Have you noticed that whenever two men discuss football one of them always has to say the phrase “it’s just big business nowadays”? It’s a bit like when you get in a cab you always have to say “what time you on til?”as noted by Peter Kay. Certain phrases HAVE to be said in certain circumstances. For example, have you ever been asked “how you doing?”by a work colleague? What do you reply? I’ll tell you what you reply… you say “I’ll be better at five o’clock”. You HAVE to say that. It is a reflex reaction hard wired into the speech centres of our brains. Another example is when you meet an acquaintance during a spell of hot weather; it’s IMPOSSIBLE not to say “Hot enough for you?” Even as you say the words you know that you’re spouting a tired old cliché that is not even momentarily amusing and makes both participants in the exchange want to suck a rifle. But you still say it. And I haven’t even mentioned that classic “See you!”, “Not if I see you first!” chestnut. I’m not sure if these abominations are restricted to England where I live. I suspect different parts of the world have their own nightmare social nicety disasters.
I think we should try to break out of this lazy and unfunny way of interacting by throwing in unexpected and colourful phrases. The next time a work colleague asks me how I’m doing instead of the usual “I’ll be better at five o’clock”, I’m going to say “You don’t care about me you bastard, I want a divorce!” I’ll make a note of the reaction to this and let you know. Similarly, when someone says “Hot enough for you?” I will reply with “My pond has turned into crazy paving you insensitive arse!” I think this will be a very interesting experiment and I intend to write to Noam Chomsky with my results. Watch out for coverage in New Scientist.
To be honest, I started this post intending to write about football but then remembered that I am utterly, mind-numbingly bored by football and so wandered off the point a bit. Sorry. Instead of an in depth analysis of where the England squad went wrong in the recent World Cup campaign here is a really funny clip featuring David Mitchell.