Friday, 18 November 2011


This week, I’ve been mostly thinking about F. R David, best known for the 1981 song 'Words'. This is not because I've developed a sexual interest in bouffant hairstyles or people who wear sunglasses indoors, but because the opening line of 'Words' - "Words don’t come easy to me" - whilst it doesn't rival the expressions of alienation found in, say, Kerouac - does describe the kind of week I've had. 

Simply put, every day this week has brought with it a phrase or word that I have literally NEVER EVER heard before. In fact, there have been occasions when I’ve thought: I’ve probably just had a stroke and lost the capacity to understand language.

Last Saturday, for instance, we took the kids to McDonalds.  (Before you keel over with horror, this is NOT my normal routine. Normally, I would, ahem, plate up a lovingly prepared lunch of artisan-baked breads and antipasti, obviously.) But on Saturday, we were busy, and I thought, heck, what’s wrong with eating the occasional chicken vagina with a bucket of salt? But when we arrived at the drive-in window to collect our ‘food’, we were greeted by an empty-handed waitress who twitched a little, and said, “Veggie’s full-time.”

Veggie’s full-time?

VEGGIE’S FULL-TIME????????????????????

Sorry love, but I don’t speak Wookie.

My partner looked at me, and I looked back (rare, as we are both normally locked in our own private spheres of hell). The waitress sensed we were struggling.  She repeated herself, adding the definite article, a cheeky verb phrase.

“The veggie is full-time”, she said.

Shit, I don’t mean to be rude love, but I still don’t speak Wookie.

Thankfully, my partner finally twigged. “Do you mean the veggie-burgers take longer?” he said. He is a genius, my partner. He has such a feeling for context, for the underlying structures that govern language, he is like Chomsky, or fucking Derrida. The girl nodded. “Park b’there”, she said, pointing us in the direction of the parked order bays.
It's not the first time. 

A few days earlier, I lost the rectangular ‘stick-on bit’ of my car radio. I was trying to explain this to a friend, when she laughed and said, “Do you mean the face-off?” The face-off? ‘Face-Off’ is a film by John Woo, with Nicholas Cage and John Travolta, not another word for the stick-on bit of my car radio. Face-off is a phrase that describes a confrontation or the beginning of a game of ice-hockey, not, I repeat, the stick-on bit of my car radio. But if face-off IS the word for the rectangular stick-on bit of my car radio, how come you know this?  And I don’t? What the fuck is wrong with me?  

I blame my mother, of course. My mother replaces all proper nouns with the words ‘thing’, ‘thingy’ or ‘thingummyjig’. A conversation with my mother goes something like this:

Mother: Have you seen that thing I brought up with me? I hope I haven’t left it in the thing.
Me: For the love of God. 
Me: Do you mean your whistle? *

My father also has an interesting approach to proper nouns. He prefers metaphors that bear little resemblance to the original object. Partly, this is because he has no idea what the original object IS. Examples include ‘atomic machine’ to describe ‘microwave’, and “ludicrous new-fangled walkie-talkies’ to describe ‘mobile phones.’ In short, he lives in a parallel universe that I like to call ‘The World According to Someone Who Once Left A Big Fuck-Off Chunk of Radioactive Plutonium in their Pocket Whilst Working at a Nuclear Research Facility’.

So maybe words don't come easy to any of us. 

* PS There are no sheepdogs in the family. Just my dad.


  1. YOU MADE ME CHOKE ON MY GIN. With laughter. I may have coughed out some gin. Which is SACRILEGE. But, I heart you, so you are forgiven.

    PS 'fucking Derrida' mahahahahahaa
    PPS Don't go to Mcdonalds.

  2. Park b' have no idea how much that made me laugh! Really laugh.

  3. Hi Auntie Venting. I have lots of gin here. Shall I send you some to compensate? Please forward me the address of your gin palace, i mean house.

  4. Helo Beth. Glad you liked it. Next time I'll try to get in the phrase 'cowin lush' too! Draw i ddarllen dy flog di mewn munud ... x

  5. I read this three times and each time time it got funnier and funnier. Brilliantly written post, er as usual. Okay commentary as follows ... (1) 'words don't come easy' - God awful drippy song, (2)"My partner looked at me, and I looked back (which is extremely rare, as we are both normally locked in our own private spheres of hell)." That perfectly describes my marriage ... ha ha ha ha. (3) I never knew it was called a 'face off' ??!! (4) Is your dad Homer Simpson ??? More please !!!

  6. Ps Noam Chomsky rocks out dude.

  7. Ta so much Older Mum! Glad you enjoyed it and also glad my blog was educational - re face off!! It's not often that I'm able to feel quite so socially useful...

    Yip, Chomsky's a riot! As for Derrida - talk about belly laughs! (I had to sit through a whole year of lectures on 'post-structuralist literary criticism', with not the foggiest idea about what the lecturer was talking about. Although in my defence, I was madly in love with the student who sat opposite me...I even took the Old Norse course because he was taking it, for godsake ... I'm such a feminist)


  8. Thanks. Put a smile on my face after another full on weekend! Although I will never be able to order a chicken burger again!

  9. HI three little flowers. Next time you're at Maccy D's, just pretend that you're eating an eccentric Heston Blumenthal recipe as opposed to genitalia. It really helps x

  10. haha, laughed out loud to this post, great blog! refreshing to read something funny.

  11. Ta Katy. Glad you liked it. Off to read yours now....