Leave Me Alone

The Sesquipedantic Ultracrepidarian Gongoozler Song

by Ian H Bruce (2010)

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Now messing with boats can bring pleasure
While challenging DIY skill
Fitting shiny new brass parts, fixing engines that won’t start
Gives me satisfaction, until
I find I've attracted spectators
Who've come to critique not to praise
Their work just involves throwing spanners
With most of them heading my way

Chorus:
There’s always someone who knows better
Who’s not shy about telling me so
From faulty fuel gauges to engine oil changes
There’s nothing they think they don’t know
Ultracrepidarians leave me alone

Now I don’t mind advice when it’s helpful,
When gaps in my knowledge are clear
But gongoozling chumps, old men with the grumps
Who just stand around, tut and sneer
Should take a long walk on a short pier
On your bike, take a hike, go away
You are talking a load of old cobblers
That’s the last thing I’m needing today

I’m knocking in nails in the wrong place
The varnish I’ve used isn’t right
You’re not drilling there! I’d use round heads not square    
You’re fastening that bolt far too tight
Now I’ll take advice from professionals
Who’ve served their full time, learnt their trade
But I’ve had enough of the bluster and bluff
From the know-it-all bull-shit brigade

Now sometimes I will accept that
Two brains can be better than one
But when one just objects, castigates and corrects
Then this job may never get done
And I’m not a fan of committees
Where members just posture and spout
It’s action I need if I’m to succeed
Hot air I can well do without

By now you’ll have summed up this boater
With patience I’m not well bestowed
Though sometimes I’m chatty, like friendly old Ratty
I show aspects of Badger and Toad
Solitary, gruff, and conceited
Sesquipedantic teaching retiree
As fellow boaters I curse, perhaps I am worse
That know-it-all just might be me

After last chorus
Ultracrepidarians leave me alone
Sesquipedalians leave me alone
Gongoozlers leave me alone
Oh, everybody just leave me alone

I always had it in mind to write a song about 'gongoozlers' because I was rather taken by the word itself - a gongoozler being.an idle spectator who enjoys spending long periods of time watching activities on the canals. Just as the song was approaching completion the word 'ultracrepidarian' cropped up on the TV programme 'Countdown'. An ultracrepidarian is a person who offers opinions on matters beyond his or her knowledge. Ultracrepidarian is from the Latin phrase ultra crepidam, literally 'beyond the sole'. This is a reference to a remark by the Greek painter Apelles.. whose work had been criticized by a shoemaker. Apelles responded, "The cobbler shouldn't judge beyond his shoe." This has become a common proverb in English in the version "Cobbler, stick to your last". I was challenged to get the word 'ultracrepidarian' into the song and then when I had done so was accused of being sesquipedantic, i.e. given to using long words, so that found its way into the song as well!