Saturday, September 08, 2007


Residing in London during the sixties, I was told that a single word would suffice to get one through any situation one might encounter in England. That word is "ta!", a shortened form of "thank you."

The politeness of the English is legendary (and in my experience quite genuine), so that there are many legitimate occasions for uttering this useful monosyllable. Moreover, the English go into thank-you mode when those of us in the rest of the world would be inclined to express impatience or annoyance, or simply request attention. Thus if one finds oneself ignored at a department store or government office a crisp "ta!' will call attention to one's plight. At the butcher's or stationer's one need only point to the desired item, exclaiming "ta!" As you pay, a pleasantly expressed "ta!" is of course de rigueur. If someone inadvertently stands on your foot in a crowd, a vigorous "ta! will alert the transgressor to shift his stance. And of course for "goodbye" there is "ta ta." (Or is that replication cheating?)

By comparison tocay's American teenagers are positively extravagant, requiring a luxuriant vocabulary of three words: "cool" and "it sucks."

At all events to all my faithful readers who have persisted in visiting this site for the last six weeks without reward, a haarty TA! At present I am living out of a suitcase with no computer of my own while my apartment is undergoing fundamental renovation. They say it will be beautiful. We shall see. In the meantime I will console myself by gradually returning to my own curmudgeonly self in this pages.


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