Author Topic: So what is the "new normal" lets ask Roger  (Read 271 times)

Offline thaiga

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So what is the "new normal" lets ask Roger
« on: July 26, 2020, 11:12:45 AM »
Another interesting article from Roger Crutchley, about what is the new normal, nobody really knows, which is probably the reason for its popularity amongst public speakers and politicians, but it sounds good. he goes on to say. There is bit of a worry that "new normal" might also be a bit tough on old guys like me who have spent their whole life desperately trying to be normal, only to find that now we are in danger of becoming "abnormal". lol. :)

Thanks to Roger Crutchley
Bangkok Post columnist

Desperate times for the old normal
Every now and again a buzzword or phrase appears which you know is not going away in a hurry, although you wish it would. One such expression which we have become accustomed to in recent times is "new normal". Admittedly it sounded quite trendy and even clever when it first emerged, but it has been so overused it is already something of a cliche.

It is still not entirely clear what "new normal" actually means, primarily because nobody really knows, which is probably the reason for its popularity amongst public speakers and politicians. If someone uses "new normal" in a speech they are pretty safe because it sounds like they know what they are talking about even if they don't.

There is bit of a worry that "new normal" might also be a bit tough on old guys like me who have spent their whole life desperately trying to be normal, only to find that now we are in danger of becoming "abnormal".

"New normal" might also sound the death-knell for that long-established and wonderfully comforting expression "perfectly normal". Somehow "perfectly new normal" doesn't quite flow off the tongue in the same manner.

It could also be an interesting period for four US towns in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky which happen to share the somewhat abnormal name of Normal. One wonders when the pandemic is over if they will be renamed New Normal or perhaps if they haven't adapted to the new situation, will settle for Old Normal.

End of the road

Some buzzwords have a longer shelf life than others. Back in 2004 when George W Bush came up with a "road map" for Middle East peace, you had the feeling it wasn't the last we had heard of that expression and that has proven to be the case. I even heard it a couple of times last week when a British politician got in a tangle and was unconvincingly trying to pretend everything would work out if we followed his "road map".

The "road map" expression even reached Thailand a few years ago. It is the sort of term politicians dream about. It sounds quite enlightened even if it doesn't really mean anything. It doesn't matter as long as it impresses the general public. Unfortunately, as we know, maps in Thailand have to take into account assorted U-turns, gridlocks and potholes which have an unfortunate habit of either leading to a dead end or a head-on collision.

Not so plain speaking

In the past decade the "road map" expression has also come in very useful for anyone who serves on a committee or board and in a meeting is called upon to comment on something they know nothing about. Even an incoherent mumble can sound quite authoritative as long as you lob in "road map" and a few other established buzzwords such as "window of opportunity", "grass roots" or the favourites for many years, "transparency" and "sustainability". You can also slip in Boris Johnson's favourite "sherpa time" and find people nodding in agreement.

A mention of "re-engineering" or "synergy" also doesn't do any harm as long as you don't have to explain what they mean.

"Paradigm" is another word that regularly crops up in reports despite the fact that few people know its meaning and even fewer how to pronounce it.

Box tickers

There are some expressions that can be irritating simply because they are too clever by half. In this respect "singing from the same hymn book" has always been a bit annoying, as has "thinking out of the box", not to be confused with the equally maddening "ticks all the right boxes".

Then we have "correct me if I am wrong", which really means "I am right and don't even think about correcting me".

One expression we are all probably guilty of using is "but, having said that" after which we go on to contradict everything we have just said, a convenient way of sitting on the fence.

Thanks, but no thanks

One email expression that can make people uncomfortable is "thanks in advance". It's a sneaky way of thanking a person for something they probably don't want to do, but makes them feel guilty if they don't. Another annoying expression is "with all due respect", a pompous way of announcing that whatever is said next will not show any respect whatsoever. All the above are basically modern-day cliches, a word derived from the French publishing name for a printing plate that can be reused over and over again. So not for the first time we can blame it all on the French.

Nailed on

Many thanks to a long-time Bangkok resident who can confirm first-hand the item last week suggesting there may have been some surreptitious tinkling with the coconuts at British fairground shies in the old days. In 1950 his grandfather ran an amusement arcade in Blackpool and one of the tasks granddad gave his nine-year-old grandson was to nail down the coconuts at the shy so they would not fall off if hit by a customer.

On one such occasion, the youngster missed the nail and hammered a painful blow on his finger and to this day has the wound to prove it. One suspects he is probably the only expat in Thailand to have suffered a coconut wound in such a manner.

bangkokpost.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Online Taman Tun

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Re: So what is the "new normal" lets ask Roger
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2020, 11:50:13 AM »
Just a few comments on Roger’s observations:-

Synergy
Synergy was the favourite expression of a guy working for a company that was  involved with our company in carrying out a project.   His definition of synergy was perfectly clear:-  A solution to any problem on the project would result in a huge cost saving to his company and a huge increase in cost to our company.  He seemed quite upset when we would not accept his definition.

Box tickers
This is one of my favourite insults at the moment.  I use it to insult people who blindly follow processes and procedures without deploying any thought or common sense whatsoever.

Thanks in advance
I use “thanks in advance” quite a bit.  It is designed to ensure that they actually carry out the task that I have just requested them to do.  I don’t care if they feel uncomfortable or not. 
If the old only could, if the young only knew.

Offline thaiga

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Re: So what is the "new normal" lets ask Roger
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2020, 01:06:48 PM »
thanks for that T.T. Box tickers i like that one. Thanks in advance TIA i always use that one, does bring on the reply most times, a thankyou in advance, if not answered might just make some feel uncomfortable being thanked for nothing.

He mentions there may have been some surreptitious tinkling with the coconuts at British fairground shies in the old days, all the fun o the fair

 "Carnival Time means coconut time when the girls get loose at the Fair."

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: lets ask Roger - Saved by soggy chips
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2020, 11:12:53 AM »
Another article of fine words from Roger Crutchley Bangkok Post columnist, down to earth guy i must say and a pleasure to read. 
guest houses, advertised a two-minute stroll to the seafront when it was more like a two-mile trudge. LOL.
:lol

August can be a very wicked month

My goodness, we are already into August, but with the coronavirus it feels like the year has hardly got started. Six months seem to have simply disappeared and worse, I've got a year older with nothing to show for it but a few more wrinkles. I also have an uncomfortable feeling I will still be wearing a face mask next August.

As a kid I used to look forward to August with a mixture of excitement and just a little trepidation. As August coincided with the English school holidays, in the 1950s and early 60s the month witnessed a mass migration to the coast for a couple of weeks by the working and middle classes. Those that couldn't afford a fortnight away would take grueling day trips to the seaside, which often entailed three hours getting there, three hours getting back, and maybe an hour or so squeezed in at the resort.

The "toffs'' of course went further afield to what was known then as the "Continent", where people spoke in foreign tongues and ate strange food. When they returned they would flaunt their new-found tans and start dropping French phrases into their conversation to show how sophisticated they were.

Every August our family would head off to an English beach resort on the south coast in search of a fortnight of fun and sun, or more often than not, rain and pain. The two weeks was epitomized by the emergence of plastic macs as we sheltered in doorways from incessant drizzle or gales whipping up the trouser-legs. England is not called the "Land of Rain Stopped Play" for nothing.

One positive result of having to take refuge from the rain at the seaside was that we often ended up in a cinema. From what I recall, most were war films like Reach For the Sky, The Dam Busters and The Cockleshell Heroes. They don't make films like that these days.

Saved by soggy chips

Things changed a lot in the early 1960s with the advent of cheap package tours to Europe and the British began to head for Spain, Greece and Italy, seduced by the sun and warm waters of the Mediterranean, not to mention the cheap vino. But they still demanded English breakfasts and fish 'n chips.

As my dad didn't fancy "abroad", our family continued to frequent places like Bournemouth, Hastings and Weymouth until I was old enough to escape with school friends for serious sessions with the plonk in Italy and Spain. Our family stayed in guest houses. They were the sort of establishments which in promotional literature advertised a two-minute stroll to the seafront when it was more like a two-mile trudge. They were not dissimilar to the hostelry in Torquay depicted in the John Cleese TV series Fawlty Towers. In fact some of the landlords were disturbingly similar to Basil Fawlty.

One such place in Bournemouth had a particularly grumpy owner and the portions for our meals were so small we had to go to a nearby chip shop afterwards to fill ourselves up. When we entered the chippy we found half the people in there were from our same guest house and getting stuck into soggy chips for the very same reason.

Cold feet

Not so long ago on a trip to England, I happened to visit a number of traditional south coast holiday haunts including Brighton, Bognor Regis and Worthing. Nothing much had changed over the years apart from the prices. The deckchairs, sticks of rock, naughty postcards, jellied eels, silly hats, crazy golf and the ubiquitous chippies were still there in all their glory.

One difference was that, despite decent weather, there did not seem to be many people swimming or playing in the sea. It seems the English have been spoiled by vacations to warmer climes like Thailand. Understandably they no long consider dipping their toes in the uninviting waters of the English Channel or the North Sea when they can choose Samui, Krabi and Phuket without any danger of suffering frostbite.

A real buzz

Many thanks to readers for their comments on buzzwords featured in last week's PostScript. I particularly liked the anecdote from a reader who recalled inventing "Buzzword Bingo" in meetings when he would tick off a list of trendy words that he suspected would put in an appearance from assorted speakers. The inspirational vocabulary included "synergy", "quantum" and the wonderfully meaningless "cross-functional", all which no doubt prompted approving sage-like nods from those in attendance. Perhaps he could patent a board game.

For some wonderful comedic exchanges of doublespeak in committees, I can recommend the BBC "mockumentary" Twenty Twelve, a behind the scenes comedy mini-series on a fictional organizing committee for the 2012 London Olympics. It is very entertaining, helped by some terrific acting from a cast led by Hugh Bonneville.

Last word

Finally, in the unlikely event that you wish to learn more about Old Crutch there is a Q&A in the current online edition of Expat Life in Thailand magazine at expatlifeinthailand.com It includes observations on the important things in life including rattling taxis, singing noodle vendors, a loyal maid and of course a devoted dog. There is also a review of my book The Long and Winding Road to Nakhon Nowhere, by Leonard H Le Blanc III, in which the expression "a literary masterpiece" definitely does not appear.

Thanks to Roger Crutchley A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

 



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