Every writer I know is interested in words, phrases and modern idioms. I’m like a magpie in this regard. Shame on me, but the hipper the phrase the more I’m drawn. Perhaps this is why I’ve spotted a definite trend on the radio and TV to use the word ‘So’ before answering a question. It’s now become ‘so’ commonplace that I marvel if anyone can respond without resorting to it. It goes something like this: Questioner: ‘Would you like to explain how pollution effects the environment of the abominable snowman?’ Answerer: ‘So pollution has a particularly negative effect due to…’   ‘So’ what the heck is going on?

I reckon it’s a bit like those joining words beloved of weather presenters. The smooth talker doesn’t bother but the less accomplished chuck out ‘and’ as if it has two syllables. This handy trick buys time and is usually inserted before ‘the rain is coming in from the east’ or whatever. In a similar way, ‘so’ tacked to the beginning of a sentence gives the person answering a couple of seconds to assemble what comes out of his or her mouth next.   How this all came about, I’ve no idea. Having watched wall to wall Gomorrah and Romanze Criminale for the past few weeks – can’t recommend either highly enough – I notice the Italians use ‘Allora’ a lot. It’s translated as ‘Well’ or, you guessed it, ‘So’. Could it be an Italian influence, I wonder? If so, who am I to complain?

BUT what I really don’t ‘get’ – and I’ve overheard it so many times in restaurants, cafes and pubs – is, instead of requesting a drink or meal with a simple: ‘Please can I have…’ or ‘Could I order a…’ we now have ‘Can I get…’ Get? Where the hell did that come from? It rather suggests that the person doing the ordering is going to personally nip behind the bar and help his or herself.

Driving through Herefordshire a couple of weeks ago, I noticed lots of lovely welcome signs that, nevertheless, left me bewildered. The slogan is ‘Hereford You Can.’ You can what, I wondered? Go far? Get a life? Naff off? ‘Nuff’ said.