citrus and rhubarb are the garden produce of the moment in the food store until spring arrives. This roast rhubarb recipe is simple and delicious served on yoghurt for dessert or for breakfast.


  • rhubarb
  • orange zest
  • orange juice
  • honey

Cut the rhubarb into finger length pieces. Remove the zest from the orange and juice the orange. Mix zest and orange juice with honey to taste (I usually use a ratio of one orange and its zest to one desert spoon of honey). Combine and mix all ingredients in an oven proof dish. Arrange rhubarb into a single layer, cover with tin foil and bake for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Serve hot or cold.


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