Meanwhile, over on Facebook, my pal Brian Clegg opines that the word scrappage can’t possibly be a real word. He refers of course, to the dodgy, and, moreover, desperate scheme whereby Moron McBroon and his fellow donkey-jacketed cronies want to bung us five big ones if we scrap our ol’ bangers and buy new cars.
Brian, having indeed and heretofore written a book called Ecologic, is an expert on ‘Greenwash’ – the efforts by PR spivs to sell us things on the strength that they are ‘green’ when they really aren’t. Therefore he’d probably agree with me that ‘scrappage’ is more about teaching crows how to fly under water saving the motor industry rather than the planet.
However, I digress. What irks Brian is the word itself – scrappage. I find to my amusement that it does exist, being delicately interposed in the Shorter Oxford between scrapie (a Scots dialect word for lard) and scrapple (colloquialism for the abrasion of the nipple suffered by professional female mud-wrestlers).
What’s more, scrappage means what you suppose it to mean – the action of scrapping. This is rather fine, as one might propose, in the absence of the inducements offered by McBroon, that the definition of scrappage might be no more than a gnat’s nadgers away from ‘the action of estimating as worthless’ which happens to be that of one of the longest known English words, floccinaucinihilipilification.
Scrappage - to use this fine word to refer to the decommissioning of superannuated Vauxhall Vectrae seems an awful waste. In an ideal world, I’d assume the powers of Humpty Dumpty (stop sniggering, at the back) and declare by fiat, if not Fiat, that scrappage must refer to some archaic right enshrined in the feudal system, for example, oh, I don’t know, that of peasants to grummet their own cordwanglers’ scrodes in the manorial demesne every second Wednesday in Lent (in the Town Hall if wet: restrictions may apply). One might think of similar words with faux-Medieval roots, such as
Verbiage - the right of those employed in the transportation of goods or the provision of services to make repeated announcements employing sentence structures, figures of speech and indeed words that are well beyond their educational attainment or indeed capability of utterance;
Foliage - the right of the seventh sons of sextons (try saying it while eating an apple) to hold noisy parties in graveyards between dusk and dawn, without let or hindrance. This right is often claimed in the defence of holders of illegal raves, witches’ sabbaths and so on;
Mucilage - The right of the peasantry of Gloucestershire to catch hagfishes with their bare hands, usually a royal prerogative;
Cartilage - A levy or toll on the passage of goods across the land of butchers, tanners and glue-makers;
Spillage - the traditional right of transients and vagabonds to lick beer-stains off the tables of inns after closing-time;
Hillage - the right of thanes or reeves to insist on the immediate cessation of minstrelsy, usually by the striking of a ritual gong.
Stoppage - the right of serfs sent to battle on behalf of their overlords to cease fighting between the hours of one and two o’clock each weekday; to take five-minute breaks every hour; to take time off for sickness or industrial action whenever Norwich City is playing at home; and not to work before 9.30 am or beyond 5.30 pm or all day at weekends in the absence of separately negotiated separate overtime arrangements (see Umbrage);
Borage- the archaic practice in which receivers of alms are entitled to retrieve waterlogged palings, fence posts, gates, rusty gas cookers, brass bedsteads and firewood from mill ponds for drying and recycling, at any time between All Saints Day and Candlemas. This festival is still practiced in the remote Serbian village of Zivkovic along the river Bora, whence the custom gets its name.