The subtleties of the English language were brought home the other morning when a friend asked “How are you feeling?” . It made me think – the addition of the word ‘feeling’ gave the question a different slant compared to the usual “How are you?”. It told me that the friend knew that I had been undergoing chemo (and he would be happy to hear an answer). On the other hand if he had just asked the shorter question there would have been no indication that he was aware of my recent activities. And of course the only answer allowed to “How are you?” is “Fine, how are you?” – anything more such as “I’ve got a bit of a rash on my left leg.” is definitely frowned on.
With its three levels (Parish, District and County Councils) and Education and Social Services being given different and indecipherable names, local politics are bit of a mystery. An e-mail from a County Councillor was signed as “Cabinet Member for Health & Well Being”. This set me to wondering what sort of Being lives down his Well – Stig of the Dump’s cousin perhaps? – and why would it (he or she or it?) require a Cabinet member to take responsibility. After all a ‘Being’ implies more than just the odd frog or fish – unless of course the frog is the sort that turns into a prince when kissed. I guess a potential prince probably justifies giving a Council Cabinet member full responsibility. Presumably the well is either hidden deep in the bowels of County Hall or at some other secret location and is just waiting for the Cabinet to find a suitable frog-kisser. To give the “Cabinet Member for Health & Well Being” his due though, if he wrote ‘Wellbeing’ predictive text would insist on changing it to ‘Well Being’ so it is probably not his fault, (and sometimes Well-being is hyphenated – which could also be modified by predictive text).
Talking of children (well Stig of the dump and frog-kissing are children’s tales) a friend complained the other day “I miss being a kid! Summer holidays that went on forever. Playing in the rec, laughing, building dens. Why did life have to get so damn “grown up“!”. A sentiment echoed on the radio a few hours later. The frustration there was that when you were a child you could avoid going somewhere you didn’t want to “because I’m grounded” . Not an excuse you can use when you are ‘growed up’. Instead it has to be “I can’t come to your [boring/pretentious/inedible] dinner party because I am in the middle of my immunosuppressed period, and I don’t know what bugs your other guests might bring with them”.