23 September 2012

Without more ado ...

Picture the scene.

A conference hall.  A few hundred, maybe more, individuals attempt to sprawl on well-stuffed seats with their knees skewed awkwardly to one side, tapping at iPads and stabbing at netbooks with intense concentration as they try to connect to the promised wi-fi.  A solemn chin, reminiscent of an insecure blancmange, lowers on to the rasping chest of a portly chap who, quite by chance, acquired a glass of wine from each of the service points over the lunch break.  His eyes begin to close.  Little Miss Muffett, in the tuffet next to him, leans to the other side, a little fearful that he will topple on to her.

On the stage, an Assistant Information Executive wearing one of last year's suits from Next is saying a few, slightly too quiet and breathy words into a microphone that isn't working.  She is trying to introduce the next speaker, a dark, gangling guy in glasses.  He has travelled from Gloucester/Bournemouth/Newcastle/Amsterdam, and is glancing at his watch because the 5-a-side football starts at 7.30 pm and he really wants to thrash the other team.

The introduction draws to a close.  "... and so, without more ado ..."

Huh?  Without "more ado?"

Conference Bingo!  More than two ados in a day, and I start checking the list of events for a chance to make an early exit.

Where does this wretched phrase come from?  Why do we use it?

"Ado", according to the Oxford Shorter Dictionary, is first recorded in the late 16thc and means fuss or trouble, derived from "at do".  As in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  Not to be confused with Black Lace's Agadoo-do-do, or Sinatra's Do-be-do-be-do.  In slang terms a "do" can mean a hairstyle, a party or a bonk; and to stray further, the Urban Dictionary offers us an evil hacker or a pathetic individual.  Maybe this is a hack in itself.

According to Google Images, Ado is a bus.  So "More Ado" would be a ten lined up in a coach park?

Alternatively, "Ado" can mean a footballer, a a set of component object moder objects for accessing data sources, the American Darts Organisation, a curtain making firm in Berkshire or the Alabama Development Office.

So, why do we recourse to this dated phrase?  Is it like

(which nobody ever is) ie a phrase which the mind receives without real meaning but which signifies that the End is Nigh.  Or is it a typical British understatement, ie that a formal introduction to a speaker is a lot of fuss and trouble, and Ms Next is apologising for having bothered us with it?  "Well you don't want to hear me going on ..." she says, and indeed often we don't, especially as her summary is on the speaker's website or printed in one of the handouts in the cardboard folder, you know, the one with "EduLitPubEasy : information for today's end user" splashed across the cover.

I wish we could invent a new phrase, perhaps one more suited to the digital age.  Should we Link to the next Item?  Press This and See What Happens? Boot up the Speaker?

Any ideas?  Or do you think there's mileage in this quaint old phrase?

So, that's enough from me.  Without more ado, get on with your life ...

1 comment:

  1. Do you know Stephen Leacock's squib 'We have with us tonight' ? One chairman is quoted as having given Leacock an upbeat, enthusiastic introduction. Leacock was so grateful that he even forgave the chair for introducing him as Mr Learoyd.