Saturday 22 January 2022

The Saturday List #334 - Ten words or phrases that completely baffle me

This is a list I should have done years ago. Some real bugbears of mine. I make no bones about it. I'm as thick as two short planks. It is a wonder that I've managed to do anything at all in my life. I couldn't read or write effectively until I was 12. I couldn't do long division either. At St Vincents, we'd have a weekly spelling test. If you learned all ten words correctly and wrote them down properly, there was a list of everyone in the class and you'd get a star next to your name. I never got a single star. When my folks went up for parents evening, they were horrified. Both made a concerted attempt to get me to learn the words. It failed miserably. The next parents evening, I was still starless. The teacher suggested that they help me and make sure I did the homework. They told them they had. The teacher sighed and said "You will just have to come to terms with the fact that your son is as thick as a plank". It never occurred to anyone that I was dyslexic. Miraculously, when I was 14, the problems seemed to abate. I am still rubbish at spelling, but I actually started to pass tests and exams and read books. I got into trash Sci Fi, I think the escapeism appealled to me. I even learned to do long division, I'm not too bad at Maths and may even have passed a Maths A Level if we hadn't had six teachers in two years for the course, five of whom were useless. The sixth was brilliant, but got a better job at another school at the end of the first Xmas term. 

However, to this day, I have a real problem with some words and phrases. Some completely baffle me, some just irritate me because they are wrong. Often people assume that I know what they are on about when I am totally clueless. Here are my top ten baffling words and phrases.

1. Non Fungible Tokens.  Someone at the studio was talking about them. I looked up the term on Wikipedia, but I am still baffled. How can a unique item of data be an art scam? 

2. Nouns, verbs and synonyms. I've always got all of these things mixed up.  I had a horror of this as a child. At St Vincents we had a fierce teacher called Miss O'Donovan who would bark "Roger, give me a verb" and my mind would go blank and I'd say "A dog" because my sister had explained that "The dog ate my homework" used a verb. No matter how many times it's explained, I instantly forget and mix them all up. 

3. Crotchet and quavers. This is a bit embarrassing, being a musician, but I also mix these up. When I started writing songs with Pete Conway, I'd say "It starts with three fast chungs like this" and strum the chords out. I'm lucky enough to work with people who know what they are actually doing.

4. Heraldic authority. When I was about nine, my Dad told me he was getting me a very special present for my birthday. I was hoping for Scalextrix or a train set. I was presented with "The Tichborne coat of arms, certified by a heraldic authority". To say this disappointed me would be an understatement. But my Dad was enormously proud of it. I asked him what a heraldic authority was. I've never heard such a stream of meaningless gobbledygook in my life. It was probably the only time I can recall my Dad being pretentious. A few years later, we went to Tichborne Mansion in Hampshire. They had the Tichborne coat of arms on the wall. It was different. 

5. Existential phenominology. I occasionally throw this phrase into conversations to pretend I'm clever, but I have no clue what it means. My sister Valerie took part in a beauty contest in 1970. The host was Monty Modlyn, a big celebrity back in the day. He asked her what her hobby was. She replied existential phenominiology. Monty was taken aback. He whispered something in her ear. We all assumed he had asked her what it meant. She revealed he said "If you come for a drink with me later, I'll make sure you win". All I can really say is that she came second and we all knew she'd been robbed! I asked Val what it meant and she said "Dunno, just thought it sounded impressive"

6. Agile working. I worked in IT for many years. Over the years there were many fads, towards the end of my career, the key one was agile working. People were sent on courses, we were all instructed to "Go agile". I got sent on a couple of courses. I got the feeling that no one had a clue what it was all about. I did my own research. I found that Agile is allegedly based on the 12 founding agile principles. As this resulted in an absolute deluge of useless processes, I was amused to learn that one of the principles is this "The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation"   the truth is that no one really seems to know what it really is and many of those who claim to be experts don't even know the basic principles.

7. "The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams". This is another of the Agile principles. As you can see, Agile really is a bugbear of mine. This is one of the principles that is a totally meaningless statement, yet people fell for this hogwash. In my experience, the best architectures, requirements and designs emerge when you employ people who know what they are doing and give them the resources and trust to do it. It all goes wrong when you employ incompetent buffoons. In my esxperience if you let such people self organise, they create mayhem. 

8. Stereotypical. Of course I know what stereotypical means. But I just don't understand why the word is used. The word stereo, according to the dictionary means "sound that is directed through two or more speakers so that it seems to surround the listener and to come from more than one source; stereophonic sound." I've no idea how this makes someone stereotypical? Baffling

9. Spam. This is another word that I understand what it means, but I have no idea why it was adopted to describe crap emails that you don't want? I was always rather partial to Spam fritters. When you were skint and walking home in the cold, nothing was better than a spam fritter and chips. I can only assume that the Internet and email systems were set up by gastronomic snobs, who think decent nosh is fois gras?

10. Nouvelle Cuisine. This is a phrase I just don't understand at all. I sort of translate it to "a form of food designed for snobbish fools, who are too stupid to realise that being palmed off with tiny portions and charged an arm and a leg for it, is a complete scam". A couple of times I've endured this. The last time, I had to nip into burger king after as I was bloody starving. As far as I'm concerned, if you leave the restaurant hungry, they are a dodgy institution. It literally means new cooking. If you want to overcharge for a service, just spell it in French, although for my business, renting a Salle de répétition doesn't exactly sound sexy!

Anyway, have a great weekend. If you haven't heard my new single yet, please have a listen.

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