WORD LISTS

"Black Swan Green" by David Mitchell, List 1

April 21, 2019
Set in the early 1980s, this coming-of-age novel explores underlying tensions and turmoil in a seemingly quiet English village.

This list covers "January Man"–"Hangman."

Here are links to our lists for the novel: List 1, List 2, List 3, List 4, List 5
stammer
So anyway, I took a deep breath, picked up the receiver, and said our number. I can say that without stammering, at least. Usually.
fuselage
The glebe was littered with mangled fuselages and blackened wings. I'd shoot the Soviet airmen with tranquilizer darts as they pressed their ejector seats.
incursion
I put the blind back to how it was, checked I'd left no other traces of my incursion, slipped out, and flew downstairs to see who it was.
gouge
Mind you, if they knew Eliot Bolivar, who gets poems published in Black Swan Green Parish Magazine, was me, they’d gouge me to death behind the tennis courts with blunt woodwork tools...
fray
Ross Wilcox and Gary Drake and Dawn Madden targeted me from the start. No matter how I tried to dodge through the fray it was hopeless.
frigate
Tom Yew serves in the Royal Navy on a frigate called HMS Coventry.
venue
Mum says she won't let the dining table be used as a venue for “adolescent discontent.”
discontent
Before Christmas I asked what not liking the taste of sprouts has to do with “adolescent discontent.”
morbid
“If you drown, what happens to your body?”
Julia rolled her eyes like Jesus on his cross.
“Bit of a morbid topic for the dinner table.”
hospice
I pushed on. Usually Dad likes talking about nature and stuff. “But that bird at granddad’s hospice. You said it was a nightingale.”
poultice
The poultice sort of tickled but the pain was too vicious and I was fighting the cold too hard. The sour aunt smeared the goo on till it was used up and my ankle completely clagged.
marzipan
“It smells like... marzipan.”
innards
The glass face, the hour hand, and the minute hand'd gone and only a bent second hand was left. When I fell on the ice, it must've happened then. The casing was split and half its innards'd spilt out.
stifle
I remember Lucy Sneads whispering to Angela Bullock, stifling giggles.
outfox
The only way to outfox Hangman is to think one sentence ahead, and if you see a stammer-word coming up, alter your sentence so you won't need to use it.
melancholy
If I was speaking to another thirteen-year-old and said the word “ melancholy” to avoid stammering on “sad,” for example, I'd be a laughingstock 'cause kids aren't s'posed to use adult words like “ melancholy.” Not at Upton-on-Severn Comprehensive, anyway.
lapse
Another strategy is to buy time by saying “er...” in the hope that Hangman's concentration'll lapse and you can sneak the word out.
brooch
She's forty or maybe even older, and has fat silver brooches, wispy bronze hair, and flowery clothes.
scurvy
I told Mrs. de Roo how I'd heard Eskimo kids spend time under artificial sunlamps to stop them getting scurvy, 'cause at the North Pole winter lasts for most of the year.
nigh
“We must all face our demons one day, Taylor, and for you, that time is nigh.”
metronome
Then Mrs. de Roo got out her Metro Gnome: Metro Gnomes're upside-down pendulums without the clock part. They tock rhythms. They’re small, which could be why they’re called gnomes. Music students normally use them but speech therapists do too.
bleak
Z for Zachariah’s about a girl called Ann who lives in a valley with its own freak weather system that protects it after a nuclear war's poisoned the rest of the country and killed everyone else off. For all Ann knows she's the only person alive in the British Isles. As a book it's utterly brill but a bit bleak.
accommodation
No, it's a question—and this might sound nutty—of understanding it, of coming to a working accommodation with it, of respecting it, of not fearing it.
teetotaler
Back in Durban I had a friend who'd once been an alcoholic. One day I asked him how he'd cured himself. My friend said he'd done no such thing. I said, 'What do you mean? You haven't touched a drop in three years!' He said all he'd done was become a teetotal alcoholic.
instill
Craig Salt dropped by while I was there to instill some God-fearing discipline into the troops, but Danny had him eating out of his hand in five minutes flat.
indispensable
Dad asked what Mrs. de Roo'd thought about his diary idea. Her comment that it was “most informative” fueled his good mood. “‘Informative'? Indispensable, more like!
posh
This Ewan must be a Worcester Cathedral School kid. Posh.
skulk
“No, I certainly will not be bringing him. Thing spends his Saturdays skulking up trees or hiding down holes.”
lurch
Lurching with shame, I hid my poem with my body.
guffaw
Guffawing, puzzled, appalled, pitying. Who decides which defects are funny and which ones are tragic?
leprosy
The bathroom mirror, worse luck, showed no signs of leprosy.
truant
Mr. Kempsey'd notice straight off that I was absent on my dreaded form-assembly day. Mum'd be phoned by morning break. Mr. Nixon'd get involved. Dad'd be called out of his Wednesday meeting. Truant officers and their sniffer dogs'd be put on my trail.
anorak
School was all skiddy floors this morning, damp steaming anoraks, teachers telling kids off for screaming and first years playing illegal tag in the corridors and third-year girls trawling the corridors with linked arms singing some crappy pop song.
clemency
"Petitioning me to grant a last-minute act of clemency.”
trepidation
"Am I to understand that you anticipate this morning's form-assembly with a level of trepidation one might describe as 'debilitating dread'?”
debilitating
"Am I to understand that you anticipate this morning's form-assembly with a level of trepidation one might describe as ' debilitating dread'?”
conducive
It seems your dedicated speech therapist holds the opinion that a postponement of this morning's trial by ordeal may be conducive to a longer-term level of self-confidence vis-a-vis the Arts of Rhetoric and Public Speaking.
rhetoric
It seems your dedicated speech therapist holds the opinion that a postponement of this morning's trial by ordeal may be conducive to a longer-term level of self-confidence vis-a-vis the Arts of Rhetoric and Public Speaking.
nebula
I just stared at the chalk nebulae on the blackboard.
altruistic
“Your spirited defense of established protocol is commendable, Drake, and, no doubt, altruistic. However, I possess reliable intelligence that Taylor's vocal apparati are in an unseaworthy condition. Thus, your classmate is excused on quasi-medical grounds.”

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