Marilyn Monroe. A cliché for blonde, curvaceously sexy beauty, a breathy singing voice and a tingly sugarplum laugh. Think blonde Betty Boop. This is where I will start.
I teach English for a living. The end of my maternity leave with baby Betsy is looming ever so more closely and my mind is trying, trying (struggling, struggling) to return to the classroom. Exams are on the horizon. I will return just in time for mass panic and revision. Some will be revising for the first time. I will be asked what it was I was ‘on about before’ at the start of the year previous to when I left, which didn’t seem relevant then but suddenly it does. ..
So. One element that I will upon which I will revise, advise and ultimately despair will be the features of writing. A student who does not love to write will find this desperately tricky. How can I help them begin to think of wedging in a few descriptions to an already very action filled, but figuratively colourless essay, when this is their style? Exams don’t cater for personal style in many ways-another post for another day! I have standard tips that I use as well as techniques. One tip is: Avoid clichés.
Hold on a minute. What are my issues with clichés?? In a student’s essay they can be a bit dull. They may go for a phrase or an adjective that is more charming instead and gain more marks. Seems a bit counterproductive? Be creative and spontaneous in your language to please a most uncreative and routine examining board!
Why are we so averse to a cliché? Mundane. Unexciting. Unoriginal. Over utilised. A horror! We should not conform too easily. Yes, I would have agreed once in the way I live. Now though, as Bob says, times they are a changin’…
Let’s look at the benefits of a good cliché.
Firstly, they are tried and tested. At one point, each snappy little quip must have been the new big thing. The cat’s pyjamas, as it were. The first caveman or woman to crack an excellent simile would have been thought of as a literary genius! Their words (grunts?!) would then become clichéd. Boo. (Don’t worry pedants! I know the concept of cliché occurred long after the Stone Age!)
Secondly, there is one for every occasion and continent. Snow. Cold. Rain. Temper. Cross as a bag of cats. Like a bear with a sore tooth. Mad as a box of frogs. Grand colloquialisms to work with.
Thirdly, they are the words of genius! If they are so overused that they have become cliché, then they must be damn good to begin with. Items and situations can become a cliché too, like blue jeans. Pizza parties. Leather handbags. Bacon sandwiches. Elvis as King. Peas and carrots. Red,red roses. If these are cliché, then yes please. Cliché me one more time.
Fourthly, you know where you stand with a good cliché. As a Mam, I like this. In a world where responsibility to get myself up, dressed and to work was once difficult and has now transformed into me being in charge of babies also therefore it is now terrifying (who gave me permission to be a Mammy!? Why weren’t you watching me?!) a little bit of certainty is welcome. You are welcome cliché. Anytime. I will make clichéd tea when you call. Provide standard chocolate Hobnobs We can converse in contended grumbles about the clichéd rubbish weather. Blast clichéd hypocritical useless politicians. Praise each others’ hair/figures/lovely houses/ good skin/outfits and make each other feel better about life in typical fashion, even if we tell white lies. Sure! Cliché, you call anytime! All will feel right and safe in the world in just a flash, like lightning and quick as a fox, I would imagine.
I once was a party animal. Stayed up late. Danced. Was adventurous! Being Mum restricts that. I choose a different path now and I am happily doing so. Family life makes me crave something besides that old excitement. Safety. Creature comforts. Nothing too risky. The clichéd life. I want apple in my pie. Milk in my tea. Chips with my fried chicken. I want to know my baby will sleep every two hours for forty minutes and drink 150 mls five times per day. I want the toddler to eat a well rounded diet. I want to know my girls will be in bed at half seven thereabouts and wake at half seven thereabouts. No midnight surprise ouchie and rush to A & E. Just their happy contented sleep. Clichéd happy, happy, bouncing babies. Yes please. A cliché I embrace, once again.
Sure, I know this is boring and life is about the spice, the unknown and the colour. I just think that when you are only becoming a fully grown Irish Mammy there is a lot of adaptation involved and it is no harm keeping things very boringly, blandly ‘samey’ for a while. Comfort in routine. Comfort in cliché.
I am delighted to be a walking cliché! I may provide adventurous ideas for vocabulary for my students in a few weeks, but I will go home each day to safe and simple. In fact I will do everything BUT avoid cliché. I will be happy as Larry to do so. I will be like the cat who got the cream. Snug as a bug in a rug. Just for this time of motherhood when it is still new and that is dangerously exciting in itself, I want banal predictability. A joy!
So I think I will maintain this lifestyle just for another few months (or years). It will make my home feel content and safe to know where we stand. A bread and butter lifestyle! Leave the caviar for another day.