Sexing up Spaghetti

by Tom on October 2, 2003

I’m moving from one software job to another, and during the period of my notice (just ended, thanks for asking) I was placed on documentation duty. It has been my proud responsibility over the last month or so to attempt to capture, in flowing English prose and naturally UML, the state of the pile of mouldering spaghetti that my erstwhile employers like to call their ‘system’. Feh.

I’m pleased but quite surprised to be able to say that I managed to avoid the temptation to get all Borgesian on their asses by making the whole thing up. That would have been much more fun than what I ended up doing, but a bit too cruel to my successor.

Anyway, I particularly enjoyed a conversation on my last day with a colleague who is Spanish, and whose written English is excellent, but who relies a bit too much on the free newspaper ‘Metro’, given away on the tube in the morning, for his education in the vernacular.

He asked me if one particular document I had prepared had been ‘sexed up’. When I’d picked myself up off the floor and wiped away my tears, I denied the charge indignantly. (It is impossible to sex up a description of spaghetti.)

BBC journalists really do need to show more care about introducing this kind of thing into the language. They just don’t know how much trouble they end up causing.



dsquared 10.03.03 at 11:23 am

Watching Martha Kearney breathily pouting her way through the phrase “sexed up” on Newsnight is just about the last cheap thrill available to me these days and you *shall* not deprive me of it!


Tom 10.03.03 at 1:14 pm

Yeah, but I think I heard Roy Hattersley refer to ‘sexing up’ the other day, and haven’t been able to sleep since.


Tripp 10.03.03 at 7:40 pm

Aw, c’mon, haven’t you ever heard of ‘jiggle programming?’

And I once reviewed a document of error recovery procedures that said “Give the cable a jiggle and see if the error goes away.”


a different chris 10.03.03 at 11:18 pm

>but a bit too cruel to my successor.

A bit too far, here: you’re trying to convince yourself that you weren’t completely wasting your time.

Sorry, we’re not a support group.

Face it, your successor will spend about 6 minutes on the documentation and then chuck it for the source code, as you will likewise do with your first assignment on your new job.

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