Essay by bahau March 2004

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I have an embarrassing little secret. I was, not as far as I know,a teenage werewolf, but, even worse, a teenage poet. Images of blood, death and unrequited love - none of which I knew the least thing about - spilled from my fountain pen , starkly Gothic in Stephens best purple ink. I'd discovered Philip Larkin, Roger McGough and the Beat Poets, so McGough's Merseyside mixed hideously with Greg Corso's Chicago to produce an oeuvre which still exists somewhere in a cardboard carton. And I had great fun producing it.

That was back in the sixties and seventies. Today, with the new millennium come and gone, my older daughter hides the identical unfashionable secret. Where my writing was stark and angular, hers spills across the pages of dog-eared exercise books in flaming scarlets, golds and blacks - almost totally incoherent, but glorious in its passion.. And like me she has a whale of a time writing it.

Language. It's a magical tool - sometimes blunt instrument, sometimes single-haired brush. It amuses, it informs, it strengthens, it soothes. Above all, it communicates.. Psychology would have us believe that something like 80 per cent of communication is achieved through body language. This may be so, but words add the colour, down to the finest shades.

And words are vivid, alive and ever-changing. As a child I heard Latin referred to as a dead language. I'm still wondering how that could ever be..Latin, like any tongue no longer in formal use, informs and colours others. Even if only to supply the smug little thrill of being able to quote Descartes with "Cogito ergo sum", rather than the prosaic "I think therefore I am" when you need it. As you do....

I've always enjoyed and celebrated developments and changes in...