Island Life by David Slack

Stop your sobbing

If you ask Google to look for "howlybag", you get only an entry or two:

Technology Talk
Hmm, heres what Elephant, AKA Tony(the)Frew posted before his big howlybag tantram

Ask it for "howleybag" and you get:

Who Are The 5 Worst Band/solo Artists Ever?
These are in order for me- 1. Mariah Carey-I can't stand that howleybag.

If smart people like Llew can be frank about gaps in their knowledge, then so can I.

"Howlybag" was a word unknown to me until I read about it in an article about the New Zealand Oxford School Thesaurus.

Dr Dianne Bardsley, who sounds justifiably proud of her work, tells us that informal and slang words posed particular challenges.

"Wimp and wuss get a look in, but I decided that howlybag was too much of a 60s term to be included."

Well, there's proof that if you can remember the 60s you weren't actually there.

We called people spastic, we called them huckery molls (and because you never committed it to paper, you were never sure of the spelling). We called them pills, we called them drips, and if you were cruel you called them whatever it took to make them blub. But if they were the blubbing kind, I never saw them labelled a howlybag.

I wish I had. What a great handle! How did I miss it? Was I not paying attention at play and lunchtimes, or is Dr Bardsley a little out on her era?

If Gordon King were still blogging, it's precisely the kind of epithet I would expect to see him hurling about with gay abandon. We are, on the progressive left, whinging cry-babies to a man. Howlybags.

That's just his opinion. Or to be completely fair, it's my impression of his opinion of us. But that's the kind of word howlybag is: utterly subjective, and a great big, bright, shiny axe of a weapon. See the judgmental and the scornful wield it with glee!

I'm game. Who's the biggest howlybag around here? I invite readers' suggestions. I even have categories to suggest:

- Most howlybag blogger.
- Most howlybag celebrity.
- Most howlybag media personality.
- Most howlybag politician.
- Most howlybag person you've ever met.

No prizes. This is just for the fun of it. And if you think that's unfair: tough. You're old enough and ugly enough by now to know that life's not fair. Howlybag.