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Thursday, 24 March 2011

Second Hand Rose


At a time when the physical world seems intent on imitating happenings in the political world - except its sense of direction is a bit out - I thought I'd write on a subject dear to my heart.

Euphemisms.

Death is a particularly fertile ground: not surprising given all the rotting corpses it provides.

He's "passed over", "gone ahead", "slipped away", "on the other side", "gone to meet his maker", "at rest", "at peace", "looking down on us", "entered the eternal city", " sitting on his right hand", "fallen silent", "asleep". All these expressions to say the same thing. He's" no more", "deceased", "he's late", "wrung down the final curtain", "joined the celestial choir" and is  "pushing up the daisies".

Well, to say "he's dead" is pretty undramatic. You need to liven it up so to speak. And let me make it quite clear, without equivocation or doubt, I'm in favour of livening up death.

Yet although different ways of getting round the words "they're dead" I find amusing, it's the day to day euphemisms that really perplex me.

"Second hand" always struck me as an effective way of describing something that wasn't new - someone else had it before you. But that's a soft way of saying it's "used". Used by someone else before they got rid of it and you, poor, impoverished, mutt, bought it.

So how is the term "Pre - Owned" any better? Well simply it obfuscates the origins of the object. It's owned by you, that's the important point to establish. The fact that it might have belonged to someone else before is of secondary importance. There's not the stigma of being "used" or "second hand". Except it's exactly the same thing.

There's no similar hang up about homes and houses. In fact we glory in the fact that our house has been pre-owned by generations.It is well and truely second hand and used. You don't see Estate agents advertising a Georgian house as "This substantial second hand property, pre- owned by at least 6 careful owners".

When it gets old enough it's no longer second hand, or used. It's historical, full of character (and woodworm). And the same applies to all old objects. Once they're old and used enough they're no longer old and used but antiques or vintage as with cars. At what point does at 1962 Ford Anglia  move from the "Used Car" forecourt of some doggy dealer in "The Minder" to a full page feature in "Homes and Properties"?

I find myself amazed when enthusiasts exclaim that their pride and joy has been completely rebuilt. Is it the original object or something other? All their efforts may mean that little of the original remains.

There's a problem about the nature of things and it goes something like this. You build a boat and over the years, because of wear and tear, you replace all of the beams, all of the hull, the mast and the nails that hold it all together. What do you have - the original boat or something completely different?

I nearly fell off my seat when I read the following in a pet magazine "Pre - Loved Puppies". I had visions of "Pre Digested Food."

Next we'll be talking about the dead as "The Over Extended Living".

1 comment:

The Sagittarian said...

Great post. I guess that makes us members of the breathing-challenged group?