Word of the day



Oxymoron: a word I simply adore.

Also known as a paradox, the word – itself an oxymoron of Greek origin (oxus ‘sharp’ & mōros ‘foolish’) – refers to apparently contradictory, juxtaposed terms that bring out irony, satire, humour, or sarcasm. Many literary giants have used oxymora to show the gnarled, unfathomable curiosity that is the English language and many satirists or stand-ups have used them to deliver that killer punchline. Whatever the reason for their use, I love their absurdity, their sheer stupidity.

So, here is my own take on oxymoron; this wonderfully moronic figure of speech.

Yesterday, my morning began in orderly chaos. After munching on granola drizzled with yoghurt and slugging three cups of Java’s finest for that dizzying hit, I began an editing job comprising 25,000 words.

Enveloped in deafening silence, I trawled through the text, occasionally speaking with the author who clearly misunderstood the questions I posed and whose long brief was noticeably foggy. I was miffed at repeated requests to give an exact estimate of when the job would be completed, bearing in mind I was working blind and factual accuracy and intellectual property law were two important factors.

Whilst embroiled in several definite maybe type conversations, I had to act naturally, though did find it difficult not to launch a defensive strike of words. I had to remember calculated risks were taken when accepting jobs. Despite the essence of the powwow being meaningful nonsense, I valiantly turned it around and got to grips with what first appeared to be a waking nightmare.

Fuzzy logic isn’t how I roll. Snaking my way through content without a style guide or lucid instructions and/or dealing with positive negativity leaves me somewhat deflated. It’s no surprise that many in the same vocation end up with passive aggression. The client was clearly confused and didn’t know what he wanted. Gourmet fast food or a haircut? Hard to tell.

I finished the job (yes, surprise, surprise, it did take longer than anticipated) with the client waiting patiently at the other end, who, after checking and rechecking, came back with a rapturous, ‘Excellent’ followed by a somewhat bittersweet request. ‘Could I do more in a couple of weeks?’ Following a tense calm, my reply was, ‘Yes… of course,’ as I silently screamed. Oh, sweet sorrow. What have I done?

Hopefully, next time, the work will be more of an effortless task. Bearing in mind I have stated my preference regarding clear instructions, surely any future brief will be awfully good. I don’t fancy the balanced insanity ambiguity brings. Far better to say your piece than angrily bristle and inwardly curse with unspoken suggestions. Having said that, I remain the cheerful pessimist.

Yours goofily,

The Nitpicker

(How many oxymorons did you spot?)

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