Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A driving compulsion

Before I got my driving licence, I was the ultimate passenger, uncaring of my surroundings and blissfully unaware of anything that was relevant to the person in the driving seat. 

Then I got my licence... and now, when I'm the passenger instead of the driver, I find it utterly impossible to be my former careless, unheeding self. For instance, at T-junctions when we're waiting to turn right, I simply can NOT stop myself from looking left to see if there are any approaching vehicles, and then to the right again - in textbook fashion, exactly as stipulated in the Highway Code. Except, of course, I'm not driving, so it doesn't matter a jot what I do. 

I've tried to deliberately not bother to see what's coming, to leave it to my chauffeur (usually Pete) to watch out for traffic - but no, my head turns automatically to the left. It's like synchronised swimming, only in my case I guess you can call it synchronised looking! That instinct is just too strong to ignore, and I guess I have my driving instructor to thank for it. So, nearly 10 years on, here's to you, Mr John Thornton. You were the best.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Is there an official term for "unreasonable dislike of certain words"?

One of the least pleasant-sounding words in the English language is probably "gubbins" - British slang for "miscellaneous items". A for-instance would be "Here's the rest of the gubbins to go in the file". 

It's probably just me, because a good part of the unreasonable dislike I feel for the word originates from a very reasonable dislike of the person who uses it all the time. Whatever, that word just sets my teeth on edge. Today my teeth actually squeaked from the force with which they came together... or maybe that was due to the orange I'd just eaten. 

That orange, however, only accounts for the squeak, not the irritation.