And here's another thing:
The NATO Phonetic Alphabet.
What the fuck's that all about?
F is for Foxtrot? Are you kidding me? Last time I did a foxtrot was, oh, I dunno, NEVER. Which was about the same time as I popped over to Lima.
How in god's name am I supposed to remember it?
Take the other day. I phone up the bank to amend my security details. Suffice it to say that I have to spell out my maiden name, place of birth, and first school, phonetically. My mind goes blank. Not blank per se, but only capable of recollecting words that are fruity synonyms to describe a) taboo body parts, b) shagging, and c) excretions. I am like Kermit The Frog introducing the Letters Of The Day on Sesame Street, but with Tourette's.
The first letter I have to spell out is M. The correct word is Mike, which should be a cinch, seeing as Mike is a bezzy. Unfortunately, it is the opposite of a cinch. Even everyday proper names, such as mat, mug, and monkey, vanish from memory. Literally all I can think of is the word 'mildreds'. As in the old-fashioned vernacular for bosoms. Big old-lady bosoms. If I'd stopped at mildred, as in George and Mildred, it might have been okay. But no, I say 'mildreds'.
There is this awful deathlike silence. The customer services representative, or as I prefer to call her, Little Miss Judgy Pants, says nothing, although what she's really thinking is, "I'm obviously speaking to a child, so could you please go and get a grown-up." Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "You too will have mildreds one day. Ha!" Later, I opt for 'Groin' to signal G, 'Roger' to signal R, and weirdly, because it has no sexual connotations whatsoever, 'Yeoman' to signal Y, which is a word you'd normally only use if you were a) Hilary Mantel, b) Hilary Mantel, or c) Hilary fucking Mantel. (Whose mildreds are incidentally colossal.)
N and B are my particular bete noires. Another conversation, this time with an NTL representative, goes like this:
Me: Sorry ... I can only think of the word balls ... sorry ... yes, B as in Balls. (This is a little white lie, as I am also able to summon up Ballache, Boner, Blowjob, Breasts, and Bukkake.)
Her: Balls? (Why she has to question it is baffling. Maybe she thinks I say 'Paul's'. As in something that belongs to Paul. Which would be mind-bogglingly left-field.)
Me: Er ... yes. Balls.
She titters slightly, which is reassuring, and means that we end up bonding over the weird randomness of the phonetic alphabet. I tell her about the fact that I am only able to recall a mixture of sexual swear words, or obscene profanities.
"There's a word for that!" she says, laughing. "But I can't remember it!"
Later, after a whole three minutes research to find the word she's talking about, I find something else. The Fucknetic Alphabet. Which is similar to the Phonetic Alphabet, but uses very bad words, and has nothing at all to do with NATO.
I'm not sure what I think about The Fucknetic Alphabet. Part of the problem with remembering the regular phonetic alphabet is that deep down, I prefer to choose my own words. Take 'G is for Golf' for example. 'G is for Golf' is an abomination. An affront to the letter G. Also, in the context of the words that precede it, namely Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot, all of which have an esoteric quality, 'G is for Golf' is incongruous, out of place. You may as well shit in someone's ears. And so it would be with The Fucknetic Alphabet, which, in an attempt to overcome accent or language barriers, only permits use of boring, commonly-used swearwords, such as A is for Ass, B is for Bastard, C is for C*nt, etcetera. Mildreds don't count. Neither does Bukkake. Boo!
One solution to the problem might be to offer people a choice of themed phonetic alphabets, according to their interests, for example, tea, cats, stuffed toys, class A drugs, yodelling, ukeleles, (the usual suspects), with the added option to customise lists. Sure, it would have an impact on staffing levels at call centres, but on the plus side, it would be fun, and there would be fewer administrative errors. I think.
In the meantime, if anybody knows whether the word Yeoman has any sexual connotations, do keep it to your bloody self. Thanks.