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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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Where the stories come from…

On Saturday a friend and I were in Howth – a small seaside town a few miles north of Dublin. We’d cleverly chosen our little break to coincide with an Uber-tsunami and were feebly making our way up along the wind-battered docks when we saw the saddest of sites – an accordion playing busker belting out a jolly jig whilst being pelted with everything the weather could throw at him. Despite the ordeal he wore a wax-work grin that slipped periodically into constipated angst.

A short way along the dock a second man opened a case to reveal an alto-sax. As he did so he scowled at the accordion player. The accordion player scowled back. Even in the downpour it was clear for all to see:

This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.

We spent the afternoon holed up in a bar speculating on the history of animosity that had obviously (probably) built up between them. I feel a short story brewing – perhaps entitled ‘Busk This.’

Venturing further north we arrived at Malahide castle. It was sobering to find a proud building that had weathered many Atlantic invasions only to be conquered by Starbucks. Complicit in its downfall we sat nursing a brew when a man was pushed into the room – wheelchair bound, his face covered in bruised and abrasions, tubes running along both arms and up his nose, blankets warding off the cold and a face that screamed defeat. A waitress approached, and in her chirpiest voice said ‘You’re looking well. How are ya?’

The man stared her down and replied:  ‘As you see me. In what possible way do I look well?’

 I shall call this story ‘Euphoria…’

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