What Is He Laughing At?

There was more of interest in that Start the Week than just the tv drama about the MMR issue. There was also a guy who’s written a book called A Dictionary of Idiocy, which is interesting because we have a little dictionary ourselves, so we’re interested in other examples of the genre. This one doesn’t sound much good though, frankly, at least not if the writer is anything to go by. He kept laughing too much, when nothing was all that funny. It’s always so embarrassing when people do that on chat shows and the people they’re chatting with don’t join them, but in fact get less and less giggly as they get more so. There was Stephen Bayley roaring with uninfectious laughter every few seconds and there was Andrew Marr talking soberly away, politely ignoring this odd behavior. Marr ended up saying the book was a bit of a grab bag – the laughter must have gotten on his nerves at last.

And then, much better, there was Jamie Whyte’s book Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking. Well you know what I’m going to say. How interesting! I thought. We’ve got one of those, only it’s called Bad Moves instead of Bad Thoughts, but the idea is exactly the same. And unlike the dictionary guy, Whyte sounds very sensible and clever. And there was a fascinating moment between the two of them…They were obviously bound to get on each other’s nerves anyway, because Bayley thinks opinions are great things and everyone should have more of them, quite regardless of quality. Just more and more opinions, livening up the place. Whyte thinks precisely the opposite, that people have a lot of damn silly opinions based on nothing and they should learn to do better. So he was explaining this line of thought and Bayley interjected with his own, and Whyte replied something to the effect that after all the truth is not a bad thing to aim at, and Bayley said – you know what he’s going to say. ‘But there’s no such thing as truth, is there?’ I waited eagerly for the reaction. There was a frozen pause – then Whyte said, with politely suppressed exasperation, that that would take us too far into philosophy but, etcetera. Highly amusing. And it’s in the archive, there for your listening pleasure.

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