Have you used up your quota of the ‘amazing’ word?
‘Amazing’ has been used to describe mozzarella sticks and Ronaldo taking a selfie
A quick online search will reveal that the ‘amazing’ word has recently been used to describe: mozzarella sticks, a limescale remover, a Christmas wreath, and Cristiano Ronaldo taking a selfie. Photograph: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images
Have you noticed how everything is amazing these days? Years ago, it took a lot to amaze us. We would probably have expressed amazement if:
a) Dinny on Glenroe declared he was a vegan or
b) Our parents said they couldn’t be bothered going to Mass, or
c) We saw a man changing a nappy, unaided.
Being kidnapped by a UFO for scientific experiments would definitely have amazed me, because I remember spending the years 1978-1982 being permanently on guard in case this happened. But, apart from those truly amazing possibilities, we were not an easily amazed bunch of people.
But today, every second book, film or show is amazing. Ask for a recommendation for a hairdresser or beauty salon on Facebook and you will get all these messages recommending so-and-so who is “amazing”. Now, I’m sure these people are all very good at what they do, but are they really amazing? Do they, to quote a dictionary definition, “overwhelm with wonder”? They are cutting hair or painting nails, not landing a spaceship on the sun, with a rabid raccoon rollicking around the control desk.
A quick online search will reveal that the “amazing” word has recently been used to describe: mozzarella sticks, a limescale remover, a Christmas wreath, and Cristiano Ronaldo taking a selfie. I’ve been observing the creeping use of the adjective with a quiet despair for some time, but the last straw was recently seeing someone describing a plumber as amazing. Can he get liquid gold to pour from your taps? Has he invented a way to stop teenage boys from urinating all over the toilet seat? No? Well, your plumber may be very competent but I’m sorry to report that he is not amazing.
And the man who re-upholsters your sofa is not amazing unless he has invented a fabric that shoots the remote control from under the cushions whenever it tries to hide in there.
A washing machine repair man is only deemed to be amazing if he can manipulate your machine to expel its load after the wash and hang it on the line for you. Oh, and it should be able to match socks as it does so.
The other day, I heard someone describing their conveyancing solicitor as amazing. Seriously? Did she practice some solicitors’ version of black magic to trick the sellers into giving their house away for free to her clients? Or did she just do her job properly? I am open to correction, but I suspect the latter.
Perhaps we should follow the lead of the late advertising guru Conor Kennedy. He had a deep-seated horror of exclamation marks and liked to advise new recruits that they were allowed to use no more than three exclamation marks. In their lifetime. Should we introduce a similar quota system for people who deploy “amazing” with such promiscuity?
I suspect these people might also be partial to the use of “awesome” - that brash American cousin of “amazing”. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they declared themselves to be “shocked” by the most mundane occurrences. Especially if they are tabloid headline writers. One such headline recently shouted: “Meghan shocks fans . . .” Oh, my goodness, I thought. What has the Duchess of Sussex done? Punched a baby in the face, perhaps? Spat in Queen Elizabeth’s eye? Reader, she wore a denim jacket.
Of course, Meghan Markle must regularly shock herself at her remarkable capacity to shock the tabloids. In recent months, headline writers have declared she has shocked people by: wearing £5 earrings; cooking in her own home; doing her own hair and make-up; revealing that she once gave book-binding workshops.
It appears that the world is hurtling towards hell in a handcart these days so surely there are more shocking occurrences than the fact that a duchess applies her own eyeliner?
If the headline writers want us to be shocked by these inconsequentialities, what reaction are we supposed to have to the fact that the world is burning up and drowning, and all at the same time? How can we be shocked at the Brexit omnishambles if we are shocked by Meghan Markle opening her own car door?
So, can we make a pact to deploy these words with more care? It would be amazing if we did. Oops, I think I’ve used up my lifetime quota of that word. And yours. I’m shocked at myself.