Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Well of Pedantry

Do you know how hard it is to balance pedantry with punning? It's like the two sides of my brain have gone to war with each other and while one side giggles at its own inanity, the other side is harrumphing and wagging its finger about the incorrect use of punctuation, and the lack of clarity of expression that ensues. Because, really, I'm talking about the "well...." of pedantry that my dear friend has drawn my attention to, that I now realise I use all the time.

Well... I don't think sharks can climb trees

Well... a blue whale isn't actually bigger than Russia

Well... I'm not sure crocodiles can run faster than cheetahs

Yes, yes, I know, I'm destroying the magic of childhood by being a dull, humdrum, tediously fact-based human being who can't allow my imagination to soar free with my son. Tell me something I don't know.

It's not as though LittleBear doesn't give as good as he gets. I'm faced with a ceaseless, limitless, continuous font of pedantic corrections that bubble forth from my son. He is truly the Bottomless Well of Pedantry.

LB: Make the bus go!
PB: I can't, it's up to the bus driver, and he stops the bus to let people get on.
LB: Well, actually, sometimes he stops the bus to let people off as well as on.
PB: Yes dear.

PB: Please don't take all the cushions upstairs
LB: But I want to
PB: We won't be able to sit on them if you do that though
LB: Well, you can sit on them upstairs.

LB: I can't put my feet under the table - there are dinosaurs there!
PB: Oh no! Are they going to nibble your toes?
LB: Well Mummy, they're only toy dinosaurs you see.
PB: Yes dear.

Who's destroying the imaginative magic now LittleBear? Hmm?

I should point out that "well" is an incredibly versatile word in the mouth of a small boy. It doesn't have to be limited to pedantry. LittleBear has a wide repertoire of "well"s that he can use:

The Well of Long Sufferance
In which LittleBear sighs before, during and after the "well" as he prepares himself to explain the blindingly obvious to his disappointingly imbecilic mother. You know, things like explaining that the brachiosaurus has to go to the butcher to buy his trees to eat, because that's who sells trees.

The Well of Contradiction
Similar to the Well of Pedantry, but it doesn't actually include any facts, it's simply a direct contradiction of something the aforementioned disappointingly imbecilic mother has said. For instance if I dare to suggest that Dimetrodon is not actually a dinosaur, I am confronted with the simple "Well, it is to me".

The Well of Disobedience
Used to greatest effect when one of LittleBear's utterly unreasonable parents has suggested a course of action that does not correspond with LittleBear's preferred choice. "Well, I've had a better idea Mummy, why don't we..." At least he's mastered being polite when being recalcitrant.

The Well of Uncertainty
In which LittleBear is sure that he has a point to make, but is unsure quite what that point may be. To avoid losing his position in the argument, he simply launches in with a placeholding "Welllll......"

Back on the pedantry issue, I know that GrannyBear thinks I'm getting my just desserts on this one. When I was little, my father was particularly fond of a Rudyard Kipling short story The Village That Voted The Earth Was Flat. It featured a rector who persisted in writing letters to newspapers "as a lover of accuracy" to correct them on various, achingly minor, details in their stories. My father used to refer to me as the Vicar of Huckley, for just this reason. I had a tedious habit of pointing out every minor deviation from an absolutely accurate account of events, no matter the situation. I was guaranteed to "improve" any humorous dinner-party anecdote that way. The fact that my son is showing the same tendency is probably all that I deserve.


  1. My favourite conversation at the moment is "But what if ..." something terrible happens.
    Me: It won't because of A.
    "But what if ..." , A doesn't occur for whatever reason

    continue for the next half hour.

  2. My favourite conversation at the moment is "But what if ..." something terrible happens.
    Me: It won't because of A.
    "But what if ..." , A doesn't occur for whatever reason

    continue for the next half hour.