Last night I had dinner with a Harrovian (Cambridge too) who said 'Cheers' and saw no harm in it.
All the landmarks are going. People will be saying 'phone' and 'pardon' next. Even, save the mark, misusing the word 'presently' to mean 'at present', which is the sin against the Holy Ghost.
It all very perplexing for us grammar school boys. If these people do not set us a good example, who will?
Actually, I am culpably mixing two completely discrete things there. Misusing 'presently' is just wrong, ignorant, uneducated, shameful. 'Cheers' and 'pardon' are perfectly correct words, used by very nice people, and the objection to them is purely snobbish, that they are not upper class. Or even upper middle-class, for that matter. However, I think Harrovians should either keep the snobbish rules or only break them deliberately.
'Cheers' is very Non-U, of course, or so I learnt when I left my nice genteel loving family in Westcliff-on-Sea and was taught at Cambridge to be a word snob. A snob in fact, I am afraid to say. A bit like Pip being made a gentleman in Great Expectations.It was the spirit of the age, when Mrs. Thatcher was Prime Minister and Brideshead Revisited was the hit television programme. I try hard in general, with I hope a lot of success, not to be a snob, but I notice Non-U words.
An old priest whom I loved, the legendary Monsignor Alfred Gilbey, who lived to a very great age in the Travellers' Club in Pall Mall, used to say that snobbery is a bad thing but social hierarchy is a good one. But this is getting too serious.
An article in the Guardian today by Ben Pobjie discusses the etiquette of how one closes an email. Many people, he says, do so with 'Cheers', which makes it obvious that our social spheres have been widely different. I use 'best wishes', as everyone did on notes written by hand when I was at university, because 'best regards' is meaningless and, worse, I suspect it is an Americanism. But this sounds a bit formal so often I say 'Best', an idea I got from my friend who is a literary agent in London and, very possibly, spends the Friday to Monday at great houses.
Ben Pobjie discusses how we end our emails but does not go on to mention that some people, I included, use so-called email signatures when mailing from their personal accounts. They are terribly irritating after you see them the first five hundred times or so, of course. One of my friends has signed off, for over a decade
There is a fine line between flying and falling.I have thought to myself for a decade that the line is not so fine as all that.
Another has said to me, 800 times at least,
The purely economic man is close to being a social moron.
Mine, self deprecatingly, is
"People think it must be fun to be a super genius but they don't realise how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world." Calvin and Hobbs
I added the quotation-marks and Calvin and Hobbs, after some months, in case people thought it was my coinage.