Happy New Year? Non me ne frega niente!!

Without ever having been a good girl scout (Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys put me off forever), I had been prepared for our return from our Xmas break. The fridge had pancetta, yoghurts, and sausages for the kids. Unfortunately, I had unplugged the fridge…

So there we were on New Year’s Eve, my best laid plans gang aft agley, and almost every shop and restaurant closed by six. We popped round the corner to Di Pietro’s, thinking to eat in there but they were already winding down and only offering what was on display for take-away. Shortly after I’d made my order, the boss came out to greet me. He insisted I wait for the new suppli and fish in batter (I forget their name); that was ever a mistake as it took forty effing minutes! While waiting, I was treated to an early evening display of fireworks, metaphorically speaking, as the boss exploded and shouted down the phone to a customer, “Happy new year? I couldn’t give a fuck!! You ordered two trays of lasagne so you’re bloody well paying for it!”; to a waiter, “Why the hell were you away so long? Clear up that goddamn mess back there!”; to the guy who served me, “What do you think you’re doing, giving her the chicken cacciatore? Don’t you know her kid can’t have that? Mother of God! Get some plain roast chicken out here now!”

This last was for my benefit. When il patrone had stormed off, the poor waiter actually apologized to me for making the mistake. The way the guy treats staff you’d think they’d want to stab him in his bed. Yet they were back at work the next morning, New Year’s Day, business as usual.


Not sure when this word shift occurred, when a tidal wave became a tsunami. Watched The Jungle Book on Dutch telly last night, moustachioed sterling chappies hacking their way through the undergrowth, “Dem this jungle!” Where did the jungles go? Is rainforest a more context-sensitive term?

Semantics is always a bitch.
Places once called underdeveloped
Are now called mineral rich.
– Gil Scott Heron

I was up early on Boxing Day and heard the first reports from Sri Lanka. I e-mailed my younger sister, who, I thought, was actually there. A few frantic text exchanges with family in the UK established that she was in fact still in Kerala and had barely noticed any change in the sea. A relief for us, but not for all those thousands of distraught people searching for their children among the corpses lain along the roadside.

“Oh my God, it’s just so like totally egregious, you know?”

That was one of my office-mate’s (R2 OB1) most frequent outbursts a few weeks back. My dictionary gives the definition of egregious as either (1) outstandingly bad or (2) distinguished, eminent. Given that at the time R2 OB1 was talking about how Elva, the InDesign expert (sic), had re-typed (and mis-typed) random data for more than a hundred tables of statistics, I took it at its worst meaning.

“Craptastic” is still doing the rounds.

Divided by a common language

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