AA Gill On... Bigotry

Unc Dysfunc,

Why is it that when people say, "I don't want to sound bigoted", they always do?

Carsten, Denmark

I don't know if English is the only language where some expressions only and solely mean the opposite of what they say but we do have an awful lot of them.

It is something to do with our natural desire to be stridently rude while at the same time remaining smilingly polite. My favourites are: "This isn't a criticism." Oh, yes, it is.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

"I don't mean to be awkward..." You were just born that way.

"It's not you, it's me." It's definitely you.

"Sorry." The only thing I'm sorry about is I didn't do it harder.

"Call me old-fashioned." I'm calling you an immoral slut.

"Would anyone mind if..." If any of you mind, keep it to yourselves.

"It's only a game." This is war.

"Let's do lunch." I'd rather share a lolly in a sauna with Stuart Hall.

"We were spellbound." Only a witch's curse kept us in our seats.

"I've never done this before." I taught all your mates and your dad how to do this.