Here are a few of my favourite things … to moan about!
First off, new phrases. One moment no one’s saying them (never mind understanding what they mean), the next they’re being used by virtually everyone. All of the time. Sounds like a good thing? Well let’s see.
Culprit number 1 : ‘Back in the day’
Seems to refer to some non-specific period in the speaker’s past when everything was possibly better. Or possibly not. Though, grudgingly, could be said to be useful for those of us who have trouble remembering dates…
Culprit number 2 : ‘Happy days’
(uncannily similar to culprit number 1)
What’s wrong with that?
When I first heard this I confess to having found it really quite charming. Full of joyful enthusiasm. Sort of catchy. So ‘sort of catchy’ in fact that I found it escaping from my mouth all too readily. Soon sounded rather simple.
Culprit number 3 : ‘Mac and Cheese’
Odd to find it here you may think, but think again. When I first heard this I thought it had to be something far more mysterious, more exotic, than ‘macaroni cheese’. Even now I wonder whether I’ve got this one completely wrong. But I don’t think so. It is ‘macaroni cheese’. I’ve googled it (!). That dish that we had as kids when we’d run out of everything else. Suddenly it’s everyone’s favourite, and even my own kids bandy its name around as if they loved it ‘back in the day’. But they must have been chowing down on it at some other family’s table because they certainly didn’t have it at mine. I don’t know why but it sounds as if it belongs to the same family of words such as ‘dude. Or ‘bro’. (Which makes me think of ‘bromance’. And ‘Brovember’. And…Stop me. Stop me now.)
Culprit number 4 : ‘enjoy’
Now this is an old one. The first time it irritated me was back in the late 1980’s. Now I’ve got nothing against the sentiment. Please, do enjoy yourself. But just ‘enjoy’? It used to be so cool it made me want to stick my fingers down my throat. But I’ve grown up now. And calmed down. And whereas I can forgive, I can never forget.
Although I’m trying to distance myself from the times that I’ve succumbed to ‘enjoy’s easy charms myself. But it never did make me sound cool. More a people-pleasing, crowd-following twerp with no resolve. Damn.
Culprit number 5 : ‘fess up
So, time to ‘fess up myself. I cringe as I admit that I’ve used this one. More than once. How did it’s annoyingly catchy sound get so hardwired into my brain that I found myself reproducing it? Against my better judgement?
(For those of you who may still be ‘fess up’ virgins it’s simply a contraction of ‘confess’ + ‘own up’ = ”fess up’. Sorry to have corrupted you.)
Culprit number 6:
and this is the one, my nec plus ultra (at the moment, at any rate) of irritating phrases. Wait for it –
‘First World problems’.
Though on first hearing it this one bowled me over.
Not least because I’ve come up with my fair share of moans deserving of such an epithet (is that even the right word? Please feel free to help me out here.)
‘I’ve not managed to get fresh clams for tonight’s spaghetti alle vongole.’ ‘I missed the last episode of War and Peace.’ Sadly both mine. I was nearly reduced to tears by one of them.
So, the reason I hate this phrase is that I’ve started to use it after nearly most things I say. And so have many of my First World chums. Instead of making us reflect on more serious problems it’s just served to give us a chummy, back-slapping out.
When I used it after ‘Waitrose has run out of hazelnut croissants!’ I realised I had a problem.
But here endeth the rant. For now.