Mid-life madness: Men wanting to machine-gun teenagers who drop Sprite cans on the pavement...or screaming 'fewer not less' at Radio 4
"As a young person, you may not have had any strong feelings about litter. Who cares? Litter exists. Someone will clear it up. Whatever. Get over it.
Then one day, without warning, the biochemical switch goes click. From that day on, you will never let a piece of plastic packaging flutter to the ground. Why? Because litter now matters. Not for what it is, but for what it represents. It says: ‘I don’t give a monkey’s.’
At Bank station on the London Underground not so long ago, I heard the following announcement: ‘When boarding a train at this station, please use all available doors.’ Realistically, you can use only one available door, unless they want you to dart in and out of the train through every door until you have collected the set. Even then, if you accept that we’re being addressed as a group, why only ‘at this station’? At other stations, should we all get in the same door? A response like this is technically known as ‘the Pedant’s Revolt’."
Oh my God, I'm only 29 and I may just lead the Pedant's Revolution!! AND I'm a woman!!!!
I think I was around 25 when I started noticing the litter thing. I'll admit it, I littered as a teen. Shock, horror! Yup - cans, wrappers, chewing gum, cigarette butts - the lot. Whatever I wanted, I didn't care. I was a teenager, after all, so it wasn't cool to care.
Now, I'm the tutting old lady who goes around after disrespectful little hooligans picking up their 'trash' and God help them if they're foolish enough to litter in my path!!! It's much better here than it is in Ireland, but I still haven't quite reached the ripe old age yet where I can tackle these litter bugs about their indiscretions (verbally that is, I wouldn't stand a chance against the youth of today), but I feel it coming...about five years away, I sadly predict!!
As for the English language, don't get me started (no, really, don't, anyone who knows me will tell you it's unadvisable!!)
I'm so anal about the English language that my thoughtful boyfriend calls me the "Grammar Nazi." I know, I know, how utterly politically incorrrect of him in this day and age. (Just listen to me, sometimes I annoy even myself!!)
I can't help it, people just can't seem to write, or speak, simple English. Even advertisers get it wrong all the time. CD's? C'mon people, an apostrophe is only used for possession or in the place of another letter. Very simple rule, don't wear it out. My dad's a (now retired) English teacher and my mum has a degree in English as do I, so we love pointing out ridiculous ads to each other that splash blatant spelling mistakes to the world, and share a little joke at the advertiser's expense.
Hey, you guys just wasted thousands of dollars/pounds/euros in advertising space - surely there's a proofreader on the team who could've spotted this malarkey?! (I also like looking up the correct plural usage, as you'll see from that extremely geeky "euros" link.)
I also love learning new words as often as I can and get as excited about it as a fella learning his favourite team just won the league! Just last week, for example, I was on the phone to my mum when she used the word 'mollify' as non-chalantly as you like, which I'd never heard before, so I'm just waiting for the opportunity to try it out. I think that might take a while.
What can I say, some people know their history/music (my boyfriend Simon), others know their general knowledge (my friend Grá), others their facts (Ange), popular culture/the Whitecaps! (Shaina), sports (Peaky), guitars (Paddy/Darren), Ryan Gosling (you know who you are, joined by seemingly every other lady worldwide!) - the list goes on - while me, I know spelling.
Jeez Louise, talk about the short end of the stick!!! My boyfriend likes to pretend I was a swot/nerd before meeting him and being led down a dangerous path, but I like to think I was intelligent, and certainly more intelligent than I am now!!!!
I taught English for a year to 12 - 18 year olds (bear in mind I was only 21 at the time and fresh out of university, so I was hardly worldly myself!!), but I couldn't believe how many of my students didn't know basic grammar.
So, instead of doing what a lot of my teachers did when I was at school and scream and rally at me for not getting it first time around - I picked things up but I questioned EVERYTHING first, as you can probably tell - I talked to them like human beings and compiled slide upon slide of notes detailing everything they'd ever need to know about grammar, and made them copy it down themselves so that it would actually go in one ear and not out the other, or highlighted and thrown in a bin somewhere.
I'm talking when to use caps, commas, colons, semi-colons, apostrophes, full stops - the works. Some of the homework I corrected in the evenings was like reading an excerpt from Ulysses, only less enjoyable. Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm all for the stream of consciousness style of writing - my blog's actually based on that concept - but I'm afraid only James Joyce could get away with a complete lack of punctuation!
I also rid my classroom of "I seen" and "I done" as that's one of my pet peeves (and from what I can tell only an Irish thing. My boyfriend is constantly trying to convince me that Canadians abuse this linguistic no-no too, but I always listen out for it and have yet to hear it, thank the Language Gods!!
And to any beloved friends out there reading this, please don't think I'm judging you. I have no problem with people who say "I seen" or "I done" and I adore different regions' idiosyncracies, but I have to practice what I preach!)
My students - who were mostly tough guys and gals who didn't listen to anyone, let alone a teacher, and especially not a young teacher barely out of nappies! - thanked me for levelling with them and breaking it down into something understandable, without all the wordy definitions and pomp and circumstance that normally surrounds the English language.
Quite extraordinarily in my opinion, years later one of my best students even told her mother, who told my mother (you know what mothers are like!), that I was the best teacher she'd ever had, which is one of the greatest compliments I've ever received as, boy, teaching is not an easy profession. (So lay off them, ya hear!!)
This made me LOL (another one of my pet peeves that I can't help using as a joke!) earlier today. My lovely friend Ange (the fact fiend mentioned previously) wrote an email to a bunch of our girlfriends about a gathering tonight, saying; "Will the cat's away and all that..." and then a few minutes later, realising her mistake, added; "*While. I couldn't leave that, Ms. Healy will take marks off for that!"
Ah, my reputation precedes me - ya gotta love it!!
*And I know real English experts will probably have a field day with my own use of grammar in this blog, but to you I politely say FECK OFF! It's artistic license, right.