Sunday, 4 September 2011


When I was a mere slip of a lad my parents told me never to “grab”. 


That meant that I should never “seize (something) suddenly”, e.g. a biscuit, or a sweet (candy), or some “seconds” at dinner. 


Their point was that I should ask permission before taking a biscuit or a sweet or some leftovers; and that I should “take my turn” in favour of others.


I believe that Mum and Dad’s instincts were good. They were directing my siblings and I into the direction of sharing our limited resources.


 Sixty years on both the language and the culture has changed. 


Thus we “grab a shower” or “grab a bite to eat”. 


It’s a useful enough “shorthand” in speech - a way of indicating that the speaker must accomplish some task or other in a hurry.


Yet I feel some uneasiness when my local Supermarket advertises an in-house “Netflix” service as “Grab a Movie”, or when some Convenience Stores advertise their (mediocre) sandwiches as “Grab ‘n Go”.


I prefer the older ways of speech by which we never “grabbed”, but we asked politely, waited for permission, and then said “thank you”.

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