Cliches and adjectives

5 Nov 2023

Life is not great just now. Known worse. Husband dying in a care home, two houses to cope with, NO money at all. High drama, stung by a sting ray, on an island with no medical help and no escape. Searching my brain for more French adjectives, it struck me how some words are over-used,  and have so many nuances they are not ‘fit for purpose’. At lunch time I was working round ‘tired’, asked my lunch mates. They use ‘fatigue’ as we use tired, for everything. My current state has me irritable, frustrated, struggling to face up to any effort, depressed? No. The ‘big’ word is ‘daunted’. I hate being beaten, am admitting I need help, but none around who can cope with the problems in both languages, I am on my own.

Memories of childhood were of my mother and ‘tired’. Etched in my memory are her responses to phone calls. How was she? ‘Oh, tired you know’. Stock answer, to visitors as well. She could not have been physically tired, my Pa and I did all physical work, he even did a lot of the housework. She had no hobbies to speak of, and exercise was anathema. Her marriage, admittedly, was awful. I presume being ‘tired’ was a permanent state of emptiness. Some people are said to thrive on rows, but Mummy just cried.

When I asked my lunch companions  how they saw ‘fatigued’ no answer to its meaning, but they all were, so all I achieved was a general moan. At least lunch was OK. If you Google the word ‘tired’ you find that loads of famous people have used it, as well as ‘weary’, so many quotes, Albert Einstein to Barak Obama. King Lear, I think, ‘I am a weary of the world’. Dr Johnson, famously ‘A man who is tired of London is tired of life’. I wonder if he would say the same now?

If asked for a ‘snap’ description I would immediately think of a long walk, big day in the garden, running a kids’ birthday party, family Christmas. But once in the recovery position, music, good book, cuppa, G & T, slice of cake, you bounce back and resume activities. Or go happily and satisfied to bed. Weary and tired can both be used for physical symptoms. But thinking more deeply they are more used to describe mental states. So much stems from tedium, work you dislike, irritating companions. ‘Fed up’, ‘I’m sick of’, lack of self esteem, perpetual tiredness a major symptom of depression. Physical ‘whacked, knackered, bushed’.

Tired led by a sinuous route to our poor canine friends. ‘Dog tired’, ‘It’s a dog’s life’, ‘In the dog house’, ‘Dog in the manger’, ‘Dog’s dinner’ (badly presented meal), or ‘Done up like’. I’m nicely tired, swim then Gym, designed to help with balance and articulation. Then, a first (It’s Halloween) we are offered a Kir if we bother to dress up and put on wild make up. Do you question words which you use all the time, and what they really mean? 

The Gardener

A Moodscope member

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