FOSSIL CODE – you know what you know.

Grammar alert: should that be “Fossil’s Code”. ? Or even “Fossils’ Code”. ?  It matters little.  


There are few more dreaded sentences than:

“Can I have a word”.

Or worse:

“Can I have a word please”.  

It never ends well.

Either someone you like about to tell you something unpalatable.  Or shocking.  Or worse.

Or someone you hardly know wanting to tell you something that you probably have little interest in, is none of their business or both.  Or finally could be someone you really dislike (who doesn’t know this) about to tell you something unpalatable, not at all interesting and that is none of their business or yours.

Fossils rock their reaction to this request (it really isn’t a request)/statement.  

You can always just say – No.

Works for me, now I have caught on.

A lighter and more diffusive (if that is a word) answer – “You can but can we do it [fil in the blank here]/later”.  You can fill in the blank with some indeterminate date in the future.

This is gentler, vaguer, denotes mild interest but no urgency.  Which might get through to the school gate busy body, neighbour who parks across the older neighbours’ bin gate without care or thought, new club member who wants it all to change or any other low level officious chin jutting type.  

It will however not put off the serious princess (or prince) pushy.  Sexism alert:  prince pushy – generally more aggressive, self-interested and patronising than his female counterpart.  Has little concept that what he is saying may be uninteresting to others (you), sentences are peppered with the words “I” and “me”.  Expressions like: “in my view” and “when I ran ICI (which he didn’t) we did XYZ ….” abound.  If you agree with him, he will generally go away and if he quotes you no one will listen anyway.  Best to give him as little air-time as possible and ignore all he says with a vague smile.  If asked to sign petitions, recruit friends to his cause or run neighbours out of town, just wander away.  If you can fabricate an urgent phone call or sick child or relative to rush away to that is excellent.   He will soon go and bother someone else.  Princess pushy is slightly different.  More verbose, direct, offensive.  Takes up cudgels for others without the slightest encouragement.  Whether they like it or not.  Plays on guilt and is a massive martyr to causes that are best left to people who are really in charge.  Eau de sack cloth and ashes abounds.  The princess will want you to set up the village fete stalls at dawn while she rushes round with a clip board, braying, or worse still, clear up when everyone else is in the pub.  She will be anti country sports (or anti antis whichever is her leaning).  School gates abound with these women.  Heaven only knows where they go as their children grow up– do universities have PTAs.  A clever club will harness this individual as head of bin bags or rotas.  Some clubs are completely derailed for years with these types – every meeting descending into “When I” fests.  And “In my day” diatribes. 

I have no advice for rocking fossils.  You need none.  Just identify and dilute or neutralise.  Never give these people alcohol, it is like giving acid to rock stars, they just don’t rest and become more and more unstoppably outrageous.  A vague smile and waft away will do.  Can I have a worders will sooner or later find a door to push on that will open more than a chink and you will be left in peace.

So, when you hear those immortal words you know to avoid.  Have a tactic at the ready but be aware – Fossils Rock the real code:  “You got 5”.  Always a question.  Generally a request by text, and always a precursor to a serious joke, laugh out loud story or maybe a true friend in need – needing both of these things to come through a bad day.  Dispense cheer at will.