My friend Emma tells me that they use the word softener for that supposedly clever thing when someone puts out a negative message but starts with a positive softener. As in: Esmerelda is certainly a bright student but she has difficulties engaging with her work or Thank you very much for your response which was very useful in many ways though I was hoping you might have given me the information I was actually asking for or BigUsuryCorporation is pleased to report that we aim to create five hundred jobs in the South East of England (or The Home Counties because only the South East if home). There will also be the creation of a more flexible work force environment in the North of the country.
Anyway, I heard a good one the other day as I was pulling into Clapham Junction on the train: We are now arriving in Clapham Junction. An excellent service is running on all underground lines (there are no underground stations at Clapham Junction), as well as on the Docklands Light Railway (which is five miles away in East London). At present due to signal failures there are delays of 45 minutes on trains running to East Croydon (they do run from Clapham Junction).
When someone starts up with their softener now I just go yeah yeah yeah and make a turning motion with my hands as if to say can we cut to the chase please. My aim is to reverse the softener. Make it into a hardener, as in Esmeralda is a rubbish student who hasn’t done a stroke of work all year. she did get me a nice present though.