Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Thursday, 10 November 2016


The Pun

I don't know why I phoned.

I wasn't in the mood for talking
but it was there.

It's said that's why
men scale mountains.

And there's something
anticlimatical about that too.

28 August 1989
I forgot to post this yesterday. I’d other things on my mind. I imagine a few people weren’t quite sure if they were coming or going yesterday. 

A pun is a form of word play that suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words. I’m very fond of puns as it happens. But the pun here isn’t a very obvious one. Scale, in this context, is a synonym of climb: we climb mountains. But what do you do when you get to the top? You have to go back down and it’s probably not a good idea to waste too much time slapping each other’s backs at the summit. Why do men climb mountains? The facetious answer is: Because they’re there. It does seem like a rather weak reason for doing anything when you think about it. That’s the thing about climaxes. There’s nowhere to go afterwards but down or back. 

Q: What’s the laziest mountain in the world?
A: Mount Everest.
—joke from an old British Fantastic Four Annual


vito pasquale said...

I find this juxtaposition of the everyday item, the "phone," and the common activity, "talking" with the extraordinary climb of a mountain to be quite pleasing Your descriptions of poetry are poetic in themselves. I am guessing from your previous descriptions that you did make that call, which has always been, to me, like climbing that mountain. . . not just because it's there but because it's difficult. Sometimes we think we just want to hear the voice on the other end, and then we realize we wanted to hear certain words that remained unsaid. We could call back. Hope. Climb the same mountain again and again. What's the reward (fun?) in that?

Jim Murdoch said...

When I worked, Vito, in almost all the jobs I’ve had, I’ve had to spend a great deal of time on the telephone. This was all pretty much before computers and e-mail and it was just a part of life; the phone rang, you stopped what you were doing and dealt with whoever was on the other end. Since I’ve stopped working I find myself increasingly reluctant to pick up a phone to talk to anyone. I think I’ve phoned my daughter once in the last thirteen or fourteen year (however long we’ve lived here) and it was so unusual she assumed someone had died. Mostly we communicate by e-mail and that’s how I prefer to deal with everyone if I can get away with it.

You’re right about the poem, the contrast of the ordinary and the extraordinary. I have no idea what the call was about or even if there was a call. I don’t recall any lengthy phone conversations with B. With F., yes and also with Carrie at the start, phone calls lasting four hours plus. Now the only time we talk on the phone is when she’s in the States, a daily few minutes during which I never have much to report apart from what I watched on the telly the night before. Which means I have to make sure and watch some telly so as to have something to talk about. It’s so much easier when she’s here and it’s enough to see me shuffle around the place with cups of coffee.

vito pasquale said...

When I started working that was the case as well. . . (with the phone I mean). At one point in the mid-80s we used to get reports on phone usage and I'd spend about 30% of the work day on the phone. I worked in magazine publishing and the the calls from Advertising Sales dept. and the printer were constant. I hated voice mail when it came in because the calls could pile up. . . they'd no longer come in sequentially, they come in like a tsunami. The only good feature to voice mail was after 20 calls it would fill up. Ha!

Once we got email in the late '80s I think it was, all that stopped. The phone became close to useless. Our first email system was called cc:mail. . . Although at first it was kind of hysterically funny, in that, someone would send you an email and then call to see if you got it.

Everything you write turns into a poem in my reading. . .

I have to make sure
and watch some telly,
so as to have something
to talk about today. . .


Jim Murdoch said...

The only office where I got to use e-mail extensively was the last place I worked. There we’d send e-mails to the girl sitting opposite us. It worked well I have to say. There’re times I want to say to Carrie, “Just e-mail me.” That way I won’t have to a) listen and interrupt what I’m in the process of doing and b) remember what she’s just said. That may sound harsh but considering the current state of my powers of a) concentration and b) recall it’s actually perfectly sensible. I keep a note pad beside me when she calls from the States because if I didn’t I’d walk away and completely forget anything she’d asked me to do.

As far as the found poem goes, Vito, any poems you can wring out of my e-mails or comments you go for it, son. If I’m not writing poems someone else ought to be. Otherwise the universe will fall behind on its quota. (I think there might be a poem in there too.)

Ken Armstrong said...

I think this is a very tidy poem.

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you, Ken. Tidy is definitely one of those things I look for in a poems and desks.

Ping services