Apologies for Noogies

Last week I published a review of Paul Waring’s pamphlet, Quotidian, over at Sphinx reviews. I enjoyed reading the book and writing the review. And it made Paul happy too. It was his first review…no pressure, but he liked it, so *Makes W sign with both thumbs together*

In that review I used the word ‘Noogie’. Do you know it?

If you don’t a ‘Noogie’ is, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, ‘ the act of rubbing one’s knuckles on a person’s head so as to produce a mildly painful sensation‘. Now you know what I mean. We’ve all done it, surely…either to a friend, a sibling, a grandparent, etc.

However, what I’m interested in is the word you might use to describe this action. When I was writing the review I wanted to call it a ‘Woody’ as that is the term used when and where I was a lad, but I couldn’t find any reference to it online to confirm that it would be understood. To be fair, ‘Woody’ also had a rude meaning too. It means I can never watch Woody Woodpecker again with a straight face.*

I knew of ‘noogie’ as an alternative for it, but thought of it as an American version of the word, but it at least allowed me to know that it was searchable. As it is, Nell ended up linking to a definition when she edited the review.

Given my recent post about references and the like from a couple of weeks ago, I think I was pondering more about the validity of using such a word. I suspect I’m over and under-thinking it all.

There’s also the question of why that word or the word/ action sprang into my head during the writing of the review, but we’ll gloss over that as I genuinely have no idea. It felt like absolutely the right thing to say, but I’ve not used the word ‘woody’ in that context for the best part of *sticks finger in the air* 20 years, I reckon. I’m quite interested in working out where that came from, but I guess it’s one of things that if you could answer it you’d do it all the time. Is it like trying to work out where the poetry comes from?

As Brian Patten writes about John Clare in his ‘A Fallible Lecture’ at the end of ‘Storm Damage’

…John Clare, a Norfolk
peasant who was incarcerated in lunatic
asulyms for 28 years after a doctor decided
he was insane through ‘ years addicted to
poetic prosings’ After his death it was
rumoured that a group of doctors wanted to
procure his corpse in order to open his brain
and find out where the poetry came from
Clare already knew where I came from:
from clods of earth and from watching
raindrops glittering on the backs of frogs

Actually, everyone knows it comes from 95% graft, 1% inspiration and 8% stealing. Yes, I have double-checked the science here, and while the maths isn’t right, the science is. I’m sorry if you disagree.

Now, that reminds me. I started listening to this this week. It’s Helen Mort discussing her relationship with the word Sorry and apologies. I’ve only listened to the first ep so far, but I really enjoyed what I heard. I was at the end of a long week at work and on a bus ride home after a diverted train journey, so I apologise to Helen for needing to go back to it to fill in some gaps before finishing the series.

It did get me thinking back to a draft of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago called ‘Tiny Sorries’. I was looking at all the small apologies I find myself making. I often apologise, under my breath, if I make some deviate from their course, even by an inch, when walking along the street, or for not holding a door open far enough, for not being fast enough at the water fountain at work, even when I can do nothing about it…

The idea was that it would start there, build up to taking responsibility for not doing enough to stop something we are all collectively responsible for and then…and then…Well, I didn’t know where to go with it, or if it was even worth trying to find out. I think the answer is that it isn’t worth pursuing. However, it was on my mind before seeing that the show was on air. I think it, the poem, pops back into my head daily because of something that happens when commuting or in the office, etc.

Thankfully, what I do know from listening to Helen’s show is that there are plenty of poems about saying sorry, apologising, contrition, etc, so perhaps I don’t need to worry about adding mine to the pile.

Sorry, you’ve been witness to me working stuff out as I go.

* Woody Woodpecker made my piss boil anyway, so this is no great loss.


36k running – Quite the leap backwards from last week, basically swapping the digits around, but two 18K runs is plenty. I’ve had a cold in the middle of the week and there just wasn’t anything in the tank this morning when I’d planned to do another 18-20K. Better to not get injured, I reckon.

1 Poem worked on. Once – Had another bash at Kiddie Rides. Kissed goodbye to a few lines I’ve held onto since the start and it’s much better, but of, the wailing and gnashing of teeth…

3 poems accepted. My first acceptance of the year, and all done and accepted inside 24 hours. Take note, ye mags that are still dithering after 4 months…

1 day on the sofa feeling sorry for myself- A stinking cold took over me after getting wet last Sunday and Tuesday.

1 car accident for my friend Jon, although I’m very happy to know that he’s ok.

3 days without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 meeting involving Ruth Davidson

1 review published (see above)

1 review written

1 review written and sent

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


  1. Nephilim Club
  2. Mailing The World’s Last Postage Stamp (NB I may want to use this later, but let me know if you get there first…)
  3. Cuts & Browsers
  4. Hippocratic Oats
  5. Idyllic Postmen


Lenni Sanders, Poacher
Started this article about free pianos

Clare Best, Each Other
Jennifer Wong, Letters Home

Endeavour S5, S6 and S7, E1 – The benefit of a sick day and a Britbox subscription

Listened to: 
Magic Hour, No Excess Is Absurd
Josh Rouse, Dressed Up Like Nebraska & Country Mouse; City House
Laura Veirs, Carbon Glacier
Agnes Obel, Myopia
The Orielles, Disco Volador
Toshiko Akiyoshi, Her Trio, Her Quartet
Tresspasser’s William, Different Stars
Greg Dulli, Random Desire
Cornershop, Judy Sucks A Lemon
Mazzy Star, She Hangs Brightly
Hope Sandoval, Bavarian Fruit Bread
Caspian, The Four Trees

and of course, The Archers…

And finally

Subscribe to Robin Houghton’s list of submission opportunities here

One thought on “Apologies for Noogies

  1. Pingback: Poetry Blog Digest 2020, Week 9 – Via Negativa

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