Stating the flipping obvious?

This morning, while reading the Metro, a headline jumped out at me:

[Don’t judge me for reading free papers on the tube, I know I ought to be reading ‘proper’ books, but this week it’s all I can do to get on the train in the first place, let alone continue with Ian McEwan.] 
Obviously, being the person that I am the headline caught my attention and I read on with interest – though with a nagging suspicion that this couldn’t really be news. Surely it’s fairly likely that bloggers would reveal their personality through their writing? Isn’t that kind of the point? 
In case you’re wondering what your writing might say about you, apparently it works like this:

Extroverts are likely to use the word ‘mouth’ frequently, while those with ‘open’ personalities are likely to use words like ‘folk’ and ‘poetry’…Those showing openness were most likely to use words ‘folk’, ‘humans’, ‘poet’ and ‘art’ – while extroverts use ‘bar’, ‘drinks’ and ‘dancing’. Agreeable writers were most likely to use ‘wonderful’, ‘morning’, ‘spring’ and ‘together’, whereas conscientious personalities used ‘completed’, ‘adventure’, ‘stupid’ and ‘boring’. Finally, neurotic bloggers’ top words included ‘awful’, ‘though’, ‘lazy’, ‘worse’ and ‘depressing’.

I don’t want to do the researchers at the University of Colorado a disservice, but some of this is quite frankly stating the obvious, while others parts just don’t make sense. Clearly, an extrovert is more likely to use words like ‘bar’ and ‘dancing’ because they’re the ones most likely to be going to bars and dancing – as a performing introvert myself, I know my blog is less likely to feature such words because I don’t venture out so much. (That’s a bit of a lie, I’ve just realised how much dancing has featured in the last month!) Is it also such a leap to conclude that neurotic bloggers use words like ‘worse’ and ‘depressing’ more often than others? Conversely, are ‘open’ people more into poetry and art? Do conscientious people more frequently go on adventures and think things are stupid or boring?

The thing that slightly concerns me is the apparent frequent use of ‘though’ by neurotics. Isn’t that just a fairly typical word used to hold sentences together? I’m fairly sure I use it pretty frequently, but I don’t think I’m neurotic – unless this stupid article is developing a neurosis within me by making me think far too much? In an effort to look at this scientifically, I attempted to do a word analysis on this blog, but could only get it done for the current page – i.e. the last seven entries. Thus I ended up with a high number of ‘diaries’, ‘January’, ‘first’ and ‘German’. Not really typical and not particularly indicative of my personality, I feel.

You know what reveals a blogger’s personality? What they write about – not which words they use – of course…it’s really quite simple. Oh and also, do writers really need to be pigeon holed according to specific personality types? I think not.

Here endeth my thoughts on this subject. I’m not sure they were particularly illuminating. In fact, perhaps it simply reveals that I shouldn’t read the Metro because it contains pointless articles and my time would be better spent reading improving novels/theology/work articles/daily devotionals.

What’s in a name?

On Thursday night I had the rare experience of being at a social function where I was introduced to people as Elizabeth rather than Liz. Usually this only happens at family functions where grandparents or aunts have forgotten/been unaware of the moniker that I usually go by. In this case, it was because I was with one of my oldest friends, who knew me best in my Elizabeth days. [We met on our first day of secondary school and became friends essentially because she could fit ‘geography’ into one box on the timetable and I couldn’t.]

One of the reasons I’m called Elizabeth is because my parents felt that a multi-syllable surname you needed a similarly multi-syllable first name to accompany it. I think they had a point, although their choice of boy’s name – George Hezekiah – slightly contradicts the theory!

The bonus of such a name is that there are a myriad of ways in which it could be abbreviated. At home, growing up, the main abbreviation was Lizzy, although I hated being called this at school or by people I didn’t like. Even now, the only people who use that are close family friends – it certainly wasn’t a name I would’ve considered going public with.

Age 16, just as I began 6th form, I had a revelation. I decided that on embarking upon my A-levels I would be Liz, not Elizabeth. To this day I have no real idea where this came from, except that my Music teacher had previously insisted that she call me Liz because the full version was too long. If I’d been a little less timid and a tad more adventurous, I might have gone with Libby – as in the Neighbours character and a nod to my antipodean roots – or gone with something from the second half of the name (Beth/Betty – though woe betide anyone attempting to call me Betty!), but no, I was dull and boring.

Life as Liz has been good. It’s helped shorten my email address for one thing – Elizabeth.Clutterbuck is many characters too long. The thing with the full-length version is that now, 13 years on from my decision, it’s not me…but who am I?

Elizabeth used to get into trouble and got yelled at by her parents, and now writes diligent letters to her beloved grandparents – it’s like a character from a bygone age that I can play if needed.

Liz is dependable, conscientious, a little bit dappy and in the middle of a slightly scary vocational exploration.

Lil is one person’s great friend and confidante.

Eliza writes and writes and writes, but I’m increasingly aware that it’s a very different persona to Liz – especially as she’s a massive extrovert. Incidentally, I love that there’s a small but distinct group of people who actually use this short with me.

This is probably not a great train of thought to be pursuing on a Saturday night after a couple of glasses of red – I don’t want to get too deep and philosophical – but it’s an interesting thought. Do we (or more specifically do I) take on characters according to the different names we give ourselves and are awarded? Can we ever change who we’re meant to be simply by altering our name? Is it wrong to have different personas?

Am I just thinking way too much?

A photographic aside – Elizabeth is also a very common name, especially amongst my friends. At last count, nine Facebook friends shared it with me. Years ago, I lived on a corridor with four other Liz’s (ok, three Liz’s & one Lissie) and on my last night in the building we had a night out at which this photo was taken, consisting of five Liz’s and one Alice – there’s an anecdote too, but it’s too complicated to share.

Alice, Liz B, Liz C, Lissie, Liz P & Liz dG


Ever had one of those moments when you realise something terrifying about yourself? Yesterday, I had one in which I realised I was on the verge of becoming a smug yuppie bitch:
This was the moment I got unreasonably annoyed that my administrator hadn’t specified front facing table seat with power point, for my train tickets to and from Birmingham yesterday. [I probably should also confess that the main reason I wanted a table was so I could watch Gilmore Girls comfortably on my laptop…]
Seriously, how ridiculous??
It’s bad enough that I trotted off to my out of town meeting, corporate laptop bag in tow, super-early, Stabucks cup in hand, Guardian newspaper under my arm…
I have to stop it, before it becomes too late.
Luckily, I don’t display too many symptoms of the smug yuppie bitch condition. I steer clear of two-piece skirt or trouser suits. My shoes of choice yesterday were practical flat boots (worn with bright blue socks with pink flamingoes – classy!). I have neither corporate credit card or mobile phone. Mostly, my administrator (in fact, my cluster’s administrator – 14 of us share her) simply keeps me in stock with coloured pens and random book requests whilst sustaining my one plant with water.
Now, I simply have to curb behaviour that may make the rot set in further.
Hopefully, early detection will prevent this affliction spreading further. I’m sure I am neither smug, nor yuppie-ish and only occasionally bitchy.

When not drinking coffee turns out to be a bad thing

I should’ve known not to share any of my answers during what seemed to be a perfectly harmless pop-psychology quiz. Especially when the quiz formed the introduction to a seminar on dating…

6 questions were asked, all equally inane. Number 4 was “what would your response be if offered a cup of coffee?”. As all who know me well are aware, I don’t like coffee – never have & probably never will. Therefore it’s only logical that my response would be “no thanks, could I have a cup of tea instead?”

I probably should’ve kept my mouth shut when the roving mic asked what my answer was. Because, of course, that was the question that apparently revealed my attitude to sex. Good job I don’t take these things seriously, else I’d be worried about having a rather unsuccessful future marriage.

Probably shouldn’t have listed my 3rd favourite animal as a kangaroo either. Listing the three characteristics I associated with that creature, I chose: energetic, bizarre & Australian. Turns out that’s the question that reveals how others see you. I doubt anyone regards me as Australian and very few would think I was energetic. Bizarre would probably ring true. Ho hum.