Miles Kington Remembered: It may never happen? Say that once more and it will...

One class of annoying remark that seems to annoy a lot of people is the catchphrase used way past its sell-by date

Share
Related Topics

(25 June 1996) I have had a gratifying response to my request for entries for "The Ten Most Annoying Remarks In Daily Life" competition. Gratifying, in that some people actually sent in entries, because if they had not sent them in, I would have had to make them up or even make the whole competition up, as perhaps I may have done.

The idea was to nominate remarks that people make to you in everyday life which drive you round the bend. They don't necessarily have to be made by close relatives, though most of them are, and this is only right and proper, as relatives get more chance (and motive) to annoy us than other people. Was it not Hugh Kingsmill who said: "Friends are God's apology for our relatives"? I think it was.

(Actually, someone did nominate that as a highly annoying remark – that is, any quotation prefaced with the question "Was it not X who said ...?" on the grounds that it is a disguised way of showing off. This particular reader writes "When people say to you, 'Was it not Voltaire who said, "I disagree with what you say but I defend to the death your right to say it?" ', they are not asking you if it was Voltaire who said it – they are showing off the fact that they know the quotation. What makes that particular question a tasty one, is that you can say, 'No, it wasn't Voltaire who said that actually – it was an unknown biographer called S G Tallentyre who put the words in his mouth ..."

One class of annoying remark that seems to annoy a lot of people is the catchphrase used way past its sell-by date. Anyone who still goes round saying things like "Nice to see you – to see you nice!" should be taken out and shot, is the general feeling. A recent example of this is the recurrence of the formula from the TV series in which Ian Richardson's prime minister keeps saying, "You may think that – I couldn't possibly comment," which is still being repeated as if it were still clever. The most ancient example comes from the reader who is driven mad by his father's reiteration of an old Arthur Askey catchphrase, "Give him the money, Barney!"

(Joke formulas also seem to drive some people round the bend, such as "as the bishop said to the actress" or "it's the story of my life", but these don't quite qualify as entire remarks.)

Another class of annoying remark seems to depend entirely on context. A female reader writes to say: "I am gifted with a slightly melancholy or even lugubrious expression, so people are constantly saying to me, 'Cheer up!', which of course only serves to depress me, especially if I am feeling quite cheerful already. There are many dispiritng variations, such as 'Cheer up – it may never happen' and 'Things can't be that bad, can they?' If I am ever sent to jail it will be for murdering someone who has just tried to jolly me out of what he fancies to be a bad mood."

One reader, if she ever murders someone, will be guilty of child murder, as her least favourite phrase is that perennial child's excuse, "I didn't mean to". "Of course the child didn't mean to, when it broke the plate or stepped on my toe!" explodes our reader. "That's what I'm complaining of! That it involves stupidity, carelessness and thoughtlessness! Sometimes I almost wish the child had meant to!"

Here are some of the other top contenders for the Ten Most Annoying Remarks of All Time:

"It was here a moment ago."

"He's somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan."

"It can't have moved by itself."

"Yes, we do keep it, but we haven't got it."

"Suit yourself."

"Some you win, some you lose."

"A bit of how's-your-father."

"I've got to see a man about a dog."

"Wait till your father gets home!"

"Not so as you'd notice."

"A little of what you fancy does you good."

"Could you pull in to the side of the road and switch off the ignition, sir?"

"I think I was in the queue before you ..."

"Warm enough for you?"

"Turned out nice again, then ..."

"I'll believe that when I see it."

"I'll believe you – thousands wouldn't."

"Ten million Frenchmen can't be wrong."

"No pun intended."

"Look what the cat's dragged in!"

All late nominations gratefully received.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own