Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Boring for England

Major league bores are of many kinds, but the commonest variety have one characteristic: everything they say, but everything, is either a stupefying banality or a totally pointless anecdote. I know one – let us call him UTF, which happen to be quite close to his initials but might stand for Unbelievably Tedious Fellow – who could combine the two with powerful effect.

The discussion is, let us say, about the injustice of workers losing their pensions when a company goes bust while the directors walk away with millions. In comes UTF:
“Well, I always say, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”. Far from being entombed in the wave of glum silence which follows this remark, UTF, having got the floor, presses on: “That’s what a friend of mine called Peter often used to say: What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, he used to say”. At this point he realises that what is called for now is some background information about Peter:
“Interesting chap, Peter, used to live in St Albans, well, at any rate, he was at school there but moved to Harpenden when he married, girl I knew who used to work with me at ICI, actually, that’s how I met him. Anyway, he had this marvellous collection of cigarette cards, must have had, oooh…”.

Here he demonstrates another habit of people who have nothing of interest to say: the long pause while he sits with furrowed brow and pursed lips trying to recall some completely unimportant detail, and we all wait: “...several hundred!”.

And so on.

Like most bores, he is a very nice chap, so no-one says “Oh, for God’s sake shut up, you miserable wretch!”. Everyone listens for a bit and then gradually lets his voice fade into the background while they start conversations among themselves on some totally different topic, or just start showing each other little tricks with matches.

This post is quite a short one but seems to have taken a long time to write; I must have dropped off to sleep in the middle of it.

5 comments:

bonhead said...

Tony,
Dropped in to check out your website after you left a comment for me on the Blogwise forums.
I've time now to read only just this one post, and I think it's great!
Perhaps I enjoy it so much because it's so very English, and I'm stuck here in America, where half the time people talk like they've got a mouhful of marbles.
I am new to blogging and most of the blogs that I have perused thus far...leave something to be desired in terms of the quality of writing.
I actually look forward to coming back later to read yours.

http://orsoitink.blogspot.com/

Tony said...

Hello Orso, if that is actually your name.
I thought the Americans believed that it is the English who speak with a mouthful of marbles!
As you will gather from Other Men's Flowers, I find North American/English differences - linguistic, cultural and social - fascinating.
I look forward to following your blog as it develops.

Anonymous said...

I have an aunt who is notorious for going off on unbelievably boring tangents when she's attempting to tell you something. The other thing she does is qualify everything her husband says in the most tedious manner: e.g. My uncle will say, " At 7 we went to ...", and my aunt will interrupt him with, "no, it was at 7:30". She does this continually, "No you were wearing the blue shirt, not the grey one."
None of it is of any consequence anyway.

Great White North Boy

MrVilhauer said...

I meet those guys at the bar all the time.

Unfortunately, I call them my "friends" and when the banal conversation starts, I guess I'm "asking for it."

Tony said...

Serves you right, mrvilhauer.
GWNB, I had an aunt exactly like that, constantly correcting her husband: "No, dear, it was on the Tuesday". James Thurber has a lovely story called The Curb in the Sky about a man who is driven mad by such a wife and takes refuge in describing his dreams, believing she cannot correct the details. But she visits him in the asylum and when he repeats his story about flying in a plane made of telephone wires and pulling over to a curb she says: "No, you pulled over to a cloud. You always get that story wrong".