Rhodri Marsden: Let me just finish... talking over people is the height of rudeness

Life on Marsden

Share
Related Topics

While slumped in front of Newsnight last week with a bag of peanuts and a bad temper, I watched David Laws MP attempt to hammer his somewhat liberal and vaguely democratic views home by talking loudly while other people were still talking.

This kind of behaviour appears to be mutually tolerated amongst politicians, who've all been to a media-training class entitled "Module 7B: If You'd Just Let Me Finish". But you got the feeling that Laws might actually have forgotten the art of conversation – and maybe does the same thing at dinner parties hosted by people too polite to upturn a soup tureen over his head while challenging the Right Honourable Member for Yeovil to "talk his way out of that one".

We're surrounded by oaves (my preferred plural) who seem to view other people's utterances as bollards that need to be flattened by their own vocal steamroller. I know a couple who are simply unable to keep a four-person conversation going; terrified by the prospect of only contributing a quarter of the chat, one of them will inevitably start a second simultaneous conversation with the other person at the table. Trying to sabotage their deeply ingrained behaviour can be fun, but it involves an exhausting game of visual juggling; you have to keep permanent eye contact with both of them knowing that, if you lose either gaze for more than two seconds, one of them will break away and begin blathering to the fourth person about the sodding euro. 

"I'm sorry, what were you saying?" is the conventional apology for talking over someone, but it's a non-apology, and no-one can be blamed for replying "Oh, nothing, it doesn't matter." Just think of all the bon mots and ground-breaking ideas that have remained unspoken because some bloke wanted to offload some tedious information about his niece. His aim: to win his own conversation competition, to emerge victorious by sustaining a blaring fortissimo, his downtrodden opponents meekly surrendering as he manages, somehow, to continue endlessly talking about his niece. From now on we must fight back with our own simultaneous monologues about our nieces, even if we don't have any, creating some kind of omniphonic multi-gobbed niece-a-thon, all of us refusing to back down as society crumbles around us and the Lib Dems claim that it's not their fault.

React Now

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

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia  

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Oliver Poole
Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup