1. Moving forward

Or as it’s known here in the land of Saints & Scholars, Talking Bollix! As a mad old Irish uncle of mine likes to say when you walk away from him, ‘If you fall, don’t wait to get up!’ He must really think it’s hysterical because he laughs at it each time, more forcefully than the last.

It is true for most people that when they are down they want to be up, so it helps to have as many ways at your disposable as you can gather. When I’m down, there’s one thing that, once I get thinking about it, always brings a chuckle to my lips – the way people sometimes are guilty of saying the obvious, speaking the meaningless. Or, if you prefer short and sweet – Talking Bollix!

It’s a hoot, isn’t it, I mean when you really listen closely? Once you do, like me, you’ll safely claim that most of the time most people don’t listen too closely. Why? If they did, they’d be laughing a whole helluvalot more than they do, right? There’d be people falling over in the streets. (Note: Taking into consideration that I am in Dublin as I write this, I’ll clarify that last sentence by saying, more people.)

This blog (what a word – blog! – sounds like something a pervy old farmer might do late at night) is going to take a closer look and listen to some of the obvious and meaningless things people say, not to prove any language theory, but because I have nothing better to do right now and am otherwise bored.

Let’s have a laugh at the expense of those who say these silly things. Perhaps we’ll chortle and guffaw and feel good in the enhanced sense of superiority it will bring, and be amazed that we are such clever, cunning linguists. So, if you too have nothing better to do, why not join me in this pointless exercise, and who knows, we might learn something along the way, moving forward. Let’s go… and if you fall, don’t wait to get up…

And remember this old saying my mother never said: The present brings us out of the past and places us into the future – the present is always now, and the fact that you are in the now now, means that you are continuing to move in the same direction you and everyone else who has ever lived on planet earth has always been moving in, and… do I really need to say it? Yes, it looks like it needs constant repeating: That direction is forward… into the future, not back… into the past. There! Is that really so hard to remember? What’s the difficulty with that?

Moving forward. A perfect example of Talking Bollix! At first, I guessed that the only people using it were cheesy news anchors and Palinesque politicians who need words like filler to pad out their insubstantial ideas… as though the sound of it is so good it doesn’t matter that it is meaningless.

I fear for the future, moving forward, because this nonsense continues to spread unabated and for the most part unnoticed. You’ve probably said it yourself in the past, if you’re willing to admit it… moving forward.

And here we are right now. Isn’t it good to know where you are exactly on the past -> present -> future time continuum? Man, for a minute there, I didn’t know if I was coming or going.

To my ears horror, and my intellectual disappointment, I soon heard Obama using it in his speeches. He’d say something like: We will create a better future for our children… moving forward, or some such silliness.

Or some ham head with a London accent speaking too loudly at the bar even though its early and the place is practically empty, who says to his crestfallen friend, Now, me auld petal, this money you owe me, how are we going to sort it, you know… moving forward?

Why is saying moving forward talking bollix? Because it’s a tautology… it’s redundant… it’s meaningless! Now, if it is your outcome to talk bollix (perhaps like Obama you are a politician, or you work in ‘customer service’ for some bank, or you’re a spin doctor working for BP or The Vatican), then, please be my guest. You are welcome to visit this blog again and again to get your hands on and your mouth around other phrases you can say that make you sound like you have a parrot in your head instead of a brain. Thinking people like to laugh as much as stupid people and if you don’t mind them laughing at you… well, that’s great – it’s win-win all ‘round!

Or is this turn of phrase more serious? I mean, what is it with the user’s of it – are they suffering with some sudden inexplicable ability to tell what direction time is running? Is this some new malady slinking in by stealth… beneath the oil-slick getting bigger, under the black-winged cloak of the Catholic church reaching further… confounding innocent people’s minds with a shrinking ability to know when then was, or now is, or when what’s coming will be? If so, no fear: our friend Big Pharma will soon have a way we can manage this new chronic condition!

Correct me if I’m wrong (you can do that by leaving a comment below), but it seems to me – if my memory-timeline is working – that the phrase really took off when the big O started saying it a few years back… and this little gem of an enigma grew in popularity, caught fire, spread like a virus, and is now everywhere… so much so that you’d be excused for not noticing it anymore.

What if Obama left out the moving forward bollixology and simply said, We will create a better future for our children? What causes him to feel the need to add on two words that add nothing to the statement? Moving forward? What the fuck?!

Or maybe its not him that suffers with the inexplicable ability to tell what direction time is running, maybe he has reason to believe that there are those listening who need to have it clarified… you know, just in case they somehow took what he said to mean that we will create a better future for our children in the past!!

Is this not ludicrous? He may as well say, We will create a better future for our children, I just said.

One possible explanation for why Obama uses this ‘phrase’ so often is because he is an alien. Perhaps the ‘birthers’, although all as mad as hatters, are onto something here. Not only was Obama not born in the US… he wasn’t born on planet earth! He is a time-tripping alien that can go back and forth in time. You see my logic, don’t you?

Imagine Obama talking with his own people – or any people who can also time-trip – and he says: We will create a better future for our children. It would make perfect sense if an audience member raised his nine-fingered hand and asked: Now, in the future, or in the past? Obama might say: Oh, yeah – thanks for asking. In the past. We will change some things in 1933 that will create a better future for our children. The fact that he – or anyone else for that matter – slips in the ‘moving forward’ bollix, could be a slip of the tongue…

Okay, even if he isn’t an alien (sometimes I wonder if he’s Mr Spock in disguise) I can think of no excuse for such a learned gentleman to be so sloppy in his speech. Unless he’s not being sloppy and just doing it deliberately. How so? To sound like the idiots that use it and thereby gain rapport with them? Is it that he thinks it sounds good… or thinks it sounds good to them? Or does he and others simply use this type of bollixology because they heard someone else say it? I mean, that they haven’t taken the whole second it requires to think it through before you realise it’s just a waste of breath? Troubling.

And, now, as I start a new sentence, let me challenge you with this: The next time you hear someone use this pathetic tautology, ask them this question: Is there any other way in which we can move in relation to whatever they’re talking about? If they say no, give them an empathetic look, tell them that it’s okay, that you understand, that it’s not their fault, and then invite them to read this blog.

If they say yes – there is another way in which we can move other than forward into the future – please drop everything and contact me. I’ve always wanted a close encounter of the 3rd kind. I’d like to go back in time and find the symbollixist who came up with this idiotic refrain in the first place and put him or her (but it’d most likely be a him) out of my misery!

Next blog – #2 On the ground

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