Towards more picturesque English
(I have never really been sure what the point of Readers Digest is: having always valued writing-style at least as highly as content, I am prone to wincing when the former is hacked to pieces in pursuit of brevity. The magazine itself is strange enough, but the appeal of the hardback dilutions of literary masterpieces is entirely beyond me.)
My poor mother: those holidays must have been exhausting for her. You had to take all your own bedlinen with you - it wouldn't fit in the boot of the car, so my brothers and I sat in the back seats with it under our feet, and our knees consequently up round our elbows - and vast quantities of food. She spent the week beforehand in a frenzy of shopping and baking and packing and planning, and recounts a recurring nightmare about an endless parade of wellington boots which all had to be fitted in to the family suitcases. We didn't eat out while we were on holiday. Prior to each of our day-long hikes in the countryside and/or tramps around stately homes, she would have to make up sandwiches, fruit, slices of cake and flasks of drink for five, and stow them all away safely where they wouldn't leak.
We went to the Forest of Dean one Whit week, and the weather was so bad that my father twice condescended to buy choc ices for the whole family. This, whilst very exciting for us children, was deemed to be an insupportable extravagance and was one which we were never to enjoy again.
But I digress.
It's a bad habit.
I'd like to blame the Tramadol, but I suspect it's really my age.
If you buy lovely things from Etsy sellers who are neither UK- nor US-based, you will find yourself in conversation with people who, in addition to their enviable artistic skills, have no trouble at all in conversing with you in what is their second - or possibly even third - language.
(Given that there was a time when - had the Internet existed then, and had I been in possession of an appropriate keyboard - I could have done the same in Greek, I feel fractionally less ashamed about this than I might otherwise have done.)
Last weekend, I bought this glorious fat necklace from a very nice Belgian lady called Karlita. (No necklace/scarf confusion here: this is one continuous loop of felted wool.) Anyway, so Karlita and I got chatting on the Etsy conversation screens - as you do - and she ended one of her messages with,
"warm wishes (do people say that? - in Dutch we say 'groetjes' which means little greetings - I like that but it does not translate well in English)".
How wonderful is that?
As "little greetings" is clearly a salutation by which the English language would be greatly enriched - and as it is infinitely preferable to the now-ubiquitous, horribly-girly and decidedly-un-British "hugs" - I'd like to encourage the scant handful of people who continue to read this blog to adopt it.
If I were braver than I actually am, I would start using it to sign off from my work emails. As it is, I think I'll save it for my personal correspondence for now...