Saturday, 25 May 2013

What is it with solutions? And other meaningless rubbish?


I had a wonderful English teacher at school. Mr Blackmore. Nicknamed Moses because he had a very bushy beard, but then pupils were assuming, without any proof, that the original Moses never shaved.

He was somewhat height-challenged, but in those days, dressed in his batman gown as teachers always did in the black and white days, he nevertheless commanded the respect that the threat of having the wooden blackboard duster thrown at you was always bound to command. And he also had a very unique attribute that he made Shakespeare enjoyable, giving us teenage schoolboys a laugh each time by accentuating his pronunciation of “Coriolanus”. I shall leave it to your imagination as to which bit he accentuated.

I remember he started one class with a statement that was to set me on my path to a life of cynicism. He suddenly announced that “Nothing acts faster than Anadin, so all you guys must, from now on, take nothing.”

I believe – and hope – that Ian Blackmore is now a healthy pensioner,  enjoying his retirement far away from those annoying people called school pupils.

Solutions. “A homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase". So, to quote Lord Sugar, a solution could really be a "one-trick pony".

So why are so many companies the providers of “solutions”?

Are they one-trick ponies?

A company in Leeds provides “total panel solutions”, whatever they are. I picked up on the internet a legal practice that was busy "Creating family law solutions for you". If you get in your car and drive, you are bound to see “furniture solutions”, “kitchen solutions”, “employment solutions”, “building and maintenance solutions”.

(And revisiting this in Nov 2015, I have since come across "ski solutions", "refuse solutions", holiday solutions" - all barkingly uncreative).

What is wrong with all these people?

Yes, I appreciate they are not copywriters and that they are professionals in their own respective fields and more than likely very good at what they do. But why don't they take a little advice when devising a strapline?

Another one that winds me up is “new and improved”. Now even Lord Winston would I’m sure agree that it can’t be improved if it is new. It would have been like Lord Fellowes coming on TV before the very first Downton Abbey programme and announcing it as new – yes, that bit’s correct – and “improved” – no, no, no.

“Pre-order”. Wonderful statement. Everyone is using “pre”. Pre-owned (second-hand or used to you and me). Pre-drinks (that’s the art of getting drunk before you go binge drinking). “Pre-loved” (that means bugger all, but is beloved by the Arthur Daley car salesmen type).

I actually have several scientists working on “pre-order” at the moment. Early indications are that it’s proving as big a headache as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, in other words, pi to you and me. You know, 3.14159265359 ad infinitum. Me, I thought you either ordered something or you didn’t.

So I’ve come up with a few of my own.

Wiping your runny nose is “pre-sneezing”. Opening the car door is “pre-driving”. Doing the weekly shop is “pre-cooking”.  Waking up in the morning is “pre-working”.

And breaking wind is “pre-shi….” Oh. I’d better not elucidate on that one before the watershed.

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