Okay, I was writing a text last night and absolutely the correct pronoun to use for a particular person was “they”. You had to be there. But if you had been, you’d have written “they” as well. And I have not one single problem with it.
But I do have a question.
For some reason, and who knows why, this time when I wrote the word, it made me wonder why we ever had “he” or “she”. Seriously. When is it actually necessary, I mean necessary, to specify someone’s gender? When has it ever been?
I mean, I long to give you an example of a time when it was considered necessary yet clearly wasn’t, but I can’t even pull that off.
This may just be on my mind because one of the things I’m doing during this coronavirus lockdown is that I’m learning French through Duolingo. And it’s killing me trying to fathom out gender. I’m concocting conspiracy theories about why it’s le stylo for a pen but la lettre for a letter. Why apples are female but vegetables are male.
Look, don’t press me on the precision here, I’m learning. Plus my only relief on these daily lessons is the remarkable number of times that the app asks me the correct gender for a taxi. Thank you Vanessa Paradis.
Not true. I also got some relief when I realised the real reason that I avoid beaches like la plage. Or that on the odd occasion I attempt dieting, toast and sandwiches are the first to go, as hard as that is. Bread is pain, after all.
What do you mean, my mind is wandering off into apparently and actually completely unconnected subjects?
Yesterday, for instance, I was one of many people recording a video message as part of the Royal Television Society’s coronavirus products. And I thought about it a lot because I didn’t know what I could say and I didn’t know who would particularly choose to listen anyway.
But then this see-saw, up and down, wandering yet focused lockdown mind of mine noticed that I was saying something I rather liked.
People will always remember what we did during this lockdown, I said, but he or she will also remember what we can do.