Today I am offering you some light relief, star-light. Word-play based on the star imagery that permeates our northern winter, twinkles in song, story, and dream-myths, and – as sunlight – drives the very processes that keep us alive, along with our plant, animal, bacterial and fungal conspirators in the Earth-Life Maze.
We are past Epiphany – the Christian feast (traditionally 6 January) marking the arrival of three Magi, wise ones, bringing significant gifts to honour the baby whose “star” they had seen and followed, using dream interpretation to help them – and the baby – to stay safe.
Yet our northern nights are still long, dark and cold, This is a time of year when I, and perhaps you, do well to remind ourselves that - on a fine night - we may be able to see at least a few of the constellations, galaxies, and major planets, whose cavortings across the great bowl of sky have fascinated our ancestors for millennia.
With less cavorting, let’s twinkle into a starry-eyed word game, which is in three parts:
1 Starring songs, phrases, poems, names …
First make a column at the left hand side of the next page in your ThoughtBook. In this column list the titles of any film, book, play, etc containing the word ‘STAR’. Add STAR phrases, from poems, songs, popular idioms and sayings … Put the STAR bit in capitals to make it stand out.
Do this now, before you go on to the next two steps. Anything including STAR. A three STAR-restaurant.
When you wish upon a STAR …
Go on, and follow your …
Leave the right hand side of the page blank for now.
And what did Vincent van Gogh paint beside Sunflowers?
2 Startling Anagrams
Now taking as our starting point the word ‘startling‘ and eroding it letter by letter, collect and write down as many other words that start with ‘s‘ as you can, in a few minutes or until you get bored. Just to get you going: can you find a bird; a sort of small fish; a male herbivore; an indelible mark on fabric; low-value coal-bearing rock; a painful acid attack by nettles; an arm-rest after injury …
s t a r t l i n g
If you enjoy word games, feel free to find any other words that use any or all of these letters, placed here in alphabet order:
a g i l n r t t s
I have left some of the sparkliest words that frolicking friends and I found, in the Further resources section at the end, for use to find if you are short of time and inclination to play.
The third – and sometimes amusing – step of the Starburst is this:
3 Substitution time
Go back to each phrase from step one, and in the empty right hand column write how the phrase would sound if you replaced its STAR with one of the Startling Anagrams. Roll a few possibilities around in your mouth as you do this, and sound them out. Some will land better than others. And if these starry outbursts brighten your night or day, I am delighted.
Please share your funniest, your most ridiculous, your most poignant substitutions, by leaving them in the comments section. Or the ones you think deserve a STARring role.
I’m not going to add my own favourites until you’ve had a chance to contribute yours. So – get on with the Star Share.
One of my own, which wasn’t really that funny, reduced me to jellyfish-hysterical laughter over a Zoom-call to my writing buddy in Yorkshire – who has, by coincidence, a lovely dog called Star.
So, look! “STAR-walking on the moor” is a phrase you can add to the first step.
Along with ‘A STAR is born’; ‘Twinkle, twinkle …”; The STAR-Spangled Banner; and what – according to William Wordsworth – a line of bay-margining daffodils resemble …
Starry posts from earlier
You may enjoy these from writingpresence.com from 2018:
sail, salt, slit, stair, staring, Stalin, statin, stilt,
ant, astir, arting
girl, grant, grist
instar, Isla, isn’t
latin, last, lint,
rail, rant, rag, rating
train, tang, tail, tilt