I just heard a journalist describing (with some emphasis) a Coronavirus Vaccine as "Literally liquid gold." Were he confronted with real liquid gold, how would he ... having neutered the word 'literally' ... describe it? Do we then move on to "really literally", for a decade or so, until that in turn needs reinforcement? And why do these public voices now, increasingly, refer to "fellow colleagues"? The evisceration of real words means that endless reinforcement mumble mumble mumble you know what I was going on to say.
But what is most in my mind at the moment is the habit among our rarely more-than-semi-educated journalists of constantly talking about 'hugs'.
In their strange world, Coronavirus has meant that, because of 'distancing', I and millions of other poor old people of my age are sitting in loneliness longing to be able to 'hug' their grandchildren or 'be hugged' by them. You try counting how often this offensive trope is paraded on the TV screen by some dim cutie.
There are all sorts of things I would love to feel easy doing ... strolling into Blackwells to see what new books there are ... listening to a paper in a symposium ... accepting invitations to go and preach or lecture or conduct retreats ... finding a country church unlocked and poking around inside to unearth the story of that community ... borrowing a cottage for a fortnight on an interesting coastline, or taking a midweek weekend in a hotel ... checking something in the Patrologia in Bodley ... sauntering into a good cafe for a good coffee and a good pastry ... a quick Guinness (Beamish would be a real treat) in a friendly passing pub ... Saltimbocca alla Romana in our local Italian ... checking whether 'our' Cornish choughs nested this year in the blow-hole near ... ...
But, well ... 'comorbidities' ... I am overweight and diabetic (it's the pastries and the veal) and, even if our de facto regime allowed them, such pleasures would be attenuated by the fear that the waiters or the choughs might infect me with you-know-what.
And I missed the fortnight on Lake Garda at the 'Roman Forum' Conference ... Verdi in the open air at Verona as the July sky darkens ...
Yes; God has been very good to me. And even under Covid, my life is a million times more pleasurable and fulfilled than that of so many others whose suffering is very real. I accept the way things are with, I hope, very thankful and grateful resignation to the unmerited goodness of God.
But the absence of Hugs is the least of my deprivations..
Our grandchildren are intelligent, nuanced, witty, perceptive, and affectionate, and we have greatly missed being able to take advantage of occasional lunches with the very admirable grandson who has just finished his first term at the University ... how we had looked forward to having him Up!
But Hugs? The journalistic trope that we senilities just live and long for hugs?? This is the degree of contempt which the self-assured TV voices, as they stumble ungrammatically through their six-fillers-per-sentence illiterate woffle, feel for us over-seventy-fives.
It brings on my Fr Jack Hegarty mood. I feel like throwing something at the TV screen.
But I suppose that would simply provide objective evidence of my senile decrepitude. I would be dragged off to hospital where each day would start with a bright and youthful female voice saying "Come along, John, sit up straight and take your pills, there's a good boy ..."
Heaven knows, this fallen world is full of different forms of abuse, all of them reprehensible. But the ruthless infantilisation of us, the defenceless elderly, is well up among the front runners.