… see that scene

in the Rowan Atkinson movie “Johnny English” where he’s suffering the effects of the paralyser drug he managed to inject himself with by accident? Among other things it affected his speech, so that when he spoke he sounded like this: “Flibbubbaflibbadabub”.

Sometimes I have the same problem. I call it ‘Lazy lips’— although my mind is active and assembles the appropriate words into the right order the resultant emissions are still a disaster. Even, for example, the most innocuous of moments when simply filling an acoustic social vacuum …


STARBUCKS:   Invercargill

STARDATE   :   yesterday morning

STARS           :   Moiself, and the pretty damsel behind the counter

I thought I did quite well, actually, following the formula. She said “Hi!” very nicely and after responding I quickly got to the point and requested a ‘venti latté’, paid my money and handed over my wee Customer Loyalty card for the squiggle and green stamp (don’t knock it, only another three stamps and I get a lovely free bucket of coffee).


Somewhere deep inside my skull an internal dialogue kicks off …

“Venti … that sounds Italian.”


“So the Italians make good coffee. But—”


“—but latté, as a word, is French.”


“So in French the adjective mostly follows the noun.”


“So rather than a ‘venti latté’ as just articulated, which is indeed the custom here … would it not be more grammatically correct to request a ‘latté venti’?”

Cogitative silence for long moments, then—

“Damn. I’ll have to ask her.”

“Yes, you do that, please. I’m right behind you and all agog. Whatever a gog is.”

I catch her eye and she comes over. I smile wolfishly. Damn. I really wish I wouldn’t do that but old habits are hard to break. Luckily she has a sense of humour and is genuinely nice.

“Miss?” (Yep. Definitely showing my age but I can’t help myself, I was brought up to be polite—a lost art these days.)

“Something else, Sir?”

“Phlibba da flubble farb phniggle oobla?”

“Eek … … er, wot?”

“Never mind.”


Lazy lips 1,  me nil.



Is that I love (every day) to make someone’s (anyone’s) life a little more surreal.

But that really was a serious question, dammit; as a genuine pedantic poop I’d love to know the answer. But I’ll leave asking that question to those with more agile lips than mine.




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