Such a delightful trip to Dartington Hall Gardens, near Totnes, in the pleasant company of Barnstaple U3A. Our en-route ‘comfort break’, as loo stops are now euphemistically expressed, was at Dart Farm. It strikes me as rather peculiar that we British are so reluctant to use the words toilet and lavatory, preferring to replace them with ‘smallest room’, ‘the facilities’ or ‘conveniences’.
When I worked at the Tower of London, American tourists would approach me to enquire where the ‘bathroom’ was. ‘We don’t have bathrooms,’ I would say, mischievously anticipating their horror and mild panic. ‘However, we do have gents’ and ladies’ lavatories. They’re the same. In the United States, my daughter emerged from the female ‘rest rooms’ announcing, ‘Hey, dad, there’s a sofa and an aquarium in there.’ I judge a country on its sanitation and note that Britain isn’t the only nation to hide its cloakrooms under a bushel.
But back to Dart Farm, and not having time for a full lunch, I spotted its snack bar’s speciality board proudly offering ‘dirty’ burgers. Who wants dirty burgers? Not me! I settled instead for a bacon bap, and whilst devouring it learned from a chum that dirty is the new clean. It’s yet another example of words changing and reversing the original meaning.
Tesco, too, has become a purveyor of ‘dirty’ food products with its ‘dirty’ meat range. In Sainsbury’s, ‘dirty fries’ are on sale. I can’t keep up with it. Moreover, the word ‘sick’ now means ‘great, cool, or brilliant’, whilst ‘dank’, once describing a damp, smelly basement, is now something ‘funky’.
To be labelled as sophisticated was once an insult. Now, it’s someone urbane and classy. How does Ilfracombe’s Country Cousins language school explain such eccentricities to students? How long before menus boast unclean omelettes, revolting ravioli, and all served with a delicious raw sewage dressing? Waiting staff will enquire, ‘Enjoying your meal?’ and we’ll reply, ‘Yes. Very nice. It’s absolutely disgusting, thank you.’
Hello Martians. Got a new motor?
I’ve received yet another letter from Japanese car manufacturer Nissan, the sixth, in fact, warning me of a possible airbag problem in my previously owned Almera. The company is anxious to advise me of a fault that could send bits of metal around the car should it suddenly inflate.
To date, I have informed Nissan five times that the car has gone to meet its maker, or perhaps the maker of baked beans cans, and is no longer with us. Nevertheless, in exasperation, my sixth reply has had to be more comprehensive. It explains precisely the circumstances that led to how my once-prized vehicle met its ignominious end.
Nissan Europe has now been informed that during an enjoyable picnic at that glorious scenic spot on the A39 between Lynmouth and Porlock, we suddenly experienced a warm breeze similar to a blast from giant hairdryer.
The ground began to vibrate and then, looking up, we became almost frozen with disbelief as a huge saucer-shaped vehicle, dark blue in colour, gently descended from the sky, accompanied by a humming sound. We found ourselves in the shadow of a craft that might have just about fitted into Barnstaple’s town square. It was huge. Lights glowed from its windows as it whirred before landing silently. A motorised door
opened outwards, from which a ramp was lowered. A long pole with a hook emerged, and proceeded to pull my parked Almera into the saucer’s interior. Once it was inside the craft, I spotted robotic beings clad in shiny suits opening the bonnet and examining the vehicle’s engine.
The door closed, and as it did so, we were almost felled by a giant roar prior to the spacecraft ascending and then vanishing into a tiny dot on the horizon. After tidying our picnic area, we called for a taxi home. OK, Nissan. Now do you believe me? But you know what? They’ve gone off with our Tom Lehrer album left in the car’s CD player; the dirty burgers!
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