Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mind What You Say

I was going to write 500 words on Rowan Williams' thoughts on Sharia Law. But I couldn't concentrate because a woman was going "Whoo hoo!" in the street.
Why do women make that strange noise when they call after people? It's actually more like "Oooo-ooooh!"
I accept that "Oy!" might be considered un-ladylike, although 'ladylike' is a pretty redundant concept these days anyway.
But there must be plenty of alternatives that would be less irritating than that shrill, ridiculous "Oooo-ooooh!"

And what the hell is a "family man", that term so beloved of the media? We've had it again this week in its most common context: "The victim was a family man."
What does it mean?
The man had a family. Big deal. Most of us have got families.
The man had a wife and children. Oh, I see. That narrows it down to a characteristic shared by at least 50 million people.
The man spent every waking hour with his family and had no other interests in life. Quite possibly. But that is pure speculation.
No, I'm sorry. 'Family Man' is gibberish. It seeks to create a defining category where none exists. Rather like 'pedestrian' or 'motorist'.
It may also be part of that media tendency to divide crime victims into sheep and goats. That victim was 'a prostitute'. This victim is 'a family man'. But the inconvenient truth is that most clients of prostitutes and quite a few of their murderers are 'family men'.
And why does the term 'family woman' not exist?

The opposite of 'family man' now seems to be 'singleton', although this can be used of both sexes. But I don't like it and we don't need it. I am 'single'. I am a 'single person'. But I am not a fucking 'singleton'.

On the subject of families, I've never been sure what the term 'Family Butcher' means. Is it a butcher who supplies meat to families? Or is it a family who all practice the trade of butchery together in a family business? The two meanings are not mutually exclusive but if the former is the correct meaning then a family who are wholesale traders of meat could not be a Family Butcher.
And equally, a retail Family Butcher would be precluded from selling meat to a single person like myself.
"Begging your pardon, sir, but should I infer from the single pork chop that you are not a Family Man? You will observe from the gold copperplate on our fascia that we are a Family Butcher and therefore unable to supply singletons such as your goodself."

'A passing policeman was called to the shop, a Family Butcher, by the victim's wife going "Oooo-ooooh!"
The 49 year old butcher, a family man, told police: "It must have been something I said."
His attacker was ordered to undergo a course of neuro-linguistic programming and pay £50 compensation for damage to six black puddings, two pork tenderloins, a tray of kidneys and a shoulder of lamb.'


At 3:25 PM, Blogger JonnyB said...

Women that go wooo-hooo? Cut their hands off, is what I say.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger cello said...

...or a butcher who cuts up families? I think I have been watching too many Bafta DVDs.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

jonny: a little extreme. Just their tongues....they wouldn't do it again.

cello: that's actually an odd dual meaning of 'butchery': a butcher's trade but also 'the cruel slaughter of people' (OED).

As an 'insider', do you know if the sound man at the Baftas was butchered afterwards?

At 8:45 PM, Blogger David John Caswell said...

Dear willie,
You seem to be making a big debate over a rather trivial issue.
Interesting all the same!
I thought it was 'you hoo!'
I think family man is meant to imply he is more deserving of sympathy! Some of your subsequent comments are very apt though.

At 10:35 PM, Blogger cello said...

Wasn't it dreadful! Almost unwatchable and a disgrace for Academy of Film and Television Arts.

I was rather smug that I had voted for almost all the winners. Marion Cotillard was the exception; I had 'plumped' for Ellen Page who was a revelation. Actually, is that good? Or does it make me drearily predictable?

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Dave, I think it originated as Yoo-Hoo but has evolved into just a rather camp oooo sound.

cello: it was a huge embarrassment to the Academy after succeeding in raising its international profile.

I wanted James McAvoy to win lots of awards. Nothing to do with his acting....he's just an incredibly nice bloke.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger cello said...

He does seem to be. He was fantastic in Last King of Scotland. In desirability, he hasn't bettered his early Shameless days, mind.

He was one of several factors that made me vote for Atonement as best film, even though I didn't vote for anything/one else from the film. It really was a case of many second best things (leading actor, screenplay, cinematography, costumes, direction) adding up to make it overall winner. And of course it's a cracking story.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

cello: Blogger's stopped emailing me comments again, so only just seen this.
He's one of those people I don't 'fancy' in a sexual sense but he evokes a strong urge to put your arms round him. I think that's why the camera loves him and audiences love him.
It's a mixture of ordinariness, vulnerability and humanity though ultimately perhaps inexplicable.


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