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Maree’s musings

November 6, 2020 November 2020, Regular Features No Comments

HUMBLY SPEAKING

  At last, with isolation a distant memory here in NZ, we’re back to some semblance of normality. It’s a delight again when we’re out and about to be greeting passers-by, not holding one’s breath for fear of catching something, and great to stop for a chat about stuff.

The weather will always be a starter. It’s been a seemingly endless winter, with Co-vid and so on; but things are looking up. A ferocious southerly morning is considered merely  ‘a bit nippy’ when the truth is more like brutal. Bloody freezing, in fact. The weather guys may politely blame the wind-chill factor, possibly one of the nastiest phrases invented. At the other extreme, when the sun is smiling the temperatures into submission, it’s ‘not a bad day’. Later on, approaching heat-stroke territory, ‘rather warm’. You don’t say!

This downplaying possibly stems from our entrenched kiwi culture where modest opinions and a she’ll be right attitude level out extremes. The flash term [I learned at school many moons ago] is euphemism which means ‘words of good omen’. You will all remember being told  ‘don’t exaggerate!’ That’s the opposite, naturally, but still tempting. Very. 

Fortunately both extremes are mostly harmless, although one needs to be wary of some recent Trumpisms. ‘It’s only a cold. Nothing to worry about.’ YEAHRIGHT. Just eyewatering, like a covid test up the nose. What an absolute disgrace! Maybe by the time you read this, he’ll be goneburgers.

Talking of food, that’s another realm where both abound. Compare ‘being a bit peckish’ to the overwhelming desire to murder a pie. Did you know, by the way, that the average kiwi eats 28 pies a year? Not me, but IMHO I probably still class myself as average. Except perhaps when it comes to avocadoes. I do go a bit OTT with those, but that’s OK – one term which is an overwhelming leveller in itself – unless the price is astronomical. Or of course, if I’m starving to death.

When it comes to describing our fellows, we kiwis have some pearlers. A bit of a dag, for example. Try translating that into Japanese. Years ago I had a lovely couple of neighbours who requested just that. I gave up, in the end. The vast majority of people fall into the ordinary category in terms of behaviour, abilities and so on. There are the odd exceptions; politely described as being ‘a bit different’ even when they’re as mad as a meataxe. Lost in translation, just like the dag, above.  At the other end of the spectrum, the superhumans – those legends, the forces of nature. I’ve never been described as a domestic goddess, but they do exist. Once in a while though, I’ve been told I scrub up OK. Great stuff!

Our health, like the weather, is a common bond. Responses to ‘How are you?’ are as variable as it as well. Generally the question is largely rhetorical, but you can usually come up with something suitable. The meaningless OK crops up again. We have replies with more imagination: a bit poorly, under the weather [also again], to not too good or even bloody crook. But we soldier on regardless. Can’t complain, after all, nobody listens. Better to lie. ‘Fine’ will do.

All in all, it’s been an interesting year. In my humble opinion, that is. But we made it. Awesome!

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