Tag Archives: Britiish

Adventures in Pedantry

I ordered something called a Hero Burger. The nice lady asked if I would you like to supersize?
‘Isn’t it already heroic?’ I inquired.
‘It is, but you get more of everything on the next one up.’
‘What’s that one called?’
‘We don’t have a name for that one yet sir.’
‘Shouldn’t that one be called the Hero Burger?’
The nice lady gave me the special look she reserves for vermin. ‘I guess so!’
With shades of my father I added ‘Might I suggest The Super-Fluous?’
Where on earth did that mustard fart of indignation come from? On ninety-nine days out of a hundred I would have let something so inconsequential go by the by, but today my Hero (now demoted to Side-kick) Burger was presumably going to arrive laced with various bodily fluids and interfered with beyond words. Such is the price of perfection.
Back at Castle Cororan (still surprising peckish) I found a package waiting for me. I opened it. It contained three bottles of peroxide. I am a bald man. As such I was perplexed. The invoice revealed that I share my address (different postcode) with a hairdresser across town. Ah, irony abounds. When I contacted them to arrange a pick up their manager was so impressed with my honesty that he left a gift on the doorstep – two bottles of luxury exfoliant. How delightful. I used one and the skin proceeded to melt from my face. Picture the bald man running around in just his pants, howling like a child who has touched a nettle. By Jove I demanded satisfaction.
But what’s the protocol for complaining about free stuff? There isn’t one is there? I’ve found a gaping hole in British (and possibly world) etiquette. I must write to someone. This is marvellous / unacceptable (delete as appropriate).
Scarred for life, but ebullient with my newfound revelation I set off for a corporate shindig. There an old colleague reminded me of an incident that completes the triumvirate of pedantry.
We both worked with a young man for whom English was not his first language (For the sake of anonymity we’ll call him Tim). Tim would’ve spoken perfectly good English had he paid attention in the lessons that had been paid for by the company (i.e. he’s fair game).
As well a possessing poor grammar Tim was also a prolific skiver – both in the amount of days took as sick-leave and in the amount of time he spent asleep in the toilets. Every two weeks or so his line manager and I would get an email explaining why he was absent. Because his English was terrible he would make attempts to describe the symptoms rather than succinctly state the ailment – the most memorable of which was: ‘I not be work now – big stomach – much pooh – also puke.’
A few days after his various misdemeanours had been tackled in a performance review he took me aside and asked for my help. ‘You tell me how to say this?’ he asked, and then proceeded to graphically described diarrhoea. Even in the midst of a bollocking you could see the cogs turning; setting up the next bout of absence. I told him he was giving too much information and provided a shorter syntax for the condition. He thanked me.
Sure enough – a few weeks later the glorious email arrived: ‘I cannot come to work today as I have Ass Mayhem.’
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Ah England…

What’s the most annoying entity known to man?

Salesmen? Shell-suits? Haemorrhoids? (In that order).

No – It’s British Rails automated tannoy stammering ‘The eight oh one will neh-ver ah-rive. I am eggs-tree-mlee soh-ree for this delay.’

Nothing screams insincerity like a robot apologising…

…Especially when, as was the case this morning, four trains worth of people were trying to get onto one. The potential bloodbath of acrimony was counteracted by our all being British. The best we could muster were scowls and grumbled comments that we were ‘really quite put out.’ I myself had a good mind to invest in a bowler hat, march staunchly up to the controller’s office to give him an ‘ear-bashing’ – calling him the ‘cad and bounder’ he so clearly was.

But then – oh joys of joys – I spotted an empty seat. Why, given our inhuman stances, was it free? The answer – because we were in first class and none of us had the right ticket.

‘Sod this’ I thought breaking my stiff, starchy upbringing and fought my way though to a barrage of scornful glares from pinstripe toffs (I was wearing trainers – the shame). The inspector spotted my leap across the social-divide. I responded with the ‘Ask for my ticket and you will die,’ look that every commuter perfects within weeks of travel.

So, with a defiant act of truly middle-class proportions I was rewarded with a big leather armchair, a nice view of the passing countryside and the satisfaction of having not paid for the privilege.

The annoyance that I’d felt subsided and the disgruntled complaint that I’d intended to write instead morphed into a cathartic venting of surrealism.

Firstly, I suggested that if they really wanted to sound sincere that should replace the robot with a (neurotic) real person sobbing uncontrollably – ‘Oh my Gohhhhhd I’ve ruined your day. These are precious seconds you’ll never get back. Why do I keep doing this to you? Whhhyyyyyyyyyyeeeee? What the hell is wrong with me? Please help me…I’m sick…’

An alternative suggestion was that they pep up the announcements with a little fiction. For example:

‘We apologise for the delay. The driver found his wife in bed with another man and was forced to beat them both to death. Apparently it had been going on for years, but he’d never come home on time.’ (b-rum tsss).

Or, ‘You’ll never guess what – We’re giving away free lap-dances to all you frustrated red-blooded males freezing your asses off on the platform…not really – the trains been cancelled.’

Or ‘Jeez, I’ve never seen so many ugly people in one place…and you’re late…man you’re a loser.’ 

I have a mate who writes under the pseudonym of Geraldine Flask. ‘He’ sends deliberately pointless letters to organisations e.g. Suggesting to the government that they remove ‘X’ from the alphabet as it doesn’t deserve to be associated with such mighty members as ‘A’ and ‘T’*

I used to think it was silly, but now consider it both admirable and something to be encouraged. The alternatives are either continued English stuffiness or else out and out violence…

* He also collects sick-bags which is just ridiculous…

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