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Football, music, and when a cold is a flu

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So I’m chatting to someone I don’t know about music. It’s what we men do if football or the weather is not available and we are forced to talk, although I have on occasion started conversations with both ‘That’s a nice shirt’ and ‘Is your life going in a way that you might have hoped 10 years ago?’, only to realise that the other bloke thought I wanted to marry him.

So I’ve decided to start the year with football, weather and music and may sneak shirts in around April.

Anyway, the man is talking about his favourite tracks of last year and I asked: ‘Why does everybody refer to songs as “tracks” these days. Especially men?’ He shrugged and an uncomfortable silence followed before he said he liked my shirt.

So when I got to work I conducted a little research. I asked the first 10 people I met what they thought of The Killers’ new single and all the men (six of them) referred to it as a great (or decent or poor) ‘track’, while three of the women referred to it as a song. The other told me she didn’t like my shirt.

I don’t know what this means but it may suggest that some men like to lend an earnestness to their language, the word ‘track’ denoting a more serious approach to musical appreciation than the word song. The Sugarbabes probably sing songs. Radiohead, now they produce ‘tracks’.

You cannot help but notice the same with the word flu. A couple of colleagues wandered into work recently and said: ‘I’ve got a touch of flu’. And of course you want to feel sympathetic but you can’t help thinking, and then saying: ‘Well, it’s not flu is it? It’s a bit of a cold and that’s a bad thing but it’s not flu.’

And then, despite realising that you have just offended your colleague, you continue with: ‘You can’t really have a touch of flu anymore than you can have an incy bit of leprosy or a smidgen of a broken femur can you? I mean, can you?’

The damage is done, they feel you have undermined the courage they have shown in getting to work and anyway they’re still annoyed with you for telling them that the four-minute lumps of noise they are listening to are songs for goodness sake not tracks and you can tell this by the
fact that there are no trains on them.

We’re funny with words – I don’t know why, but here’s a guess. People who refer to colds as ‘flu’ are feeling unnoticed and undervalued. Give them a hug. Not when they’re contagious obviously, that would be silly but make a note of the fact that they need a hug of sorts. They may feel their efforts are unappreciated, so say something nice about what they’ve done, or if they’ve done nothing except complain about the flu, comment on their shirt. It can only help. I think.

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