Saturday, 21 July 2012

Bring Back Balls

I am incensed.Today, my eyes have been affronted, horrified, appalled by a foul and depraved four-letter word taking centre-stage of the local newspaper and surrounded by photos of the sordid end of school affair:


Had the local paper been American, had the event been American, I would have no beef with the word. But I live in the north of England, where we have a leaving ball. Four letters, BALL. Or, more specifically, balls for secondary school leavers and school discos for primary school leavers.

When I was eleven, I went to the school disco in a dingy hall down the road from school and was grateful for songs of the ilk of 'Agadoo', 'Macarena', and 'I am the Music Man' played by a DJ of dubious intent, embittered by dashed dreams of becoming the next rave-master at Creamfields, and probably an alcoholic to drown his sorrows. It was marvellous - we could run around and not worry about where we were spilling Coke, play musical chairs with gusto and not mind if we were hurled to the floor by over-competitive adversaries because we were wearing dresses or jeans or whatever from our own (no doubt hideous) 90s' wardrobe collection. When I left secondary school, I had a slightly nicer dress but still not exactly haute couture. Now they're dressed in froufy meringues of an array of colours that would rival any ice-cream stand. And practically all Barbie-blonde or Amy Winehouse-black tresses, and some with tiaras. I have but one question: what the deuce are they going to wear on their wedding days if they're so primped and preened for a leaver's ball?

So, please, none of this prom crap. I repeat, I am fine if the event is held in the States; I am fine if the speaker is American; I am fine if a person whose first language is not English uses it. However, I must insist that British people not use American words when we are already in possession of our own British words. And 'movie'. No, no, no. Just no. We are British. We use the word 'film'. If we start calling films 'movies' we will have to start calling phones 'speakies' and computers 'typies'.

For the good of future British generations, I beseech you, good public, Bring Back Balls!

Monday, 16 July 2012

How to Say Goodbye in Catalan

uini, uidi, uinci. I came, I saw, I conquered. And now another chapter in my short life has come to an end. I am now writing from my living-room in Cumbria, where skies are painted dove-grey and the opposite hills sport white rotating stakes from their hearts (wind turbines, in other words). My departure from Catalunya was not quite as interesting as my arrival, and yet the two weeks leading up to my flight will never be forgotten - my crippled back won't let me. It turns out that lugging around 30kgs is spinally traumatic. But Dickens and Shakespeare would never have forgiven me, had I neglected to bring their magnificent works with me.

However, goodbyes. That is the object of my discourse. There are many hellos in life and just as many goodbyes. Most goodbyes are flippant, they are casual remarks about seeing one soon, or promises for a union involving caffeine or alcohol. These are the ones I like best, for they hold only vague oaths, and engage you to no concrete significance or purpose. It also means you probably will see that person again. At some point. Maybe...

Other goodbyes include, but are not limited to, the Romantic (usually involving snogging and some mild groping); the Close Friend (involving a hug and two kisses on cheeks if in Catalunya); the Stormily Melodramatic (including swearing, shouting, and other modes of tantrum-like behaviour, most likely outside a club at 3 o'clock in the morning next to a tramp in his own vomit); and the Tearful 'Oh, God, I'm Never Going to See You Again!' (usually at airports).

There is also another type of goodbye, which just sweeps away all other competitors, like a fiery tsunami sent from Thor's hammer. And I invented it. This time next month, it'll be all the rage. Thanks to Barcelona, a text message, and a hip.

My sojourn with my friend (the same one who tricked me into carrying those putos calaixos) ended spectacularly with a broken window on the fourth floor, potentially endangering the lives of those coffee-ing below. The text with metro instructions must have sent me into a frenzy of good conscience, as I started locking up open windows. Now, some of the flats in Eixample are hundreds of years old still with original glass panes, single glazing. The rod and hook used to shut and lock the windows happened to be stiff. I therefore changed my position in order to hold a better stance with which to close the window, perhaps with more alacrity than was necessary and less grace than was required, and thus my left hip impaled the pane of crystal. The sound of shattering glass has never before sounded quite so symphonic, so cinematic, so monumentally and humiliatingly idiotic. Daggers stuck out of the wooden frame and glinting light spattered the terrace like minute twinkling stars on terracotta tiles.Shards overhung the balcony edge, teetering oh so delicately. Passersby may well have...passed by...ignorant of their proximity to a sliced scalp.

I rang my friend and grovelled. In whichever language came out first. Now that I think of, however, I do believe this was my subconsciously laid plan, executed in revenge for those damned drawers she made me carry. This is how you say goodbye in Catalan....and I shall call it the Glassed Goodbye.