Bitch on the Blog

February 26, 2014

On the page

Filed under: Atmosphere — bitchontheblog @ 17:24

Rules (who makes them?) are a landmine you stand on at your peril.

Sometimes I wish I owned ‘Debrett’. Then I would RE-write the rules. Obviously I’d keep the chapter in about how to address people with titles. Mainly because I don’t have a clue and have to look it up myself. Dear Sir doesn’t cut the mustard. Funny about the English: On one hand they are informal, on the other they are so formal as to amounting to ‘anal’. I myself blame boarding schools so popular here. If you send your child away at age eight don’t be surprised at the outcome.

Take names. The English think nothing of addressing you by your first name . You only met them a minute ago. They don’t even ask. There are hoards of English people if you asked me what their surname is I’d draw a blank. Haven’t got a clue. I don’t particularly mind. Mainly because I really don’t care what anyone calls me. Call me Ingrid if you must. As did the head of an airline company I did a short stint at. To him I was Ingrid. Fine. Whatever. To my mother-in-law I was Marlene Dietrich. And before any of you start calling me Ingrid (in an attempt to be mischievous) don’t: It’s one of my middle names so it won’t needle me. What’s the other one? HA! Let’s just say it’s not Gertrude.

This is the point in this post where I have to decide which way to go. It’s the trouble with free style writing. Or what GG (who called me rather sweetly ‘Urse’) would refer to as Urse’s ‘river of consciousness’. May the damn burst.

It’s why I love the discipline of essay writing. You can’t just be all over the place. Well, you can. But it would make crappy reading. Some of you, not least Renee, know how important it is to structure any piece of formal writing. Like a general you need a plan. No good to just invade Poland nilly willy. Same with architects. They even have ‘plan chests’. I am no architect. But I’d love to have a plan chest. Found a beauty, a few years ago, just at the moment when my bank manager was forced to withdraw his favours because computers now override a personal decision. I felt for him. Talk about being emasculated.

Yes, some people look at a Mink coat, I look at a plan chest with longing in my heart. Though, admittedly, I once did look at a white Mink coat too (Koenigs Allee, Duesseldorf). It wasn’t the price tag which was stirring. It was the sheer beauty of it. Still remember the moment. That it was at night only added to dramatic effect. It’s one of the reasons I love the film “Pretty Woman”. When Richard Gere gives Julia Roberts free rein on his credit cards it’s nothing to do with money at all. It’s that most delicious feeling of being taken care of. The last sentence will go down well with feminists. But it’s not about feminism, it’s about chemistry, order of nature. Says the woman you’ll have to hold down to accept so much as a compliment – graciously.

So, Sweethearts, the above is a fine example how to be all over the place, not stick to one subject, but imitate the gushing of a steep mountain waterfall in Bavaria.

It was 0303 hrs GMT when I wrote the above. Then I forgot. And yes, thanks for asking: I had slept and was as good as new. Now the day has worn on.




  1. To U
    hm, I can almost make sense of this post.
    I read every single one of your posts, – open-mouthed for the most part – and try desperately to understand what you’re on about. Well, not that desperately. Your post notification turns up in my inbox, I must have asked somebody to do that for me. So, just to recap, read you are but, understood you are rarely.

    I never know the starting point, you see; or the history, or the particular bugbear. There you are, ranting about something you’ve read, but you haven’t told me what it was you read. Or where. I need pointers, hints, I need to be taken by the hand and have my nose shoved in the mess.

    I have my aunt Josefine’s mink coat. It’s a beauty. Not white though. It goes extremely well with my green wellies and black beanie. But that’s not really what this post is about, is it?

    Maybe you could make special allowances for me sometimes and add a footnote?

    From U

    PS; I am well on the wrong side of 60. Still standing, though.
    PPS: sorry I make you cry. You’ve said that twice now. Do you cry easily or is that just a phrase?
    PPPS: sorry to be going on, I am almost delirious with joy. The sun was out for most of the day!

    Comment by friko — February 26, 2014 @ 18:10 | Reply

    • Yes, Friko, the sun. What a difference a little bit of shine makes. Lifts the spirit. You mentioned snow drops the other day. Without fail they herald my mother’s birthday (23 Feb).

      Do I cry easily you ask. Yes and no. Let’s say I am moved easily. Emotionally. And I’d rather be fired up by someone than left cold. Even if it means welling up. I have wept many a time in my life, more often than not with joy. By way of anecdote: Some twenty four years ago my brother got married. We were standing in the forecourt of the church waiting for the bride’s arrival. I shed tears. My mother, standing next to me, dry eyed said to me: “That’s my job”. But she didn’t [shed tears]. Division of labour.

      You have a mink coat? Wow. What style, Friko: A mink with “green wellies and a black beanie”. Zandra Rhodes has nothing on you.

      As to my being opaque. Oh, Friko. It’s been laid on my doorstep so many times. By so many people. How to explain? For obvious reasons I know what I am talking about. The way I throw myself on the blogging page is like a snapshot. Something comes to mind. I hit the keyboard. I am done within minutes. I never revise/edit. And will concede (to my amusement if not shame) that I sometimes go back in time re-reading an old post and I myself haven’t got the faintest idea what on earth I was talking about, or what sparked the thought. But then the way we write is like a signature, our signature. Unmistakably so. Even if no one can read it. Maybe I should have become a doctor. After all, even pharmacists, in the olden days, could barely make out what the prescription said.

      Please do stay on the page.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 27, 2014 @ 04:40 | Reply

  2. Minefield indeed…….

    This business of calling people by their first name is recent….. post 1960’s….. and would appear to be a result of the onslaught of Americanisation in our media. It is either that or the attempt, along with comprehensiviastion of education, by the pinko liberal pseudo socialist tendency…. I’m only partially joking there.

    To the end of my career i found it difficult to address any boss by their forename….. especiallya s there were times when they had to haul me over the coals…. how could I take Natlalie seriously in that situation? Mis X however was a different case..

    How about answering the ‘phone? I tend to simply say “Hello.” mainly because of those cold calls from all over the place… I know that I “ought” announce myself as taught by mother and Granniw… but I feel compelled to field calls from these fiends.

    Comment by magpie11 — February 26, 2014 @ 20:00 | Reply

    • I answer the phone with my name, Magpie. It’s common courtesy. When I first arrived in England everyone (unless it was a company) answered the phone with their number. What good is that? How am I supposed to remember a number even if I have just dialed it? And what does it prove? Nothing.

      Times have changed. People {companies/organisations) ask me my life’s history (for my ‘security’) before they so much as tell me what their call is about. I do have to remember my upbringing in order not to tell them to fuck off. The Angel has often remarked how terribly polite and charming I am on the phone when fuming at my nostrils, talking to a complete imbecile only to slam the receiver down once the conversation is over. Turning the air blue. I keep telling him that it’s not the person at the other end who is at fault but company policies which makes them (and King Customer) jump through the hoop. Last thing these poor sausages need is an irate me. Though sometimes it is difficult to keep the lid down.

      As to you mentioning “Americanisation”. I don’t know. Doubt that, in this instance, we can lay blame on Americans. After all, unlike some countries in Europe, the British don’t differentiate between the ”Vous’ et ‘Tu’, the ‘Du’ und ‘Sie’. To the English it’s all ‘you’. Where I come from you address anyone over eighteen with ‘Sie’. Even our teachers did. As you become familiar you will be offered the ‘Du’ and first name. But, and this is of cultural interest, there was/is a hierarchy. It was/is always the OLDER person who had to make the first move, offer you that familiarity.

      As I said in my original post: It doesn’t matter to me who calls me what. It just startled me at first. And yet, the English are so very particular about titles. Quite extraordinary. Should I ever meet his Royal Highness you may bet the Euro you don’t like that I’ll say: “Hi, Charles, nice to meet you.” They may escort me out. No curtsy for me. Though did them so gracefully when I was a little girl – greeting an adult.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 27, 2014 @ 04:43 | Reply

      • I cana ssure you that, growing up in the 1940 (first three years), the 1950s,1950s and then into the early years of the 1960s all adults were Mr., Mrs, Miss as were my earliest bosses, factory foremen, manegers, head waiters and the like. One was brought up to raise one’s cap to a lady and not speak until you were spoken to when in the company of adults. Some of my peers were, apparently allowed to call certain, no familial, adults Auntie and Uncle. teahcers were Sir, Miss or Ma’am and were referred to by thier title (Mr. Mrs, Miss) and surname when speaking to other adults. The first time I ever was asked to call a superior in employment by their given name was in 1965 (September or October ) when I was employed by Dow Chemical Company at Kings Lynn. I was informed that we hcalled everyone by their first name. The reason given? “This is an American Company.”… That went for everyone from the works messenger (who was employed as such after an industrial accident so the the company could keep its record of no days lost because of workplase accidents) to the “Big wigs” from Amsterdam and elsewhere. The chief Chemist (under whom I worked) was Ned (Eyles) who was succeeded by John (Peskitt).

        When I got to College of Education things went back to traditional terms of address. Mr. “so and so”, Dr. “So and so”. Reverend “So and So”…. the one exception seems to have been one Molly Penn, who taught Dance and Drama and who introducd me to Miles Davis, “Sketches of Spain”…. All that lasted for a year and then women were introduced into the student body. Things seemed to change then, including standards of dress which declined dramatically. I don’t remeber calling any of the Academic staff by their first name except said Molly and her side kick, David ” You’re mere scientists and it is my job to teach you to speak properly” Kemp. Arrogant twit. I soon taught him who could speak correctly and who was possessed of a loud, clear voice…. My apologies for that little aside….

        It is interesting that the French seem to be losing the strict usage of “vous” and “tu” (or so I am told). We were taught a strict code of use of these forms of “you” …… “tu” is singular but used as a familiar term when speaking to certain people (family and close friends) , “vous” is plural bur used as a singular in formal situations and with people with whom you are unfamiliar. As in German it was in the “remit” of the adult to introduce the use of “tu”.

        I have no idea why English does not have gender forms of you… how would one construct them? But then we do not accept double negatives as a stronger version of expression as some languages do.

        Comment by magpie11 — February 27, 2014 @ 16:33 | Reply

  3. Ursula, you are lucky you do not live in India. We have so many rules about how to address people that unless you have been brought up in a milieu you will flounder. And it changes from state to state and that adds to the confusion for mobile characters like me.

    Comment by Rummuser — February 28, 2014 @ 05:51 | Reply

    • Yes, Ramana, in both your and gaelikaa’s posts I have – over time – noticed those ‘rules’. Does my head in. Here, in the West, we have become so relaxed one of my aunts asked me to drop the ‘Aunt’ bit. I haven’t. I can’t. Sorry. She is my aunt. And old habits die hard.

      Makes me think every so often: The Angel has always called me ‘Mama’ yet, from when he started to talk to 22 years later, despite my referring to his father as ‘Papa’, he has always addressed his father, and referred to him, by his first name.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — February 28, 2014 @ 06:31 | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: