There’s a priceless piece of dialogue from the pen of the wonderful David Nobbs on a subject which has, just this morning, provided the sand in my emotional Vaseline. His character, known to us only by his initials CJ, is expounding upon the theme of trite,employed by lazy minds to , thanks to their chronic overexposure, expressions which are so devoid of
The speech went something like this:
“Mrs C.J. and I have always avoided clichés like the plague. A cliché to me is like a red rag to a bull. However, it’s the exception that proves the rule, as they say, and there is one cliché that fits my situation like a glove: Necessity is the mother of intention.”
All writers slide into cliché, even humble part time amateur bloggers such as myself are no exception. The trick isn’t never to fall foul of the hackneyed phrase, it is rather to do one’s darnedest to avoid it wherever one can. Where the use of cliché is utterly beyond the pale isn’t when it is used as seasoning in an otherwise ordinary piece of prose. It seems to me to achieve its nadir of useless, shallow emptiness when employed as the central thrust of somebody’s argument.
Today, like birdsong, flowers and late sunsets, that hardy annual of the Transfer window has arrived right on cue to ruffle my feathers and send me running for the Anderson Shelter. Today for the first time this summer, I read the expression ‘to show intent’ in regard to the buying of players to augment our squad.
Arsène (or Wenger as he is invariably and rudely referred to by his own supporters. Or at least people who claim to support the club and therefore ought to be his supporters) needs to spend a lot of money or buy a lot of players or less players but players of the highest calibre because then he will be showing intent.
Now I’m no saint. Like you, I suspect, I’ve typed more than a few shallow, ill conceived lines and bunged them up on the internet in a thoughtless moment. So I don’t condemn everyone who uses this ridiculous phrase. Maybe they intended something else and didn’t get up today with the single intention of driving a splintered length of four by two up my backside.
But come on. Expend upon it the briefest moment of thought and really, what on earth is it supposed to mean? Transfers are complex and difficult to conclude. Expensive, drawn out and fraught with any number of complexities, of which you and I can know very little. What we can know with great certainty is that they serve one of two very simple purposes. To replace players who have left the club and to improve upon those already in the squad. That’s it. You do not engage the services of a highly paid professional footballer to send out a message of intent.
Arsène Wenger’s intentions are crystal clear. He wants to win as many games and competitions as he can. There is no doubt about this, it isn’t up for debate. Were he to buy someone simply to convey some sort of message, I ask you, who would this message be for? His rivals? The media? The fans?
His rivals already know he is serious about his job, if they don’t they’re idiots and need to look for alternative employment. The media have their own agenda and will stick slavishly to it regardless of what he does or doesn’t do. As a fan I don’t want him to spend a fortune of the club’s hard earned just to send me a message. That would be ridiculous.
So please do not repeat this awful phrase. Arsène doesn’t need to show anyone ‘intent’. His intentions are not and have never been in question. Why not watch the remaining matches of the European championships, then when they’re over have a little rest from football. Leave the professionals to do their jobs and buy the players they are able to buy and when the new season starts just try to enjoy it regardless of who did and didn’t sign in this wretched window.
Oh, and leave the clichés to those without your wit and imagination. You know you can do better.