Writing last week, I had a scene of dialogue in which the characters were arguing distractedly about a mistake involving a French calendar. This entailed one of them saying ‘Mardi’ a lot, in a short space of time. The plea eventually came: ‘Seriously, you have to stop saying ‘Mardi’.’
It’s a scenario I’ve enjoyed from being a teenager. My earliest memory of it was all about Ludlow. A student friend of a sister came from there, and my parents – ever over-fascinated by the geographies of strangers – began discussing what they knew and didn’t know about Ludlow. This necessitated their saying Ludlow a lot. Ludlow. See how this works? I could head back home to my folks right now, one hundred years on, say ‘Stop saying Ludlow!’, and they’d get the reference.
Soon after, the same fate befell the words Boil Wash.
In more recent years, my mum’s become a tenacious clubber of crosswords. When she does need to call on help, her M.O. is to keep repeating the cryptic clue, or a part of it, down the phone, while I’m frantically googling (I know, please don’t say that again). Invariably I won’t provide the answer without first telling her to please – no, really, please – stop saying Weimar Republic, or Percy Bysshe Shelley, or nutmeg. You’ve said it once before and it doesn’t bear repeating.
But obviously it can’t just be any word or words that have to be stopped from being said anymore.
The weekend just gone, at my in-laws, the talk turned – as it always must – to the retro collectible kitsch that were Wade Whimsies: little porcelain figurines of animals at alarmingly inconsistent scale (giant field mouse terrorises polar bear), which children of a more Nan Kid persuasion were likely to have on thin shelves on their thin bedroom walls. I took the initiative and I said Whimsies a lot. It wasn’t long before my wife, not without some menace, said, ‘Seriously…’
Your task this week, therefore, is to see how many times you can breezily repeat a very particular word or phrase before somebody steps in. And when they eventually do, hang a five at them and shout ‘Whimsie!’ Then exchange a homie handshake, whilst in a deeper voice, saying ‘Luuudlooow’. But then stop saying them both.