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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Faux pas

“Don’t you just hate the Americanization of words?” This question was posed in the Maritime Advocate recently. It was a joke but, sadly, too few people in the UK will get it.

Things are getting out of hand. And it is not just American spelling that is threatening to take over. American customs are insidiously working their way into everyday life in the UK. In recent years, for example, we have seen the introduction of school proms, to which children in dinner-dress are chauffeur-driven in stretch limousines to swish venues in order to celebrate long into the night the achievement of having sat an examination which - incidentally, and through no fault of their own - it is impossible to fail, even if they don’t turn up to take it.

Most recently, we have seen Sweet Sixteen birthday parties migrate from the US to the UK, with people spending thousands on birthday celebrations for sixteen-year-olds. Please be sensible. Bear in mind that eighteenth birthdays are already the subject of monstrously over-the-top celebrations, which are repeated at the age of 21. So we now have three milestone birthdays for people who may not be old enough to shave their legs. There was a time, not so long ago, when 21 was the only memorable birthday for people in the UK. On our coming of age, we used to get £21 to spend, if we were lucky – then nothing else until we were 60.

Apart from trying to be American, it is also apparently the thing to do to over-celebrate everything. Why is it now necessary, for instance, for a couple who live in Bolton to spend millions of pounds on getting married in Mauritius, followed by a beach reception? In our day it was the local church followed by bridge rolls and two half-bottles of Blue Nun in the village hall. It never did us any harm.

Faux celebrations, like faux celebrities, are in danger of ruining our lives.


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