Saturday, 17 September 2011

FT Weekend: Questions Questions...

I wonder if you can advise me on an expression that I have been using for many years – whenever I ask my friends to do me a favour, I always precede or conclude my request with “so sorry to fag you”. In these petty correctional times, it does cause some consternation, added to which my “newer group of friends” simply do not get the drift of what I mean – should I desist from using it?

To “fag” has all the politically incorrect connotations of a snooty public school for boys. Using the phrase is also excruciatingly “Sloaney”, not to mention the implication that you are in superior authority. Most contrived of all would be if you did not go to a public school where fagging might have been rampant. In any event, it is very tiresome for people to offer a redundant preface to what they want to say. I hate it when they start off saying something like: “I have some bad news”, which instantly makes me sick with retching images.

I am a bearded gay guy, with Iranian origins and with atheist parents. Sometimes when I go shopping people indicate, “Oh be careful, there is pig in there”. Should I get angry and shout, “Hey, you know I do many other things your religion wouldn’t allow me to,” or should I just smile and pass to the other stand?

I think you are paranoid. Shaving your beard off might make you feel more confident. And stop worrying about the religious inclination of your parents, about which nobody would know nor care. Still less that you are homosexual, as Iran is slightly different from England, where it is now almost more fashionable to be gay, certainly in marriage. It is also a country in which you could sue somebody for making a racial remark, although a simple reference to pork might be borderline. I would just smile and pass on. As they say, “The dog barks, the caravan moves on.”

From FT Weekend's guide to social etiqutte.

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