Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Please let me 'Let you go!' before you 'Let me go!'


Is there anything more painfully embarrassing that being in the company of someone who is trying to sound interleckshual by using big posh words that they don't understand?
We all do it sometimes, to see if we can get away with it, and more often than not whoever hears it and knows better will say nothing, not only to save your blushes, but also because they don't want to come over as pedantic or prickish.
For years I had a bit of a problem with my 'eclectic ' and 'esoteric'. Not exactly the vital bread and butter vocabulary of your daily trip to the shops, they nevertheless seemed to crop up in conversation, and until I was sure exactly which one meant what, I used to hang back and hope for the best.
Words, like the languages they build, change with usage and time. These days, if one is described as being 'sophisticated', one might be considered a fully-rounded and complex human being, but not so long ago the same term was used to show that somebody had become corrupted; that they had lost their innocence.
As our morals and ethics morph to apply to the times in which we live, so too our language adapts itself though common usage to carry new meanings, hip buzzwords and zippy idiom.
With insincerity= running riot in our society, it comes as no surprise that at the moment there is a bit of a hoo-haa going on in wordy circles about 'disingenuous'.
You hardly ever used to hear it, and now politicians and journalists are bringing it up as often as mama seagull's herring breakfast.
In the past, 'disingenuous' was used to describe someone who was giving a false impression of being honest and open, whilst actually being insincere, often for personal gain.
Now though, it has been hijacked by those who would naturally be disingenuous sons of bitches, to mean something altogether more positive.
In its latest incarnation, 'disingenuous' describes that moment when your opinion is sought by others who consider you something of an expert on a subject, and you respond by pretending you know very little about it.
"Come on Charlie, tell us what Chelsea used to be like!"
"Who? Me? Why well, I wouldn't know really, cof cof."
Sad, officially sad that that was the only way I could think of to illustrate the new 'disingenuous'.
The reason I'm going on and on about the word is that there is a despicable and completely yukky behaviour pattern we all use that, for me, defines 'disingenuous' for once, for better or worse, richer or poorer.
We've all done it, said it, or heard it down the phone line:
"Okay then - I'll let you go!"
Oh yeh baby, you know that one, don't you! It's nasty and mean and dishonest and, as the dictionary suggests for 'disingenuous', morally fraudulent.
When you hear it said to you, you know what's going on.
Instead of just being honest and coming right out with
"Look, I have a life and you clearly don't, so I've got to go now, you boring tedious drip of a human, because I have important places to be and real people in my life who really love me, while you, quite clearly do not, because if you had, you wouldn't be wittering on and on about insignificant and, well, let's be honest, pathetic almost-but-not-quite- worthy topics of conversation. So byzee-bye, oh, and and next time you think you might call me for a chat, don't."
There is something so sneaky and weak about 'I'll let you go!", that it upsets me quite profoundly. The suggestion is that we trust each other so little, respect each other and desire honesty in such tiny amounts, that we have neither the courage nor the decency to say simply:
"Look - I have to go now! Thanks for calling, but I've got to dash!'
Somehow we have to pretend that the other person is much more important than us, and that we are somehow boring them, when clearly it is the other way around.
And yes, even though I conveniently can't quite remember when, I am sure I've done it myself. So I'm not raising the flag atop high moral ground, just aware that, as language reflects and runs through every facet of our lives, so this kind of verbal shenanigan only appears as a turn for the worse.
Maybe the next time somebody does it to me, I'll just say
"Yeh, thanks, 'cos I was beginning to think you'd got verbal diarrhoea of the typhoid kind, mate! Don't you ever shut up?"
Conveniently moving from shutting up to peace and quiet, it is noise itself that will drive me from this city.
I love living in Galway, and having lived in the country for many years, I know that even on a quiet country day, there are still sounds, noises made by humans that feel invasive. Tractors drone and dribble as they run astride hills; chainsaws spit and sizzle as they cut down trees, and diesel tanker trucks tick over for hours on end.
But today I was woken at 7:15 by a passenger coach reversing, and then breakfasted to the delightful song of an angle grinder at the slowest building site in the world, still running at the back of my house.
Then came a couple of lads with leaf blowers at the front of the house, followed by hydraulic drills tearing tarmac and cracking concrete back at the site.
Later I was serenaded by the bass boom of a function at the hotel, followed by the late night voices of people shouting their good-byes as they left the 'do'.
Finally, my day and my patience ran out, when naked, insane and apoplectic, I reach for the phone at 3:45a.m., to ask them to tell their drunken guests who are partying outside at the back, right by my bedroom window, to shut up, please.
Wish I wasn't so sensitive to noise, but I am.
According to a new report (sure, aren't they great with their new reports!) scientists recently proved beyond doubt that stress from noise pollution causes untold heart attacks.
Whatever noises the countryside makes during the day, at night I recall hearing nothing, save for the sound of God's wind, and, occasionally, my own!

Double Vision
Caricatures Ireland

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