Of course, you could always just say ‘as soon as possible’, which would have the advantage of being actual English.

Yeah, I’ll revert to you soonest.

Quite aside from the wearisomely inaccurate use of the word ‘revert’, it seems that the entire corporate world is falling for a strange new use of the word ‘soonest’.

All of a sudden, it means “as soon as I can” whereas previously, assuming soonest was ever a word, it must have meant something like “the most soon”.

Hmm. Soonest isn’t a thing because It was never really a word in the first place. Not one you’d ever use anyway.

And now it’s a word that doesn’t even make sense. Which is, I suppose, some kind of progress.






Frozen hot chocolate


Frozen hot chocolate is unlikely to be a thing.

Unless we are witnessing an extreme example of the Mpemba effect, a rare and unlikely consequence of quantum mechanics, or perhaps producing our hot chocolate in low atmospheric conditions, it’s probable that that hot chocolate isn’t actually frozen at all.

Or maybe it is frozen, but it isn’t hot. Yes, that’ll be it.

So it’s basically milkshake? Good.

Recipe: yes.

“Not a problem”

‘Thank you’ should be the final word in any exchange of social pleasantries. So STFU with your “not a problem”.

Could I have the bill please?
Yes here you go.
You’re welcome.
I know, but thanks anyway.
It’s not a problem.

Yes. I know it’s not a problem. How could requesting a bill be problematic? I assume it’s your job to get it for me. So at best it’s ‘not inconvenient’. But don’t tell me that either.

‘Not a problem’ is the passive-aggressive note stuck to the fridge door of popular discourse.



Signing off an email with ‘Best,’. That’s not a thing.

The old ‘yours sincerely / yours faithfully’ protocols were clearly on the move long before business email replaced letters created in the typing pool.

They were replaced by a number of things: regards, best regards, cheers, or just nothing at all. Or a range of accepted alternatives.

But nowhere in the rule book does it say that signing off a missive with “Best,” is acceptable. Best what? Best of luck? Sunday best? Best wishes? All the best? Pint of best? And is it really so hard to write the pertinent phrase? Those seven missing characters saving you important time, are they?

Clearly they are, at least for the very worst type of correspondent. The sort of person who causes the red mist to descend with their ludicrous informality and their downright rudeness.


Shouting “Yorkshire” at athletes.


The fabulous coverage of the Tour de France Grand Départ was marred by Yorkshiremen inexplicably shouting the word “Yorkshire” at the cyclists.

As someone who doesn’t really ‘get’ sport, because it’s boring, the Tour de France was something that I was quite prepared to get on board with. It did, after all, go through lots of places I know quite well, plus it involved no effort other than that of going to stand around at the end of my road waiting to catch a pack of Haribo and a commemorative 10-teabag gift pack of Yorkshire Thé. Oh, and a Carrefour-branded hat. And a plastic pillow. Whatever.

And it was indeed quite a spectacle. Quite apart from the cycling, the combined counties of West and North Yorkshire looked surprisingly sunny and pleasant for most of the time, giving the Yorkshire Tourist board the kind of fillip that only televising the entire landscape of a nice-looking place can really achieve. Chuck in a few freeloading royals, a red arrows fly-past, some frankly incredible cycling and a bit of finishing line drama and I’d almost go so far as to say that the Tour de France is an event I’m enthusiastic about.

What strikes me with this and every other sport is the apparent need to shout inane things and act stupidly in the presence of someone else’s brilliant achievement. Like shouting “Yorkshire!” repeatedly whilst angrily waving fists at a bunch of Italian and German cyclists, presumably just because you’re in, or from, one of the three distinct Yorkshires. Or standing in the road taking selfies while a pack of cyclists hurtle towards you at 50 miles per hour. Or letting your kids wander into the road. Or crowding the road and getting out of the way at the last possible second, obscuring the view and making things more dangerous than they need to be.

Initially I thought that the tendency for Yorkshire people to spontaneously shout out the name of the region they’re from, in a fit of misplaced loyalty based solely on a freak of birth, might have been one of the reasons why the British government was backing the Scottish bid for the Tour de France. On reflection, it was probably yet another self-defeating attempt to persuade Scottish people not to vote for independence. The Scots would probably have been yelling “Cowdenbeath!” at Vincenzo Nibali as well.

Obviously it’s not just sport. At any moderately attended gig, someone will choose a quiet moment to shout the name of their hometown. Although that’s probably really their football team, so it is kind of sport too.

There must be better words of sporting encouragement that can be shouted, in place of the name of a county. I’d favour “bravo!”. Which does at least have the advantage of not sounding threatening, especially if the Yorkshire accompaniment of inexplicable fist shaking could be converted into an agreeable, warm handclap.

Text, the past tense of itself


If we are going to have newish words, they’d jolly well better conform.

As nouns make their joyless way from simple instruments by which things are named, into the thrusting, vital new world of being a verb, it seems they forget to pick up the required rules along the way.

Hence it is common to hear people say, “he text me” to confer some sense of the past on an action that uses a noun to step in for a verb. Sigh. In which world can that be right?

As all right-thinking people agree, the correct thing to say would be “he texted me”, which has the dual advantage of following an established speech pattern as well as avoiding the sort of formulation that would have David Starkey frothing at the mouth. Plus, it remains as pleasingly jarring as the original, a knowingly ironic way of saying something that could just use normal words if only we weren’t so lazy.

So having established that principle, we can all move on to convert three letter acronyms into verbs as well.

I SMSed you the number.

Can you MMS me a selfie?

I was totally like GTFed.