The other day I grabbed a trolley in supermarket entrance, but unbeknownst to me someone had silently crept up behind me, very close, like a kind of pedestrian tailgate. Taking a step back to extricate the trolley I came unexpectedly into contact with a body; smack!
Slightly shocked, I let out an involuntary “Sorry” - for the bump - not an admission of liability; for who in their right mind would push the trolly further into the stack when removing it, rather than taking a small step back? Not I.
The collision was obviously the fault of the person facing forward, (again not I) who had unwisely and unnecessarily come into close proximity with a person (me) whose next move could only be backwards.
I know you need to look behind when you reverse a car, but I am not a car. I have no rear view mirror. I am in a virtual dead end and I am going to reverse one small step. I have no choice.
Who would have come up from the rear so close? my husband, maybe? But no. A woman of “Backpfeifengesicht” from whom emerged a short burst of foul expletives.
“That fucking hurt!” she whined “Why don’t you look where you’re fucking going?” and with that she suddenly about-turned and fled. I muttered weakly, to thin air: “It’s you who should look where you are going.” No one else was there, and it wasn’t just any old downmarket supermarket, it was M & S Food!
Anyway, I came across this new word which comes in German only, (H/T Nick G on H/P) and it beautifully describes Yasmin Alhibai Brown whose exaggerated facial expressions and gesticulations I have written about before. Eye-rolling, smugness, hubris, faux despair, pomposity, primping, priggish self-importance and, as they say in those ads, much, much more.
Other candidates for das Backfeifengesicht, with varying degrees of annoyingness include Paddy Ashdown, Russell Brand, and of course Diane Abbott. Peter Oborne comes close. I’m sure everyone has a favourite. (Someone might nominate me!)
Caitlin Moran has a piece in today’s Times Magazine (£) in which she suggests the internet needs policing. She argues that people ‘on the internet’ think that if something happens on the internet it’s ‘not real’, when she believes it is real.
Depends what she means by ‘something happens.’ If someone actually threatens violence online they already don’t get a free pass - people were jailed the other day for making threats online, as they would have been for doing so in person. It’s very true that “the internet’s tone is increasingly one of hair-trigger fury and paranoia” but we are emboldened by our anonymity and everyone knows that’s the case; it’s tacitly understood and accepted. We radicalise each other with our ever-increasing verbal audacity.
There already is the internet police. It’s public opinion, so it is. Look at that hysterical Twitter-related palaver that began with Yasmin Alibhai Brown’s nasty interview on Channel four, when an MP called Michael Fabricant got into trouble for Tweeting that YAB made him feel like punching her in the throat. If he’s said face instead of throat he might have got away with it. “Throat” sounds too graphic, and goes with “slit”, not “punch”, and sounds more threatening. But he didn’t actually make a threat, whereas Yasmin boasted in her most annoying manner, with her funny little cupped-hand movements, that she loathed Rod Liddle, and she felt somehow proud of this loathing, which to me sounds quite similar in tenor, if not worse, than what Michael Fabricant Tweeted.
Then there was a sequel, in which Channel Four’s Cathy Newman revisited the whole thing by interviewing James Delingpole and bringing Yasmin back for an encore. Dellers went some way to demolishing Yasmin’s self-pitying, race-hustling argument but came a cropper when he seemed not to have heard of another incriminating Tweet concerning ‘deportation’, which momentarily gave Yasmin half a leg to stand on.
There has been a ridiculous furore over this trivial pantomime, but the upshot is that public opinion has policed it by expressing its disapproval, which has pressurised Fabricant to apologise and so we don’t need another hastily thought-through law that we’d have to repent at leisure.
People are saying that Yasmin Alibhai Brown sometimes talks sense, that some of her criticisms of Islam are intelligent, but I think that’s what makes people like her even more annoying. Practically all my suggested candidates for Backfeifengesicht can be sensible some of the time. Even George Galloway manages to say normal things in certain situations. So does Oborne. The more credibility they have, the more you want to punch them in the face when they suddenly “go off on one”. You want to say “That’s fucking crap!” and “I’d like to punch you in the fucking face,” then, maybe, about-turn and flee.