Euphemisms

I was reading an article on what to wear on long plane trips and the writer suggested that women should avoid wearing gym pants or tights as they felt that displaying your “fine china” could potentially offend other travellers.

I had never heard lady bits referred to as fine china before and this made me laugh quite a lot, but I do agree that sometimes you can see rather more than you would like to see when you’re standing in a queue at the supermarket.

It also got me wondering about why there are so many euphemisms for female body parts, and also whether fine china is merely rhyming slang for vagina or whether it means that some bits of your body should be valued as one would value fine china.

I found this article by Guardian journalist Annalisa Barbieri where she lists the many names that people have invented to talk to their daughters about their bodies. My favourite euphemism is also sparkly bits.

But back to the gym pants in public question. We’ve just been out for lunch and the beautiful young waitress was indeed wearing gym clothes. It surprised me a little but I have to say that she looked fabulous (she was tiny). I’ve also noticed that when I started going to my Saturday morning exercise classes several years ago I used to wear a skirt over my leggings but now I don’t bother. I just wander down the street in my gym gear along with all the other middle-aged women. To be honest I’m probably older than middle-aged, I’m heading into old lady territory, but I still don’t care. Perhaps its because I’m getting older that I don’t care as much or maybe because it’s so normal now that one doesn’t even think twice. Or maybe its because older women feel invisible most of the time, so they think no-one will notice.

Either way, I don’t think I’d be up for wearing my gym gear on a plane. I’d feel a bit exposed and uncomfortable and I don’t think it would be a kind thing to do to my fellow travellers. I’ll be monitoring what other people are wearing though, and looking out for any displays of fine china!

Do you have any favourite or funny euphemisms to share? Feel free to chime in with your comments.

Three words

What three words would you use to describe yourself? It’s a hard question, don’t you think?

At a recent job interview my daughter was asked to describe herself in just three words. I don’t think she was given any time to think about it, but her description of herself was interesting. She described herself as bossy, efficient and collaborative, all of which are true, but if she’d had a bit more time she could easily have added smart, funny, beautiful and kind, and these things would have been true as well.

I thought this might be a useful exercise for my team at work but when I broached the idea they misunderstood and thought I was asking them to describe me in three words. I was dismayed to find that the first thing they thought of to describe me was “grammar nazi”.

No, no, no! This is not how I want people to think of me. I like writing and I’m really interested in words and language, but heavens above, I’m not a grammar nazi. Perhaps they didn’t read my previous post where I made if perfectly clear that it’s not my aim in life to be a grammar snob.

Having said that I really enjoyed reading this post by Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes. There are some excellent links in this post if you’re interested in improving your writing skills. She also addresses, but doesn’t really answer the question of why we are so delighted to be able to point out other people’s mistakes. Perhaps this is just part of human nature?

I can’t quite decide on the three words I’d use to describe myself. I like to think that I’m collaborative, thoughtful (in the sense of being a person who thinks a lot, rather than being a lovely thoughtful person). I like to think that I’m loyal and supportive as these are qualities that I value in other people, but I’d be interested to know what three words you’d choose to describe yourself?

Something’s coming between us

I’m becoming more and more of a podcast fan. One of my current favourites is Note to Self. It explores the impact of technology on our lives and how we can make smart choices about technology.

This morning on my walk to work I listened to an interview with Sherry Turkle, a sociologist, educator and psychologist, who has just written a book called Reclaiming Conversation: The power of talk in a digital age 

This is not a negative book, but it does ask some interesting questions about how technology, and smart phones especially, are impacting on our relationships.

One interesting fact is that when two people are having a conversation and there is a phone on the table in between them it will impact on the level of empathy between the two people, even if it’s switched to silent. Turkle says that this is the case even if the phone is in the periphery of your vision. The phone is a visual reminder that someone is not fully focused on you and what you are saying. It’s competing for the owners attention, even when it’s not ringing.

I noticed this yesterday when some lovely friends were visiting. One person’s phone vibrated very quietly and very frequently the whole time she was there and although she never once looked at it, I felt it was demanding her attention in a seductive and insistent way. I really wanted to take it off the table and pop it in her handbag, but I felt that my response was a bit childish or maybe old fashioned. Now I know that my reaction was completely normal which makes me feel better.

I’m as bad as the next person with checking my phone, but to be honest I have all of my notifications turned off so it’s not always seeking my attention. I just don’t think I’d get any work done if my phone was pinging all day. I don’t think I’m strong enough to resist peeking, so for me it’s better to have the notifications turned off.

I have two questions for you..

Firstly, do you ever put your phone away – completely out of sight and out of mind? Or is your phone always on and usually within reach

Secondly, do you have any great podcasts that you’d like to share?

Let me know, I’d love to hear what you think.