From time to time I’ll be using my new blog – which, today, enters its fourth day, almost halfway through the ten-year period I have unwisely decided to keep this up for – to try and change the world for the better. This of course was the purpose of my radio show, and I like to think most of the major problems of civilization were wiped out by those two Radio 4 series (especially when you take into account the impact of the audiobook; we all know how influential those are). But a couple of years have passed since then, and in that time a couple of minor issues have resurfaced.
Today I’m going to speak out against some irritating words and phrases whose use has become more widespread in recent times. You might think this is a less pressing area of concern than, say, removing Kim Jong Il from power in North Korea, or Alesha Dixon from all media. But to quote George Orwell: ‘the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts’. Or, as he also wrote, ‘why does everyone talk like a dick these days?’
So, here is my Vocab Hitlist 2010. I’d like you to add your own suggestions in the ‘comments’ bit and I will collate them and send a letter to Gordon Brown for his urgent attention.
- DIVA – applied to oneself as a compliment. ‘If my wedding day isn’t exactly the way I dreamed, I might have a bit of a diva moment.’ Or: ‘I’ve always had expensive tastes. Guess I’m a bit of a diva.’ No, you’re a bit of a twat. Only Mariah Carey, at a push, can describe herself as a ‘diva’. And don’t get me started on her.
- BUN IN THE OVEN/BAKIN’ A BUN/READY TO POP etc – since we conceived a child I’ve had a sad insight into how many awful phrases there are for the condition of being pregnant. Can’t we all just say ‘she’s pregnant’? Or ‘expecting a baby’? Or something that doesn’t make the woman sound like an espresso machine?
- SO LAID BACK HE’S ALMOST HORIZONTAL – this must have been witty once, in the eighteen-seventies. It’s now a very very tiresome cliché which comes up about ten times a week. We need a new phrase. I suggest ‘so laid-back he feels pleasantly relaxed’.
- SUNNY… used ironically, e.g. ‘And now I’m off to sunny Luton’, or ‘and now, calling us from sunny Nottingham…’ Again, this was probably funny once. Now it just reminds you of how relentlessly un-sunny this country is.
- HUBBY – ‘My hubby loves golf’. Oooh, I hate this so much. I can’t explain why. It’s completely irrational. It makes me shudder. I think it might remind me of things like ‘Loose Women’.
- HAITCH instead of AITCH – ‘my name’s Harris, that’s spelt haitch-a-r…’ I’ll just stop you there. AITCH. Please.
- IDEA DUMP – people genuinely do say this. I don’t think they ought to.
- SLEB – short for ‘celeb’, which in turn is short for ‘celebrity’, which itself has been seriously devalued by its being applied to people like Jamelia and me. I suggest we scrap the whole word and replace it with ‘luminary’, abbreviated to ‘lumo’.
- SALON-QUALITY – just one of the dozens of stupid words introduced by adverts for hair products. It doesn’t mean anything, because a ‘hairdressing salon’ doesn’t have to be any good, it just means a place where you can cut hair. The borderline sociopath who once cut my hair in Cambridge owned a ‘salon’, and the blunt scissors with which he nearly sliced off my ear were ‘salon-quality’. As for that ‘because you’re worth it’ slogan, it really needs a blog to itself. And it will get one. Someone remind me in a week’s time.
…and on that menacing note I shall sign off. Add your equally petulant comments and I will flex my considerable influence; we should see an upturn in the use of language by, say, early March. And in case you’re wondering: no, it wasn’t turning 30 that made me go all pompous and whiney like this. I’ve been like this for years. I’ve just never had a blog before.