Sunday, 23 November 2014


There seems to be a growing trend in almost saying some things, not saying somethings and completely mis-saying somethings. If you get what I mean?

Take advertising where you find some great examples of not saying things. I mean how many products are apparently up to 100% effective? Well that tells us precisely nothing. Think about it - zero is the minimum, one hundred percent the max - so everything is 'up to' one hundred percent effective and some things can only be 100%...

Then there are (invariably 'Special') Limited Editions. It might help if they actually said what the limit was, because there are no such things as unlimited editions. And before anyone argues the point, even the number of grains of sand on all the beaches in the all world (or brain cells between Stephen Fry's ears) is a finite number - big, but not completely unlimited.

Adverts will quite happily tell us that something is so special that there is an availability limit - 'A maximum of one per person!' What, every person on the planet? Only a tad more than 7 billion then. There again it may boast that the starring product has been around since 1884 or since the year Joan Collins was born (very similar, I know) - but so what? Smallpox has been around for a lot longer.Not to mention Bruce Forsyth.

Or they will tell you that a particular discount furniture store has a sale on. Like you didn't know that already since they only day they didn't have a sale on in the last thirty years was on a 29th February when a copywriter forgot it was a Leap Year.

None of which actually say anything - and advertising isn't just responsible for making something out of nothing.

Take that baby milk preparation which opens with the line 'If you choose to move on from breastfeeding your baby...'. What it fails to say anything about is what if the mother in question chooses not to move on. And there was me wondering where Walliams and Lucas got some of their (brilliant) ideas from. Bitty, indeed.

Up until a couple of months ago the television advertising for one particular brand of mouthwash opened with a woman at a sink, brushing her teeth. She spits out the remains of the (probably limited edition, up to 100% effective) toothpaste and shock, horror! There is a trace of blood mixed in with the toothpaste waste. Then, get this, the female voice-over performer tells us all that 'if you regularly bled from any other part of your body you would be alarmed...'. Seriously? I've been out with more than one woman who became seriously alarmed when she didn't bleed from one part of her body at the end of a month...

Then there are things that maybe should have been thought a lot more about before anyone said anything. I mean, if you were in charge of attracting tourists to your little island and it was called Pen, would you have maybe thought a little more before naming your website '' - and even though I explained the background to that genuine website name, I would bet a lot of money that you didn't read said name as Pen Island dot net.

The web hosts so many similar instances and I defy anyone to guess the product or service at the first attempt for such edifying sites as '', '', '', '' or ''.

I blame txt speak, for want of anything more obvious to choose. After all, omg but isn't it so lazy? (omg does stand for 'oh my giddy aunt', doesn't it?). In fact computers and mobile phones may have been the stuff of 1960's boyhood fantasies when I was at infants' school (my 1970's ones were much more fun), but the convenience of these marvels of modern technology also brings laziness.

I might be old enough to have been on first name terms with a few dinosaurs (you had to keep in with the T.Rex family or they'd send Marc round to give you a lift...) (too soon?), but even as ancient as I am, I still follow the lazy modern practices when it comes to many things high-tech. For example, I would be lost without the spell-checker these days (which originally said 'I wuld be list withoot the spill chucker...'),

and even dear old Twitter limits us to a mere 140 characters per tweet. Can you even begin to imagine how difficult that is for an old windbag like me? And for the record, that last sentence was 147 characters - too long for Twitter. I suppose at least Twitter makes us edit our messages to make them a little more concise, although even I have resorted to the occasional 'gr8' to save two whole characters (which could have been a lot more if I was Tony the Tiger...)

Another modern utility is predictive texting (I bet you saw that coming) and while that might let us type a tad faster on the tiny keypads modern phones and the like seem to enjoy torturing us with, it is also makes it desperately easy to say the wrong things. Not two weeks ago, my own phone managed to 'confuse' the words well and willy. I have absolutely no idea how that came about but I will never, ever again send a message to a friend hoping that he 'gets well again very soon'.

All of the above means that every one of us should become far more adept at translating the words we see in front of us into what they really mean because you never truly know what the   is out there. And we should also learn to fill in any deliberate blanks we might see. They could be important.

Right now though, I'm going to get back to reading through my blog posts - which have had up to one million hits so far...

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