Cacoughany of politicking

20:49, Oct 16 2011

Election campaigns bring out the worst in people, and politicians too.

We want a reasoned debate on the nation's future. We get facile slogans dreamed up by PR firms.

We want maturity. We get MPs spitting bile at one another like playground gangs.

John Key, who ought to be setting an example of decorum, is one of the worst offenders. With an unassailable lead in the polls, what on earth is eating the man? I suspect that when cornered, he suffers from a newly classified medical condition called Acid Reflex, and to be fair, it afflicts politicians of any hue. Cute expression that, but I can't take credit. It's an "eggcorn", or misheard and misspelt words/expressions that are often spookily apt.

You may recall that a few years ago we canvassed the subject of "Mondegreens", or misheard song lyrics, as in the hymn "Gladly the cross-eyed bear" (the cross I bear), Jimi Hendrix's gay anthem, "Excuse me while I kiss this guy" (the sky), and my favourite from Bad Moon Rising, "There's a bathroom on the right". (The listener who interpreted Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water as "Slow talkin' Walter, the fire engine guy" must have been smoking an illicit substance at the time.)

Well, eggcorns are just as much fun. For instance, they identify another dreadful condition called Dire Rear, which few of us escape. (The advice is to Shoulder On.)


Imagine the trepidation of a pregnant woman facing a Scisserian Section, or finding yourself needing the services of a Eurologist – and we're not talking travel advice for a leisurely holiday on the Continent.

Thankfully, I'm not Lack Toast And Tolerant (one of the symptoms of which is Dire Rear, by the way). However, I am gluten-intolerant, and at $8 for a loaf of detoxified bread, Lack Toast is a side effect so I'm a grumpy beast in the mornings. Petrol-heads are susceptible to Dashboard Abs, which are the product of a Sedimentary Lifestyle, and I have walked out of many an overwrought film with a bad case of Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder.

The wealthy you'd expect to be Well-Healed in private care, if a little Selfricheous. They may have amassed their fortune through White Colour Crime, or have a Sworded Past.

Men of this Higherachy are known to accessorise with younger Clothes-Whores on their arms, nibbling Ontrays sprinkled with Pepperika at Insectuous social gatherings. In a few short years they will probably be paying Alimoney. But hey, such people Rain Supreme, far beyond my Spear of Influence.

Can a Social Leopard change its spots? If you Soak Your Wild Oats, do they taste better?

These are eggcorn questions for the ages.

Do modelling agencies run on Skeletal Staff, or hospitals amid a funding squeeze? Chickens May Come Home to Roast in the long run.

Eggcorns can be better than the real thing. I much prefer "Disingenuine" to the "disingenuous" favoured by pompous writers, because, like that other flavour of the month, "bemused", few people take the correct meaning.

Showing off is a Flaw In The Ointment of many a good literary piece.

"Bloodgeon" is more vivid than the correct version, as is "Voiceferous", and what better way to describe that green-topped chalk-water than Skimp Milk?

Knotical Mile is a winner. Likewise, Butt Naked. And a protest songwriter is only trying to Strum Up Support.

Horse and Buddy I would nominate as a Far Gone Conclusion, but I don't want to Ferment Trouble, or be guilty of Putting the Cat Before the Horse, which would make for a bumpy ride home.

The Throngs of Passion sound worthy of investigation, though would I be Gamefully Employed in the process?

This the Crutch of the Matter. I habitually Cut To The Cheese after dinner, and "Self-phone" neatly encapsulates those whizzbang devices wielded by bores who insist on showing you their overseas holiday snaps at every chance encounter.

One has to Girdle One's Loins, even Grim and Bear It, for the sake of good manners.

You'll find plenty more "eggcorns" on the web.

Footnotes: It didn't take long to dent the credibility of a senior seismologist who predicted in July that Christchurch had just a 20 per cent chance of another "significant" 5+ quake within the next year. A 5.5 rolled through last Sunday. I should have placed that bet. GNS is now hedging the odds on its website, but you'd think it would be smarter to say nothing. Christchurch is rewriting the book.

Secondly, a thank you to Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne, who recently went public about his prostate check-up. I'd been putting my own off for years, but was at the doctor's last week on another matter (life-threatening, naturally) and with the mayor's words in my ears, I thought, "Aw, what the hell – let's do it". A few seconds of indignity, for sure, but they buy a few years' peace of mind, and that's a bargain. Cheers, Richard (and all the prostate cancer survivors who front up to get the message across). A fine display of leadership by example.