It being December, hundreds of thousands of words are being written to encourage us to enjoy the festive season by spending money. A lot of these words are febrile brandspeak, a lot of the phrasing is teeth-grinding hyperbole and a lot of featured claims are deliberately over-egged. But sometimes the author goes one step too far, assumes too much about their audience and shamelessly lies.
Here are 20 excessively presumptuous examples published in the last week, taken from London-based websites which publicise events and experiences. Most of the examples aren't from the website you're thinking of, before you jump to any conclusions.
1) "Everyone’s favourite shipping container village is launching a brand new site in north west London."
Even if everyone had a favourite shipping container village, which they don't, they wouldn't all have the same one. So this is a lie.
2) "One thing’s for sure: there’s never a dull moment at the Royal Albert Hall this December!"
3am at the Royal Albert Hall's pretty dull, and concert intervals aren't thrillers either. So this one thing isn't "for sure", it's a sweeping over-exaggeration.
3) "When something is called ‘The Christmas Forest’, you just know it’s going to be a winter wonderland."
Given that a finite number of Christmas events turn out to be lacklustre embarrassments, and a name proves nothing, this cannot always be true.
4) "Imagine a team of elves scurrying around, hanging lights and baubles whilst you kick back with an eggnog – perfection!"
This flight of fancy is sunk by its final word, which assumes far too much about its audience's definition of perfection.
5) "‘Tis the season for unashamed over-indulgence, so it’s definitely time for a Christmas afternoon tea."
The first half of the sentence is questionable. The illogical leap to the second half is entirely unfounded. But it's that appearance of the word 'definitely' which tops the lot, elevating this claim to the highest levels of untruth.
6) "No matter whereabouts in London you’ve found yourself, we’ve got a delightful Baileys and dessert combination so good that you’ll definitely end your night very happily."
Initially the author wrongly assumes that the reader must be close to a limited number of West End locations, forgetting that places like Pinner and Penge exist. Then they wrongly assume that alcohol and food must 'definitely' make everyone very happy. Textbook lying.
7) "This east London-based speakeasy is renowned for its delicious and sometimes delightfully unusual cocktails which makes it a must-visit for a their limited edition Baileys cocktail."
Nothing in London is a must-visit, absolutely nothing at all. Locations serving Baileys cocktails, doubly so.
8) "It’s impossible to visit Maxwell’s in Covent Garden without tackling a shake."
It blatantly isn't impossible. I'm sure tens of thousands of diners have managed it.
9) "If you love coffee as much as we do, you owe it to yourself to take a trip to Coffee Oasis."
Although we cannot know quite how much the authors love coffee, nobody owes themselves a trip into central London for a caffeinated beverage as a consequence.
10) "Everything you need to know about 2018, wrapped up in one event."
Every use of the phrase "everything you need to know" is a slamdunk into the basket of shameless deceit.
11) "Face it, sitting at home on NYE is dreadfully boring, so taking to the river for a nautical adventure is an excellent alternative."
The second half of this claim is debatable, but not necessarily incorrect. It's the whopping assumption that your house must be Dullsville on New Year's Eve which destroys the underlying premise of the overall assertion.
12) "A luxurious party boat will be cruising up the Thames this year, offering the best possible view of the fireworks – and we just know you want to get on board!"
The deck of a party boat does not deliver the 'best possible' view of the fireworks, which is likely to be some distance above river level. Also, the vast majority of us have no intention of getting on board, especially at £125 a pop, and the final exclamation mark merely confirms the sheer desperation of these weasel words.
13) "All you could ever want for Christmas is bottomless cocktails and food, right?"
Wrong. On so many levels.
14) "The outdoor bar is heated, and decked with fairy lights, making one of its booths the perfect place to hide out from the winter."
If members of the public were asked to describe the 'perfect' place to hide out from the winter, a phenomenally tiny proportion of them would pick the bar outside a London jazz club. So this is a lie.
15) "Calling all stressed-out shoppers and steak bake enthusiasts! Your Christmas wish has been granted."
A lesson in logic here. Just because a person exhibits Characteristic A and Characteristic B, it does not necessarily follow that their Christmas wish is a pop-up event combining the two.
16) "Let’s face it, gingerbread houses are as much a part of Christmas as the tree or Love Actually."
Assuming some kind of ranking of "Christmasness" exists, it is plainly not true that a biscuit structure, a decorated tree and a 2003 movie by Richard Curtis would have identical scores.
17) "Nothing says merry Christmas like a pair of giant slugs. I mean, no, that’s not true. Plenty of things are Christmassier than slugs, big or small. Everything, actually."
This looks like it's going to deliver brilliantly, as the author subverts the genre with a retraction in the second sentence. But then they go and ruin it right at the end with an incorrect declaration that slugs must be the least Christmassy things in existence. Remember, never use the word 'everything' (or indeed 'everyone') unless it really is the case.
18) "Always dreamed of dancing like a Sugar Plum Fairy? Who hasn’t?"
Technically, because this is two questions, it isn't a lie. But you have to be up against a pretty tight editorial deadline to churn out a patently-flawed introduction such as this.
19) "You can barely move for igloos in London over the Christmas period."
Someone got paid for writing that. It's possibly the least true fact on the entire list.
20) "It’s a fact: There’s no such thing as too many Christmas markets."
Imagine a universe entirely stuffed with Christmas markets. That'd be too many, so this is not a fact.
"Most of the examples aren't from the website you're thinking of, before you jump to any conclusions."
And there I go as well, making assumptions about my audience which I cannot possibly know to be true simply because it delivers an engaging sentence. Everyone writes badly sometimes, asserting the incorrect and presuming the inaccurate. But it ought to be perfectly possible to deliver written content without resorting to such flawed generalities, and we should all be on our guard against their overuse.