When I was little my mother encouraged me to have a "useful box."
It contained a collection of things which might prove useful to me in the pursuit of my hobbies, and for use in my spare time somewhere down the track……mostly various items from nature; rocks, dried leaves, nuts, and dead insects etc, some craft supplies, a solitaire set in genuine bakelite, and assorted cards and toys courtesy of Mr Kelloggs breakfast cereal boxes.
By the time I was eleven, my acquisitions had expanded to the outdoors, and included an impressive range of building materials and electrical paraphernalia with which to construct cubby houses complete with 12 volt lighting. Much of it I suspect came to me as the proceeds of crime from my best little friend Max, whose father was into building construction on a slightly larger scale than us. Father of Max also owned the local movie theatre, and whilst I preferred to think the constant supply of Camel filterless cigarettes in our cubby was a gift from God in recognition and appreciation of our good works, I suspect there was another explanation.
The seeds were thus sown for a lifetime of hoarding objects which "might someday come in useful" Some in fact did. Most did not.
It occurred to me that vocabulary is very similar to my accumulated junk collection. Somewhere in my noggin is this massive stash of words, many collected decades ago which will never ever see the light of day again, and for which I have no forseeable purpose.
Included among them is quite an extensive assortment of expletives (a category in which I am proudly multilingual), and other colourful language which I mostly reserve for private moments of extreme physical pain, poor umpiring decisions in sport, bemoaning Mary Murphy's loud mouth, or simply my frustration with other members of the human race.
I try not to let any of them escape when I am in the presence of polite company, nor allow them to appear on these pages out of respect for my genteel readership. It is therefore with some delight that I discovered some modern technologies are indeed encouraging me to legitimately allow my little friends out more often for a run in the park.
One of my pet hates and sources of frustration is being held in an automated telephone queue which uses voice recognition technology (VRT) and requires regular vocal input from me in order to advance up the queue. Imagine my joy in discovering that several VRT programs actually recognise certain profanities, identify them as a sign of customer frustration, and fast track me through to the human person to whom I wished to speak in the first instance.
I am once again a happy little boy with my "useful box".