Sorry, I Didn’t Quite Catch That – How People Continually Miss The Point And Why I Am The Worst Offender
When I left Higher Education in the early Nineties, I did what many recent graduates did at that time. I went on the dole for two years and then eventually found a job that I could have got without any qualifications whatsoever.
During my time one the dole, I lived in quite a few places. One of those places was a district of Newcastle upon Tyne called Benwell. It wasn’t a nice area. I’ll not bore you with the details, but let’s just say that it was exactly the sort of place you would expect an unemployed twenty-something to be living.
One sunny Benwell day I was walking back from the shops. I had just cashed my Giro cheque. So it was cigarettes and cider all round. Happy days. Two happy days, to be precise. Hotly followed by twelve unhappy days of no cigarettes, no cider and very little to eat apart from hummus on toast.
Anyway, as I was walking back from the shops I suddenly heard music. It was music I recognised and not the sort of music you’d expect to hear out in the streets. The only music you expect to hear out on the streets being the jangling chimes of an ice cream van. Naturally, I wondered where the hell this song- and it was an actual song- was coming from and so I had a little look around to find out.
And the place the song was coming from was entirely unexpected. It was coming from the PA horns on the top of one of those cars that used to trundle around the streets trying to persuade you to vote for a particular political party. In this case the Tories.
The reason this was so surprising is that the song blaring out of the bullhorns on the top of this Tory recruitment wagon was this:
That’s right, it was “We Care A Lot” by Faith No More. I nearly fell on the floor laughing. Firstly, at the hilarity of the idea of the Tories seriously trying to convince people in a high unemployment area that they “Care A Lot”. And secondly at the fact that the song is very much not about caring in any kind of meaningful way, if you listen to the lyrics carefully. Or indeed of you listen to the lyrics at all.
“Have these people not read the lyric sheet to this song?” I thought. Then after I’d stopped laughing, I thought “Actually, maybe they have. Maybe they know exactly what this song is about and they’re chuckling up their sleeves at the fact they’re playing it to the proles as a campaign anthem”.
This would make sense. These politicians run proudly- if unofficially- under the banner “Tory”, despite the fact “Tory” is derived from an Irish word meaning “Brigand” or “Robber”. I’ve never been able to work out if that makes the Tories staggeringly honest or breathtakingly duplicitous.
So, maybe these Tory reps missed the point and maybe they didn’t. One thing is certain though. Almost everybody missed the point when they bought the song “Would I Lie To You Baby?” by Charles and Eddie. I’m not going to put the video for this one up. YouTube it yourself, if you feel you must. I don’t want to sully this post with it. Besides, I’m not made of bandwidth.
Ok, have you remembered/YouTube’d the song yet? Heartfelt, isn’t it? Dead romantic. Everyone who bought it thought so. And they were all wrong. “Would I Lie To You Baby” is not a romantic song for one very good reason. If you are a lady, and the man in your life looks into your eyes and says “Would I lie to you, baby?” then he is absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt, fucking lying to you.
There is another political example of people missing the point of a song entirely. Back in the 1970s, British Trade Unionists adopted the song “Part Of The Union” by The Strawbs as a sort of unofficial anthem. Now, I am going to put this song up, because it’s an absolute cracker. Here it is.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that this song is actually a savage indictment of Union power and sense of entitlement. I’m not sure of the Unions missed the point or took the point but adopted the song anyway. You know, because of their sense of entitlement and the enjoyment they felt at the wielding of their power.
There are countless examples of people missing the point. But I have to admit that the most glaring example I know involves me, personally. Me being spectacularly, unbelievably thick.
When I was 17, me and some mates went on a school trip for the weekend. Us being good Catholic boys, this trip was to Walsingham Shrine in Norfolk. I was quite a long trip to Norfolk from Newcastle, so we had an overnight stop in Derby.
Me and my mates stayed with a lovely young Christian lady. A proper, guitar carrying “Sisters Of The Perpetual Plectrum” type. She made us very welcome.
We all had to share a massive bed. Just us boys, obviously. There was no involvement on the part of our female host. We got a bit pissed and someone got out their camera and suggested we take a photo of all of us. Perfectly possible, as the camera had a timer on it.
For some reason – I can’t remember who suggested it- the pose we chose for this group photo was a somewhat unconventional one. We decided to pose with our trollies down, lily white arses and hairy ballsacks proudly exposed to the unforgiving camera lens. We held this pose, the camera timer whirred away, the shutter clicked and we all collapsed in hysterics.
I discussed this story some time later with one of my fellow protagonists and happened to mention that I was disappointed that we never got the photo developed. He gave me a puzzled look and explained that we couldn’t have got it developed because it wasn’t our camera. It was Christian Guitar Playing Lady’s camera. That was the entire point of the photo. To leave our host a little reminder of our visit.
And when I say I was discussing this incident “some time later”, I mean I was discussing it nearly thirty years later. I had been telling this this funny story for nigh on three decades without ever actually knowing what the point of it was.
So, as you can see, annoying as I find the other misunderstandings I’ve mentioned in this post, I am in no position to wag the finger of blame at anyone really. In fact, it’s likely that I may have missed several points in the writing of this post. If you spot what they are, please feel free to point them out.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2016