If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 31 December 2012


Lovely word, 'passion '.  Depending on the context, it can mean head-over-heels in romantic love, or blank-eyed and drooling with sheer lust, or even committed with a life-shaping intensity to an object or activity that is more important than life itself.  That's ignoring the religious meaning, of course, of the transcendental and redemptive power of sacrifice.  All pretty major stuff, I'm sure you will agree.

Which is why I get either annoyed or depressed (depending on my mood) when I see the word used as a marketing tool - "Passionate About Sandwiches" and the like.  As with much in the world of worthless corporate bullshit, once you are tuned in you see it everywhere.  I thought I had seen the bottom of the pit when I read the CV of an aspiring employee to learn that he or she was "passionate about developing social marketing tools in a business context", but I was wrong.  Deeply wrong.

We have a rest room at work with a sink, kettle and fridge.  In the absence of proper lockers, it's where I dump my bike gear when I am at work.  After a wet ride in, I can take over most of the room by draping my kit over every available surface, but normally I put the suit on a hanger and suspend it from a window sill - as you do.  Recently I have shared my windowsill with a jacket.

It's a corporate jacket, one of those supplied to 'guest-facing' staff to ensure that we present a coherent customer image, part of a suit which (from the size) has been issued to a diminutive female employee.  She probably leaves it in work, and travels to and from the workplace in something warm, weatherproof and, above all, not corporate.  It is the cheapest, nastiest piece of junk tailoring I have ever seen.  It is shapeless, thin and tacky, with a high nylon content.  So far, so unremarkable, but then I chanced to see the label on the inside.

Thus is the demeaning of a fine English word complete.  It's also a use of the word 'tailoring' of which I was previously unaware.

Anyway, it's the last day of the year and the first day of the rest of our lives, so we had better get on with it.  A Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog.  I wish you and your loved ones peace and prosperity in 2013, while fully aware that this is merely an optative statement and has no transformative power over anyone's actual life.

Have a good one, and think of me at midnight when it all kicks off.

Seriously, all the best.


  1. And from this posting Richard, it's obvious you're passionate about the 'correct' and appropriate usage of our English words. Good on you!

    Surely, the side by which the buttons are, should indicate whether it was issued to a male or female employee?

    A man's jacket should button "left side over right".

    [Like the direction of spiral staircases, it too originates in the use of the sword, where such buttoning avoided the risk of catching the top of the weapon in the opening of the cloth, since the sword was usually drawn right-handed. ]

  2. Hehe, I love this blog! My commenters are such an eclectic lot :) I didn't think to look, but yes this is a man's jacket. Trouble is, I can't think of a male colleague who it would fit. Perhaps my employer is just too cheap to buy gender-specific clothing. Good spot, Joe.

  3. Happy New Year to you and your family as well Richard. Have a happy healthy 2013 filled with lots of riding.

    The sword on the right - isn't that why we now mount a horse from the left too? Otherwise the sword was in the way.....hmmmm.

    I'm going to have to agree with you Richard. There are definitely words out there that are used all to often and not quite appropriately. How can one be passionate about 'tailoring'?

  4. Interesting that all the words are capitalized on the label too, maybe just "A Quirk Of The Typeface Used"

    1. I didn't think to remark on that, but you are right - it's unusual. Some people use a Lot of Capitals because they think it Looks Formal, but in fact it just Looks Illiterate.

  5. Happy New Year, Rich.

    Can't help but agree with this post. Although I will point out that Alpinestars (and other "adventure/sports" clothing manufacturers) often adopt the reverse of traditional male clothing standards by opening 'right over left'. The reasoning being that, on a bike or halfway up a mountain, there is seldom much need to carry a sword and hence it makes more sense to design fastenings easily manipulated by the off (normally left) hand.

    PS: I remain passionate about motorcycles and motorcycling, which is a non-debased use of the word. And I have a recently-acquired new-to-me ZZR1400 with which to continue indulging that passion!

    1. Happy New Year, Endo. There's something I didn't know. Perhaps I don't buy enough high-end clothing. And some of do still carry swords on our mountaineering expeditions, you know. Standards must be maintained.

      Well-played with the ZZR! Does that mean the Viffer or the Versys have bitten the dust? Or are you just accumulating? (I'm guessing that next year's trip report will be a bit shorter, and the passing landscape harder to make out, ho ho.)

    2. I only knew about it after a huffy moment purchasing my one and only Alpinestars garment - "You trying to flog me a girl's jacket, look, the zip's on the wrong side...? Oh. I see. Sorry!"

      I half-fancied a change, having had the Versys and the VFR for over 6 years between them, at about the time I was offered a super deal on a new Versys 1000, but eventually decided that I just couldn't (yet) give up sportsbikes. That became an even more super offer on a new ZZR (which hadn't been any kind of an intended choice, but the testride...wow), and after some more agonising (particularly knowing my lackadaisical attitude towards cleaning, despite riding all year round), I opted for a tidy '08 model. It did, in some respects sadly, require PXing both current bikes - although if I was truly honest, while I really liked the Versys, I liked riding the VFR even more and it was getting difficult to justify hanging on to both!

      The ZZR's great, though: a real '90s-style long and low supertanker that feels planted in the wet and ballistic in the dry - the engine thrust is just unbelievable! It handles better than any '90s superbike I ever owned, though, whilst also being more comfortable. I would have been quite happy with a newer VFR, with the improved V-TEC, but I'm not complaining about stumbling across this instead!

      Next year (this year now!) we may well have the optimistically-named Guzzi Sport 1200 back with in the fold, so I'm not betting on testing out the max speed for extended periods. Although, we're looking at a two-pack possibility (WSB at Imola, then MotoGP at Sachsenring), so there may be Autobahns and temptation involved...!

    3. Can't argue with any of that. Is it that gorgeous apple-green that they had in the Bike magazine test? I liked that a lot.

      Just the fag lighter to fit and you are ready for Europe again :)

    4. 'tis a sort of metalflake deep blue that mostly looks black at the moment, but will no doubt sparkle into coruscating life if we should ever see the sun again!
      SW Motech rack kit is on the way, and a set of MTC cans have already replaced the 14-tonne standard 'zorst pipework, so it's pretty much complete. Just needs to be plastered with a selection of tasteless and gaudy decals to be truly reflective of its new owner's personality :-)


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...