The other night I was spacing out in front of the fire, staring at a box of Marks and Sparks ‘Extremely Chocolatey Milk Chocolate All Butter Biscuits’ on the coffee table.
Wonderful, I mused. They’ve called their biscuits exactly what their customers want to see.
Imagine a brave new world where the nanny state runs amok and truth rules. How much would you want to reach for ‘Fat Free But Stuffed With Tons Of Sugar So You’ll Still Be A Fat Basstid Frozen Yoghurt’, or, as The Snapper suggested, ‘Incredibly Addictive Diet Cola Crammed With Known Carcinogens.’
Irish elections would be contested between the ‘There’s Bugger All Difference Between Us And Them Party’, the ‘We’ll Screw You In A Different Way To Them Party’ and the ‘We Collectively Sound Like Miracle Workers But We Don’t Have The Money To Make It Work Alliance.’
Within the self-serving confines of the Irish legal system, Tribunals would become ‘Lawyer Feeding Frenzy With No Chance Of A Meaningful Verdict Fiasco.’
We’d have the ‘We’ve Got A Richer Foreign Criminal Than You So We’ll Win It Premier League’, while Irish and Australian teams would play the ‘We’re Just Going To Beat The Crap Out Of Each Other International Rules Test Match.’
Evidently M&S think their customers incapable of grasping the fairly simple idea that there’s a whole heap of chocolate on these biscuits, because below their extremely explicative name on the box, yet another line of copy claims:
MORE CHOCOLATE THAN BISCUIT.
Whoosh … my brain's lost, pondering the deep philosophical matter of whether a chocolate biscuit can actually still be a biscuit, if it is
MORE CHOCOLATE THAN BISCUIT.
Truth be told, I don’t know what’s worse: the way my tiny mind works, or that I share it in public.
So rarely in life do you get to say the funny thing at the right time. When somebody upsets you or when you feel you have a point to make, the words just don’t come. You dip your chin in the face of your enemy, because in the heat of battle your brain dries up.
You know that you’re capable of a killer line, but it comes to you days later, with a stab of sorrow at four in the morning: it’s too late.
If only you could've said that back then, everyone would think you such a witty whizz.
Yet others rarely judge our ability to slice the air with sharp strokes of verbal swords. I like to think that as a species we are slightly more substantial than that.
But boy oh boy, when the right words come, I don’t care how shallow I’m being. Last week I was walking down Shop Street, looking across Johnny Massacre Corner to a large crowd of tourists standing opposite the Kings Head pub.
Their tour guide was shrilly explaining how "... nobody knows the identity of the executioner of England’s King Charles I, but -”
at which point he was interrupted by an energetic local lad, coming up the street, who turned to the crowd, stretched a smile on his lips, raised his arm in the air and cried with exuberant triumphant pride:
“He was an Irishman!”
at which the crowd laughed heartily.
Despite a healthy sense of humour, my head was racing with the crassness of this guy’s misplaced pride. Frantically searching my brainbox for something to say, I was about to come face to face with himself the Historical Proclaimer.
It had to be quick. Neither he nor I had slowed our brisk walking pace. In seconds we’d be past each other and the crowd, walking in opposite directions.
This was not the moment to suggest that Gunning, their ‘Irishman', probably wasn’t the man who executed King Charles I, because another bloke called William Hewlett was later convicted of regicide, after Charles II returned to the throne.
Anyway, it wasn’t yer man’s historical inaccuracy that irked me.
No, the hottest potato baking inside my brainbox was wondering how the killing of that English king did the Irish any good.
And then it came to me. Just simply exactly what I wanted to say. In retrospect, I’ll admit it looks rather feeble, not much of a witty gem at all, but at the time it just seemed perfect.
As the two of us walked past each other, I turned to the crowd and shouted:
“Yep, he did exactly what Cromwell wanted!”
Then I walked on, leaving himself to ponder that little baby, and the tourists to wonder if they had just experienced some kind of wonderful Irish street theatre.
Did any of them give a damn about who was right or wrong?
Did any of them care that a mere 3 years after the king’s execution, Cromwell declared himself Lord Protector, which did the Irish very few favours?
Not a single one.
Had I in any way inhibited yer man from feeling good each and every time the Irish walloped the English?
About as likely as him wearing a Glasgow Rangers shirt.
Nevertheless, as I walked down the road I felt a spring in my step and a thrill in my heart. Even though I’d impressed nobody but myself, I was delighted.
For once, I’d said the right words at the right time, and in my sad little existence, I savour these tiny harmless victories like ripe berries on the bush.