It’s footy season again here in Oz. Ho hum. Lots of fit young men running around in tight little shorts and sleeveless tops. I suspect that’s a large part of the attraction, for women at least. For those of you who don’t know Aussie Rules football, it’s very different from American or European styles. I just know I’m going to get this wrong, but from the point of view of someone whose knowledge of American football is only what I’ve seen in movies, I think it’s like our rugby, where the guys are bulkier. Soccer players seem to be quite lean, while our Aussie Rules guys are somewhere in between; they’re muscular but lean. They also don’t wear helmets (although they probably should) or any of the other protection gridiron players wear.
Now I’ve no doubt proven my complete ignorance re international football I must say in my defence I have zero interest in spectator sports, except maybe some of the Olympics. My idea of spectator sports consists of home renovation contests like The Block and cooking competitions like My Kitchen Rules. I have no intention of ever even painting a wall, let alone ripping one down and re-designing a whole house, but I love to watch these old ugly ducklings become beautiful again. The fact I don’t always agree with the choices made by the contestants or the judges just makes it all the more interesting.
I also have no great interest in cooking, although I occasionally am inspired to try something new. What annoys me is the way some of the contestants say they ‘just love food’. Seriously, doesn’t everyone? That doesn’t mean we all want to spend hours slaving away over a hot stove! Even more annoying is the phrase ‘cooked to perfection’. I’d be interested to hear if that’s only here in Oz or if it’s taken over the Western world. I suspect our resident French chef is to blame; although he’s been here for years he still has his accent and when he says ‘cooked to perfection’ it sounds perfect. When anyone else says it, it sounds like a poor imitation. Can we please go back to saying ‘It’s perfect,’ or ‘perfectly cooked’? Maybe even something more original. Buy a dictionary.
Okay, I am annoyed by quite a few over-used phrases; politicians are probably the worst, with their ‘end of the day’, and ‘at this point in time’. Then we have sports reporters with their nonsensical ‘back to back’, when they really mean one after the other. That phrase always reminds me of a little nonsense poem my father used to say, ‘One fine day in the middle of the night, two blind men got up to fight. Back to back they faced each other . . . I forget the rest. I have to keep reminding myself English has always been an evolving language and continues to be so but do we have to blindly imitate things that don’t make sense?
I’ve written a small ebook about some of the common mistakes people make in writing and public speech, What Did You Say?, available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/author/christinemgardner. It will be free for a few days next month, so stay tuned and I’ll let you know when. I don’t claim to know all there is to know but there a few hints I think are worth passing on.