In a Word... Hence

Hence, from Old English hennes, for ‘...from this moment’

That’s it. Gone. Yeah, 2021 is done. The first full year of the pandemic has left the room. Byeeee…! Welcome – you and I – to this wintry New Year’s Day, spread out against the sky. Welcome 2022.

No looking back! Remember Lot's wife. She, who was turned into a pillar of salt for becoming an over-the-shoulder-Sodom-beholder. Approaching 2022, I decided to interview her on the perils of looking back. And lo, it was done, if at times the experience made the prospect of an interview with Van Morrison seem inviting. Then, salt is salt.

I began with deference. "Mrs Lot, " I said, "with your special insight, can you recommend any way, anyone who utters the infernal phrase 'going forward' might be turned instantly into a pillar of… anything?'

“… It’s Ms,” she hissed. “Ms!,” she repeated. “Do you think this is the 21st century? It is 1906 BC/BCE and you act as though it was way back then.” Confused, I corrected her: “It’s 2021 where I come from.” She turned towards me with such violence I thought she’d collapse into fine grains.

“Are you mocking me?” she demanded, “telling me you’re from over 100 years ago.” I was struck dumb as Zachary, in that other biblical story. “Sorry, Ms Lot. I’m actually from 3,027 years… hence (I almost said ‘going forward’!)”

She laughed, and laughed. “You have a sense of humour. I like that,” she said, almost sweetly. Phew.

I asked what BC/BCE stood for. “Probably the end of the world,” she said. “It’s all we talk about around here. It was why I looked back at dear old Sodom. They told me it was the beginning of the end of the world, so I just had to take a look. Then this happened, and we’re still waiting for the end of the world.”

I assured her we were working more successfully towards that same conclusion.

I asked how it felt being such a famous pillar, and for so long. "I'm tired. Tired, tired of being admired. Tired of love uninspired. Let's face it, I'm tired," she said, and I was reminded of the film Blazing Saddles and its Teutonic Titwillow, Ms Lili Von Shtupp. Another salty one.

I thanked Ms Lot and set off for 2022, without a glance back.

Hence, from Old English hennes, for “...from this moment”.

inaword@irishtimes.com