I have said many times that English is a beautiful language but sometimes it is very confusing. It is governed by grammatical rules but at the same time it comes with some exceptions to the rule. I am not going to bore you with examples because I am not a language expert.

Last Sunday, we went to a certain canteen to have lunch. There was an empty table. So we occupied it. To our surprise, there was a note pasted on the table: “This is a self-cleaning table.” John Tan remarked, “Jeremy, what is a self-cleaning table. Is it a table that can clean itself automatically? There is no gadget around for us to press if we want to set it working!”

“Such a table has not been invented yet!” Wong butted in. “This is a neighbourhood canteen – not a high-class one in a scientific park.

“You have read too many creative graphic novels!” I countered. “Can a table clean itself without anyone’s help? Yes, it is a self-cleaning table. It simply means that we have to clean the table ourselves after we have used it!”

“No wonder no one sits at this table and it is very clean! I wonder why all the other tables are not self-cleaning tables. Then, why are all those cleaners standing around for? They will be out of jobs soon and our unemployment statistics will go high up,” Ah Beng commented.

So, what is a self-cleaning table? In the meantime what is the meaning of all these phrases below:

1. a hen-pecked husband 2. last but not least 3. butter fingers 4. yellow fever 5. a tall order.

Have fun. If you do not know the meaning of these phrases, use a good dictionary on the web. Do good and be good!


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