As Susie B nearly always beats me at table tennis I need to grasp every opportunity to gain an advantage. So when she offered me the chance to replay a point on our recent holiday in Crete, I grasped it with both hands.
But what led up to that scenario? In my opinion, an ageing Italian’s total and utter disregard for anyone or anything other than himself, that’s what. What, other than sheer ignorance, leads this 70+ year-old Italian making a beeline for the outdoor bar by taking a shortcut between me and the table tennis table? Not only during a game, but in the middle of a friggin’ point.
Picture the scene: my style of play leads me to hit defensive shots from about six feet behind the table, then rush in to smash winners from close range. So, what the hell? I’m moving in for the kill when he wanders into my path, and is squarely between me and the table when my forehand smash would undoubtedly take Susie B out.
And he’s not even apologetic…just meandering on his way with barely a grunt. Unfortunately he isn’t alone in his thoughtlessness. So many others are equally devoid of basic manners. My Mum and Dad brought me up to think of others and to be courteous in my everyday activities.
For example, I’ll never block a pavement, or aisle in a shop. I’ll never suddenly stop while walking anywhere without looking behind me first. I’ll never talk to anyone without a “please” or “thank you.” And I’ll never do or say anything to deliberately hurt, offend or upset anyone. Basically, I always treat other people exactly how I’d like them to treat me. I’m sure you feel the same (in fact, I can see you nodding your head right now) – but do you think we’re in the minority? I should say we definitely are.
People say it’s the just the way of the world now, and people are what the world has made them. Yes, maybe so. But the world is what people have made IT.
Hey, d'you know what? That wasn't the only incident on my holiday that got me thinking - something else sprang to mind. This one was in the hotel bar (with one of their MASSIVE local brandies in hand) while watching Norway play Germany in a 2018 World Cup Qualifier match.
Arsenal favourite Mesut Özil turned out for Germany, and when I saw his name on the back of his shirt it got me thinking. The umlaut – the two dots above the o –signifies a missing letter, usually an e. So his full surname would be Oezil. Why don’t we do that in English, do away with the letter e altogether and put an umlaut over the preceding letter? A simple additional key on our keyboards could insert the umlaut over any letter, just as the shift key does to make a capital.
English is quirky enough to take this in its stride. After all, a language that pronounces cough as coff, and plough as plow, has a head start in idiosyncrasy. As Homer Simpson would say: “D’oh.” Or should that be “Dough?”
So who’s with me on creating the SOEBUIK pressure group? That’s Scrap Overrated E Because Umlaut Is King. And if any clever Dick suggests that acronym should be SÖBUIK I’ll politely tell you where said umlaut can be not so delicately placed.
Which all goes to remind me, do you remember the days when “encyclopaedia” was written with the a and e joined up in some peculiar way? I think the widespread use of keyboards instead of pens finally did away with that typical English eccentricity.
Although I’m always working (my wife still doesn’t believe I’m working when I’m staring out of the window), I wouldn’t swap a writer’s life for royalties on every non-umlauted u and o in the world.
SOEBUIK aficionados unite – may the ö and ü force be with us.