The things people say


“We are arriving five minutes early,” announced the train conductor as we arrived at Liverpool Street station.

I’m sure it was a well-intentioned message, but what was the point? If the train can arrive five minutes early, why don’t they do it every day? Instead of sharing the train crew’s pride in a job well done, I interpreted it as self-congratulatory and smug. I’m British, I don’t like that.


“If you did that, you could get into a boat where there is a much more level playing field,” said a man at the meeting, where I had arrived five minutes early. His words were a variety pack of clichés, metaphors and tenses, which obscured a perfectly reasonable point.

A good metaphor, like a tree laden with thick, pink cherry blossom on a city street, should make you pause and reflect momentarily. A poorly produced metaphor leaves you distracted by the thought of the sort of supertanker which could host a playing field and the types of sport that might be reasonably played on such a vessel…

…So you miss whatever it was he was talking about.

2 Responses to “The things people say”

  1. ‘like a tree laden with thick, pink cherry blossom’ is a simile surely?

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