Saying it like it is

‘Don’t sweat the small stuff.’

Tongue saying "th"This idiom is usually directed, by well-meaning souls, as an attempt to make you understand that getting worked up over insignificant and trivial matters is counter-productive. Its message is designed to make you see the benefits of calming down, ‘chillaxing’ and ‘letting things go over your proverbial head’.

The question is: What do we, as individuals, consider to be trivial or insignificant?

After all, what’s wrong with scraping your knife, full of breadcrumbs, along the rim of the margarine carton before sticking it into the jar of jam?

If you’ve said ‘nothing’, then you can be one of only three things:

  1. So relaxed that nothing ever fazes you.
  2. Not disturbed by this particular bugbear, but are able to identify plenty of others that can and will disturb you.
  3. So far down the evolutionary chain that your self-awareness dial is switched to zero.

Now we all know somebody who fits into this last category – the one who laughs as your face contorts into an amalgam of disgust and disbelief, then says: ‘What’s up wiv ya? It’s only a bit o’ butta. Can’t ‘arm ya. You’ve got ODC, you ‘ave.’

Maybe they are right and I do have OCD but better that than the manners of a Neanderthal – and I do admit that many things drive me nuts:

  • drinking directly from the bottle in the fridge

Would you want to sip from a bottle of spit?

  • feeding animals who lick your fingers whilst you are eating at the table – (dogs lick their arses)

If you were handed a slice of bread smeared with dog faeces, would you eat it?

But I have to say that my biggest gripe at the moment (and I warn you, this could change on a daily basis) involves the  mispronunciation of certain words, completely ignoring the way they are spelt.

A certain faction of society (namely the poorly educated and a proportion of the indigenous population of Essex) have taken to using the letter ‘f’ or ‘v’ in place of ‘th’, thereby further corrupting the English language.

I am at a loss as to decide whether it is a derivation of their regional accent or just laziness on their part, as not everyone from that region will speak in this way. The part I find most puzzling is when a seemingly intelligent person becomes part of the cult.

I understand it may be the latest trend or in vogue to express yourself in such an unintelligible way, but anybody with half a brain just ends up looking like the modern-day equivalent of ‘Medallion Man’: the ‘cool’ guy, from the 70s, who chose to wear his shirt open to the navel, and sport a huge piece of jewellery nestled within a rug of chest hair. Are they so desperate to ‘get down wiv the kids’ that they have to put aside their ability to articulate simple words?

Now many among you may say that should I choose to speak like that then it’s my business. Language changes and evolves with each generation and it’s not hurting any one. It’s not as if I’m out there mugging old ladies or robbing banks, so it’s of no impact to society.

But that’s where you’re wrong. This way of speaking has already started to affect the next generation’s ability to learn language successfully. I heard somewhere recently – can’t recall where – that school children are struggling with spelling due to their mispronunciation of words. They are under the illusion that many more words begin and end with the letter ‘f’ and ‘v’, than actually do; it lent some justification to my niggle.

But my bête noire came to a head the other day when the window cleaner stopped for a chat to tell me his plans for the weeks ahead.

‘I won’t be comin’ a fortnight on Fursday. It’ll be end ov the monff now.’

It was like nails scraping down a blackboard.

‘So Th…ursday is out. I’ll expect you at the end of the mon…th instead,’ I repeated back to him, rolling my tongue with as much vigour as I could muster.

“Yeah! Me faver-in-law is paying for me and the wife to have a break. Just a littel somefink to say fanks for all the fings I do for him.’

‘Th…at’s a very nice way of saying th…ank you.’

I must have looked like a hyperactive, demented lizard in a tank full of flies. He examined me, cautiously, before reaching his ‘Eureka’ moment.

‘I get it now. Yu’ve got tha’ fing, ain’t ya? Tourittes, innit?’

‘Tourette’s? But that’s where you have no control over involuntary tics and express inappropriate language?’

‘Yeah! Like you stickin’ ye tongue out all the time.’

It was then I realised he thought I was the one with the problem – not he, and by then I was past caring.

‘Yes, that’s right. Tourette’s!’

He looked quite pleased with himself – smug almost, I’d say.

‘I fought so. Must be quite a strain for ye?’

‘It is, it is. But the one good thing about it is you can get away with telling someone who’s getting on your nerves to th…th…th…f*ck off!’

I have no idea why he looked so disgruntled; I was only saying it like it is.


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