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The flip side of being passionate


They seem to have forgotten the basic reason for having a motor vehicle is to get from place to place in safety and comfort.

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It’s sometimes good to be passionate. Passion lends focus to life. I have friends who are passionate about music, art, sailing and hiking nature trails.

The problem with having a passion is that it can sometimes (not always) turn the passionate person into a crashing bore. I know people who are so passionate about good health that they almost forget to live a normal life.

Food, to the health freak, consists of kilojoules and fibre, vitamins and protein and polyunsaturated fats, glutens, lactose, fructose and goodness knows what else until they completely miss out on the simple joy of eating tasty food.

I have friends who are passionate about cars and can tell you the cubic capacity of the 1957 Studebaker Hawk engine and the brake horsepower of a 1962 Bentley without having to look it up.

They know – and will tell you in great detail – how many seconds it takes for a turbo-powered Lotus to reach 160km/* from a standing start. They seem to have forgotten the basic reason for having a motor vehicle is to get from place to place in safety and comfort.

I am, I admit, passionate about words. I suppose this is to be expected because I make a living selling words. I enjoy a well-crafted sentence and will shiver with delight when I come across a particularly well polished piece of prose.

I hope I have not become a grammar bore. I try to keep my passion to myself because it can be extremely irritating to have your grammar constantly corrected by a word freak like me.

I have not forgotten the purpose of language is to exchange ideas and communicate clearly and, if bad grammar achieves that, I know I should not complain.

Several phrases tend to grate on my verbal nerves like an aching tooth. It has become common for advertisers to claim that they are giving something away “for free”. They should simply say “free” or “for nothing”. I also loathe the modern non-word “yummy”. Yummy is a silly baby word used when the speaker is too lazy to think of an adult word.

Yummy is like the over-used “nice”. Food can be delicious or tasty or savoury or piquant or irresistible but not, for goodness sake, yummy. The puréed squash we feed to babies might be marginally yummy, but only a baby should use the word.

Then there’s “like”. Oh dear, what a verbal pestilence “like” has become. We hardly hear a single sentence these days that does not contain at least two likes. The word has no meaning any more. It’s just a moronic grunt.

“I was like reading this like column in the Cape Argus and the like writer says he like objects to like using the word ‘like’, and I like don’t like understand like why.”

Listen to yourself sometime and if you’re suffering from likes, unlike yourself. Like fast!

Last Laugh

Two old pals were in the local pub, discussing the declining morals of modern youth.

“We had morals when we were young,” said one. “I never slept with my wife before we were married.

How about you?”

“I don’t know,” said his friend. “What was her maiden name?”