On the front of the scaled down version of the Independent in print (called the i ) is a slogan: “journalism you can trust”.    I wrote to the editor, to whom I had a personal introduction, once by snail mail, twice over the internet, about something directly to do with the commercial content of his paper

and never heard a word.  Had I ever been naïve enough to trust that slogan, his lack of response  – or that of anybody representing him or his  journal – it would have ended there.  One lost in transit – yes: two oversights – maybe:  three – not a chance.

When a young woman representing the company with whom I had tried to get in touch over a four month saga spoke to me, I had to ask her to speak more slowly.   I don’t know what language she was speaking but it wasn’t anything to do with communication…  “in the box” perhaps ? 

Man sitting in a box working on laptop computer

  In this case the box had a lid, 42 layers of packing and a message to communicate one way.

I turned into my mother, very correct, very clear, shades of Boudicca ie “you can kill me but you won’t win.” Within five minutes we had established that (yes) they were behind on what they offered though still offering it, (no) there was no acknowledgement or explanation. Which (yes) probably was worrying and even (gosh) unsatisfactory – but this was the offer – spend to get – which I declined, deloping

rather than shooting the messenger.  Who wants to do business with such a bunch ?

This weekend I met a woman I’ll call Mrs. A , already in conversation with an acquaintance of mine whom I will call Ms. C.  (Mrs. A had wedding rings on, Ms. C doesn’t)    Mrs A had a bad facial bruise and a dressing over an injury above her eye – probably a fall.  She had spent four hours in A&E, waiting, she said, to have the dressing removed and the injury, I presume, checked.   I wanted very badly to ask (at the risk of seeming impolite) if she had not quietly asked for the simple help she needed.  But I know those places.  You sit and wait your turn and the less urgent your need, the longer you wait.

by Matthew Lazure

  And over the hours, they deal with everything.  Until it’s your turn.  She had bottled her irritation till she exploded, lost her temper and stormed out.  I suggested she went home, soaked a clean washcloth under warm water and worked the dressing gently off herself.  She said it had never occurred to her.  

Long ago before we knew the extent of his oppression, Mao Zedong brought into being an initiative of so-called “barefoot” doctors – people of any medical background (including veterinary) which could be built on with up to two years of extra medical knowledge to a standard, and sent them out in rural China with transport and a kit, to meet limited expectations.

  I always thought it was infinitely preferable to the dependence and over expectation inherent in the western model.

I have mentioned before that, hate the mask though I do, it has its advantages: I can mutter behind it.   And I am of the age to enjoy a mutter.  My father had colourful expressions which, when I use them, call him to mind. One or two are savage, World War 1, and I shrink from them.  For some reason – I have never understood why – if he really disapproved of a man, he referred to him as a “cowson” – the ultimate insult, I only heard it a limited number of times in my life.  (My father died when I was 24, it was his birthday this week) 

More commonly,  to emphasise desperation or importance, he punctuated his sentences with the epithet “God’s Teeth”.   I am very fond of GT, it gets an airing behind the mask.  There is something remarkably savage about invoking the Almighty’s teeth – and I did it the other day when called upon to share a bus with a man who stank. 

I was in a hurry otherwise I would have got off so I sat as far away from the pong as possible and muttered at intervals to myself.  I didn’t miss him when he got off, the miasma said spoke louder than words.

2 responses to “language

  1. How lovely to see the cover of Fang Xiaoping’s book referenced here! He was a scholar here at the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge about 15 years ago!

  2. I love your observations. When I encounter such irritations I wonder if society is slowly declining into fraying at the edges, and I do encounter them too, rapidly speaking heavily accented exhortations, and mistakes often in the print media, wondering if I should think of my newspaper morning forays as reading the badnewspapers, with their focus on bad news.

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