Back from the dead?

In Advice, Life, People, Social Commentary on September 9, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Yes, I am aware that it might have been well over a year since my last post. I am aware that you, and the good people at WordPress, might have thought me dead. And perhaps I was…

… I was not.

But I did have some health problems pile up on top of (actually, as a direct result of) the huge amount of extra work and responsibility I took on last year. The health problems, it turns out, were caused by stress. But it took the better part of a year, with some blood tests and scans and scary scary doctors’ appointments to figure that out. And once it was figured out, there were still all the things I had to get done to get done; you know, the things causing the health scares.

This year will be different. This year I am only going to write two chapters, write a couple of articles (hopefully for publication), organise a conference, try and attend a couple of conferences, hopefully write a book review, and of course teach tutorials once a week and mark papers twice a semester. No biggie.

And since today is lovely, and I got to see an old friend, and I have some White Chocolate and Raspberry fudge from the Fudge Kitchen sitting here, I thought I might make myself a cup of tea, have a little bit of a feast, and write an Ask Ally. I would advise you to get yourself some fudge and tea and read it, and we’ll both have a pleasant evening.Dear Ask Ally,

Why do people, girls especially, think that it is alright to end every sentence in a question?  I call these girls “uptalkers” because the end of everything they say goes up an octave or two from regular speech patterns.   I was wondering if you would shed some light on this “disease” that is affecting almost half of the females students in my classes, and possibly offer a few suggestions for a cure to this problem.

Thank you!

Love always,
Miss H. – a very concerned teacher

*  *  *  *  *

My Dearest Miss Havery Concerned Teacher,

Can I call you Havery? I’ll assume that your answer would have been a yes. I must admit that I am not familiar with the problem of which you speak so seriously. I imagine that it is because of the extreme disparity in class between myself and the majority of the population. In fact, because of this disparity, I very rarely speak to anyone. Correction: very rarely do I permit any one to speak to me. I, of course, speak to many people in order to clearly relay to them my orders, expectations, or opinions. I used to deliver the messages via carrier pigeon, but I found them to be quite unreliable. But I digress.

The point is that in order to best be able to answer your question, I had to go undercover for an extensive period of time amongst the “common classes”. It was a harrowing experience, and during the first three months I nearly broke and called for my car to take me back to the land of fresh air, basic personal hygiene, and properly refrigerated foodstuffs. But I called upon the deepest wells of fortitude in my being and carried on.

What I discovered is that often the condition of which you speak has two causes, and neither of them are actually medical (which is, of course, not to say that they can’t be medicated; anything can be medicated if you use enough medication). The first cause is simply a lack of self-confidence. I have seen first hand that these poor creatures have been brought up in a world of “Big Brother” and “Hello! Magazine”, and fed a steady diet of “Chicken Tikka” and self-doubt (that would be “Survivor” and “Fox News”, and a diet of “Swiss Chalet” for those Canadian readers). Naturally, the concept that they might even put thoughts together in a linear format, let alone express them syntactically, is a terrifying one. Their anxiety is allayed, then, by allowing any and all verbal expressions to take on a questioning inflection. Such individuals have within them the kernels of possibility, and should be nurtured, as they, too, might one day grow into meaningful members of society.


If you ever encounter someone wearing this jacket and tie colour combination, just sweep the shins and get out fast.

There is, however, another section of the public who exhibit the speech patterns to which you allude, but for a very different reason. These crafty things use the system as a means of disguising their ignorance. Without the average mind noticing, such individuals will spout streams of pointless verbal sewage under the guise of innocent inquisition. You can find such intellectual vandals in almost every walk of life. You may not recognise them immediately, because you will be held under the sway of their inflectional manipulation, but after they walk away you will find yourself thinking… wait… …the hell?

As for cures? Well, self-confidence in the first instance. I kid, but in reality learning to feel secure enough in your own opinions and ideas that you can state them without question (see what I did there?), which just undercuts their strength, is incredibly difficult for most people, and I think women in particular.
In the second instance… fire, and lots of it! Or, since that has recently become frowned upon, I find a two-pronged approach works best. Prong the first: repeat everything they say back to them in a tone of disbelief. And I mean everything they say. Prong the second: after several minutes of this, when their brow is sufficiently furrowed, deliver a swift kick to the shins and walk away tall. Or, run and hide from the  subsequent assault charges. It’s up to you.

Best of luck, Havery. By the way, you owe me a manicure in recompense for a year of my life that I wouldn’t take back even if I could get it. Actually, you owe me several manicures. And some more fudge. I’ll send you the bill.


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