Engage brain… Open mouth

This post might not be all that coherent because I feel like a bin-bag full of fishing weights, and my eyes are stinging like a nettle-patch full of very angry bees, armed with razor blades and ethanol. Still… since today’s post is about keeping control of your mouth, it’s seems appropriate to write it whilst I have absolutely no control over my brain.

I don’t really know how long intelligible human communication has been around. I mean I’m pretty sure it’s the kind of thing I could’ve looked up, in order to make myself look more knowledgeable than I actually am, but just this once I’m prepared to grit my teeth and bear the anguish that will inevitably follow my readers’ shocked discovery that I am not, in fact, the great oracle of the western hemisphere.

However long it has been, it seems that it ought to have been long enough for some sort of safety device to evolve, which prevents us from saying precisely the wrong thing, at precisely the wrong moment.

A couple of nights ago, whilst chatting with some of the SK crew, one of the guys was telling stories of his embarrassment as a result of his usual greeting; which he genuinely means as a warm friendly thing to say, and which most of his friends have become used to. Quite frequently however, he has suffered extreme embarrassment (and occasionally, fear of a beating), as a result of this misguided sentiment. So many stories did he tell that I felt it would be remiss of me not to point out that perhaps he might better avoid these kinds of awkward situations by simply employing a slightly less-likely-to-be-misconstrued salutation than “Sup Niggas?”, when walking into a room.

Later in the evening another of our number felt it necessary to share a secret that I think we would really rather he had not. I was a little distressed by it, and it simply gave the other confidant something to blurt out at a party, when he has had too much to drink; something which is hardly out of the ordinary. At any rate I was pleased he felt he could trust us with important (or in this case hilarious) secrets, but it did prompt me to say “For future reference; that’s the kind of sh*t you can keep to yourself!”

Now, I won’t go on to tell more stories of things misspoken, because I’m fairly certain that by now, those who know me quite well will be shouting things like “Hah! Who the hell are you to be telling people when to keep their mouths closed?” And, of course, this would be a terrible thing to say… if only it was unfair. Unfortunately for me, and occasionally those who foolishly choose to endure my company, it is, I’m afraid, fairly accurate. Not only do I open my mouth when I ought to keep it closed, but I am quite guilty of the opposite as well. It seems I simply am not very good at saying the right thing at the right time… or indeed the right thing at all. For those who live by the axiom “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I think would add “If you don’t how to communicate something properly, don’t try to.”

If you needed to communicate to the people of China for example: “Your entire country is about to be destroyed, but you’ll all be perfectly alright if you hide in this Barn! Don’t ask me how I know this, just trust me!” you would hardly send a man whose knowledge of the language extended little further than the ability to order Egg Fried Rice from his local take-away, simply because he knows how to say “Number 78”. For starters, even if he somehow learned the right words there would almost certainly be follow-up questions, and his subsequent loss of credibility would cost over a billion lives.

Obviously that is a rather dramatic way to make my point – my own big mouth has probably caused fewer than a hundred unnecessary deaths – but it does translate to pretty much any scale of disaster, from:

“Oww! Why did you lead me to believe that sleeping wasp was actually a discarded Sugar Puff?”


“Great! Now the people of Earth have only seconds to live, because I thought you were messing around when you winked at me and said ‘Don’t push the big red button!’”

Trial and error is rarely the preferred method for learning anything. Unfortunately it has proven the most effective teacher since life on this planet began, and is the reason we’re all here in the first place, so I’m betting it’s gonna be around for some time to come. But surely, we shouldn’t still be so poor at communicating. I’m a writer for crying out loud; if anyone should’ve got the hang of this by now, it’s us lot.

You see I think the problem is that just when evolution starts teaching us about communication, we go and start inventing all sorts of new ways to do it. Email, Text Message, Facebook, Twitter… And you’d think this would make us better at communicating, but most of the population just seems to be getting worse at it.


Recognise that? Good luck. I’m sure the author would be very proud. It seems as though the second we create a new form of communication, someone else creates a new way to abuse it.

Then there’s tone and body language. When a guy at a bar communicates poorly with the girl sat next to him. A really hard slap in the face is often sufficient to communicate the message: Thank you very much for the offer, but if it’s all the same to you, I’d much rather sew my face to the carpet. Take care though.
When someone cuts you up at the lights, there are all sorts of helpful gestures that leave very little room for misinterpretation. But what about when you can’t see the other person’s body language or hear the tone of their voice, how do you know they aren’t joking when they say:

“Hey! Let’s go to France tonight…”

“Yaayyy! Sounds good.”

“…and kill people!”

“Yaa… Wait… what?”

Geneticists: Let’s get on this please.

So that’s it for this rant. Progress continues on Sleepless Knight videos, and filming begins again in mid October, with any luck.

In the meantime, here’s your image for the week. I’m afraid I stole last week’s image (funnily enough, to communicate something which I was otherwise struggling to), but we’re back on track now, so this week’s feeble picture is a James Moors original.

I’m going now.

Three of the most terrible buttons I could imagine


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