Thinking about language, perhaps because the theme of free speech still hovers somewhere in my unconscious, what with cartoons and protests, and the right and the left and the centre all speaking out vociferously for and against free speech and about sensitivity and responsible reporting and convicted drug dealers dressing up as terrorists in defence of piety and on and on.....
So I'm round to thinking about those peculiarly English turns of phrase that I have acquired in the few years I've lived in the UK- things like dodgy, ish, iffy- words that I knew when I lived in Nigeria but would not consciously use.
Now I call out in response to the query from my colleague- "What time will you get in, nine? And I respond "ish", calmly easily as if I have used it all my life.
A friend asks if I'd like some meat pies on slash price sale at the supermarket-"Hmm, they look a bit dodgy" is my pat response
And to another friend who asks if we are definitely going to the exhibition at the new gallery next week, I respond- It's looking a bit iffy at the moment, I may have to work.... and so on
In Nigeria, all is on hold at the moment as we follow the Eagles' giddy progress through the African Cup of Nations- impeachments, third term agendas, oil troubles, all fade into insignificance before the dazzle of our footballers. Musing on the power of sport to unite, I remember dancing with policemen at a check point on Lagos Island on the night we won the football gold medal at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996- they waved us through, not bothering to ask for our "particulars" or the customary "wetin you carry". I suppose it was the same spirit that led the New Zealanders I saw massed on a London street at the weekend to turn out in such great waves to support the All-Blacks, the rugby team. Amidst the cans of beer and bottles of alcopops making the rounds that morning, I couldn't help but marvel at the number of young NZ men who were dressed in short sleeved shirts, shorts and flip-flops (that's bathroom slippers to you) in near sub-zero temperatures........talk about the magic passion of sport