Sorry, what did you say?


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As a kid i loved the ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ tv show. I don’t remember it being on that often but when it was I could guarantee that I would be laughing until I ran out of breath at some of the stuff that went wrong,not just the live tv but also the seemingly endless re takes of pre recorded programmes. These outtakes ranged from presenters tripping up on their words to street interview going massively wrong and one in a million chance happenings. For example I remember a news presenter presenting an article on drug abuse at the nearby beach announcing to the nation that the sand was ” full of hyperdeemic nurdles”,a street interviewer asking a passer by if he was peckish only to get the reply” no mate I’m Turkish” and a tv news presenter presenting a piece about an escaped convict on the run who was not to be approached,while over his shoulder was an artist impression of the Fellon….who looked exactly the same as the presenter of the programe. This type of programme seemed to die out at about the same time that the home video camera became popular and shows such as you’ve been framed arrived and were not only cheaper to put together but had an almost unending supply of visual haplessness and stupidity.However by now my love of spoonerisms was already established.

A favourite part of my week now is listening to Talksport’s clips of the week which for those not in the know is a kind of ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ but for radio.Every Friday afternoon at about 3.30 the Paul Hawksbee and Andy Jacobs show broadcasts ‘outtakes’ but as the station is 24 hours of live broadcast,what gets said goes out which means that every drunk caller (and presenter) gets clipped either being unable to tell the time, falling off their chair of even in some cases having massive slanging matches with other presenters and callers.The best thing about this is that it is also turned into a free podcast once a week for download from iTunes and I guarantee that if your a fan of outtake tv then you’re sure to have a very good laugh as a result of this.

But for every laugh I have while watching other people trip up over their own tongues, there is very little to laugh about when it happens to myself and It’s worth pointing out that I have been in sales in one way or another for 24 years and use the spoken word to provide my livelihood so you’d think i’d be pretty adept at it by now.Every day at work I say the same things all the time and when in full flow I run mainly on auto pilot meaning that my mind tends to wander during conversations and occasionally I finish off a sentence I’m talking about,with a sentence I’m thinking about. For example today while talking to a customer,I knew that I would say “thank you, take care” at the end of it but such is the familiarity with this sentence my brain decided to abbreviate it,meaning I actually looked him in the eye and said “thank care”. This resulted in a puzzled look from both of us while we tried to work out what had just gone wrong. A number of years ago I worked with a guy called Chris who was a constant sauce of similar oral catastrophes and would not only trip himself up on a daily basis but he’d often do it in the most unfortunate of circumstances. I remember him once approaching a very butch lady in the showroom with the words ” may I help you sir” and another time he sat the sales team down in a meeting to give us the benefit of his organisational skills by explaining the 7P rule of ” planning and preparation prevents…… well…..really messing things up”. One customer in particular called Mr. Kaupert was left both very bemused AND hacked off when greeted with “Hello Mr. Cowpat”. This kind of slip up resulted in a colleague of mine declaring it as a medical condition and consequently ‘Chrislexia’ born.

I must warn you that the condition of Chrislexia is not only highly contagious but also highly destructive. Once it’s entered your vocabulary you will become a sufferer and there is currently no known cure.Also It will strike you when you least expect it and it will leave you red faced and with a wish for the ground to open up and swallow you whole. For example shortly after having contracted the condition myself I was on a test drive with a young lady and the test drive route included some minor roads and a dual carriage way section. Just as we had completed the minor road section and joined the faster road I thought it would be a good idea to suggest that she put her foot down and allow the car to stretch its legs. However, as I was mentally going through my verbal options I considered saying “why don’t you open her up”instead. Chrislexia struck and I found myself saying ” now we’re on the duel carriage way, why don’t you open your legs”.. The rest of the test drive was conducted in silence while I contemplated a jail sentence and it goes without saying that I didn’t get the sale. But it’s not just in formal settings that this illness can strike. I remember walking down an aisle in sainsburys once and spotted a really nice couple that I’d previously sold a few cars to so I went to say hello. While I was chatting to the guy about the car and how things were going, his wife was busy selecting hairbrushes from the display and with one in each hand she turned to us both and asked which one would be best for her hair. As she had looked at me last I felt under pressure to answer so with mouth engaged I started to speak. ” your asking the wrong person Mrs Pizzey” I said, ” I wouldn’t know one….. ” and then at that moment an odd thing happened. Even though I have an extensive vocabulary of words that start with ‘H’ I struggled to find one,which meant that my brain had to go in search of the right one. It opens the ‘H’ file looked inside and selected the first word it came across and delivered it proudly to my mouth. Sadly for my mouth the sentence came out as ” you’re asking the wrong person Mrs. Pizzey, I wouldn’t know one HEDGEHOG from another. The three of us knew I’d messed up but we were all too polite to say anything so I said my goodbyes and walked off leaving them bemused. In the very same supermarket a few weeks later I had unloaded my shopping from the trolley to the conveyor belt and stood waiting while the lady in front of me packed and paid. Just as it came to my turn to start packing my bags the very polite assistant looked up at me and said “Hi” but did so at the exact same time as I was looking at him thinking how fat he was and the first word out of my mouth was “Tubby”. If he was upset he didn’t show it but If he had of leapt up and hit me,far from stopping him I’d have insisted he got others to help him.

Over the years these moments have been frequent and equally embarrassing. On many occasions I’ve completed a conversation with the words ” no pleasure” when not being able to decide if ‘ no problem’ or ‘ my pleasure’ would be better.Once at a restaurant I was short of cutlery and therefore called the waiter over. Even though I knew I needed a fork my brain tricked me into asking for a spoon but in an attempt to get it right my mouth translated it into ” excuse me, could I have a foon please”.For a second or so we looked at each other in the knowledge that I was a cock.I’ve known fellow sufferers to be struck down too. The discoverer of the condition text me once to say that he has told a customer the bill was £10,000 qwounds when caught between quid and pounds. Another sufferer had been contacted by a customer to complain that a warning light had appeared on her dashboard and not being sure if analysis or diagnosis was the right word, he informed the customer that we would book her car into the workshop “for dialysis”. Whilst these slips are embarrassing when they happen at work,spare a thought for chrislexia outbreaks caught live on tv.A slip up between friends or even a cock up at work is unlikely to attract much attention so spare a thought for a Sky news presenter who recently found himself on the wrong end of a Chrislexia outbreak live on air. Unsure whether to use the word cull or hunt,while introducing an article on cutting seal numbers in alaska he managed to combine the two into one and offend every man,woman and child watching.

The more that anyone relies on speaking for a living the more likely it is that mistakes will happen and while it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever be on the end of serious ridicule for my mine the further up the social scale you are,the more disastrous your mistakes are going to be and the more they will be remembered. Just in the same way that Rev. W. Spooner unwittingly gave his name to verbal slip ups so has George W Bush. Bushisms as they are now known describe either sentences that contain made up words, sentences that appear to have been proof read by a moron or even just sentences that are so long he seemed to get lost inside them. Lost to the extent that even a verbal satnav wouldn’t have helped him find his way out of. For example in 2000 when asked what he put his election success down to he replied ” they misunderestimated me” and in the same year he told a climate conference that ” the human being and fish can coexist peacefully”. A year later when explaining an educational policy he said ” you teach a child to read and you hope he or her will be able to pass a literacy test”. Although it has to be said that my all time top 3 bushisms are ” it’s clearly a budget, it has lots of numbers in it” , ” free societies will be allies against those who kill at the whim of a hat” and last but by no means least is ” rarely is the question asked; is our children learning”

What a massive twunt.

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