I’m afraid I can’t muster a whole word, but if you’re nearing the end of a sentence perhaps this letter will be enough to raise a small smile:
When I was a teenager in Britain, if you wanted to learn to drive (who didn’t?), you slung a couple of signs on the front and rear of your dad’s car, hopped in the driving seat, and spent the next 40 minutes making your father wish he’d become a jungle explorer rather than a bank clerk, as it would have been a good deal safer. These modest square placards sported a solid-looking “L” in bright red on a white background, and warned other drivers that it might be wiser to seek an alternate route.
After I discarded those rather uncool learner plates, and left the driving instructor (who had the unhappy task of taking over when my dad bailed) to his therapy, “L” began to designate something even less cool. People would make a sign with their thumb and index finger and hold it up to their forehead, rather like the “H” that denotes Rimmer is a hologram in Red Dwarf (and which looks a bit like a bunch of “L”s stitched together – appropriate since Rimmer is, not to put too fine a point on it, a total loser!).
So I was a bit taken aback one day recently when I was amusing myself on Google. I’d been watching one of those home-search TV shows where the presenters try to find something to suit a couple or family who want to trade their patch of dirt for another. This one was set in Northern Ireland, an area that I’m unfamiliar with. After the show, I zoomed in on Google Maps, trying (unsuccessfully) to locate one of the featured houses. So I idly hunted around to find the shortest sea crossing between mainland Britain and N. Ireland (I know, sounds a bit like a loser pastime if ever there was one), and stumbled right onto this:
Now I know that tectonic plates shift all the time, but I’d speculate that it rarely results in seabed formations that look like they might belong in a kid’s program: “Today’s episode of Sesame Street has been brought to you by the letter L…” Was someone at Google (in their best Dick Van Dyke Cockney impersonation), ’avin’ a larf or takin’ the Mickey? Taking the Mickey (making fun of someone) is apparently Cockney rhyming slang: “Taking the Mickey Bliss” – I’ll leave you to work out the rhyme.
The current political malfunction is worldwide. I could well imagine that some wag thought it a good idea to raise a metaphorical thumb and finger, just to indicate the dire state of the UK as it thrashes around, trying, and so far failing, to resolve the European question.
Or is it something else, altogether? I doubt I’ll ever find a straight answer to that, so I’m left with my imagination. I like the idea of those old “L” plates as I feel like a perpetual novice, always trying to discover what the ’ell’s going on.
And the point of this ramble? Aberrations. Your aberrations probably won’t be the same as my aberrations. But I’d lay hefty odds that they’ll be there waiting for you. It’s rare to have one so obvious that it’s accessible to the whole world (makes a change from the fuzzy Google images and debatable detritus that I’ve posted here before!). And I’d suggest that it doesn’t matter whether there’s a perfectly logical (or at least acceptable) reason for any particular aberration, it’s what it conjures in your own mind that’s important. And for that the sky’s the limit – or maybe not…