Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Some things that irritate me

I’m just back from a teaching trip to Europe, and as I passed through Gatwick Airport I was irritated once again by the dreadful creep of the word “Your” in front of every advertisement for a company.  Apparently Gatwick is now “my” airport.  The blame for this must be laid at the door of Marks and Spencers, who some years back, when things were going badly for them, suddenly had the bright idea of designing a logo which said on all the packaging “Your M & S”.  At the time I thought this was a clever PR trick, seducing us all with the implied intimacy of a long personal association with M & S.  But it has now become so ubiquitous that it has become a cliché, and should be dropped.

The other cliché I have grown to hate is the use of the gerund, that part of speech I can still remember from parsing English and Latin sentences at school, the dreaded “-ing” word.  It appears everywhere now in all the meaningless slogans called “mission statements” which even the acupuncture world was not immune to.  My school was asked to provide one as part of its accreditation programme and I came up with the words, blissfully free of the gerund, “An ancient form of healing for a modern world”, which I’m still proud of, and which still represents, in a kernel, the truth of what I do.

Every company apparently now feels they have to attach to every advertising hoarding some banal statement such as, “building a better Britain”, “working for the community”, and so on and so on.  They are all utterly meaningless, and yet the practice seems to be growing by the day, and should also be dropped. 

The worst example I have so far come across is one I glimpsed on the side of a van, obviously that of some kind of gardening company involved in smartening up people’s window-boxes.  It said, “Fusing people, plants and flowers”.  Instead of window-boxes, the image that came into my mind was that of a beautiful Botticelli painting of some young woman, in a flowing gown, her hair entwined with roses, and enfolded by flowers, not, I imagine what the gardening company wanted me to think of.  At least this beautiful image took my mind of the banality of the words which had prompted it.

I’m waiting for the dreaded day when I will see, blazoned above a hospital entrance, my two pet hates combined together, in the words “Your hospital, caring for a healthier world”.


  1. Saw this yesterday: "Carrying your reputation" on the side of a removal van.

  2. Another one seen on the side of a fashion designers' van:
    "Driving fashion forward
    By electrical vehicle"

    Presumably the makers of the electrical vehicle paid for this.