Category Archives: Correspondence

As it were, as it were

A friend of mine has, for some time, been peppering his text messages and emails with “as it were”.

The other day, I received a text message that had at least three “as it were”s in it. So many, in fact, that I was compelled to reply: “Thanks, as it were.”

Now, I’m not sure what his own ideas are. I feel as though, by constantly saying “as it were” he’s frightened of owning any of his own expressions in case they seem prosaic to others. If so, poor him. If they’re understood, so much the better.

In any case, ‘as it were’ could just easily be ‘as it might be’, or ‘as it could/should be’, or even ‘as it ought to be’. Let alone ‘as it might not be’.

Either way, I no longer believe anything he has to say.

Say what you mean, and mean what you say. That’s my motto.

It’s a shame other people don’t live by the same code of clarity.

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Hello and welcome!

This is my very first post on this blog, which is pretty exciting for me, if not for you.

It’s headed ‘Greetings!’, but I wonder if it should really say ‘Salutations!’, because that’s what’s on my mind.

A few weeks ago, I got into a discussion with my business partners about how we should address a bundle of letters – most of which were going to be sent to men.

I wanted to use the suffix ‘Esq’. Someone else wanted to use ‘Mr’ and the other person didn’t seem to mind.

All she could tell us was that the last time she saw ‘Esquire’ in common use was in the 1990s, when her father – who held a number of posts in the local community – used to receive business letters with the suffix ‘Esq’ in the address.

Apparently, this was a source of pride to his daughter, who used to boast about his status to her school friends. “My father’s an esquire. What’s yours?”. As you may guess, this made her feel special when he wasn’t bested.

Me, I have no history with ‘Esq’. I just like it.

I know it’s old-fashioned and, perhaps, a bit stuffy.

But, as you can tell from my partner’s story, it does have a bit of style about it. And it can give a man status.

Perhaps that’s not so surprising, when you learn that the term has its origins in the middle ages, when knights were addressed as ‘squire’ and ‘maidens’ swooned at the very sight of a lance.

And there was a time when people who owned property were accorded the title ‘Esquire’.

All in all, a title to be envied.

Nowadays, I gather, the style is either to dismiss suffixes altogether or address men as plain ‘Mr’, which seems unlikely to have quite the same Camelotian effect on today’s modern ‘Ms’, who sees herself as equal to any man in the joust of daily life.

As I say, I like ‘Esq’.

I will probably go on using it in much the same way as I would a silk top hat, which – assuming I were wearing one at the time – I would doff whenever I met a fellow gentleman in the street, whether he be a knight or a property owner.

To me, it’s all a matter of respect.

And I respectfully crave your indulgence – sir, squire, madam or ms – for this blog post; the first of what I hope will be many.

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