Louisa Benbow

The loophole in ass.

In my earlier days when someone’s misfortune would be greeted with an imaginary stroke of the beard while uttering ‘aggy,’ or being in possession of a potty-mouth would earn me a reprimand from my mum, I found a loophole: In the context of the saying ‘never assume; it makes an ass out of u and me,’ you’re saying a cheeky word, but it’s acceptable.

While this saying was simply a method utilised to get away with saying ‘ass’ in front of my mum- followed by a quick glance over to my brother to ensure my witty remark had been heard – I’ve only recently started to acknowledge this statement on a serious, non-juvenile level. I’m only willing to partially subscribe to this proverb; from time to time you won’t feel like an ‘ass,’ and it’s possible that you’ll be pleasantly surprised on discovering an assumption is inaccurate. An example of this might be an assumption I made regarding the retro ‘step’ haircut; in the 90’s, a large number of boys imitated the ‘dos of floppy-locked goalie Ian Walker and a then, Manchester United favourite David Beckham. I was under the erroneous impression that this hairstyle had made an exit around the same time that Pogs did; however, contrary to what the saying states, I didn’t feel like an ‘ass,’ quite the opposite, I was delighted to witness an appreciation of the ‘step’ in the younger generation.

I appreciate that there’s limitations with regards to creating a witticism from the word ‘assume;’ those who pioneered this statement obviously were keen to use the word ‘ass’ somehow, I understand that- it would be a shame to waste it. Although, I’m reluctant to claim that it made an ass out of me, but there certainly have been times I’ve felt a bit off-balance upon the realisation of an inaccurate assumption. I’ll share a few of these instances with you:

As a child, my brother and I had a guinea pig each; based on the fact that Mowgli (mine) and Baloo (my brothers) were siblings, we assumed that they would enjoy sharing a hutch. Unfortunately, Baloo took Mowgli’s life.

Bushcraft and survival expert Ray Mears singlehandedly ventures through ice, mountain, forest and tundra, while enjoying berries and constructing canoes; I suppose I assumed that his activity in England would be similar to that in the wilderness. Seeing him grab a latté in the Wild Bean Café came as a bit of a surprise.

When I was furiously trying to locate a blank VHS to tape episodes of Tucker, Sister Sister and other Nickelodeon favourites onto, I assumed that the VHS and VCR would always be a part of life… Luckily I managed to bag myself a copy of Flubber the other day, but the future of VHS’s is looking sketchy.

While the aforementioned cases have all referred to assumptions I’ve mistakenly cast, the next example goes against this trend and highlights a time when an assumption was spot-on:

When his character Robbie Jackson swapped Walford for India, I assumed that Gaffney ditched Eastenders in search of brighter climes. I was correct; he went on to appear in reality television, star alongside Ricky Gervais and hit the big-time in Hollywood. (One of these was a lie.) I don’t feel like an ass for correctly presuming the future of Gaffney’s career; hopefully those that doubted his ability do, especially on hearing about his impending homecoming to the soap.

The premise of this article has dwelled upon the times that an assumption has been proved wrong; when you presuppose something or someone, only for it to change and for the reality to be different. I don’t know how you personally respond to the realisation of an assumption, perhaps you are the demographic that the proverb refers to- you are, in fact, left feeling like an ass. However, if you, like me, are just left feeling a bit unnerved in these situations, then just know that these four points will always be consistent:

Hugh Grant will always play a charming, well-read, slightly awkward character in films.

Ryan Giggs will always play for Manchester United; it wouldn’t be right if he were to play for another team.

When looking at Deidre Barlow, my eyes will always be drawn to her neck.

The Fireman Sam theme tune and Tears for Fears classic ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ will somehow always be indistinguishable in my head.