Asymmetric Librarian

July 12, 2007

OK, I admit it, I made this particular phrase up. It all started recently when I got a couple of months’ work over in Shoreditch.

I’m normally more of a Soho boy. Over the years, I’ve worked, shopped, eaten, drunk, danced and pulled there. Shoreditch has been the place I go when someone groovier than me organises a night out, and I’ve always enjoyed sampling its delights – all those exposed-brickwork offices stuffed with apple macs, and the haphazard jumble of funky little cafes and bars.

If London districts were Australian cities, Soho would be Sydney and Shoreditch would be Melbourne.

So I’ve much enjoyed getting to know Shoreditch a little better. In particular, the people-watching proved fabulous. ‘Faux-homeless designer’ caught my eye, as did ‘Dayglo Eighties Rapper’. But my favourite of the many and varied specimens on display was ‘Asymmetric Librarian’: a sect of serious young women dressed head to toe in ironically dowdy clothing, topped – lest anyone should miss the irony – with a diagonal fringe.



July 9, 2007

I keep seeing Paris Hilton described as a ‘celebutante’ – even Channel 4 news jumped on the bandwagon. Now, I love a good portmanteau word as much as anyone; from ‘ginormous’ to ‘mockumentary’, there’s something immensely satisfying about the steaming wreckage caused by two words colliding at speed. But ‘celebutante’ doesn’t really do it for me – ‘celebrity’ and ‘debutante’ don’t so much collide as dribble weakly towards each other, coalescing into something as uninspiring as Ms Hilton herself.

The Observer magazine came up with a much better label for the world’s favourite jailbird: ‘heir head’.


July 1, 2007

So what is it with the current craze for saying ‘hello’ in a sing-song fashion? The entire staff of a Pret in Shoreditch spent a week summoning customers with it, Fran from Travis did it on stage, and a woman at work answered the phone with it.

The word is split into three syllables with the emphasis on the middle one. Musically it approximates (roughly) to So-Mi-Do, with the middle note being the highest.

Where did it come from? I can’t be sure, but it sounds to me like it might have come across the Atlantic, smuggled inside a camp steward’s wheelie-case.


July 1, 2007

Is there a sweeter sounding word in the English language than ‘upgrade’? Last weekend, we had to hire another car for another out-of-town trip, and got upgraded from the ‘crappy’ category to the ‘sporty convertible’ one. Driving over Tower Bridge and actually being able to look straight up at the towers was an unexpected Friday night treat.