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Dec 12, 2018
My late brother-in-law was a great jazz buff and on the occasion of his 50th birthday he decided to celebrate by having a ‘Jazz on a summer’s day’ party in his back garden.

Luckily it was a gloriously sunny Sunday with lots of people drinking copious amounts of sparkling wine.

He had invited two jazz musicians of his acquaintance; one playing an electric piano and the other playing a strange looking instrument called a bass clarinet, which I must confess I had never come across before. Anyhow, they were brilliant and kept us all splendidly entertained for the whole afternoon.

When they had finished and to rapturous applause (not for me) I went up to one of them and asked if they had a CD to sell. After rummaging around in a rather large holdall and after delivering a series of tuts, he finally produced a copy and suggested a price of £5, which I duly paid.

Holding the CD proudly in my hands I then asked them both to autograph it and after a further series of rummages and tuts whilst they searched for a pen, the CD was signed and duly returned to me.

With a great flourish I thanked them most profusely and then loudly proclaimed: “When you’re famous this will be worth a lot of money!”

I expected a ripple of laughter but instead from over my right shoulder I heard my brother-in-law indignantly exclaim: “They are flippin’ famous!” - although I’m not quite sure that the word was ‘flippin’ – but needless to say, I was mortified.

Which brings me to that header - and perhaps you thought it was Polish or maybe Hungarian - but it’s actually an acronym. Although I am not quite sure how you would pronounce it (bet you tried – I did, and it sounds a bit like a Scottish gentleman having problems with his wearing apparel). But what it actually stands for is ‘Why can’t I learn to keep my big mouth shut?’, and I bet you’ve been there.

This unfortunate phenomenon usually occurs when the mouth operates faster than the brain and can result in a good few days of self-recrimination. The old adage ‘Act in haste and repent at leisure’ comes to mind, and there must be many a Best Man who wishes they had applied this to their performance! A combination of nerves and alcohol is a dangerous mixture.

A few basic rules might be apposite here. For example, a man should never say to a women that he didn’t know she was pregnant for when the reply comes back that she was not, you are left with an enormous hole to dig yourself out of and a face redder than the setting autumn sun. I’ve seen this happen. And never ask how old somebody’s grandchild is for this might produce the response “This is actually my child!”… and so on.

Sometimes we can all be a bit inept can’t we? Maybe you would disagree because apparently the more inept we are the smarter we think we are. Clever and funny too, just like me. But we could be mistaken, psychologists have shown that we are more likely to be blind to our own failings than perhaps we realise, so we should therefore be doubly careful.

Perhaps it often pays to be more circumspect. I recall a time when there was a crowd of people standing around a bar at a movers’ conference (where else?) when a particularly self-absorbed individual was holding the floor (interminably) and at one stage was heard to proudly say “I’m not as stupid as I look you know” and like a shot received the reply “You couldn’t possibly be mate”. Which I thought was a great put-down, and after many years I am still waiting for the right moment to produce this as a spontaneous comment.

Meetings are another minefield where you can completely misread the general tenor of the room. You wait for the right moment to make a contribution and you think that you have correctly assessed the atmosphere, you make your comment and look around for the approbation of the participants and you don’t get it. You’ve completely misjudged the situation and you have stuck your neck out and now you have to back pedal so that you can fight another day. Or what about the situation where you loudly state: “It will never work!” – and it does. Such are the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ brought about by being too quick on the draw (two metaphors in one short sentence – not bad).

Actually, part of me wishes I hadn’t written that last sentence, but never mind I can delete it if I want to and you’d never know. That’s a real advantage, and at least I can always have the last word!

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