Exeter Lunch with Guest Speaker Matthew Parris

Monday 30 January 2017

Exeter and District English Speaking Union (ESU) Lunch event at the The Exeter Golf and Country Club on 18th January: Guest Speaker Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris gave a talk entitled “Scorn: From Hieroglyphs to Twitter” at the January Lunch Event.

Matthew was introduced by the Chairman Paul Waterworth who gave a brief biography about him.  Over the years Michael has been a political writer, worked for the foreign office, was a Conservative MP and a speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher.  He enjoys travelling and has written about his travels in Europe and Peru.

Michael is a familiar voice on many radio programmes often with a cynical theme. Programmes include “Not my words Mr Speaker”, “Have I got News for you?” and "What the Papers say".  He loves animals and has four extrovert llamas at his home in the Pyrenees.

Michael's talk was very interesting and amusing with many scornful quotes from famous individuals over the centuries, from the Pharaohs to the present day.

He quoted Samuel Johnson, (the diarist) who said that scorn could be put into four categories:

  • "S** off!" which can be expressed by something like spitting or snarling
  • Mockery about some unpleasant aspect of a person
  • An indictment or a malicious factual statement that is not publicly known
  • A curse or calling on a higher deity

The usage of the different types of scorn has varied over the centuries. The Elizabethan were very abusive and excessively rude and in very religious societies, curses were really believed in.

In our secular society, curses are less meaningful.  However, we are all familiar with the other forms of abuse being used, particularly by the press and social media.

The next event for Exeter and District ESU is a Lunch Event on 15th February when the speaker will be Sir Steven Murray Smith, FAcSS, FRSA the current Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter and Professor of International Studies.

Anyone interested in attending Exeter ESU events or becoming a member should contact the Membership Secretary,

Margaret Guyver on 01392 491898


This story was submitted by the ESU Exeter branch. Please click here for information on this branch and its upcoming events.