24 August 2013

Misunderstanding

It was back in the nineteen twenties that the expression "to go over like a lead balloon" was born in an American cartoon strip. After absorbing this expression, the English soon altered it to the slightly more logical"to go down like a lead balloon".  We use it to describe enterprises, ideas or jokes that have in effect failed - like balloons that cannot fly.

It appears that my last post went down like a lead balloon in some quarters. Funny that. When I wrote it I simply assumed that visitors would immediately latch on to the format, recognising that it was all tongue in cheek and that they would reply with their own exaggerated, comical and imaginary notions of what real poverty means. It was meant to be a funny game. I am sure that most other British people are familiar with this routine.

This is not to say that in any way I was mocking the poor or deriding the effects of genuine poverty. Not at all. And I am sorry for any accidental misunderstanding or offence that may have been caused. It just goes to show that even though 99% of the people I encounter in the blogosphere claim English as their first language, there may sometimes be communication breakdowns caused by subtle cultural differences.

Perhaps I'd have been on safer ground relating yet another countryside ramble such as the one I enjoyed yesterday - plodding out of the North Nottinghamshire market town of Retford into the lanes and villages that lie to the east of it and the wetlands that surround the River Idle. Ten miles of plodding that finished with a pint of bitter shandy in "The Packet Inn" on Grove Lane:-
And that pint you see on my table went down like... like Martin Luther King's "I have a dream speech" - delivered fifty years ago this month.

19 comments:

  1. No you wouldn't and keep them coming satire is what makes the world go round.

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    1. Actually it's Tetley's bitter and traditional Yorkshire curries that make the world go round.

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  2. Internet is the ideal place for misunderstanding humour. Don't worry, keep it coming (just don't give up the day job)!
    by the way, I see you've tried to slip a Barnsley post in under the radar while I was otherwise engaged ... :)

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    1. I have seen your Barnsley essay after that post and I breathe a sigh of relief that I didn't offend your Barnsley sensibilities.

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  3. Mr YP, if truth be told we love it when you go off piste; I for one prefer it, as your geographical rambles remind me horribly of my geography teacher Miss Demeaner. Her underarm hair, B.O. and dirndl skirt, talk of rainfall and rock formation have made me more than once twang a ruler in the desk lid and break it... the ruler that is.

    I well remember your wonderful tale of revenge for the scrote who nicked your belongings. I was totally taken in until, you killed him. Now whenever I see a new post from you, my first feeling is of flight (just in case you did kill him), my next is anticipation, then if it's at all educational I bog off and read someone elses'.

    LLX

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    1. Miss Demeaner sounds like my kind of gal! Did she wear brogues and ankle socks too? I can just imagine tramping up to Wuthering Heights with her - to discuss educational matters and the best punishment for that feisty young madam in the fourth form - the one who's always vibrating her rulers.

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    2. Don't you mean Top Withens? I hate clever clogs don't you?

      LLX

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    3. No you young hussy! I hate scholars who answer back and girls who twang their elastic...err..I mean their rulers!

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  4. Yorky, you worry too much. Everybody loves you. Throwing roses at your feet, not rotten tomatoes. You are a master of words, in whatever genre you choose.

    And well done you for not boring us with another perfect photo of a UK cow or fence or (yawn) was that another village pub you are sitting in. :) Maybe you could do a follow up game about ~ I had a dream ~ nah, I probably would still need a few of those smooth beers to catch on.

    I always feel like I should go away and do a 100 lines after commenting on your blog. :)
    I will not talk in class.
    I will not talk in class.
    I will not talk ..

    DON'T change a thing, even for us culturally, socially inept peasants.

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    1. Carol - no lines for you young lady! Instead, see me in my office at the end of the day. Expect a full uniform inspection!...Oh and Retford is a town. Its burghers would be incensed to learn that you called it a village!

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    2. Here, here Carol, or is it hear, hear? Yes, I'm with you... the man does worry a tad overmuch.

      Hang loose man, we do all love you: don't tell Shirley, mind.

      LLX

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    3. Hang loose! No way! I'll continue with my Y fronts if you don't mind!

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    4. Oh all this middle age flirting
      Its indecent
      X

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  5. "Going down like a lead baloon" we understand! As you say it's the little cultural differences that make blogging interesting. We'll try to join in next time. Perhaps you might need to make the post with an asterisk so we can be sure

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  6. Sometimes I worry about my sense of humor. Before I finished reading I knew it was a tongue in cheek thing but by then it was too late to enjoy it. I like Helsie's idea of an asterisk. Failing that I'll just assume from now on you are joking. Now please don't switch horses in the middle of the stream and do something serious. Or warn us - THIS IS SERIOUS FOLKS! - Subtlety is not my strong suit. If I have that suit at all.

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    1. I should add here that I've thought about this quite a bit. I believe poverty in the U.S. is kind of a touchy thing. In grammar school we heard about Lincoln learning to read by firelight and growing up in a log house. He was not our only president whose parents were poor. Aside from that there were many, many instances of people "pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps." In fact that idea is where the name "boot up" came from when you turn your computer on.

      At any rate I have a new idea when reading blogs from other countries. I'm going to read the comments first. :)

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  7. Eeh nay lad, dinna fash! Paid a phoeni. Mae popeth yn iawn. :) Just write it in Welsh next time!

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  8. Well I enjoyed your post, in fact I've started writing my 'so you think you had it tough' riposte, but haven't quite got round to finishing it yet. Perhaps I shouldn't bother if it upsets people or maybe my latest offering on the trivialities of wealth might be more to their taste.

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  9. Mr. Pudding, the reading of the "poverty post" made one realize that the writing was all in jest. But for those of us who did spend childhoods in abject poverty and as malnourished children with very little clothing and tight, worn-out shoes, those fantasy thoughts of yours brought back a sea of memories to us in the reading. Not pleasant memories. I don't know about others, but after reading your "poverty post", I spend the next couple of hours reliving parts of my childhood that were filled with real poverty and that I try hard not to relive too often. So, I knew your post was in jest, I knew that in my heart, but it hurt anyway. But just a little. I am over it now. And, thanks for the recognition that some of us just didn't react the right way to your post.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.