Thursday, February 12, 2009


It's sad, so sad, it's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd.
It's sad, so sad, why can't we talk it over?
Always seems to me
Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

No I guess Elton wasn't the greatest lyricist the world had ever seen; certainly not by Blue Moves days. But he had a point.

It's not the hardest word to say but it is the hardest word to nuance. A refrain comes back to me.
'Say sorry to your sister.'
'Say it properly.'
'I did.'
'No you didn't. Say you're sorry.'
'Soh - reee.'
'That's better.'

Big news Jacs. I had my fingers crossed. I only did it to make Mum go away.

I was watching those bankers in front of the Commons Select Committee. The grillers gave the impression that even a pound of flesh would be insufficient. The respondents were prepared to apologise unconditionally and with whatever other form of words was required that 'it happened.' But not that it was their responsibility. They simply wanted to make Mum go away.

Sorry has become pretty well meaningless on its own. As the Rev'd Ian Paisley was fond of saying during the troubles/struggle in Northern Ireland when the IRA were apologising for killing the innocent, 'It's no good without repentance.' I don't agree with him very often.

Repentance in Greek is metanoia meaning to change or turn. It is the idea that you turn in the opposite direction. A banker's apology might involve the acknowledgement that there are other ways to handle people's money wisely.

I have two equal and opposite worries right now. The one is that society is seeking a scapegoat and bankers will do the job for failing to spot the biggest economic downturn in their lifetimes. We will be happy if they surrender their bonuses. The other is that we will simply tough it out and get back to normal - normal being the Thatcherite lie that we can continue to create wealth inexhaustibly and therefore house prices can return to going up and we will all spend more on stuff year on year on year.

Wouldn't the nuance of the universal sorry (because we are all culpable, not just bankers) be better right now if it included a, 'Hold it everyone. Are we sure we've been doing this money thing right?'

I only ask.

But Elton was right, for the wrong reasons. Sorry. It's a devil of a word.


Justin Brett said...

I'm sitting in the Public Gallery at General Synod reading your post. there is a debate going on about the Financial Crisis at this moment. You are quite correct in everything you say, but one extra thing concerns me. For the man on the mythical Clapham Omnibus, those bankers are a bit too far away to be a target for his pain, but his neighbour isn't.

St said...

Good point.

I'm writing it when I should be doing admin. You're reading it when you should be listening to a debate. If only we could harness the power of displacement activity we'd solve all the world's energy crises.

Darren said...

but wasn't it Bernie Taupin who wrote the lyrics? :P

great post

Steve C said...

I'm learning to speak Indian at the moment. Sari seems to be the hardest word.

Mr Gnome said...

And for those with prejudice against the home counties..... I stopped myself just in time.

I'm displacing as well.

VG post.

St said...

Just checked. Bernie Taupin hadn't been sacked by then so he was the lyricist. Thanks for the shout Darren.

Anonymous said...

Whendid you last say sorry, Steve?

St said...

Yesterday at about 1635. But I feel I detect a deeper question and, as I indicated in the post, it's not always as simple as that.

Do ask me something more specific and tell me if there's a personal agenda - perhaps something I've missed that I should have done/said.

I'd love to engage with this.