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Ockhamite Diary: When Gratitude is Outdated and Swearing is Redundant…

Published on: 23 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 3 Nov, 2022

A sidelong glance at the world from Tony Edwards…

No thanks – I can’t be bothered

I’d like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this week’s column. But I won’t. It seems nobody need thank anyone for anything anymore, according to a recent survey which reveals that 84 per cent of us think saying “thank you” is outdated and redundant.

And the vast majority of this rude, ungracious, discourteous, self-centred, miserable bunch of maggots admit they no longer send thank you notes or letters after receiving gifts. Most of them can’t even be bothered to zap off a quick text or email.

Redundant thanks?

But, we’re told, it’s a two-way street and around a quarter of the depressing downbeats surveyed don’t expect to be thanked for hosting a dinner party or sending flowers either.

Meanwhile a café in Preston, Lancs announced this week that it was bucking the trend by offering discounts to polite customers who managed a “please” and “thank-you” with their order.

They’d probably have appreciated Mark Twain’s sentiments when he wrote: “I was going to send you a short thank you note – but I decided to send a long one instead.”

The Max factor in swearing

Hollywood hardman Al Pacino has won an award for being the screen’s most sweary actor. Somebody with nothing better to do than tot-up celebrity swearwords for a living reckons Pacino, 82, who starred in The Godfather trilogy, has said f***, s***, and hell 295 times.

I’m not sure hell is a swearword but, apparently, more than a third of Pacino’s “effings” came in Donnie Brasco in 1997. I think that might have been the film with the immortal line “F*** you, you f***ing f***” which should get an award for being tinsel town’s top meaningless mouthful, a reasonable translation of which is: “I hope you encounter serious problems in your life because you are a thoroughly unpleasant individual.”

Max Morris – Al Pacino look-alike who taught us how not to swear.

Which brings me to the Max factor. Max Morris was a teacher at my school and, coincidentally, looked very much like Al Pacino (see pic). Faced with a class of around 30 belligerent teenage boys, he made it his mission to introduce us to verbal alternatives to swearing. The logic was simple – if your vocabulary is so limited that you have to resort to swearing, you’ve already lost the argument.

To riotous applause from a class packed with spotty-faced youths, he would challenge the prime offenders to insult him with their worst expletives. But our adolescent squawks of oncoming puberty were quickly silenced when Max calmly delivered his alternative insults in response.

“Fatuous ramblings,” he often called them. “Vacuous croakings from a lower reptilian order which has yet to develop even the most basic awareness and intelligence. A struggling, Lilliputian brain cell, unable to control its infantile, primeval outbursts.”

We were all highly impressed with Max Morris and his put downs – a teacher who’d managed to make swearing “uncool”. But it was not until many years later that I discovered he was something of a fallen idol and a dab hand at delivering some choice expletives of his own.

As president of the National Union of Teachers, he listed his Who’s Who recreations as baiting the Department of Education & Science and tasting malt whisky. His outbursts and oaths were, apparently, legendary. A classic example of the old adage – Do as I say not as I do.

Food fads and the famous

Boffins at Loughborough University have been handing out some rather unpleasant food for thought by urging us to eat vegetables with every meal – and that includes breakfast.

Added veg for breakfast

They suggest weird, unappetising food combinations like carrots with cornflakes and red peppers with porridge on the basis that, if we ate vegetables with all our meals, we’d be assured of hitting our five-a-day target.

Other curious combinations, which seem to be a turn-on for some people, include apples with salt and pepper, vanilla ice cream and soy sauce, choc ice and chips, and bananas with bacon. There are plenty more of them but they’re not for the squeamish or faint-hearted.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has an unusual eating regime which means that he doesn’t do lunch or dinner – ever. Instead, he prefers to maintain a balanced diet by eating five smaller meals a day.

And if you think that might be a tad time-consuming, I can tell you that Victoria Beckham has simplified things by eating the same meal each and every day for the past 25 years. Husband David says she tucks into a daily serving of grilled fish and steamed vegetables – even when she’s eating at her favourite Mayfair restaurant, Harry’s Bar.

But for what must surely qualify as one of the ultimate oddball dishes you need look no further than a recipe from the Duchess of Sussex.

She recommends slowly boiling zucchini with bouillon to create what she
describes as “A filthy, sexy mush”.

Mmm. Sounds yummy Meghan. But I think I’d prefer the beetroot and
bran flakes.

Conked out

As Britain battles an energy crisis and the cost of living rockets to new highs, thanks to a wobbly pound, there comes unwelcome news of yet another national disaster.

The summer drought and autumn storms have been blamed for the softest conkers in nearly 60 years by contestants at this year’s World Conker Championships. Organiser St John Burkett called it a freak year. “We’ve never seen them this soft since 1968,” he said. “They’re very easily shattered.”

Could he, I wonder, be talking about recent Conservative governments?

Out on a limb

Tree surgeons have been re-shaping an enormous sycamore tree in my garden this week and, quite literally, going out on a limb. (See pic).

Out on a limb like Liz.

I’m not sure how they manage it, but they seem to defy gravity, perching themselves at the end of what looks like a twiglet of a branch and determinedly hacking away at the surrounding foliage. Dangerous stuff.

And so to Liz Truss and the flimsy economic limb on which she perched herself this week. Have you noticed how she always seems to begin her answer to almost any question with the phrase: “I’m determined to…”?

And she’s got form for being a bit stroppy with her opinions. Our Liz is on record as admitting: “I’m quite bolshy, sometimes. I like to get my own way, let’s put it like that.” So we probably shouldn’t be too surprised at this week’s political pig-headedness and the catastrophic results.

A few years back, after she’d mentioned that she’d really love the job of chancellor “one day”, she declared that there’s a danger in politics of being “too risk averse”. And that is quite clearly the sort of person who
might readily, and with a degree of misplaced enthusiasm, hack off the
branch on which she’s currently sitting – as she did yesterday. Next PM
please.

Sunday night stress

I hated Sundays when I was a small boy. It had something to do with the enforced, unnatural quiet of the day – a day when people seemed to speak in whispers and children were expected to unconditionally behave themselves. But the on-set of my Sunday blues probably had more to do with the prospect of a new week of school – five long days of captivity and enforced learning with no prospect of a reprieve.

And that depressing feeling can follow you into adulthood, according to the Department for Health, which has just announced plans to combat what they have dubbed the “Sunday Scaries” – increased levels of anxiety brought on by the prospect of returning to work after the weekend.

Apparently, research indicates that we should all be “kind to our mind” and try to reduce stress and improve sleep patterns as most of us regularly worry about returning to work on Mondays.

The experts say that fears about the week in view peak at about 5pm on Sunday, when we tend to opt for a variety of distractions such as binge-watching TV, comfort eating, or “doom scrolling” on social media.

Curiously, they make no mention of alcohol consumption.

An optimistic group of Monday abolitionists want Monday to be replaced
altogether by a new Funday, creating a three-day weekend – Saturday, Sunday, Funday.

Personally, I’ve always thought it a bit of an anomaly that Monday is so far away from Friday, but Friday is so close to Monday.

What’s up Doc?

Like the Bermuda Triangle and the Marie Celeste, it’s a mystery that may never be solved. Why is getting an appointment with your GP so much more difficult than getting a table at Le Gavroche?

A shot in the arm

Aimed at the upper arm, like a javelin.

If the lady who gave me my Covid booster jab on Tuesday morning ever gets bored with the medical profession, she could probably carve out a successful career as a javelin thrower.

She didn’t exactly take a run at me with her hypodermic needle, but she certainly had the look of an Olympian as she took careful aim before stabbing my deltoid muscle with a single, horizontal thrust.

She shuffled her chair closer to inspect the entry wound after my involuntary but very vocal “yeow!”.

“Drink lots of water,” she said, which I assume is how they check for leaks in the upper arm. Fortunately, blood loss was minimal, no transfusions or stitches seemed to be required and, so far, we seem to have managed to fight off gangrene infections.

But my wound was a bit sore and inflamed by Wednesday morning when a friend called to say that he’d just tested positive for Covid – three weeks after having his booster jab. Makes you wonder if all this upper arm mutilation is worth the effort.

Thought for the day

A property developer’s conscience kicks in the second they wake up in the morning and doesn’t stop until they see an empty, unspoilt field.

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test 5 Responses to Ockhamite Diary: When Gratitude is Outdated and Swearing is Redundant…

  1. John Lomas Reply

    October 21, 2022 at 11:43 am

    I wonder if the loss of “thank yous” is a result of feedback fatigue, it seems that nowadays we are expected to give service ratings and other feedback for every purchase and service we access when we have used anything other than cash without any track back facility.

    If you nip into a shop to pickup a snack and pay with your smartphone you will be lucky if you don’t get a text message asking you to rate various aspects of your recent reatil experience.

  2. Anthony Corsini Reply

    October 21, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    Excellent Tony, as usual. Thank you.

  3. John Cooke Reply

    October 21, 2022 at 5:23 pm

    Max Morris sounds great, I wish the photo had been in colour: he looks like his dress sense was modelled on the Test Card

  4. Carol Maidlow Reply

    October 22, 2022 at 12:55 am

    Regarding “please” and “thank you”, I have to agree with you whole-heartedly. To me there is nothing worse than sending a gift and never knowing if the recipient received it.

    Also, what happened to holding a door open for somebody, and that person saying thank you?

    I guess in this day and age, manners are redundant. So sad.

    • John Perkins Reply

      October 24, 2022 at 3:56 pm

      Almost nobody holds doors open in this country. I stopped after the last recipient swept past with her nose in the air and a look of utter disdain. She wasn’t the first.

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