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

Real Estate Solicitor 2+PQE - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGH VALUE REAL ESTATE / RESID...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Are you looking for part time/ ...

SEN (SLD/PMLD) Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Currently looking for teachers ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Theresa May  

It's not hard to imagine Prime Minister Theresa May standing on the steps of Downing Street

Jane Merrick
 

Karl Lagerfeld's latest Chanel show might have dressed itself up in feminism, but it was more embarrassing than empowering

Mark Izatt
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?