Friday, February 02, 2007

Sprat To Catch A Mackeral, Anyone...?

On today's PM programme on Radio 4, Eddie Mair interviewed a US military official (or some such like) regarding the death in Iraq of Lance Corporal Matty Hull, who died when the convoy of armoured vehicles he was travelling in came under fire from US aircraft. The US official began the interview by offering his sincere condolences to Matty Hull's family. To which Mr Mair replied, quite bizarrely, "fine words butter no parsnips." There was a pause, before the US official admitted that he had never before heard this particular phrase. The correct response was, of course, "Mr Mair, you are nobbut a donkey's whippet." But we couldn't expect him to have known that.

15 comments:

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

"nobbut a donkey's whippet"?

What on earth are you going on about now, Melodious? Does that actually mean anything, or did you just make it up?

Ms Melancholy said...

Of course I didn't make it up. It is an old Yorkshire saying that makes about as much sense as 'fine words butter no parsnips'. Oh ok, I admit. I did make it up. But Eddie Mair also made up the parsnip one, I'll bet.

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

I'll bet he did as well, the sneaky Scots goon. I used to really like him, I seem to remember - a skilled interviewer during his days on Scottish Television - but then he got all puffy in the face and his suits looked like he had packed potatos into the back of them. Radio ruined him. Just because we can't see into the studio doesn't mean that the presenters should be getting all shabby on us. The swines.

Is there an E in potatos? It just looks wrong. Hang on - was that not how what's his name blew his chances of what's it in America? Dan Quayle, maybe?

Ms Melancholy said...

I quite like him. More than John Humphreys, anyway, who often makes me shout in the mornings. I had absolutely no idea he had potatoes (with an e) in his suit, though, (although I also like potatoes rather a lot too.) You have just lost any chance of the vice-presidency, in case you wanted to punch above your weight a bit more. If you want some technical assistance, please feel free to grovel a lot and I might take pity on you. Otherwise you can pop over tonmj's where someone has very helpfully shown us how to add a hyperlink to the comments box.

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

That link explanation over at NMJ's may just help me. I like it when people are helpful like that. Too late to properly get my head round it now, though, but I'll hopefully have it mastered sometime tomorrow. I get the feeling that people don't really believe me when I tell them how cack I am at computer stuff. It is very frustrating at times. It is all just too alien.

How much do I have to grovel to get you to help me, just out of interest? Are we talking extreme levels of self-abasement? Or just a pretty please?

Know what you mean about John Humphry's. I do like to hear politicians being held properly to account and all that, but just can't help feeling that his snarling approach is at times simply counter-productive. And, having read a book of his once upon a time, I have to say that there is a whiff of self-congratulation about the man.

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that I won't be responding to the punching above my weight jibe that you made in my blog (and here), Ms Shrink. Trouble lies just around the corner.

Night now. Try not to be scared.

swimmer6foot4 said...

I can see nothing whatsoever "bizarre" about Eddie Mair's response to the US military official's so-called "sincere" condolences regarding the unlawful killing of Lance Corporal Matty Hull by US forces in Iraq.

Mr Mair responded to the US official's so-called "sincere condolences" with the well-known English (and Scottish) idiom: "fine words butter no parsnips." This was appropriate within the context and was a concise way of saying something along the lines of: "Your honeyed words are all well and good but you can't butter us up like that. Rather, put your words into actions and help us find out the truth about what really happened."

Check out the following:
http://www.tiny.cc/OG6aN

Maybe, on the other hand, there is something bizarre about someone who concocts the following:

The correct response was, of course, "Mr Mair, you are nobbut a donkey's whippet." But we couldn't expect him to have known that.

Ms Melancholy said...

Mmmm, how to respond. Well, firstly thanks for visiting my blog, 'cos that's the polite thing to say. Thanks for the link; I am comforted now I know that the buttering parsnips thing is an old and respected saying.

Really, this was a bit of a joke. I knew that Eddie Mair had not just made it up on the spot, and I worked out quite easily what he meant. It just struck me as a funny phrase for the PM programme, and to an American at that, whom he knew probably wouldn't understand it.

If there was any serious point - which really, there wasn't! - it would be that perhaps Mr Mair could've used his quite extensive journalism skills to seriously explore the tragic loss of life through 'friendly fire' and the lack of US co-operation with the investigation process. 'Fine words butter no parsnips' just didn't do it for me.

But really, thanks for taking the time to comment.

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Nicely done, Melancholy. It's always a bit of a nightmare when someone fails to see that a joke is being had - it can lead to upset and anxiety.

Maybe I should just make clear here as well that I am, in fact, Scottish, and would never call any race but my own "goons". I think we are allowed to laugh at ourselves, if I have it right, but not at others.

Everyone, however, is allowed to laugh at washed-up psychotherapists. Some things never change.

Swimmer6foot4 - we are a very friendly bunch, honestly, please don't be put off from coming back. And you will struggle to find a more enjoyable blog than this one.

Kind regards etc

That's so pants said...

Hi Ms M - don't be frightened by Swimmer6foot4 who is actually very nice and knows a lot about household plugs.

Ms Melancholy said...

Mr PE - I thought you were going to be nice to me there, so it was something of a relief to get to the 'washed-up psychotherapist' bit. I like consistency - it makes me feel safe.

Ms P - I saw that plug thing too, and was really amused by it. I like people with a strange take on life, and that is just about as strange as it gets. Can't for the life in me work out what it is about. Perhaps Mr Swimmer will enlighten us if we ask him?

That's so pants said...

I can help out with that because Swimmer was responding to a post of mine in October last year where I was reminiscing about having to put plugs on appliances yourself - see, thoughtful.

Ms Melancholy said...

What a kind thought! You have some odd readers Ms P, if I may say so.

swimmer6foot4 said...

Sorry Ms M. I didn't mean to come across so abruptly (although, as a Northerner, I'm unashamedly blunt sometimes). I've been away from the Net for some time and obviously forgotten my manners and etiquette.

The inspiration for the "Varieties of appliance experiences (or, males and females in my home)" collection comes from the following entry in Ms P's brilliant blog:
plug item

You are probably right, her readers may be odd, but they keep the wolf from the door for people like you and me!

Inspired by greenwords tutorial on nms's blog, I tried - and failed miserably - to do some links (or anchors, as I believe they are called).

However, I did a bit of a search and found a tutorial site that made it clear. Hope this helps anyone else struggling on the ol' learnin' curve thing.
links tutorial

Ms Melancholy said...

Mr Swimmer, you are a total star and welcome back here anytime. (I too am a Northerner - hence the 'donkey's whippet' thing. Hope you didn't think I was taking the piss out of Yorkshire, god forbid!) Thanks for the link, and thanks also for the link to Ms Pants' plug request. Much appreciated x

Ms Melancholy said...

You are probably right, her readers may be odd, but they keep the wolf from the door for people like you and me!

Now you got me guessing...you are a therapist? Or perhaps a psychiatric nurse? In my experience psyche nurses, particularly northern psyche nurses, are very odd indeed. (I should know, I am married to one.)