Sunday 9 December 2018

Nurdle, Nurdles, Nurdling

I was vaguely aware that the word 'nurdle' was being used to describe the tiny pellets of plastic that are causing such a pollution problem in these plastic-crazy times. However, until today, I had never heard anyone seriously using the word. In the course of a rather dreary Point of View on Radio 4 (a sharp contrast to Roger Scruton's brilliant talk on freedom of speech last week – still on the iPlayer), Will Self spoke quite matter-of-factly about 'nurdles'. And it sounded ridiculous; 'nurdle' is an intrinsically ludicrous word, quite unfitted for any serious use.
 Consider its pedigree. The word was much used, as both verb and noun, by Rambling Syd Rumpo (Kenneth Williams) on Round the Horne, invariably with lewd intent. 'Nurdle' is sometimes used in cricket for a feeble stroke that nudges the ball into a vacant spot in the outfield. It can be used too as a variant of 'noodling', for a kind of ineffectual waffling or fiddling about. And then there is the alleged ancient pub sport of nurdling, which even has its own website. Follow this link to enjoy the riveting sight of a man with a beard nurdling in a Rutland pub. Hmm.
 Will it ever be possible to take the word seriously? I fear not.

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