Friday, 29 July 2011

You don't love me, so don't call me 'love'.

I went into five different shops in the space of half an hour this morning. In each one, someone I'd never met before called me by a term of endearment. 'Love', 'darling', 'sweetheart', words that used to mean something special (if you're into that sappy way of thinking).

This is not friendly. It's not a way of getting people to like you. This is rudeness. I don't know you, and I certainly don't love you - chances are you don't feel that way about me either, so why are you talking to me as if we've been besties since nursery?

It's weirdest when I hear someone who's clearly learned English as a second language call me 'love' or 'darling'. Where have they picked this up from? When I've learned other languages, there have always been clear guides on etiquette and how to address people of different ages and people with different roles. I haven't studied German properly for years, but I know you don't call a customer in a shop 'liebchen'.

I'm thinking of getting a T-shirt made - "Call me 'darling' and I will kick you in the head."

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Stupid questions sometimes result in hilarious answers.

A train station. The 12:40 to Nottingham is pulling up to the platform. A man walks by two monitors displaying the details of the next train due in, and by the timetable on the wall.

Man: What's this?

Me: A train.

His dirty look was definitely worth it.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Sssssssteam heat

Isn't it hot?

Yes, it is.

I can't believe how hot it is.

It's hot.

I'm about to melt!

It's very hot.

Today has been, more or less, variations on the above conversation. Yes, it is hot. It is also summer time, in a country where unseasonable warmth is actually seasonable. We have had hot summers before.

Apparently, though, something is happening to people's memories. I blame the media. Partly because it's convenient, and partly because it's true. No longer content to run the good old 'Phew! What A Scorcher!' stories, the red-tops and the ten-second-soundbite, ticker-tape news 'shows' have to proclaim that every successive day is now the "hottest day since records began!" Unless it's winter, in which case substitute "hottest" for "coldest" or "most amount of snow/hail/layers I've had to put on to keep my toes from freezing".

Yes, it is hot. Yes, it is uncomfortable. But your endless yapping on the subject isn't helping. In fact, if you saved your energy and just sat still, perhaps there'd be a little less hot air filling up the office. Or the train carriage. Or the toilets. (Yes, someone decided to start a conversation from the next cubicle. Fucking great.)

In case it isn't obvious by now, I'm not a fan of stating the obvious. That's just wasting words.

"It's raining." Yes, I can see that. Did you have a point? "Just that it's raining. Oh. Not sure how I could have worked that out for myself. Thanks for telling me.

Tomorrow, why not just spend a few seconds checking the weather forecast. Temperatures of at least 25 degrees centigrade, so slap on some suncream, and don't waste your energy telling the person next to you that it's hot. They already know.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

My pink half of the drainpipe separates me from you…

I’m a misanthrope - I’m the first to admit it. I could be quite the happy little misanthrope, were it not for the sudden  acquisition of a social life and a girlfriend about three years ago. It’s hard to hate people when some of them are your best friends.

But my misanthropy comes not from nastiness but from a deep-seated and long-established desire to make the world a better place. If I snarl at strangers, it’s not because I truly despise them but because inside I’m thinking, “Why can’t you try harder?” Why, for example, did the woman watching me pick up a loaf of bread in the shop ask me, “Have they started selling bread here now?” Surely just a second or two of thought and she could have realised it was a redundant thing to say.

I am, at heart, a lover of words, an observer of communication, and I cannot stand to see language abused and wasted. A good portion of the things that I’ll post about here will be about language used carelessly, language used insultingly and, yes, language used incorrectly. Shop assistants who call me “sweetheart”, youths who use the f-word as a noun, verb and adjective in the same sentence; my annoyances are many and varied.

Add to this my need for good manners, my inexplicably incompatible loathing for conventionality and the fact that I work with children, and it’s easy to see that I should have plenty of material.