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A line of c’s is like a stylised sea or seated monks obediently bowing; cccc, line after line, spells safety, sitting at a desk, doing joined-up writing. This is the scaffolding – the alphabet of posts and beams, the timber frame, the nave of b’s and d’s whose pillars, if you let the uprights slant, will topple on a wave – the scaffolding and ark of spoken speech, a chapel in which psalms and hymns become, once you have learned to read the script, so clear. There are wordings the ear alone can’t reach, strange idioms that make the mind go numb but knowing how to write them helps you hear.


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