Monday, 15 October 2018

Mistaken emails. Make-up. Made up language.

In the midst of all the dire warnings about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit and suggestions that the UK government is falling apart and invitations for me to join let’s-demand-a-second-referendum marches, I came across this little news item about the US embassy in Australia sending out by accident an invitation to a “cat-pyjama-jam party”, complete with a picture of a cat in blue pyjamas. If that was a training error, then their training may need some work! However, I have known worse emails sent out by mistake!

Recently a number of women have posted blogs about how they have decided to go bare-faced, braving the world without the defense of make-up. By way of a contrast, it would appear that more and more men are now beginning to wear make-up. Sam Wolfson wrote in the Guardian about having his face made up by a professional make-up artist and being quite pleased with the results. Some men have taken to make-up as a way of hiding acne or other skin complaints.

Almost thirty years ago I had a student on a BTech course at a college of technology who tried to cover his acne with foundation, not very successfully and rather obviously, I am afraid. Inevitably he was ridiculed by others in the class. They were a tough group, those Catering students! I know because I had to try to teach them French! But really he was just ahead of his time.

Nowadays some people are making money producing a whole range of male cosmetics. This does not, of course, prevent some males from continuing to be rather noticeably smelly when they sit near me on the bus!

Sam Wolfson wrote:

“There is a brand of socially conditioned masculinity that might stop me having a cupboard full of products, or powdering my nose in the loos of a commuter-friendly Wetherspoons. But would I pop to a male makeup bar and get my face done before a big night out? I already go to the barbers, where my eyebrows are plucked, my hands massaged and my beard trimmed to the millimetre. If they chucked in a little foundation and some colour corrector for the weekend – well, I wouldn’t say no.” 

Now, my daughter tells me that she knows of young women who have their make-up done professionally for nights out. They must have more money than sense. Of course, it’s all gone beyond a bit of foundation, a bit of blusher and a smudge of colour on the eyelids. Nowadays, you have to put on a base (how that differs from foundation, goodness knows!) and then different shades to “contour” the face, and after that heaven only knows what other sorts of goop to make it all shiny and smooth and glowing. It must be quite a shock when a partner gets to see a girl without her make-up for the first time.

Mind you, that has always been so to some extent. I knocked on a friend’s door early one morning many years back and when she opened it was shocked at how pale she was. “What’s up? Are you ill?” I asked her. “Oh, I’m fine,” she replied, “I’ve just not out my face on yet.”

T.S. Eliot wrote, in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

“There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”

So there it is. We all more or less adjust our faces to suit circumstances. It’s just that some are more artificed than others.

Meanwhile, here are a few language things. Not quite errors but no exactly what we would say:-

There is a table in the lobby (surely they mean) reception, that is labeled “Guest Relations”.

Down by the beach is a notice advising children “You can leave your toys here on your responsibility”.

And next to the pool there is the inevitable notice about sunbeds: “Do not leave belongings for reserving sun loungers”.

So it goes!


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