l’esprit d’escalier [the perfect witty response]

I was reading the Sydney Morning Herald online today for my fix of culture and intellectual stimulation (not that those things are in short supply up here but News Limited Papers in general are pretty horrible) and I came across an interesting interview with Tim Freedman the singer from the Whitlams. Tim Freedman is one of my favourite Australian songwriters. He’s responsible for some of the greatest song lyrics ever written, eg “she was one in a million, so there’s five more just in New South Wales” from Up Against the Wall. He’s also one of the worst anti-drug spokesmen in the history of the “say no to drugs” campaign. I remember seeing a TV special where he basically told people the only way they were going to learn about the effects of drugs was to take them. Thanks Tim. Anyway, having firmly established his credibility as a role model I’m now going to direct you to the article here. He makes an interesting point about conversation – and missed conversational opportunities – particularly l’esprit d’escalier. To sum it up for people too lazy to click a link – he is haunted by missed opportunities. He’ll even call a journalist who interviews him two weeks later to amend his answers. I’m wondering if this is just a luxury for the rich and famous. Can we all buy an opportunity to add to past conversations? As someone who often misses great opportunities for witty (or even non-witty but effective) responses – only to think of them at some later date – I think it would be of some benefit to bring in a system where amendments to a conversation can be made in another time and another place. I propose to make this the time and the place for such comments. If you feel like you could have, or should have responded to me, or anyone else, in a more witty or appropriate manner then post a comment.

In other, less Whitlam related news…

I spent Friday night on Magnetic Island with a Sunday Mail freelance writer and her husband. If you’re ever on Magnetic Island I can now highly recommend the barefoot: food, art, wine restaurant. They did the best steak I’ve eaten in a long, long time.

I now have internet at home – if you desperately want to see how I’m going and are too cheap to call me and don’t like reading through the random stuff on my blog you can now find me on MSN at nathanc32hotmail.com you need to put the @ symbol in there – that’s to ward off the evil spam harvesters.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

16 thoughts on “l’esprit d’escalier [the perfect witty response]”

  1. Blog squatter001
    Yes. I have returned. Well today was grand, church was great and the week will only get better. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS. i love them. Hope everyone out there is enjoying all the blogs in this spot. Ciao (which i recently found out is pronounced CHOW…weird)MC.

  2. It occurs to me today that my last two posts contained references to former Labor Party Prime Ministers. How bizarre.

  3. I saw Tim Freedman playing his songs in the Queen St mall a few weeks ago. For Free. It was grand.

    Regarding witty responses: they are like first impressions, where you only get one chance. The thing that makes them witty (or effective) is timing. You can’t re-visit and “amend” witty remarks without looking like a dolt. Better to leave it and move on.

  4. “You can’t amend witty remarks” – unless you’re blogging. In which case, there are no rules.

    Maybe Tim Freedman should blog more.

  5. p.s. listening to Augie March LATW right now while I prepare Wednesday’s study… not bad musak, really.

  6. Tim Freedman was also responsible for the lyrics, “She came in for a hamburger with the lot – no meat
    Hey that’s a salad roll I said and we started going out” no one should make money for producing lyrics like that!!! Besides which, to my knowledge the hamburger would still have egg on it if it was with the lot so effectively he is a liar as well!

  7. hey that comment must have been so good that your site decided to publish it twice. Tim Freedman is now doubly bad

  8. if you’re going to bag out one of the country’s greatest songwriters at least have the guts to put your name on the post.

    I make hamburgers is one of the greatest pseudo novelty songs of our generation.

  9. but if he tried that i would just hit him over the head with my ‘chunky chunky air guitar’

  10. If you put your name down he might send a letter to you on a cassette. Clearly you are very lonely. Maybe you should buy some friends – but you can’t afford it now, you can’t afford it now – so you buy now and pay later. You’ll need some time to get over this, but a moment is all you can spare.

  11. I agree with matt, it’s no longer witty 3 minutes later, let alone 3 weeks later.

    but smiley, i think in our case, there are probably times we wish we could go back and withdrawn some of our wity comments.

    anonymous is a legend! and so true!

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