Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A worm in your ear

What makes a coincidence?

For most of Sunday, I had a tune stuck in my mind for no reason I could identify; in fact, I considered putting it in a post on Sunday evening - I reckon, with earworms, that you might as well get some mileage out of them while they're with you.

We're all prone to the odd repeating tune so I thought no more of it, until yesterday's Six O'Clock News announced the death of Philip Madoc; the tune that had been running through my head since the day before was the theme music for the BBC Wales series 'The life and Times of David Lloyd George,' in which Madoc played the title role.

And then, to cap it all, the BBC news website this morning has a feature on - guess what - earworms. A widespread phenomenon (the term is, like so many vividly descriptive terms, a literal translation from the German), earworms have been linked to a bewildering variety of stimuli and associations, often triggered by seemingly unconnected factors.
Sometimes it's an emotion that sets it off; the BBC article mentions the case of an unfortunate woman who got a Bananarama song stuck in her head when she was taking an exam at 16;

"She now gets that song at every single moment of stress in her life," says Williamson. "Wedding, childbirth, everything."

The article concludes by asking an expert how to get rid of earworms; his advice - "Just think of another song and hope that'll push out the first one." - may ring a melodious bell with regular visitors to the Tavern, who may well remember the same advice being given here eighteen months ago.

Youtube has since withdrawn the only clip of my suggested replacement, so I haven't bothered to link to the piece, but remember, folks, you really did hear it here first!

Since I've mentioned it, here's Enrico Morricone's Chi Mai - the Loyd George theme; pure 1980s nostalgia!


  1. Better an earworm than an earwig.

  2. Interesting stuff. These things are worth trying to untangle - they give clues to how our unconscious works.

  3. Indisputable, JH.

    I've always had a soft spot for earwigs since the day our kettle broke and a dead earwig fell out of the electrics; my uncle managed to convince my sister - then about 5 - that the kettle had stopped working becuse its earwig was dead and it needed a new one.

    AKH, true; the BBC article featured a woman who saw a 'Faith' shoebox and found herself burdened with the George Michael song of the same name for days.

    I wonder if I was stuck with 'Chi Mai' after a trip down the tea aisle in the supermarket - we don't buy chai but there are plenty of labels at eye level.