Magazine article The Spectator

Standing Room

Magazine article The Spectator

Standing Room

Article excerpt

I've recently developed a callous indifference towards the torrent of amateur self-analysis that's infiltrating our everyday pattern of speech. I'm over 'issues'. Way too many people have way too many issues for my liking. And too many people I don't care about feel compelled to 'share' their issues with me.

Last week people started 'gathering', and now I fear gathering is set to become the new big issue. Ever since Kate Winslet dramatically implored herself to 'gather' at the Golden Globes (surely 'get a grip' would have worked just as well? ) I've witnessed two perfectly ordinary mates inexplicably 'gather' -- rather than just admit they'd lost track of what they were saying. It's as though everyone is suddenly auditioning for a guest slot on Room 101. Zeitgeist psychobabble is just about acceptable when used with extreme irony (preferably accompanied by wiggling fingers pretentiously held at ear level to denote imaginary quotation marks around the word), but bloody irritating now that it's jumped off the couch and gone mainstream.

I was in Starbucks last week when a woman loudly asked to speak to the manager. She had an issue she wanted to share concerning her coffee. I got pathetically overexcited, assuming she was about to challenge publicly the providence of her Fairtrade Ethiopian bean or produce a dead cockroach she'd found lurking in her latte. No such luck. She merely wanted to point out -- at 7 a. m. in the morning -- that this was the second time this month her espresso macchiato was heavy on the foam. …

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