Melissa Kite Melissa Kite

Why I’m going to start speaking in acronyms

I’ll text the BB later and ask him if he wants an IT tonight

Credit: Roman Didkivskyi

‘I’ve got COPD,’ said a friend of mine, not elaborating at all as I stared at him waiting for him to explain what that stood for. I had to look it up later. His expression told me firmly that everyone was au fait with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

A few hours earlier, another friend had texted to say she would be late for t/c, which, upon my enquiring, turned out to mean that she would be late meeting me to have a cup of tea or coffee.

She said she was busy at GC (which turned out to be Guildford College) and had been working late at the ITA (by which she meant Italian restaurant).

Why do people talk in acronyms? Is it self-obsession that makes them think everyone instantly recognises the very specific shorthand terms that refer to their lives?

I once had a lodger who was forever talking about her meetings with the IRA. She was a tiny little thing, blonde and ditsy. At 22 years old, she had just started a career as a social worker and worked long hours visiting children in care, then writing up reports on their progress. She was absolutely lovely, the sweetest girl you could imagine.

‘That’s so unfair!’

But she would often come through the front door in the evening and when I asked how her day had been, sigh heavily and say: ‘Really difficult meeting with the IRA today.’

And I, not wanting to even go there, would just nod and make sympathetic noises, and ask her what she fancied for her tea, because it blew my mind that social services made her meet with terrorists, for reasons I could not begin to imagine.

I made a mental note to get to the bottom of it before she left and one night, when she was in a quiet mood, and there was a gap in the conversation, I asked how and why she had got involved with the Irish Republican Army.

We were sitting at my kitchen table tucking into my home-made version of Nando’s chicken with all the sides, her favourite meal.

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