Useful Words and Phrases for Practical Living

Helen Fielding

© Helen Fielding 2001



Aargh: Aargh.


Answerphone: Substitute for normal human partner.


Bunny boiler: Hateful poison concept suggesting that if a woman is thirty-six and unmarried she is going to start murdering other people’s husbands and boiling their children’s rabbits.


Commitment phobic: Person who insists on describing anything from shag to fourteen-year relationship as “just good friends.”


Communal changing room: Hateful place always containing the girl who looks fantastic in everything and swings around smirking at your thighs, flicking her hair and doing model poses in the mirror saying: “Does it make me look fat?” to her obligatory obese friend who looks like a water buffalo in everything.


Daniel: Fuckwit that I used to go out with.

Emotional fuckwittage:
Annoying behavior by fuckwits, e.g. saying will ring then not ringing, shagging others then not calling them, being in relationships with others then saying it’s not a relationship, going out with people for twelve years whilst insisting they don’t want to get too serious, refusing to go on mini-breaks, etc. etc.


Fuckwit: Person (man) who does emotional fuckwittage.


Fuckwittage (the French pronunciation): Fuick-witted behavior.


g.: good.


Gaaah!: Expression of shock on discovering self forty-five minutes late for work, or love interest forty-five minutes early for date.


Hag fag: Gay male friend ideal for thirty-something female Singleton, since understands what is like to be treated as disappointment to parents and freak by society. Also excellent for outfit choice assistance.


Humph: Useful expression for showing disgruntlement.


I: Rarely used word normally replaced by “self.”


Jellyfisher: Person who drops little verbal stings into conversation which you hardly notice at time but leave you feeling hurt afterwards whilst not pinpointing exactly where came from, e.g. “Just seen some great trousers, well, unless you have cellulite jodhpurs, of course.” (Portuguese Man of War variety)


Jude: Lovely Singleton friend with whizzy job in the City: better at dealing with collapse of the yen than commitment-phobic nonboyfriend Vile Richard.


Karma: V. important but incomprehensible concept.


Lettuce: Rare foodstuff which uses up more calories to chew than it contains.


Mentionitis: When someone’s name keeps coming up when not strictly relevant, e.g. “Rebecca has a car like that,” or “Rebecca likes fish,” thereby suggesting said person performing Mentionitis has crush on said Rebecca. Especially if one is paranoid.


Minibreak: Important rite-of-relationship-passage involving stay of not less than one and not more than three nights in country house/hotel/fisherman’s cottage, near pub by river (ideally with open fire) in country, e.g. Cornwall or similar. Minibreaks clearly demonstrate that a man has sufficient romantic interest in you to come away from football and thus that you are having a relationship and not just shagging.


Natural look: Only achieved for date after several hours of farming techniques - harvesting, crop-spraying, filing, waxing, plucking, exfoliating, etc. Never actually let yourself revert to nature or you will end up with a full beard and handlebar mustache on each shin.


One-Four-Seven-One: Telephonic device which adds to excitement of being single but also doubles misery potential on arrival home: no-number-stored-on-1471 misery adds to no-message-on-answerphone misery, or number-stored-turning-out-to-be-mother’s misery.

Pretentious scarf thing but, more importantly, pashmina is platonic friend who makes you feel small because you know you want to shag him more than he wants to shag you.


Pashmarried: Platonic friend whom you used to go out with and is now married with children, likes having you around as memory of old life, but makes you feel like mad barren pod-womb imagining vicar is in love with self.


Pashmincer: Platonic friend whom you fancy but unfortunately is gay.


Pashspurt: “Platonic friend” who keeps making passes then getting cross when you say you just want to be friends.


Quince: Fruit-type thing beginning with “q” unlike any other words can think of.


Re-tread: Hideous poison concept generated by misguided journalist that thirty-something girls are the sort of girls you wanted to go out with when they were in their twenties and they wouldn’t and now you can go out with them but don’t want to. Said misguided journalist now happily ensconced with thirty-something girl plus baby thereby proving whole concept was load of old bollocks.

Alien concept, not necessarily desirable - look at Pol Pot.


Shazzer: Lovely Singleton friend: top radical feminist except when sobbing in sheep’s voice over boys she met in gym.


Singleton: Replacement for poison outdated word “spinster.”


Smug Married: Annoying married person who says things like “Why aren’t you married yet?” “How’s your love life?” and “Can’t put it off forever, you know, tick-tock, tick-tock.”


Tom: Best gay friend who always greets self with “Bridget, you’ve lost so much weight.” Which is nice.


Urban family: Select group of Singleton friends who perform function of old-fashioned blood family only do all communication over phone or e-mail unless involves Chardonnay.


Valentine’s Day: Purely cynical commercial enterprise unless you get one and then it’s a marvelous vehicle for people to show their appreciation of others who more than deserve it: rather like awards at award ceremonies.


v.g.: Very good.


Why: Frequently asked question, e.g. Why do Smug Marrieds/buckets do this? Why?


X: Person who should never go off with anyone else but remain celibate to the end of their days in order to provide you with a mental fallback position.


Zen: Something which, when you look at life, can be applied to anything: Zen and the art of shopping, Zen and the art of blow-drying, Zen and the art of VAT returns, etc. etc. It is all a question of flow rather than struggle. But Jude says not to mention this to Shazzer as she thinks it is bollocks.