* Pronunciation: \ˈwərk\
* Etymology: Middle English werk, work, from Old English werc, weorc; akin to Old High German werc work, Greek ergon, Avestan varəzem activity
1 : activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something: a : sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result b : the labor, task, or duty that is one’s accustomed means of livelihood c : a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity d: that which gets in the way of other things one enjoys doing.
Definition ‘d’ applies here.
Hope you are all well, and have been during the past five weeks. Quite the hiatus.
Here’s a job that would be a whole lot easier: I don’t know how the crass and ridiculous TV game show “Deal or No Deal” (or “Do Deal or Don’t Deal”, as I prefer to call it) works in other countries; but in the UK version a cash offer is made after about three boxes have been opened, with the usual faux drama and “dramatic” — although I would say ponderous — pauses. The offer is emphasised, though, by a satisfyingly solid and solitary beat of a bass drum.
I want to be that drummer.
Inevitably, all sorts of superstitions, numerology and, let’s face it, stupidity have become attached to this show, with every contestant touchingly clinging to some “significant” set of numbers — birthdays, anniversaries, dog ages, that sort of thing — as if the universe, or even the producers, cared one jot.
Like the pandemic of an irritating but relatively harmless rash, this show has rapidly spread, and in various guises its boxes or briefcases now seem to be flapping open on-air in 192 countries around the world. This irrationality is common to all.
Here’s an example. Simon, keeper of Box 17, is asked by the contestant (Lori) if he has a “feeling” about what money his box contains. Instead of holding this question up to the ridcule it so richly deserves (“I haven’t got a bleedin’ clue, Lori; for I am invested neither with X-Ray vision nor clairvoyance. You credulous idiot”), he reponds thus:
Simon: “I don’t know if it’s a high number or a low one. It’s difficult to judge.”
Lori (nodding sagely): “Mmm. Yeah”.
Difficult to judge? Difficult to judge? Difficult to judge? It’s a sealed box, y’moron. Where does judgement come in precisely?
The presenter, Noel Edmonds (for it is he), chimes in:
Noel: “Are you going with Simon?”
Lori: “Yeah, Simon. Don’t let me down!”
Simon lifts his lid and reveals £250,000. Chagrin and unnecessary apologies all round. And a drum beat.
Lori, now looking for the 1p, turns to Des: “Des, you say you have it almost every three games…”
Des: “Yeah, that’s right”.
Because that’s how probabilities work, of course.
Just when I start to despair of humanity, I give up instead.