Monday, November 24, 2008

A question, what is it?


"My talent is to imbue a project with much more significance and theatricality than it actually deserves. This gives a sort of incandescence to it that makes things that are not all that bright, shine very brightly. I can bring that to the party. But, like it says in Blade Runner, the light that burns twice as brightly, burns twice as fast. How brightly I have shone," he says.

No, this is not me descending (or ascending, surely) into an altogether unastonishing fit of hubris, but rather the words of Gerry Ryan, as quoted in this great piece in the Sunday Indo (you won't catch me saying that too often). Assuming that article isn't lying, and I don't think it is, that quote is taken verbatim from Gerry's eagerly-awaited autobiography, entitled Would the Real Gerry Ryan Please Stand Up.

This raises a few question marks for me, one in particular: where the fuck is the question mark in the title of your book, Gerry? I'm a simple creature who gets all conflustered when confronted with sentences that look like questions, but apparently aren't. It makes me feel slightly ill. One can only assume that Gerry and his publishers are not entirely comfortable with the usage and application of question marks. So, with this in mind, I asked members of the public to devise some sentences for Gerry that might illustrate the many and varied ways in which this radical young upstart of a punctuation mark can be applied.

"Gerry, did some eejits really pay you a hundred grand to write about yourself?"
Finbar O'Crotch, Leopardstown, Co. Dublin
This demonstrates the classic use of the question mark, whereby the questioner expresses doubt about a piece of information they have been privy to, and uses the question format to seek clarification on the matter from a more informed party.

"That fat bollix? I heard he once ate 94 Curly Wurlys in an hour and washed it down with a litre of Baileys."
Seosamh Uachtar-Reoite, Knocklyon, Co. Dublin.
Here we see a classic example of how the humble question mark can be used to transform a simple statement of contempt into a trenchant, rhetorical, interrogative statement used to confirm the identity of the subject of a sentence. The second sentence does little to illuminate our understanding of the issue at hand and can, as such, be ignored.

"I thought he died of gout in 1998? Or syphilis? Something like that, no?"
Francoise McBackalley, Athy, Co. Kildare
An interesting example, this. Here we see the question mark being used to express an element of doubt creeping into what the questioner had previously assumed to be gospel truth. Also notable is the third question she asks. Mrs. McBackalley was originally a native of France, where an upwards inflection, accompanied by the word 'non', is a rather more common form of question that it is in our own country.

"Sure, who would actually spend their money on anything that langer has to say? There's a fucking recession on and Lenora wants one of them dolls that shites itself for Christmas, don't she?"
Billy 'Smeghead' O'Sullivan, Mayfield, Co. Cork
The addition of the word 'sure' here is not technically necessary in order to make this question effective, but does add an extra element of incredulity to it. Mr. O'Sullivan's mixed background gives linguistic colour to these questions, both in his classic Corkonian usage of 'langer' and, more significantly, the way in which a simple whinge metamorphoses into a question through his augmentation of 'doesn't she?' - a remnant of his 14 years spent working as a badger-hunter in Essex, England.

Mr. Ryan, I hope this proves helpful in your ongoing quest to burn like a star. As a simple man I would not deign to comment on the contents of your autobiography past the cover, so I'll leave it to the professionals.

24 comment(s):

Lottie said...

Gerry Ryan? Isn't she that one with the big face from Star Trek?

jothemama said...

Amen to all that. The horror.

Darren said...

Isn't he the one who gives a sort of incandescence to a project that makes things that are not all that bright, shine very brightly?

Andrew said...

Lottie & Darren - You're both right, but Daz gets this one, on points for spelling.

Jo - At least he's a ride, though. He IS a ride, right?

morgor said...

And he only gets paid 600000 per year. (although that's not nearly enough for him).

We could nearly have avoided the need to take medical cards off old people just by firing G Ryan and Pat the Plank.

Sarah Gostrangely said...

Har har har Andrew, laughed my pants off here.

And eh maybe not a ride, like, Andrew? (A D4 kind of nonquestion question)

Copulating with him puts me in mind of a steak dinner.

jothemama said...

Tell me that six hundred grand thing isn't true. It is true, isn't it.

That's why the license is so much, I suppose.

I saw the book in Tesco yesterday, with his face staring coldly out at the brocolli. Awful, awful.

morgor said...

oh it's true alright.
But he was bitching that pat kenny gets paid more than him because he thinks he's worth it. (obviously from the arrogant tone of andrews excerpts)

Andrew said...

Morgor - 600k for such magnificent incandescence? Bargain!

Sarah - See, the problem here is that I like steak dinners. And now your use of 'copulation' in reference to the G-Man has put me off them for life.

Jo - You're going to enjoy this...

Your second sentence lacks a question mark, we spell 'license' with a C rather than an S in this country, and I think brocolli is spelt with two Cs and one L - as in 'broccoli'. that doesn't look right now I look at it though, so I'm open to correction.

B said...

This is why Pat Kenny's under-appreciated, this sh!t is next in line.

narocroc said...

Great post Andrew. I think?

Andrew said...

B - That's an horrific thought. I noticed your oddly defensive comment about the Plank over on ricochet's blog and was a little perplexed by it, but this goes some way to explaining it.

NaRocRoc - Thanks?

B said...

I like Pat Kenny, partially cos everyone seems to hate him so much with no valid reason as to why he's singled out.

Irish blogging seems obsessed with him by times too.

allthelightsarebroken said...

ha ha great post

Andrew said...

B - I could give several reasons for disliking Pat Kenny, his pretence at being great pals with all the celebrities he interviews being the major one. Also, a good few years ago he made an incredibly obnoxious comment to Dawn French that turned a lot of people right off him. As for Irish blogging being obsessed with him, I've only noticed Grandad having a bee in his bonnet about him. And I find it hilarious.
Mind you, I do find Mr. Ryan even more offensive.

ATLAB - Thank you, you're too kind.
Still, seeing that picture every time I go onto my page is starting to make me a little nauseous, so it might be time I wrote something else.

jothemama said...

So Andrew, I realised why I hadn't responded to the correction properly, and it's because the only appropriate response something about would have to have spanking in it ... and that just wouldn't be ... appropriate.

So how do you feel about ellipses?

Medbh said...

Dear jeebus.
The bloat on him.
Blee.

Radge said...

Sure isn't he great though? He's on the telly, he has to be.

I met him once, he was a complete cock, but I hope to get a book out of it.

Andrew said...

Medbh - 'Blee'. You have devised yet another excllent four letter word that springs to mind every time I see a picture of him.

Radge - I'll buy that book. Call it 'Why Doesn't Gerry Like Me.'

the dublinista said...

The highlight of his career was surely when he took part in "You're only going nowhere if you can't say no." An anti-drugs video for schools.
He raps in it:

"Dope, no hope
coke, you're gonna be a big joke
pills get ill..."

B said...

What?! he said Dawn French was fat?! that was only a dreadful attempt at being funny, furthering his similarities to Alan Partridge.

I think interviewers have to pretend they're friends with the people... y'know, to actually get guests.

Did you see that week where Gerry Ryan was presenting the late late by any chance?

morgor said...

Speaking of correcting grammar, "That's an horrific thought"

Should really be "a horrific thought", unless you're a cockney and say 'orrifick Gov'.

But i know you're not.

Andrew said...

Morgor, you're wrong. all words beginning with H and a vowel should be preceded by 'an'. At least that's what i was always taught. Anyone care to back me up?

Darren said...

Sorry Morgor - Andy's right. I think in everyday communications either has become acceptable, but strictly speaking it's 'an horrific'.