The Sandéparabola

By Jamie, 1 May 2018 #


It’s astonishing how we as a species have come up with words not to just describe the physical objects we interact with on a daily basis, but the vast array of emotional states we go through as well. Sadly, and appropriately for these uncertain times, the English language seems to be lagging behind some of its continental cousins in expressing some of the more nebulous concepts in our lives. Apart from procasturbation, which is just awesome. As a word, I mean.

The Scandies have got a bit of a headstart here. OK, so hygge is just basically gezelligheid with a massive marketing and merchandising budget, but why don’t we have an equivalent for the Finns and their Kalsarikännit (getting drunk at home in your underwear)? I also want to experience a proper sense of Hyppytyynytyydytys without having to sit on a sofa in Helsinki, or hang out with my various Buksvågers anywhere but Stockholm, drink an Utepils outside of Norway. We’ve even had to borrow Schadenfreude from the Germans, dammit!

So, while everyone else is babbling on about customs unions and frictionless borders, I think it’s time to steal an etymological march on the rest of them and start neologising like there’s no tomorrow. Just in case there isn’t. Here’s a few to be getting on with:


Already a widely recognised concept and beloved of unimaginative standup comedians everywhere, the sensation of entering a room or cupboard before being struck by a complete inability to recall the reason you went in there in the first place. Douglas Adams, attempting to find meaning for various names of Surrey towns, even went so far as to label this behaviour “Woking”; however, given the Guardian’s constant attempts to make “woke” happen, I feel we need to throw the net wider. Given the majority of cases occur as one opens the door of the refrigerator, I propose that this particular form of forgetfulness be henceforth known as Fridgefresia.


The sense of intense disappointment felt when something that’s been expected to go badly actually turns out to be fine. This will usually manifest itself in a commercial environment, where you as the customer have for some reason an anticipation of encountering an obstacle—for example, being told that a Groupon voucher isn’t actually valid for this transaction—and during the build up to the moment of truth manage to whisk yourself up into a frenzy of righteous indignation in preparation for a massive spleen-venting at the jobsworth who has the temerity to argue their case with you. Sadly, they take the voucher without the slightest hint of an objection, and you’re left with an unburst emotional bubble similar to that resulting from interrupted coitus, and lingering simmering rage with no target which will cause you to fume for longer than an actual argument.

The Germans would probably come up with some brilliantly literal compound word like Unspentoutrageregret. And who would I be to argue with them? But I am quite taken with the mouth-feel of Afterthwart as an alternative.


The tendency to project the faces and features of one’s acquaintances onto complete strangers. Typically this false recognition would happen from a distance away, and as you approach you would soon realise that in fact this person you were preparing to greet is in fact completely unaware of your existence and starting to wonder why you have been staring at them so intently, but if left unchecked this false sense of familiarity can fester (as a very young boy I was under the impression that my dentist’s receptionist was in fact my near-estranged half-sister, and was constantly impressed by her professionalism in always asking for my name and not engaging in familial chit-chat). A psychologist would probably tell you that this is a twisted form of narcissism, a kind of refusal to accept that there are people on this planet for whom you have no relevance or connection, and a reactionary attempt to replace reality with your own biased view of the world in attempt to gain control. But thankfully we’re not listening to experts now, so that’s fine.

The false feeling that one is the centre of everything, and bending the world to your own narrative, does however enable us to embrace the label of Trumanticism to describe this particular effect.


I’m not sure if this is a phenomenon that’s specific to the UK, but it seems particularly prevalent over here, and driven by our tabloid culture. Basically, it’s something to do with the minuscule attention span, inability to take risks and complete lack of imagination of the national content creators—which means that they can only ever really hold one proponent of a specific domain in their view at once, to the point where the conversations clearly go along the lines of “we need a politician”—“just book Farage, everyone knows Farage”—“but what about?”—“just book Farage dammit”. So for a while every event requiring an opera singer saw Katherine Jenkins dragged to the fore (though she now seems to have been supplanted by Alfie Boe); anything comic between 2011—2015 was James Corden; anything “science-y” gets fronted by Professor Brian Cox. However, what the kingmakers fail to appreciate is the lag between their awareness of an individual’s popularity and the diminishing mainstream perception of them—normally resulting in the peak of the subject’s exposure coinciding with the absolute apogee of public apathy.

The technical term for this popularity curve is named after the peculiar instance of Emeli Sandé’s incredible ubiquity throughout 2012—from unknown at the start of the year to every awards ceremony, chat show and music event, and culminating in performing at both the opening and closing ceremony of the London Olympics. By which time, most people were muttering “Oh bloody hell, not her again.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

Fig 1: The Sandéparabola.



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