Jolly Holiday

It was that old Paddy playwright, George Bernard Shaw, (who, incidentally, is the only person ever to have been awarded both the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938) for his contributions to the written arts and for his work on the film Pygmalion, which was adapted from his play of the same name, the story of which we commoners would know better as My Fair Lady), who coined the phrase, “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” When he threw away the flippant phrase, he probably never realised just how separate out common languages would become.

I was trolling around the internet a couple of days ago, looking for some copy to steal for an article I was writing which was as about interesting an experience as having your wisdom teeth pulled without anaesthetic, or at least a good shot of brandy, when I came across an article about someone taking a ‘mancation’. Yes, you read the word right – ‘mancation’. I was flummoxed, so I searched a bit and found that it means a vacation taken by a group of men. Men only; no wives, girlfriends, mistresses or other bits of totty, just a group of chaps having a jolly good time, thank you very much.

Now, I have no objection at all to a few good old pals having an away-day together, that’s what football and rugby away games are all about, surely. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced one myself, mainly, probably, because I’m singularly short of the ‘bonding buddy’ sort of connections, (although I may one day tell you about my weird experience in a ‘sweat lodge’ that was actually in a basement in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester). If a group of chaps want to drink themselves silly with their mates at a Beerfest, dance their days away in cowboy drag (or cowgirl drag, for those so inclined) at a line dancing weekend, or tumble down gorges, stagger through mud, swim in slime and crawl through rolls of razor wire on a He-Man Holiday (and I believe they also have He-Women Holidays but I sincerely doubt they call them that), all the best to them, say I, but don’t expect me to be part of the shenanigans.

Anyway, back to ‘mancation’. I’ve finally come to terms with the use of the word ‘vacation’ as opposed to ‘holiday’, mainly because I live in Spain and the word here is ‘vacaciones’. But it still doesn’t feel the same. I like going on holiday; going on ‘vacation’ somehow seems a bit of an absurdity, as if I’m trying to be so terribly, terribly international, when in fact all I’m doing is putting my feet up for a couple of weeks, eating and drinking too much and falling asleep over the half-kilo block-buster I’ve brought with me, that will probably get left in the hotel ‘library’, along with the bodice-rippers of Danielle Steel and Mills and Boon, and the tedious, ‘eee, when ah were a lad…’ of Barbara Cartland. (And something else I bet you didn’t know; academics who study this sort of thing – and don’t you just feel really, really sorry for them – reckon that this muckily romantic style started with our dearly beloved romantic novelists, Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. And who am I to argue!)

But, never content with just accepting that the lingua franca of Britain, our Septic Isle, (sorry, that should read our Sceptered Isle) is the true ‘English as she is and should be spoke’, those bloody latter-day colonialist keep trying to change our native tongue. I grudgingly admit that when someone pontificates about ‘English being the second most spoken language in the world’, they are actually referring to the bastardised American version (and even as I bloody well write, my sodding Microsoft spell check has come up to say that ‘bastardised’ should be spelt with a ‘z’ and not an ‘s’. No it ‘bastardisingly’ shouldn’t!)

And then, I came across ‘staycation’, meaning people who now take their holidays in their own country, town, or region, instead of having a couple of weeks jollifaction abroad.

‘Staycation’… ‘STAYCATION’!!!! Will they never give up, these people can’t simply talk, they have to ‘theme speak’, invent new words that never existed, and bamboozle us into thinking we’re missing out on something! (Have I just invented the phrase ‘theme-speak?)

But when I sat back with a cup of soothing Earl Grey, it occurred to me what an old tart I was being. Language is always evolving. The Académie Française has been trying for almost four hundred years to maintain the purity of the French language. They have tried to prevent the Anglicization (American spelling!) of the French language. For example, the Académie has recommended, with almost a total lack of success or the realisation what a set of plonkers they are, that some words from English such as walkman, software and email should be avoided, in favour (‘favor’ in American) of words derived from French (baladeur, logiciel, and courriel. The young Frogs don’t want to know! I read a recent report that said that French, within two decades, would be one of the least spoken languages in Europe. Except in the European Courts, where they have the overpaid, underused, and totally ignored government by the linguistic bollocks

I thought of that lovely English word, ‘quiz’ which we all take for granted these days.

The story goes that a Dublin theatre proprietor by the name of Richard Daly made a bet that he could, within forty-eight hours, make a nonsense word known throughout the city, and that the public would supply a meaning for it. After a performance one evening, he gave his staff cards with the word ‘quiz’ written on them, and told them to write the word on walls around the city. The next day the strange word was the talk of the town.

So, my darlings, I hope you have a wonderful ‘mancation’ with your gorgeously muscled pals and save an enormous amount of foreign currency on your ‘staycation’. And with that, sweeties, I bid you a fair goodnight.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered

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