Daily Frolic 26: Stating the obvious

 “This Sunday Times …”

“Hmm …”

“You learn so much from it, don’t you?”

“You do, you do; so what have you learnt?”

“About John Betjeman; they had an interesting article this week.”


“They said he’d been infatuated with this Swedish beauty.”

“That’s what beauties are for.”

“And they also implied he’d done things properly.”

“With this Swedish lady?”

“No, no, with his marriage, ha, ha, ha!”

“What’s so funny?”

“Read this.”

 “Betjeman was married to Penelope Chetwode for 51 years before his death in 1984 but had a relationship with Lady Elizabeth Cavendish for more than 30 years.”

 “W-e-e-e-ll,  I’m not sure if cheating on one’s wife classifies as proper.”

“No, no, I didn’t mean this.”

“So what did you mean?”

“Well, he made sure he’d got this marriage business out of the way before he died, didn’t he?”

“Oh this; it’s just a silly preposition. Of course you are married before you die – they meant until: he was married to her for 51 years until his death.”

“But that’s exactly what I meant!”

“Well spotted – this was actually quite subtle. But stating the obvious is fairly common; sometimes, people do this in quite blatant ways – even professional writers.”

“They do?”

“Oh absolutely. I remember quite a few examples from The Sunday Times. What do you think about this?”

 “A light-skinned Asian female and her white male boyfriend had a baby using a dark-skinned Caucasian egg donor.”

 “What’s obvious about using egg donors?”

“No, no, no, it’s the boyfriend – he’s bound to be male, isn’t he?”

“You got me there – ha, ha, ha!”

“Or this.”

 “The prime minister generally campaigns alone without this wife.”

 “Well, at least they made it extra clear.”

“They certainly did that. And how about this?”

“Watts has one daughter, Seraphina, 33, who during her teenage years ‘had a wild phase that lasted until her twenties’.”

“Poor man!”

“No, I mean your teenage years always finish before you hit your twenties, don’t they?”

“Oh yes, of course!”

“And this was about Prince Charles before he married Camilla.”

“Carey was concerned about the constitutional crisis that could arise if the monarch died, leaving the royal heir with a mistress out of wedlock who could not be queen.”

 “They are all right now, aren’t they, Charles and Camilla?”

But that’s not the point: by definition, your mistress is never in wedlock – not with you, anyway.”

“Missing out on alimony like this is never a good idea.”

“You know that’s not what I meant.”

“I know, I know.”

“And what do you reckon about these two?”

 “The increasing interactions between people of different civilisations are increasing.”

 “If your monthly mortgage payment is, say, £1,000 a month (…).”

 “Well, they are certainly hammering the message home, aren’t they?”

“Aren’t they just?”

“And all this is from The Sunday Times?”

“Yep, but I have examples from other newspapers too; this is from The Economist.”

“As Samuel Goldwyn so wisely advised, never make predictions – especially about the future.”

 “Hmm, how does one make predictions about the past?

“Good question. Look, I’ve lots more similar quotes ; I will dig them out for you one day.”

“Can’t wait.”


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