Rambling, stream of consciousness post here…
Labels have become my bêtes noire. Okay, they’re useful on packets and jars, machinery, equipment and shops, and for identifying people you want to seek out at conferences, but as for most of the rest of ’em, you can keep ’em.
Clothing labels are far too often scratchy and irritating. The ones at the backs of the collar prickle napes of necks, while the ones on inside seams make for unseemly scratching and clothes-plucking. I much prefer brands where the manufacturer’s info is printed on the reverse of the fabric.
But the labels that really get my goat are those we have had to learn to live with: Baby Boomers, Gen Ys, Gen Xs, Millenials, Grey Nomads—you get the picture. The last example I find particularly trite—demeaning even. The other day I was having a discussion with someone who was painting a word picture of the supposed great divide between the generations and why blame was laid; you know the sort of thing, it’s gone on forever. Anyway, I was quick to point out that I share being a Baby Boomer with Donald Trump. I pray to all that’s reasonable it’s the only thing we have in common.
Then of course we can get quite political. Do you vote green or are you a green or a greenie? Are you a communist, Tory, Trotskyist or fascist? Are you rich or poor? Old or young? Religion—ah yes, that elephant in the room. Are you gay or straight? Or don’t you fit into either category? Married or, perish the thought, a singleton, bachelor, a spinster—or much worse because it’s a real nothing word-cum-label—a bachelorette? And what about labelling things, illnesses perhaps, we can’t even see? Are you an addict? An epileptic? A coeliac? A diabetic? A haemophiliac?
None of these things are YOU, nor should they define you. Should we wish to label ourselves that’s fine by me. I, after all, am a white woman fast approaching her three score years and ten, but that’s surely it’s for me to decide if I want a sticker on me. It’s not for someone else to do.
In so many ways we celebrate our differences; everyone of my friends is different from another. Long may it last. We are all unique and yet we are all one. We are not some demographer’s superficial artificial construct.
On a lighter note, and here’s the rub as it shows how fickle I and my thoughts can be, a label I liked simply because it amused me and which, sadly, seems no longer to be in use, is: KIPPERS – Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eating Retirement Savings. An aside; I read that ‘kipper’ can (apart from simply being a smoked fish) mean all sorts of things—some unsuitable for a refined page such as this—and some as innocuous as describing one of those wide ties so fashionable in the 1970’s. What, I wonder, happened to ‘grockles’ which was used en famille to refer, gently rudely, to wrinklies, oldies etc? It probably relocated from Devonshire where it’s used in a derogatory fashion to describe tourists. Far too un-PC to use such phrases any more except among disrespectful friends and family. More power to them.
And another thing (thank you, Kathleen Noonan).
I read the other day of a person who gently chided a journalist for writing that someone had ‘committed suicide’. This is a hangover from pre-1961 UK, as opposed to the state of Victoria where the legislation changed in 1900, when people who ‘committed suicide’ (as others commit murder or a robbery) were deemed not fit to be buried on consecrated ground—for heaven’s sake (irony intended). A more fitting term might be that so-and-so took their own life or died by suicide. We, as a family, have known young people who took their own lives—far too many of them. We’ll never really know why they did so, but one presumes it was because life had become too awful and, in the end, was far less appealing than the finish of the suffering. I have yet to attend the funeral of someone of my age who took the suicide route.
By the way, just in case you were wondering: apparently the phrase ‘get my goat’ comes from the US. Some flighty racehorses need and like the calming influence of a special goat as company. In the past (only in the past?) unscrupulous ne’er-do-well race-fixers stole the goat to upset the horse and its race-running.