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  • One of the words I most overuse, in both speech and writing, is "actually". I blame this on my butterfly tendency to be reminded, midstream, of something connected with my original subject. It can be an indication to the hapless listener/reader that I am about to dive off at a tangent. (I also overuse "however". However, that's more about my tendency to qualify every statement)

    When I moved to France I discovered that the word "actuellement", so misleadingly similar to "actually", actually means "now". I wondered if there was a clue here to my use of the word: when I say actually, am I in the moment, for a moment?

    I love to take photos (nearly all the photos accompanying my stories are my own) and I notice that when I look at them again I am straight back in the place where I took them, actually...

    This one is of an abandoned farm, way up on a hill in the Yorkshire Dales. Within living memory, a girl who lived on the farm went to school on horseback, because the road is virtually impassable to motor vehicles. In the winter the drifts can be as high as the house. Now it waits patiently for its roof to collapse.

    But the tree, planted to protect the farm from wind and sun, the tree is flourishing, putting out great fat greedy buds. Right now, actuellement, it's doing it again, but I'm not there to see it.
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