ISMISM: New concepts for the Nineties

No. 16: Nolanism
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The Independent Online
Nolan v. To investigate something that is self evident (eg, after six months of detective work reporting that the bad smell in a sewage farm is caused by the sewage). By extension, also to deliver news that is not appreciated (the bad breath in this room emanates from your mouth). Plus, to seek advice and then, when the advice is uncomplimentary, asking someone else to give you a second opinion ("I'm setting up a committee of garage mechanics to look at my car, because the previous mechanic I asked to look at it told me it was knackered").

Nolan n. A long, drawn-out and expensive process to seek a solution to a significant problem, which then reaches an unsatisfactory conclusion. (Builder to householder: "I've spent a week looking at your roof, and I've come to the conclusion you need a new one. But in the meantime, here's a roll of cling film.") A Nolan is also an opportunity for Enoch Powell to wax long and arcane about Plato and the falling standards of public life in well-remunerated columns in newspapers. But then, isn't everything.

Linda Nolan n. Shorthand synonym for shameless joke figure with large personal assets. Refers to a former member of a family of crooners - the Nolan Sisters - who is now often to be spied in the pages of the Sun without the benefit of undergarments. This week Linda ("the member who never covers her amendments") was asked by the paper to deliver her own Nolan report on MPs. She revealed that her least favourite was David Mellor and that the sexiest man in the House was Sebastian Coe, though there was some speculation that she might have been using his name merely to conceal an affection for Sir Jerry Wiggin. She could not be accused of being sponsored by the British Knicker Manufacturers' Association, however, as she was not wearing any.

Nolanism n. A piece of obvious advice which the recipient does not wish to hear, assaults you for delivering and then ignores (traffic wardens, cancer specialists and the compilers of parliamentary reports are frequently prone to Nolanisms). A classic Nolanism: a woman with a prominent boil on her nose asks her husband whether her make-up looks all right before the pair go off on a big night out. He replies that it does, but she might be better in the long run to lance the boil rather than try to cover it up. She says that he doesn't know what he is talking about, that there is no boil on her nose and even if there is, it is her right to have a boil on the nose and she alone will decide when the time is appropriate to take to the lance.