The last bank holiday before Christmas, and what do we get weather-wise? Rain, that's what. Typical English bank holiday weather, many would say. Mind you, about Thursday last week the forecast was for rain yesterday, which would have been a shame. My elder son was planning a barbecue, as requested by his partner's soon-to-become teenage daughter. As well as those three, there would be my son's two boys, my other son, my son's partner's parents and a couple of friends of the birthday girl. As it happened, we were able to spend the afternoon in the garden quite comfortably.
We really can't complain too much about today's rain - not, of course, that it would be any good if we did. Up until the tag end of Bertha arrived we had been enjoying a splendid summer, warm and dry, with hardly any rain at all.
Which reminds me. Quite a few times recently I have wanted to ask, "A tall what?"
We of the elder generation - and I reluctantly now include myself in that - are known to mutter about the gay abandon with which youngsters spray the word "like" into their verbal outpourings. But it really isn't just the youngsters who develop verbal habits that can be irritating or even downright annoying. The Old Bat had a friend who used to spend one or two weekends with us each year for one of the regular girls' nights out. Apart from the timbre of her voice (strange how some voices simply grate on the ear), I found myself getting increasingly irritated by her over-frequent use of "you know?".
But to get back to "at all".
I had made my regular purchases at the deli counter (a Melton Mowbray pork pie for me, a goat's cheese and sun-dried tomato tartlet for her) when the assistant, a lady of mature years, asked me, "Anything else at all?" Then the cashier in the supermarket, despite me having a trolleyful of shopping bags, asked, "Do you need any bags at all?"
Why has this "at all" habit developed recently? Or has it existed for a long time without me being aware of it? Curiously, I have noticed another habit which has probably been going on for ages, right under my nose, so to speak.
The television newsreader opens the story and then announces something like, "Joe Smith is in Brussels for us. Tell us, Joe, what do you think the outcome will be?"
"Well, Jane, it's like this . . . "
Joe or whoever almost invariably uses the word "well" - and frequently goes on to tell us "it's like this".
Oh, heck, maybe it's just the rain getting to me. I'll be less niggly tomorrow.