The figurative language of Damian Barr…

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes and metaphors from Damian Barr…

A memoir of growing up in small-town Scotland during the Thatcher years, the book Maggie & Me is practically an advertisement for society’s obligation to do a better job of taking care of children.

Fortunately for the author Damian Barr, pictured above, he was clever enough to do well at school and become a successful journalist and writer, rising above the devastating poverty (and abuse) into which he was born.

He not only succeeded in writing an engaging book, he also showed a dab hand at simile and metaphor. Here are my favourite examples:

  • ‘Luck o’ the devil,’ she huffs, puffing away at the telly [television] where this blonde woman rises from rubble again and again like a Cyberman off Doctor Who.
  • I plead and beg and they both make a show of saying no until one day [a canary] appears in a golden cage all of his own. He’s made of sunshine and songs.
  • The Bing is mountains of sparkling black diamonds. No trees can take root on its loosely packed slopes which suddenly give way to cake-slice cliffs. Here and there a bright pink spire of rosebay willowherb flashes a warning.
  • In the middle of it all there’s a crater that’s filled with rain over the years and become a great big pond burping with frogs.
  • Paddy’s lips are jagged like they were cut out of his face with the pinking shears you need to ask the teacher’s permission to use.
  • His specs grip his nose trying hard to hold on. They have silver metal legs and milk-bottle lenses so thick they make his eyes look small and slightly surprised.
  • He disappears behind a tree whose fuzzy grey buds are breaking into dangling yellow catkins. They sway like Mary’s earrings.
  • At night in bed your breath clouds above you like dreams. Sometimes I sleep with my school uniform on and try not to move so I don’t get it creased. In the morning Jack Frost’s long thin fingers have scratched inside the windows.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on May 2/19.

Scroll to Top