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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Caoutchouc

Bless you!

Okay so it isn’t really a sneeze. It’s a genuine word with origins from the late 18th century. What it is is a noun meaning unvulcanised natural rubber (according the dictionary on my Apple Mac).

But it got me thinking about words and phrases we hear and to which I am confused as to their meaning.

Literally

This is a word you hear all the time as part of the modern Australian vernacular. But what does it really mean? From what I understand, it means to translate something literally, but without realising it we often use it in an almost slang-like manner.

“Thom Yorke was literally three feet from me at the concert.”

We use it as an intensifier, to make a sentence more important. I liken it to Popeye and spinach – only necessary for bragging rights. Couldn’t we simply say, “I was a metre from Thom Yorke at the Radiohead concert”? Seems equally impressive?

Master chef or MasterChef

They may sound the same, however, one is a leader with culinary skills and the other is the winner of a twelve week (or so) television game show – a person who believes their days of cooking for their family and friends provides the same qualification as those with years of formal culinary training.

The distinction lies in your interest in a particular form of popular culture. However, this can also be confusing as often the two tend to be mixed up by the very people who should know better.

Winehouse

No longer a place where one stops to enjoy a sip of chardonnay after a long day in the office, Winehouse now refers to a tragic alcoholic and drug addict who died alone at the age of 27 even after having fame and glory thrust upon her.  The irony isn’t really lost on anyone is it?

In terms of

This is a weird one. If you are using it to describe exact amounts of something then please go ahead – “I measure the success of my blog in terms of weekly hits”. Why do people feel they need to use this expression in everyday language?

“I have to decide our dinner plans in terms of your birthday.”
“In terms of blog posts, this one is the most interesting.”

I often think people use ‘in terms of’ when they are trying to make their time on centre stage last longer, to give themselves more thinking time or to make themselves seem more important. It’s superfluous (a bit like me saying it’s superfluous really).

Youse

What’s concerning here is ‘youse’ gets a listing on Wiktionary. From my research there is a push for greater acceptance of the word youse given it is used in spoken language around the English-speaking world.

I recall a conversation with a beautiful young lady who often used the term ‘youse’ when referring to a group of us. When it was explained she should simply say ‘you’, she responded by saying, “But I was saying goodbye to all of youse. It doesn’t seem right not to include youse all.”

Not a bad argument really. We all want to be included.

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The country town – a shopper’s paradise

I love country town shopping – not as much as I love chocolate, or internet shopping. My fondness for the familiar knock on the door, or ring on the cowbells as the case is, when the postman turns up with an e package or similar, cannot be understated. However there is something magical about country shopping. Maybe because it comes from an historical time – before the internet – well at least for those of us who come from a certain generation. I haven’t ever analysed the appeal however maybe this is the time to do so having recently spent time ‘in the country’ doing some shopping.

Things fit in the country

Even if it’s just sheets for the bed, I can get the preferred colour, fabric and thread count I want, shopping in the country.

But the true irony is nothing about me would ever be called ‘country’ and yet I still seem to be able to find the clothes to suit my semi inner city lifestyle. Maybe this is because I don’t really care whether my wardrobe matches current fashion trends. Once, in the mid 80s, I bought this pair of pink and black striped satin, three quarter pants in Shepparton, Victoria and wore them to death – figuratively. They were awesome.

In Bendigo, I once bought the most amazing pair of black patent leather, pointed toed ankle boots. My biggest surprise was they were even available, sitting larger than life on the shelf. They were so cool – very Robert Smith.

The coolest pair of jeans I have ever owned come from the country. Not your traditional blue denim, these babies are black and white striped with a slightly flared leg. What more could a girl want, except maybe the same in a red and white stripe?

You get service in the country

I have an aversion to trying clothes on. I would be completely happy to have a personal shopper, someone the same size as me who would be happy to try things on and stock my wardrobe. I often try things on in the middle of the shop over other clothes, much to the disdain of other shoppers. Even if I do venture into the change rooms my preference is to keep my clothes on and try whatever over the top (this presents a bit of a problem in winter). Of course I make exceptions when buying lingerie. Nobody wants a boob muffin top or breasts flying all akimbo if you need to run for the train, caused from an ill fitting Hestia.

I hate it when you only pick up one size of the item you are trying, get to the change room, take off all your layers, try on the potential purchase, only to find you have a size too small or too big. Then you have to great dressed and repeat the whole process. Not in the country (or at least in the store I recently shopped in in the country, so I might be exaggerating). In the store I went into, after trying on every item, I had the adorable shop assistant there to offer her opinion or ask if I required another size. What was more impressive is this occurred on New Year’s Eve. Plus we shared stories on her family, my family and a whole range of other things, relevant to the country town.

Parking’s a breeze in the country

Driving around in Sydney shopping centre car parks can be hazardous your health. Sometimes you need a whole lot of patience and a packed lunch. Parking rage can be the norm on some shopping days. In the desperate bid to bag a bargain at Bing Lee or a massive mark down at Myer, shoppers will resort to whatever is necessary to get a park. And then, when you do snag a spot you have to walk for (or four) kilometres to get into the shopping centre.

Not in the country. On busy, post-Christmas sale days, you may have to park at the back of the car park, out in the sun. Generally however, you can find a shady tree or a council erected piece of shade cloth and you’re set for the twenty metre walk into the shop of your choosing. And pay for parking? Never in the country. Well rarely. Sometimes in the main street you may see a one hour parking sign but shopping is so easy in the country, who needs more than one hour?

You get different stores in the country

Or maybe they simply feel different. It seems there is always something different to look at (I’ve already mentioned those wonderful pink pants). Nothing pleases me more than when someone asks me where I bought something and I can say ‘I got it in the country’¹, knowing full well they are not going to be able to get one.

 

Yes country shopping is like a pleasant skip through the Garden of Eden while eating licorice bullets and sipping chocolate milk then not spilling any on yourself. It’s bliss. Imagine how even more euphoric it would be if internet shopping could be combined with the country town experience while eating chocolate … now there’s my idea of Heaven.

 

1 This is not strictly true. There are lots of things which please me more, such as the Sydney Swans winning a football match, my children when they are ‘being good’, and chocolate, to name a few.