Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Well known phrases and sayings - No.8

'It gets my goat'.

The ladies of Chirbury Art Group enjoy a good day out. It's been a while since the last trip so Mr Bowden's 26 seater has been booked for a Wednesday in May. They know where they want to go: The Wedgewood Museum and 'Site experience' at Stoke on Trent. It ticks all the boxes - art, fine craft, places to drink tea and eat cake - nothing to frighten the horses.

There's just a bit of fine tuning to be done on the programme betwixt pick up in Chirbury at 8.00am and the coo's of delight and amazement at Josiah W's wonderful artefacts to be had at the end of the journey.....

I consult the web site - and it's a very pretty web site. Its headline, over a picture of snowy trees, reads 'Worth the journey whatever the weather' which somehow plants the idea that it might not be.  There's something about that phrase 'worth it' which implies hard work, worthy endeavour and grudging enjoyment. Maybe it's just me.

We've also heard rumours that it might be closed, or closure imminent - although the web site doesn't indicate this. A phone call should sort that out. The bookings lady eventually calls me back and I learn that while the factory tour - I guess this is the 'site experience' - is not open at present the Museum most certainly is and is well worth a visit. She'll send me a booking form for my group.

Going on for a month later the booking form arrives along with 2 other sheets of paper explaining the nuances of booking one's group in. It may be me again but nothing quite adds up... it's time to talk on the phone again....which is where my goat gets got, so to speak.....

The Bookings Office (if indeed there is one) has two lines, both open on weekdays between 10.00am and 4.00pm. I check my watch and key in the first number. A recorded message tells me the line is busy. Never mind I'll call back in a few moments. I repeat the exercise. Again. And again. I hold and press * to hold longer. I press * to hold again.  The answering machine clicks in. I do not want the answering machine and inadvertently say 'bugger' and put the phone down. Whoops. This happens on both lines. Nearly ad infinitum. Hmm. They must be busy - which is v.good - but also v.odd. Can't believe they're that rushed off their feet this early on a Monday morning in early March. Can't believe nobody can be answering the phones - do they not want our business? No wonder this little corner of British industry is beleaguered.

10 minutes turns into half an hour, which in turn ticks its way towards the hour as I try in vain to speak to someone. What finally, well and truly gets my goat, is the recorded 'please hold, your call is important to us'.

What??? If it's so bloody important why don't you answer the @$!*ing! phone? Seethe, hiss and boo!

I calm down, call the the main reception number and ask to be put through to the Bookings Office. The very nice receptionist (who sounds like somebody's Nan) gave a shout out to somebody down the corridor - the same somebody who should have been answering their phones - and we're talking at last. Not that it was very helpful. It turns out I have last year's prices - which they will honour and no, she still didn't know if the factory would be open or not in May.

But why does the phrase 'it gets my goat' trip off my tongue at such ineptness, such lack of customer service? It essentially means to become extremely irritated. I do like this explanation:
'One of the most likely explanations behind “gets my goat” is also one of the more interesting - something which rarely happens when exploring the roots of common idioms. As early as the 1700s, goats were used as companion animals to help settle race horses, keeping the notoriously skittish animals relaxed. Taking a horse's pet goat away would have agitated and upset the animal, potentially influencing the outcome of a race.'
Seems plausible? Guess I'd get pretty stroppy if somebody took my favourite goat away.

Anyway, for goat fans, here's another picture:


Tattie Weasle said...

It does get one's goat. I hate shoddy service esp when there are so many people, we are led to beleive, who need work! Surely with so many to choose from there should be a better quality of service everywhere???!!! I'll get back in my hole and beahave ;)

Cro Magnon said...

Does this happen everywhere? It seems to be an English disease, and really infuriates me. And yes, it does also get my goat.

elizabethm said...

I love the idea of someone pinching your favourite goat! What a hazard. It's enough to make you keep the identity of the favoured animal a very closely guarded secret.
And yes, as Cro says, seems a peculiarly English disease.

Frances said...

Mountaineer, I do thank you for clearing up the origin of that goat-getting business.

With regard to your trying ot plan the excursion to the potteries, I would be flipping angry. I think I am patient, but this really would have gotten to me.

And, I say this a someone who has a very fond part saved in my heart for traditional British chinaware.

I hope that you'll be writing a follow up on the prospective journey. xo

Pondside said...

I love goats, so enjoyed the woodcuts.
That whole phone experience is the norm over this way. Sooooo frustrating.

rachel said...

My goat was got very savagely yesterday as I tried to make a complaint to Royal Mail about the way in which a photographic print in a rigid card envelope, in pristine condition arriving all the way from Nova Scotia, was then ruined by being doubled over to force through my letter box.

The RM online complaints section is designed (like the rest of its dense and bureaucratic website) to deter at every step, and the phone service is circular; ten minutes of listening to a recorded voice ends with nothing..... Grrrr, I want my goat back!

Cait O'Connor said...

I love goats, we used to keep them. They are such harmonious animals, would that all humans could be so!

Fennie said...

Harmonious! Cait, I beg to disagree!
Still, lovely post Mountainear. All I would say is if all else fails try Bridgewater (in Stoke) where you can do the factory tour and see their little museum (admittedly it only goes back 25 years rather than 250, but you can't have everything). And you can have the tea, coffee, sandwiches and cake experience and buy things, if you are so minded, in the factory shop all staffed by incredible well-brought up girls called Poppy.

Brewer gives the racehorse explanation but then says you can annoy someone by butting in (like a non-harmonious goat) but doesn't say why that should be 'getting one's goat'

I always thought it was a reference to a goatee beard (as worn by the Spaniards of Queen Mary's court) and the tendency of Britons to tweak or singe Spanish beards wherever they found them.

mountainear said...

Ha! Fennie love the thought of beard pulling - but were such beards then known as goatees then? Questions, questions...always more to explore.

Fennie said...

But they are named goatees because that's what goats have - the goat in your illustration has a particularly fine one. What other animal has such a beard? No, they must have called it a goat beard, if not a goatee (which was probably goatey anyway).

I suppose we could ask what a goatee beard was in Spanish.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

love goats - mine has been a bit got this week as well!!
All the potteries factories etc are on the decline - we used to go regularly from work and have enough to fill a day - not now. We are going on 26th March - shall I go and have a peep for you?

mollygolver said...

Having to go through all that rigmorole would be enough to get anybody's goat. Hope you all have a great day out all the same! F, thanks so much for identifying that wild flower on my blogsite. You are absolutely right! I had another look at them today - they're fully open now and really lovely!