The Beginner’s A-Z of D.I.Y Subversion (Bacterium to Bilbo)

(Author’s Note: a slightly different Monday, Wednesday, Friday vibe to this week as letter B proved to be particularly fruitful and, let’s be honest, nobody wanted it to leach into a second week…)

BACTERIUM       Microscopic single-cell organism; a disease or germ.  The subversive’s brain.  Not to be confused with Bactrian, which is a camel with two humps on his back – similar to the shoulder/chip ratio of most subversives.

BALLISTA           An ancient military engine for throwing stones or other missiles.  Now known as a child¹.  A ballista comprised a long wooden arm, tied back and weighted at one end before being released, hurling the missile from the other end over a considerable distance, causing a significant amount of discomfort to anyone unfortunate enough to be under it.  Considerable physical effort was required in pulling back and tying the wooden arm prior to its release.

A child is a soft, warm frenzy of snot and noise, generally smelling faintly of chocolate, which will happily throw anything you give it – as long as you ask it not to.

  1. Whilst most right-thinking people would deplore the deployment of children in the furtherment of subversive activity – it would have to be considered almost reckless to ignore the opportunity when it is there.  Subversively speaking, little measures up to the explosive effect of a strategically placed baby in a full nappy.

BANG                A loud, sudden, explosive noise.  Result of a gunshot, an explosion or a teenager leaving the room. 

BARBARITY        Brutal or inhuman conduct; cruelty.  ‘Brutality, Inhumanity and Cruelty’ appear to have taken over from ‘Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité’ as the basic principles of revolution in the twenty-first century.  Unfortunately, nothing has taken over from the principle of slaughtering those who oppose the ‘revolution1’.

  1. In this instance, ‘revolution’ means ‘more of the same – and none of it good’.

BASTARD           A person born of unmarried parents; an illegitimate child; a vicious, despicable, or thoroughly disliked person.  Oh, come on, this is the twenty first century.  There is no place in our society for blind, ignorant prejudice of this kind.  Ok, he’s vicious and despicable – it doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person does it?  Goodness knows, if most of us disowned everyone we know who fits this description, we would have no friends left. 

If the word has any power as a term of abuse, then its significance must surely have been seriously eroded with the news that more children are now born out of wedlock1 than in it.  Perhaps, in the long term, it may become an accepted term of approval – maybe ‘legitimate’ will become an abusive term.  Think of it next time you whack your thumb with a hammer.

  1. Very similar to ‘arm-lock’, but with longer-lasting consequences.

BASTINADO       Beating with a stick, especially on the soles of the feet.  A method of torture that is reputed to cause excruciating pain whilst leaving no mark – a little like a James Blunt concert.

BATTER (1)         To beat persistently or hard.  Violence and subversion are often assumed to walk hand in hand – it is not necessarily so.  Many subversives are deep thinkers; much more inclined towards cerebral rather than physical methods of sedition – especially if facing an opponent with a small vocabulary and a large stick.

BATTER (2)         A mixture of flour, milk or water, eggs, etc., beaten together for use in cookery; to coat with batter.  This is what politicians are really for – although subsequent deep-frying may be a step too far.

BAYONET           A dagger-like steel weapon that is attached to or at the muzzle of a gun and used for stabbing or slashing in hand-to-hand combat.  If you’ve any sense at all, you will forget this weapon, it is messy and unpleasant and, most importantly, generally used in circumstances where there is a 50/50 chance of being on the receiving end.  If you are invited somewhere and asked to take a bayonet, go with a light bulb.

BEARD               Facial hair.  Generally speaking, subversives wear false beards as an occasional form of disguise – unless, of course, they normally wear a real beard, in which case they shave them off as a disguise.  Either course of action is legitimate – as long as you are not ginger.

BEAT                  Strike repeatedly.  A sort of all-encompassing bastinado, generally giving extreme pleasure to at least one of those involved.

BEG                    What subversives do when they’ve been caught.

BICYCLE             Two wheeled vehicle propelled by the rider.  A cheap and efficient method of getaway, particularly downhill.

BILBO                A long iron bar or bolt with sliding shackles and a lock, formerly attached to the ankles of prisoners.  Be honest, it’s not what you thought it was, is it?  A modern adaptation of the Bilbo is the Electronic tag, which, whilst not actually physically manacling the prisoner, does make it extraordinarily difficult for him to wear novelty socks.

© Colin McQueen 2022

The Beginners A-Z of D.I.Y Subversion Index is here.

12 thoughts on “The Beginner’s A-Z of D.I.Y Subversion (Bacterium to Bilbo)

Comments are closed.