Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Sometimes, a word will wind its way into my vocabulary and I'll start to use it in a largely ironic fashion. This has recently happened with the word 'smashing' which I began to use with a real awareness that it is totally overbearing for the vast majority of linguistic situations.

"Here's your tea."

In this instance you leave the waitress somewhat worried that, actually, you've no intention of drinking your steamy brown beverage. She starts to worry that you're going to throw the cup. Potentially throw the cup at her when her back is turned. She's perturbed. She puts a piece of gum in her mouth to cover her unsettled feeling. Her boss tells her off for being a perpetuation of the anti-feminist expectation that the person serving tea is a woman. The boss is also angry about the gum. The waitress has 3 good reasons to expect an increase in her likelihood of a stomach ulcer. All because you used 'smashing'.

"We'd love to have you back in for a call-back"

In this instance you're being very reminiscent of comedy that's already been done in the'90s really aren't you? Been watching two spoof radio DJs by any chance? Hmmm? Because it certainly sounds like you have. Not sure we really want to call back a comedy thief. Get an original idea and stop peddalling your plagiarised words here. I mean, we've offered the call-back now and we're British so it'd be embarassing to back-track. But we're not going to take you seriously as you do your repeat audition. We might yawn. If we've got iPhone's we'll tap them, seemingly innocuous, but you'll know you don't have our full attention. We'll be smug. We'll give the part to someone who just said thank you.

"Here's 42 pence change."

No one is that pleased with 42 pence change. Why are you being so upbeat? Have you stolen something? Take your jacket off. Nothing in there. So, how are you stealing my stuff? Take all your clothes off. Get naked in my newsagents. Do it. I don't care if you have somewhere to be and you only wanted gum anyway. No one uses smashing in that scenario. You're clearly a tool. Unless you were being sarcastic? Oh, I get it! You think I charge too much for my chewing gum do you? Well buy it somewhere else then. I didn't ask you to come in here. In fact, I installed a particularly heavy door and have housed my newsagent's somewhere incredibly awkward to get to. So why are you here? Coming in with your obtuse responses to the 42 pence I'm giving you out of my hard earned float. If you have that much of a problem with it bring the correct change. Now put your clothes on and leave.

There is nowhere you can use 'smashing' without sounding like a toothy horse rider who's got Camilla on speed dial. Unless you're a particular fan of the appalling pun and someone asks you a) how your meal at the Greek restaurant was, b) how clay pigeon shooting went, c) your particular strengths during the last bout of happy slapping you went on.

This morning I used the word smashing over the phone to a bemused woman at the optician. My optimism and joy at being able to collect my new specs did not go unnoticed and there was no way to retrieve the situation as I needed to get off the phone. This just meant that when I went in to pick up the offending items she looked at me with a wan smile as though she knew they were going to disappoint me. "Poor lamb, this is obviously all she's got going for her at the moment.". She did kindly ask if I needed my old glasses throwing away, as though that might be the key to the whole 'smashing' mystery - perhaps the glasses are just that awful, and actually, these new pairs coming in actually is 'smashing'.

Either way, I regret being so lax with my group on my vocabulary and I will refrain from future additions that aren't fully thought through. It's a sad day indeed for those on my short list. Unlucky for you 'vermillion', 'banjaxed' and 'willy nilly'.

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