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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
In this handout provided by NASA from the the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, weather system Arthur travels up the east coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida in space. The robotic arm of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 is seen at upper right. According to reports, Arthur has begun moving steadily northward at around 5 kt. and the tropical storm is expected to strike the North Carolina Outer Banks  

Thanks to government investment, commercial space travel is becoming a reality

Richard Branson
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week