The principle definition of ‘love’

Monday, 11 February, 2013
Cathy Marston
My father has one sermon which he has preached at nearly all the weddings he’s conducted for the last 45 years.
After spending around 5 years in the choir listening to said sermon a couple of times a day, most fine Saturdays in summer, I can actually quote large chunks of it, and often do, much to his annoyance. In it, he draws attention to the abuse and mis-use that people do to the word ‘love’ – “I love strawberries, I love your new hat” etc etc before admonishing people (generally in vain) to apply the word properly to their new life-partner until the end of time. Or at least until they’ve paid off the wedding bills if at all possible.  

You see, according to my father and the online dictionary, the principle definition of ‘love’ is ‘profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.’ I’m a terrible culprit at over-using and mis-using this word, loving this wine and that, loving flavour combinations with food, loving labels and packaging on wine (unless it’s JC le Roux. Or Zonnebloem. Sorry guys) and generally throwing my profoundly tender passion around with gay abandon and lack of care in all directions. I have a friend who does the same with the word ‘divine’ – everything, be it food, drink, haircuts or new clothes, is pertaining to a god. Which gives rise to some doubt when she describes her holidays, as there is no way I can envisage any Supreme Deity worth his or her salt enjoying a cruise ship round the coast to Knysna.

I saw a tweet from someone recently who was complaining about the overuse of the word ‘epic’ as in “an epic cappuccino”. Can this be true, I ask myself? Does this cup of coffee from KFC really note or pertain to a long poetic composition? I hardly think we will be re-writing Kubla Khan as Kubla Kaffeine any time soon. Or how about ‘totally awesome’, a phrase which it is virtually impossible to say without adding ‘dude’ on the end? Can so many wines really inspire an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration or fear? Somehow I doubt it very much.

I think we need a rethink of all our fulsome phrases and OTT adjectives and perhaps, in this month of gushing excess, this is a good time to begin. I don’t agree with online wine review site Real Time Wine’s approach of banning words, since it merely exchanges one set of pretensions for another, but I think I shall try very hard indeed not to ‘love’ any ‘divinely awesome wines’ anymore. Instead, I think I shall go for the stiff-upper-lip, hide-your-emotion English version of understatement, describing wines as ‘jolly decent’, ‘quite nice actually’ and ‘rather toothsome.’

But then again, perhaps that’s just too poncey-schmoncy and so maybe I shall just stick to one word. From now every wine can simply be some variant on ‘good’ - such a versatile word! My reviews could range from ‘absolutely no good at all’ through to ‘good enough’, ‘pretty good’, ‘darned good’ and the ultimate praise of ‘bloody good’.  No points, no stars, no flowery language, no ridiculous OTT impossible claims and no soul-searching for original descriptive phrases five minutes before deadline either. Awesome! I love it! Damn………

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'Bloody good'
'Bloody good'

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