If I only…

I was thinking about language again (as I often do, in a lackadaisical sort of way), and about language changes that have happened within my lifetime - how catch phrases and catch words rise, achieve ephemeral popularity, and then mostly fade away to become tomorrow’s curios. When I was at university in the mid-80s, ‘mega’ was, well, mega. And ubiquitous - everything good was mega. But it’s now returned to a more normal status AFAICT. I was surprised when I first heard my daughters using ‘gay’ as a contemptuous dismissal of things (like shoes, for example) that just weren’t fashionably up to the mark. Coming to NZ, I find that usage of ‘gay’ became common here at the same time time. So 2007 though, now.

The origins of phrases are frequently obscure. I was driving my daughter to school the other day, and started thinking,”Why on earth does I can’t be arsed mean I can’t be bothered?” Couple that with the fact that the driver of the car in front had hair sticking out all over the place like a scarecrow and somehow this just oozed out of me. Think Wizard of Oz

Well, I could be quite impressive
If I wasn’t so obsessive
And showed a bit of class.
I could scale the very heights,
See my name up there in lights
If I only could be arsed.

You can purse your lips and mutter
About lying in the gutter,
But I’m looking at the stars.
People say of me, by God he
Really could have been somebody
If he only could be arsed.

Oh my, how I would try
Before my chance was gone
To be the number one
And find at last I’m getting on.

Now the truth must be admitted
I’m really quite unfitted
To be the man in charge.
Though I seem to be a sinner,
I could turn into a winner
If I only could be arsed.

For as the veil is lifted,
You can see that I’ve just drifted
Without a plan or chart.
With a little more ambition
I’d achieve a top position.
I could start a new tradition –
It will take much more than wishing –
If I had the will to get up off my arse.

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