Saturday 15 August 2009


For reasons I doubt would interest you, I have had to pass on my email address rather too often of late: it's liz dot mountford at... I say umpteen times a week. It has reached the point where I am in serious danger of introducing myself as Liz Dot Mountford to any real live person who crosses my path. Now, would they assume my middle name was Dorothy, though it is rather strange to respond with all ones names when introduced, or would they assume, by a minor extension, that I actually meant Dotty? A convicted eccentric has to be very careful of dangerous implications, as you know. Anyway, there is the predicament. The Guru has four names and was annoyed because the DVLA wouldnt let him have them all on his driving licence, nor could he state them on the Electoral Register. (Incidentally, in case you are still keeping up with me in Australia or Canada and from wherever else you have been kind enough to log on to this blog, the DVLA is the authority which deals in this country with the issue of driving licences and related matters. Anyway, it would seem they are very choosy about names) .

It got me thinking - L dot .M, not the proclivitities of various authorities in the matter of nomenclature - about habits. Spending time with the Guru illustrates this rather well. He thinks technically: I think carrier pigeon. He thinks "Hi": I think "How do you do". He assures me my life would be better all round if I were to join the "Hi" brigade. But the habit of seventy five years would not be an easy one to break. (Would that were the only one). I write 'thank you' letters. I receive text messages, as in "thx 4 dinr. C u soon". Dont misunderstand me, it isnt that I am censorious of text messaging - at least, not by the young - its just that it doesnt even come to mind. If you have been offered hospitality, at the soonest opportunity, you sit down and write a note of thanks. That is habitual. I am in the habit of correcting the television's grammar. You'd be surprised how many "compared to's" and "different to's" you can pick up, even in the most erudite of items. Now this is of no concern to anyone else if I am alone, but, if it happens to coincide with a Guru visit it can be pretty annoying, I suspect. It reminds me that my Father had a television habit, too. He would referree every football match he watched and yell at the players to kick the b..... ball or get off the field and find someone else who could. Annoying? It is amazing he lived for me to tell the tale.

As I reflect on this matter, it occurs to me I should really draw a distinction between habits and habitual behaviour. I think there is a difference. Yelling at the telly is habitual, continuously wrapping the ends of your hair around your fingers is a habit. Biting ones nails is a habit. Having ones nails painted every week is habitual. Dont worry. I dont. I do them, myself. I would always rather spend money on eating than on treatments. I think the point I would like to make is that it is easy to get so used to a situation that it becomes habitual, as in "How do you do? I am Liz Dot Mountford", and it is easy to get in to the habit of cracking your knuckles even when there other people around to hear you. The other day, I came in to find the Guru in 'my' place, on the settee in the living room. Habitually, I lie on the settee with my elderly legs up and he sits in a large red armchair at right angles to me, with, if he wishes to converse with me, his legs swung over the arm so that his head is facing me. Seeing the lie of the land, I sat in the red chair and swung my legs over the arm so that I could converse with him. Dear Reader, he was horrified. He chose to ignore the funny side of it and told me this was not a proper way for an old lady to sit. Pointing out it was his habit so to sit was, in his eyes, totally irelevant and he would not permit me to get in to the same habit, as if I were actually young enough to get away with it instead of just internally so

Now I am thoroughly confused about habit and habitual and what is acceptable behaviour in any case. Do comment. I feel I need the help.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Brian