Soon, very soon in fact, it will be time to deck the halls with boughs of holly, wish goodwill to all men and indulge ourselves in our annual bout of false sentimentality and overexposed commercialism that represents what have now become known as the ‘Happy Holidays’.
I’ve never been a lover of Christmas (oops, I mean, the ‘Festive Season’) as my wife is of the ‘ex’ variety, my kids are grown up but don’t have sprogs of their own and tend to go out on the sauce with their mates, and on the big day I wake up, listen to Terry Wogan (another pleasure soon to be removed), open my handful of gifts and spend the rest of the day watching James Bond movies and drinking whisky. Come to think of it, it’s not that bad a day after all.
But this year, I’m determined to celebrate it properly. I’m going to put ‘Christmas’ banners and inflatable reindeer up all over my house, have an illuminated Nativity scene at the end of my driveway and invite every carol singer into the house for a mulled wine or hot toddie.
And here’s why. Political bloody correctness. My local newspaper here in the Midlands has pretty much denounced Christmas for fear of offending its readers, which to my mind is utter poppycock. I respect other peoples’ religious festivals, and by and large they respect mine.
It might not sound like the most cosmopolitan part of the world, but here in the West Midlands people of different creeds and colours have co-existed for years, mostly in utter harmony, without having to find euphemisms for words such as ‘Christmas’.
Last year, my local non-denominational shopkeeper was open all day on December 25, which was great as it meant I could nip out to buy a box of cigars (sorry, mustn’t mention smoking in print, I do apologise to all you impressionable people out there who accidentally take it up as a result of reading that ‘dirty’ word…).
He told me it was his favourite day of the year, not for religious reasons, but because his was the only retail environment within a 20-mile radius in which desperate parents could buy the batteries they’d forgotten in advance.
He’d done 200 quid on Duracells, so he reckoned, and would do half that again on Boxing Day.
But maybe us car dealers shouldn’t be too dismissive of the PC police. After all, it was us who started the whole ball rolling – ever since the first second-hand car changed hands in the late 19th century, we’ve been at it with the euphemisms to a degree where they become common parlance.
Never has a dealer sold a car with ‘high mileage’. ‘Average miles for year’ or ‘motorway miles’ yes, but ‘high’, oh no. We never, ever mention negatives when we’re selling cars, but at the same time we have some arses to cover.
So if you see a car advertised in ‘average condition’ or ‘good for its year’, you generally know it’ll be rough as a dog. And what the flip is surface rust, as in ‘it’s only a little surface rust, mate, nothing to worry about’?
Rust is rust. It is a substance that used to be metal but isn’t any more. It has ceased to be metal, much in the same way as Monty Python’s parrot ceased to be an avian. And if it’s part of a suspension turret or similar then, to use another euphemism, the car becomes an ‘ideal project, perfect for the DIY enthusiast’.
Or, more often than not, scrapyard. Other classics include ‘virtually one owner from new’ (so two owners then?) and ‘needs minor attention’. If the attention needed were minor, then any car dealer worth his salt would lavish such tlc on the thing to make a decent profit, so you can automatically assume the attention required is more likely of the major variety.
For ‘rare car’ read ‘highly undesirable car’. ‘Not many left in this condition’ means ‘impossible to get parts for’, ‘unusual spec’ means beige, with purple upholstery, ‘priced to sell’ means ‘been here ages, nobody wants it’ and then there’s ‘economical’, the biggest euphemism of the lot. How many customers have you told a car does ‘about 40 to the gallon’, when in practice you’ve never driven it further than round the block a couple of times, don’t know and couldn’t really care less? So my New Year’s resolution is this: Never again will I use a politically correct euphemism. Happy Holidays one and all! Drat...