My son texted me this week with a question. He asked: “If I was to write ‘Hitler **** a book’ would I use ‘written’ or ‘wrote’?”
It’s nice to know he was willing to seek me out for help with his homework. It was not so nice to discover that his command of the English language is so poor.
He’s 15 years old, but seemed to think that saying “Hitler written a book” might be acceptable English.
There’s only room for one grammar dunderhead in this family, and it was me what won that honour.
I should be grateful that he even bothered to check ... or that his text was relatively legible.
Usually his texts read like the irate demands of a drunk wanting to know where his taxi is. “Where u?” he’ll message. “Am stil waitin.” His texts have a grunting prehistoric air about them. “Wen yu getin here? U late.”
The conversations are often punctuated by emojis. For the over-50s out there, emojis are little cartoon symbols used to replace words or to project feelings.
It all adds to the Stone Age air of teenagers’ communication skills. Once they’ve got enough emojis stored in their phones there will be no need for words.
Some 40,000 years ago, primitive man expressed himself through crude scrawls and cave paintings. Our teenagers are heading back to those days with their emoji texts.
As I get older, so I desperately cling to some vague, but crumbling notion of standards. Not so our children.
They set standards for the society to come and the bar, it sometimes feels, ain’t been set too high.
Or at least that’s what I say. It’s part of my job as a miserable old git. I should be grateful there’s a bar at all.
Which brings me to my Gripe of the Week. An occasional award which I bestow upon an individual or organisation when I’m struggling to fill this column.
It is usually preceded by an unnecessarily long-winded introduction to eat up the column inches and hasten the end of another week.
This week’s Gripe of the Week goes to Valspar paint company for giving up the ghost on naming colours.
Remember when paint was available in colours like blue, green and white? Then colours like magnolia emerged, along with marine and emerald. As home decorating moved forward, so more and more colour variations appeared and their names became more ethereal. Hints of autumn, sea spray and golden sunset to name but three.
Valspar paint company have, I can report, given up the ghost. Wanting to paint the bathroom, I checked out their colour range in B&Q. Here’s some of the colour names on show: Roaming Pony, Quaking Boy and, wait for it, Dove’s Cry.
They could at least make an effort to link the name to the colour. But it didn’t end there. It was as if the person naming the colours just ended up thumbing his way through an encyclopedia randomly picking out names and phrases. Bliss, Pelican and Possibility also feature, as did Tender Twig, Winter Flannel and my favourite, with possibly the laziest effort to name a colour ever … Bluish.
Honestly, who writes these paint names ... teenagers?