Tuesday, 13 January 2009


It seems that The Collins English Dictionary people have been having a huge lot of fun with new entries for the coming year, examples of which are:

1. Staycation: a holiday at home (or at least not one taken abroad);
2. Recessionista: someone who can't afford a holiday at home OR abroad;
3. Manscaping: grooming a man's body hair (the mind boggles...);
4. Bad-bank: i.e. Northern Rock or other state-supported financial institution (all Icelandic banks perhaps);
5. Credit-crunch: No explanation needed;
6. Brickor mortis: the product of items 4 and 5; and
7. Downturn: we should all know that by now.

Most sobering of all perhaps are:

8. Antisocial networking: posting a negative message about someone on Facebook et al; and
9. Defriending.

I had to defriend someone recently. A woman who I went to school with (in the last century, of course), who I can't really remember as ever being a close friend of mine but who suddenly got in touch with me about ten years ago to announce that she was going to visit me in Cornwall with her new (much younger) husband and baby son. They arrived about 3 hours late with her remarking sniffily: 'Oh, it's small and noisy here, isn't it?'. After listless conversation and the dried up lunch I offered, we all went out into the garden where they proceded to take snaps of each other, but none of me (the long-lost 'friend') or my very photogenic daughter. Nevertheless, the Christmas cards kept coming after this dismal reunion, every year, without remission, and latterly including those dreadful, smug bulletins about what the three of them had been doing. It was like being assaulted by unwanted information; and, as with any unwanted information I might tune into quite involuntarily on the radio or TV (or web), I decided it was time to turn it off, especially since my own, weakly expressed exchange of information (I actually apologised for not sending them a Christmas card this year) met with a pompous and outrageously patronising rebuff about someone as obviously poor as me letting myself into a load of trouble for sending my talented daughter to a top independent school (the point about her scholarship had obviously not been well made), not to mention considering a boarding education for her - particularly insensitive this, since I would never have considered it at all had I not been a lone parent with cancer. Then I got a load of patronising but clearly unsympathetic comments about my cancer treatment. So I defriended. 'Thank you for getting in touch at Christmas, I wrote, 'but I haven't seen you for many years and I think it's fair to say that, at nearly fifty, we have both moved on.' There was a reply, but, true to my defriending principles, I declined to read it. The D word in Collins thus rang a bell with me yesterday, but not a pleasant one. Not a D major!

The prospect of staycationing at home here in Cornwall doesn't fill me with the joys of spring either. But spring is coming, and I think I might manage a short staycation in south east England, looking for a medium to long term move when the curse of the bad banks has been lifted and brickor mortis relieved.

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