Sunday, February 11, 2007

The importance of clarity

Below is a real conversation which took place between myself and a work colleague('WC'):

Me: So, what are you doing this weekend.
WC: I was taking my little boy to the county show, but I'm not sure he really wants to go.
Me: Oh? Why not?
WC: He's suffering with his nerves and he doesn't like big crowds.
Me: Oh dear. How old is he?
WC: 8.
Me: Oh, that's terrible. Has he seen anyone about it?
WC: Yes, he's been on medication for a while, but it doesn't seem to be working.
Me. When did it start?
WC: About a year ago.
Me: Did anything happen that set it off that you know of?
WC: Well, we're not sure, but we think he had a bad experience with a man.

At this stage I should mention this conversation took place at about the same time as a famous pop star was on trial for alleged interference with children - therefore, my mind was racing (which, as you know, is a pretty unusual occurrence and demonstrates just how concerned I must have been).

Me: How did you find out about it?
WC: We got home from one particular show and when we opened his box, he was sweating profusely and refused to come out.
Me: (with sigh of relief) You're talking about your horse, aren't you?

This conversation taught me two things:

1. People who have animals as child substitutes are dangerous; and

2. Clarity in the written word is even more important than clarity in the spoken word. At least in conversation it is possible to question the speaker; a reader does not have that luxury with the writer.

Do I make myself clear?



Blogger Eva said...


Love the story, Annie. I shall strive to be more clear in all that I say, do and, most importantly, write.

6:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brown (grrr...who is STILL having trouble with the new Blogger account):

Annie, thank God I have you. I was reading that and I thought, "What kind of man keeps his child in a box?" and then I remembered, "Oh, right. B.F. Skinner did.*"

But I was still very confused as to why the child was sweating and why wouldn't he come out of his box. Thank you Annie for clearing up my confusion. Did they ever make it to the fair? And did they find the man responsible for the horse's troubles and beat him silly - the man, I mean, not the horse. I wouldn't want any confusion on that! :P

And yes, be wary of pet parents, we are a strange bunch and always convinced that people want to see photos of our furry babies!

*B.F. Skinner was the father of behavioural psychology. When his 2nd child was due to be born, his wife asked him if he could think of a better invention to keep the baby safe, than the traditional crib. He came up with a design called the air-crib. Unfortunately, psychology being psychology and media being media, rumours and articles turned his well-meaning attempt at keeping his daughter safe and healthy, into something less endearing. Another example of Annie's statement on the importance of clarity - and truthfulness - in writing. If you would like to read Debora Skinner's response (the child in question), and to see an example of the crib, take a look at

10:26 pm  
Blogger Sue aka MsCreativity :-) said...

ROFLOL - thanks for the laugh and reminder.

Sue :-)

PS I wish Blogger would make their word verification clear!

1:10 pm  
Blogger Annie said...

Good to see you back, Sue. And I agree with you about Blogger's word verification - letters are far too small and close together.

I'm not sure I want to know anything more about that Skinny bloke, Brown. Sounds a right airhead.

Glad you enjoyed the story, Eva.

8:11 pm  
Blogger Stacy Dawn said...


Ah yes, now I understand what Brown was taking about.

Very good point Annie.

12:47 am  

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