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I’m not being funny but…you stink.

November 29, 2010

When I was at school (some time around the turn of the century) I had a Home Economics teacher with BO. We vicious teenage girls would whisper amongst ourselves, daring each other to tell her – for her own good – and saying, over and over, ‘You’d think her family would, wouldn’t you?’

Would they though? I have a friend with a son who desperately wants to be a professional singer, but his singing is so bad that when he practises in his bedroom it sounds like the wind howling in the pipes. Will she tell him? Of course not. She’ll bottle it, and let him grow up and one day win a place on X Factor, where he will be humiliated in front of millions of people.

So here I am, 100 years later, with a milder dilemma. Should I allow an IT teacher acquaintance of mine – only an acquaintance and therefore arguably not my responsibility – continue to believe that the shape she likes best for an example logo is called a Trape-Zoid?

Or should I tell her that she’s making an idiot of herself in front of a class of probably vicious teenagers?

I think I will. I should. I must.

I will take her aside, and say:

‘When I was young I thought that “Kernel” and “Col-o-nel” were two different ranks in the army; similarly “Left-tenant” and “Lee-u-tenant.” It didn’t occur to me that the first version was one I only ever heard people speak of, and the second version was one I only ever saw written down.

‘I also thought that “determination” was pronounced “deeta-mine-ation.”

‘I thought the film “Under Siege” was “Under Siggie.”

‘I still, to this day, have trouble distinguishing a “soldier” from a “shoulder”. I interchange the two words at random. “My soldier is aching”, I will say. Or “Why do the shoulders march like that?”

‘The mind plays tricks on one,’ I will tell her, gently.

And when she looks at me with puzzled brow and wonders why I’m sharing these embarrassing revelations with her, I will hold up a picture of the shape she calls a TRAPE-ZOID and I will say…

‘It’s a TRAPEZE-OYD. I thought you’d like to know.’

And then I’ll run for my life.

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