Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I like the young people. I think they are far more interesting than they are portrayed in the media. I think they do more than just text all the time.
One of the things I like about them is their interesting use of language. (Although I do wish they would not punctuate all their sentences with the word 'like'; but I am old and what do I know?) One of my favourites is what the young people have done with the word random. It no longer has its rather dull meaning of without definite order or plan but has, in the hands of the young, embraced a myriad of subtleties and nuance.
It can have a slightly derogatory sense, in a woman of no importance way:
'Who was that?'
'Just some random guy.'
I am told that in America it can indicate sexual looseness:
'I'm not just some random chick, you know.'
It can mean startling and unexpected:
'Wow, that was random.'
The same reaction may greet a tremendous and amusing non-sequitur.
I have heard young people who do not quite fit in with the cool kids and the sports heroes at school refer to themselves as random with a certain sense of pride, as if owning their slight non-conformism. They might not be top of the class, or dressed in the latest trainers, or in the first eleven, but they have randomness as their secret weapon. Personally I would take the random kids over the cool kids any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Maybe that's because I was a little random myself, back in the day, although we did not have a word for it then.
Anyway, the point is that after yesterday's extended rant, which was greeted with astonishing tolerance by you dear readers, I am going to indulge in a little scattershot randomness of my own.
Here is what caught my interest today:
A religious gentleman in Iran proclaimed that scantily dressed women were directly responsible for earthquakes.
"Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes," he said.
Personally, I am thrilled. By his lights, I certainly qualify as a loose woman. When I was very young and naughty, I used to go out in skirts which people mistook for belts. Now I discover that I can literally make the earth move. I shall try and use my power for good instead of evil.
In other natural geological phenomenon news, the wonderful Rebecca Guoleitsdottir has been posting astonishing photographs of the Icelandic volcano over at her Flickr blog. This is her latest:
Observe the famous Icelandic horses in the foreground. As a breed, they date back to the 9th century, and are famous for their five gaits, the extra two being a lateral ambling movement called the tolt, and a flying pace called the skeio. I am secretly obsessed by Icelandic horses, which although mostly under fifteen hands are never called ponies, partly because there is no word in Icelandic for pony, I learn today. I would quite like to own one. If I ever write a real bestseller I should buy one. I should also like a Connemara pony:
And an Appaloosa:
And maybe a retired racehorse who needs a good home:
I always rather yearned for a coloured horse, although I think my mother secretly considered them a bit infra dig (the furthest she would go was strawberry roan):
And I'd like a Suffolk Punch to gaze at, and because they must be SAVED:
And a lovely thoroughbred mare:
Then I could have a Dalmatian plantation, except with horses. So keep your fingers crossed for the book.
In other news: apparently nautical striped shirts are back:
(Picasso by Rene Burri.)
I have absolutely no idea what to do with this information. The last time I wore a fisherman's shirt was in 1988.
Talking of life on the ocean wave, I am vastly diverted by tales of plucky Britons virtually paddling back to Blighty with their bare hands. Everyone you hear interviewed is amazingly good-humoured and phlegmatic. Perhaps the famous British self-deprecation and stiff upper lip are going stronger than the newspapers like to think. Everyone is having a little competition to see who can mention Dunkirk the most. It reminds me of the great scene in Don't Tell Alfred, when a coachload of British tourists were stuck in the British Embassy, which they appeared to think was a genteel hotel. They settled down on the grass and got up a bit of a sing-song. (For those of you who know the book, my favourite part of all in that section is the bit with Northey and the badger sett. Dear old Mr Brock.)
Finally: I LOVE these guys. I have never heard of them until today, when they were brought to my attention by the power of the internet. It was a perfect example of the stick insect theory, because they could not embody randomness more if they tried:
If that doesn't cheer you up during election fever, I don't know what will.