Sunday 9 November 2014

Essential Snobbery 101: Revisting the age of respectful address and proper communication

Fathering odds
As one's age begins to reach significant numbers, you begin to realise some changes in how you are viewed and addressed.
In my case, I guess my style of formal dressing has made me stand out to be respected and accorded courtesies in ways that could be rather inconvenient for some.
The other day, I was out to a Nigerian restaurant in a Manchester suburb with a colleague from work who is, well, two-thirds my age, whilst I stepped away from our table, the restaurateur asked him if I was his father.
Chaps on the lip
Apparently, she surmised that my dressing put me in an age bracket to be his dad and with that, some banter mixed with mirth ensued, yet, it was a bit revealing. Where some people are suspicious of being addressed as ‘Sir’, it does not really bother me; yet, there are places where I expect to be addressed properly.
I remember calling a repairs service, a few weeks ago and the receptionist calling back to ask if I was the ‘chap’ – the effrontery – you wonder where they get such uncultured people from; I do not think I paused to correct her by saying I was indeed, the ‘gentleman’, with emphasis, ‘that called earlier’.
A mugshot to pose for
Then, the descent into familiarity with strangers, people addressing me as mate, whilst it might be customary for certain people to do that, I take exception to being called mate because the first image that comes to mind of ‘mate’ is more of cellmate than schoolmate. That Australians have ‘mate’ as a standard form of address is no attempt to point to elements of interesting history.
However, as an information technology consultant, I get many calls from recruitment consultants and you can imagine, any recruiter that addresses me as ‘mate’ has lost me from the get-go, we will not be doing business based on that call. Certain standards of address and decorum have to be kept and in my case, when abused or infringed; demanded – I have no qualms about such old-fashioned views.
Back to basic English-speaking
Recently, the attempt to keep up standards of communication up has gone to dating forums where you get messages that leave you in near-shock. You are hailed with ‘Hey!’ and then this, ‘Wruu2’, at first, pretended not to understand it, then I decided I should start as I meant to go. So, I responded with, “Hello, Can we try English please?” and the response was, “Sorry, I meant, ‘what are you up to?’”. It makes you wonder how technology and the ease of communication have taken us back to the equivalent of when smoke signals were the best technology of the time.
Obviously, you then realise that since many in my age range are already parents and even grandparents, ‘uncle’ and even ‘daddy’ are expected forms of address one has to accommodate without quibble. The lesson or moral of the tale being, whilst a few of us might well be old-fashioned, we do not intend to go out of fashion. Until we are gone, some things will just have to be right and proper.

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