sporting English

Blunt as a bag of wet mice

At the start of this month, in a post about sporting clichés and commentating, I wrote that the most effective commentators are fans as well as experts, people who love the sport passionately and have “idiosyncratic ways of communicating their insights and enthusiasm”. This describes to a T someone I heard about after writing the post: Ray Hudson.

When I mentioned the article on Twitter, Sylvia replied with a recent simile of Hudson’s: “blunt as a bag of wet mice” (this is the phrase in context). I was immediately charmed. Hudson is an Englishman based in the U.S., but his phrase was like an old Irish English expression. Some traditional sayings in Ireland use mice for humorous effect: a very sharp razor would “shave a mouse asleep”, while a useless person, or someone unable for a task, is “fit to mind mice at a crossroads”.

Here is Hudson describing a goal by the Argentinean soccer team:

Like a Jedi knight! No, better than that – a Templar knight! … Superlative football and an out-of-this-world, Bernini sculpture of a finish. Majestical Argentina, merciless, like Kathy Bates with that sledgehammer in that movie – remember that, Misery? That’s what Messi was like, he pulled a sledgehammer out …

It is a most original style, a flood of superlatives and outlandish comparisons. True, the fluid act of a footballer scoring a good goal doesn’t suggest something painstakingly carved from stone or bronze, but Hudson makes the unlikely metaphor work, in a way; he sees beauty and magnificent craft in the goal, and he doesn’t shy from comparing it hyperbolically to fine art. “It’s not within me to be pedestrian with any of my descriptions,” he acknowledged in an interview.

As you might expect, there are blogs and a Twitter account dedicated to recording Ray Hudson gems. A selection: “crying tears the size of pineapple chunks”; “happy as a banjo player”; “a concert pianist, with his feet”; “like a big werewolf with a plate of liver in front of it”; and finally: “I’ve no more words, I cannot express this because you’re gonna have to invent a new language in English …”

All of which sets us up suitably for April, which this year is the month of metaphorical English at Macmillan Dictionary Blog.

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About the author


Stan Carey

Stan Carey is a freelance editor, proofreader and writer from the west of Ireland. Trained as a scientist and TEFL teacher, he writes about language, words, books and more on Sentence first, Macmillan Dictionary Blog and elsewhere. He tweets at @StanCarey.

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