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

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Theresa May  

Democracy and the police: a system in crisis

Nigel Morris
 

Mary Beard has taught us all a lesson in how to deal with online bullies

Louise Scodie
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone