Now, be prepared folks because I am about to have a small rant. I may get a soap box out and I may stand on it whilst ranting. I may offend some of you. You have been warned.
Today I shall be talking about clichés. The ones which seem to have crept into our everyday conversations, mean next to nothing and drive me insane. And I know I’m not the only one. How many people do you know that begin a sentence with ‘I’m not being funny but…’ or ‘with the greatest respect…’? The phrases in themselves are not offensive, but you just know that what is to follow will be neither funny nor respectful and the chances are it’ll be downright offensive or rude. Why is it that people think that they can get away with racism, sexism or any other ism by preceding their nastiness with a little laugh and an, I’m not being funny but…? No you’re not being funny, peculiar, clever or amusing actually. I have a brother in law who I’d like to smack frequently when he asks ‘with the greatest respect Amber, what have you done with your life / job / figure/ (insert anything you please at this point).’ The red mist descends quickly. Insults dressed up badly as concern.
There are others too. The ‘to be fair’ and the ‘if I’m being honest’. Why would you NOT be honest and moreover why would you warn someone that you might not be being entirely honest before you even get started? Be fair, be honest but don’t feel the need to justify in advance. My mother’s great insult cover up is ‘well I have to say’. You just know that the next thing to come out of her mouth will not be nice and my brothers and I cringe, particularly if we are in a room with others who are wholly innocent of what is to come. She is incredibly opinionated, racist (she is that generation of politically incorrect, in fact just generally incorrect) and doesn’t really care who she insults because she has preceded it in her head with something totally acceptable. Well I have to say – not you don’t, really you don’t. And don’t get me started about people ‘turning round’. ‘She turned round and said to me and then I turned round and said etc etc etc…..’
The other thing which I shall mention is the inane question. You come back from holiday, go to work and someone will ask the question ‘did you go somewhere nice?’ Did I go somewhere nice? No. Why would I go somewhere nice? I thought I’d spend my hard earned cash getting on a long haul flight and going somewhere crap actually. Or, same place different occasion ‘how was your birthday? Did you get anything nice?’ No of course I didn’t, I got a load of old rubbish. Arrrrrgh!
I know I’m being picky here and it’s not like these things are issues of great significance like world peace or whether Ireland will win the rugby but it irritates me no end that we have become so lazy when we speak. These endless clichés that litter our conversations show that no real thought is going into what is being said. We trot out the same old same old day in and day out (two clichés in themselves) without any real thought as to what it is we are saying. I’m not perfect when I speak, far from it and I’m sure that there are things that I say which drive my own friends and family up the wall (see did it again) but it’s just a case of actually thinking before we speak that’s all. I’m not being funny and with the greatest respect it’s simple. Isn’t it?
*Gets down from soapbox and mops fevered brow.