Spiral Notebook: The Meaning Of (East London) Liff
By Giles Broadbent
It is the 30th anniversary of Douglas Adams' and John Lloyd's The Meaning Of Liff, the much-loved dictionary which uses place names for words that should exist but don't.
As a tribute to the work of genius, an east London homage:
Aldgate (n.) Unit of distance between you and the person behind which marks whether or not you should hold open the door for them.
Bermondsey (n.) The sudden and infectious smile of a lost-in-thought train passenger when they remember something funny.
Blackwall (n.) The precipitous loss of appetite that follows the discovery of a strange tube in a piece of steak.
Dagenham (v.) To drum on the steering wheel to an '80s rock classic.
Gallions Reach (n.) The hopeful but pointless lunge towards Tube doors that stay open as a tempter but then close in your face.
Greenwich (v.) To pull in your elbows from the armrests when the neighbouring Tube seats are taken.
Leamouth (n.) Moment of sublime synchronicity when the lyrics of the song on your MP3 player perfectly match what you're seeing or experiencing.
Limehouse (v.) To shuffle uncomfortably around in a lift to accommodate new passengers.
Newham (n.) Unit of measurement that accords to the light pressure placed on a toilet door to check if it is actually engaged.
Plaistow (n.) The spare button sewn into the hem of a shirt.
Plumstead (v.) To settle on the sofa after having cleared the ironing basket.
Rotherhithe (v.) To mumble your choice from a foreign language menu on a first date.
Shoreditch (n.) The person you least wanted to come to a party but you're most likely to end up with.
Southwark (v.) To repeat a piece of gossip to the person who told you in the first place.
Spitalfields (n.) The improvised network of fabrication required to make the original lie viable.
Stepney (v.) To adjust your posture slightly to avoid an energetic child who is likely to punch you in the crotch.
Stratford (n.) The thin layer of dust on everything that is so uniform it appears dull rather than unclean.
Surrey Quays (n.) The polite smiles you receive from strangers that you immediately assume will lead to marriage.
Tower Hamlets (n.) The moment of serenity that overcomes someone contemplating throwing themselves out the office window.
Walthamstow (v.) To crumple up a very expensive bag in order to get it in an overhead locker.
Wapping (v.) Of an iPhone. The obsessive updating of apps to clear all the numbered red discs.
Victoria Dock (n.) Sly glance downwards a woman makes to check her cleavage.
Woolwich (n.) The annoying span of time between waking and the alarm.
Westferry (v.) To travel on the front seat of the DLR pretending to be the driver.