This morning on Broadcasting House I listened to an interesting report on British euphemisms. They do have an history, apparently. Who knew? They began, near as anyone can figure, in Fleet Street in the 1970’s, as a way of tastefully describing death in obituaries. People were said to have died “suddenly” when they’d had a heart attack, or “after a long illness” which meant cancer. “Unmarried” meant precisely that, while “never married” meant the person in question was gay. Or “light in the loafers”, or “batting for the other team”, or (I am not making this up) “overly fond of knitwear”.
Euphemisms in Britain have grown cheekier over the years, to the point where they’re not much more than thinly veiled insults today. Someone is said to have “left politics to spend more time with his family” when everyone knows they’re going into rehab. My favorite euphemism, probably to no one’s surprise, has to be “a little tired and emotional”, by which is meant drunk.
Tonia and I celebrated our second anniversary last night by watching Rocky Horror Picture Show on dvd. Veterans of many a midnight showing, we’ve each lost track of the number of times we’ve watched this film, but until last night had never seen it together. We cracked a bottle of Proseco (for which I’ve developed quite a taste since Italy) and sat on the sofa, Ruby between us. We were amazed by how little Susan Sarandon has changed since 1975 (I wish I could hate her for this, but I can’t) and how brilliant Tim Curry was in this role, and we sang every song (surprising how it all came back), and pretended to mist the air with spray bottles, and smacked the back of the sofa at the appropriate moments. We did not stand up to do the Time Warp. We sofa danced it, confusing Ruby in the process, who wasn’t quite sure if her participation was required or not. A good time was had by all until just after midnight, when Magenta and Riff Raff returned to the planet Transsexual, and Tonia and I toddled off to bed, a little tired and emotional.
Ruby, despite being easily confused, has now risen from the ranks of Auxiliary Dog, and effortlessly assumed the role of Main Dog. In just the few days since Toby’s death she’s become very much better behaved. We think it’s because there’s no need to compete anymore, for either food, or attention and, consequently, Ruby’s really mellowed out. She’ll never be smart, but when we need to feel comforted by the presence of a small, warm body she’s totally here for us.
Thank you, and again, thank you, for your words of comfort and sympathy. They really have helped fill the little Toby-shaped hole in my heart.