As Britons prepare for the end of lockdown, after months of isolation at home, I thought it might be helpful to offer a guide to various terms which have fallen into disuse and which some of you might have forgotten ever existed.
Tie: Traditionally, an item of clothing by which the management class distinguished themselves from the rest of the workforce. More practically, a way of telling the wearer if he has gained weight recently, indicated by asphyxiation when attempting to hold it in place with the top shirt button.
Restaurant: A place where people paid five times what they normally would for wine, even though they had no idea what it would taste like, unlike the favourite plonk happily consumed at home.
Birthday cake candles: A means by which those of increasing agedness demonstrate they still have a bit of puff left, by blowing them out without collapsing. (Warning: Continued concern about Covid-19 transmission may mean that two cakes are required — one, without candles, to be eaten by guests; the other, with candles, for the blowing ceremony before being disposed of in a secure manner.)
Glastonbury Festival: With luck, you will not need to know about this, ever again. But, if we must: the world’s biggest rubbish tip
Clock: Something that people looked at to check whether they had enough time left for another slice of toast before rushing off to work.
Work: An unfortunate necessity before the Government paid us to do nothing.
Time: How long have you got?
Dinner parties: A social ritual by which the hosts attempt to demoralise their guests by producing a series of dishes of improbable cost and complexity. The guests secretly hope the event will be dreadful, thus raising their own self-esteem. (The collapsed soufflé is a particular favourite in this respect and also highly symbolic — of the hosts’ marital relationship, or so the guests wish.)
The Premier League: A way in which relatively less well-off English people pass a significant portion of their income to multi-millionaire footballers from other nations. Largely financed by sponsorship from gambling companies, another means by which the less well-off pass their wages (or benefits) to offshore-based business entities.
Birthday cake candles: A means by which those of increasing agedness demonstrate they still have a bit of puff left, by blowing them out without collapsing
Dinner parties: A social ritual by which the hosts attempt to demoralise their guests by producing a series of dishes of improbable cost and complexity (file photo)
Extra-marital affairs: I have no idea what you are talking about. No, I mean that’s what one half of a married couple says to the other when this matter is raised.
Diary: A small book in which future engagements are listed, according to date, sometimes more than one in the same month. I know: extraordinary, isn’t it? (See also: Calendars)
Suit: A means by which men could avoid the impossibly difficult decision of which colour of trousers might go with which colour of jacket. (Trousers? Yes, it’s been a long time.)
Underpants: Used to be clean at all times, in case the wearer is run over by a bus. This social precaution will now once again be necessary.
Hairbrush: For those with curly hair, an instrument of torture. For those with thinning hair, a source of pathos and nostalgia.
Pubs: Never as good as they were in the old days
Petrol stations: Somewhere people went to buy newspapers, food and drink without having to walk. Soon to be replaced by electric charging points which will take all day, and thereby save the planet by preventing us from driving anywhere else. At least, I think that’s what Sir David Attenborough says.
Pubs: Never as good as they were in the old days.
Cinemas: Where people went to eat and drink continually for hours, as noisily as they knew how, in the belief that if you consumed calories in the dark, then you couldn’t put on weight.
Handshakes: Originally a way of checking that the other man didn’t have a weapon up his sleeve and to demonstrate that you don’t. Apparently, now dangerous, even if the other chap isn’t armed. So you probably don’t need to know, anyway.
Spitting in public: Was mandatory in the Premier League — see earlier entry. Also very popular in China. Hmmm…
Trains: Moving dining rooms for the working man and woman. At night, also act as mobile bars with no formal closing time.
Nail bars: A sort of Vietnamese employment agency, although others would say a money laundering operation for their cannabis farms (file photo)
Nail bars: A sort of Vietnamese employment agency, although others would say a money laundering operation for their cannabis farms. Don’t ask: ‘Why do you only take cash?’
Weather: Something that happens outside. And, when you do emerge, also a topic with which to inaugurate a conversation with a stranger. Or at least it used to be.
Dentist: Usually from the Antipodes or South Africa. Recognisable by the customary greeting: ‘You should have come to see us sooner,’ followed by a grim little laugh.
Glastonbury Festival: With luck, you will not need to know about this, ever again. But, if we must: the world’s biggest rubbish tip.
Schools: Where your children are indoctrinated by people who think Greta Thunberg is right that we are all, imminently, doomed to mass extinction.
Child therapist: Where you will need to send your darlings afterwards, because they are so terrified.
Dentist: Usually from the Antipodes or South Africa. Recognisable by the customary greeting: ‘You should have come to see us sooner,’ followed by a grim little laugh (file photo)