The man's guide to not being able to take a hint

SOMETIMES a man will find himself being gently prodded in the right direction on an issue. Here Steve Malley explains how to bloodymindedly ignore subtle suggestions.

Act dumb

Let helpful hints about gifts for anniversaries or birthdays drift by unnoticed. Strongly suggest the lights are on but nobody’s home by ignorantly talking about something else over any hint-filled conversation. If the hint-giver, most likely your partner, feels they were talking to a hamster preoccupied with its wheel, job done.

Question the source

If a friend drops hints that your partner would like a certain present, go full Gene Hunt and question the authenticity of the information, eg. ‘Did she tell you herself?’ ‘Is this just speculation?’ Questions like this will show you’re nobody’s fool and not swayed by idle gossip. Or to put it more simply: people will stop bothering you if you’re a constant pain in the arse.

Just ignore it

The nuclear option of hints – ignore them completely. If someone says ‘I’m not sure about this top’, clearly fishing for you to say it looks great, say, ‘No, I’m not sure about it either. It’s actually pretty horrible.’ By now everyone will have you down as a rude, unsubtle pillock anyway.

Ask for further clarification

Really drag out WHY you shouldn’t be asking your partner’s friend if that’s her natural hair colour, or when the baby’s due. Perhaps there are other topics you should be avoiding too? If your partner suspects you may be putting her off dropping hints, claim you just desperately don’t want to cause anyone any embarrassment. Butter wouldn’t melt, etc.

Claim you already knew

Be the font of all knowledge. If, for example, a date is insistent on giving you tedious clues about her likes and dislikes in an effort to gain your interest, just blunder ahead making assumptions about her. This is unlikely to impress, but you don’t want to go out with a hinty person anyway.

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Björk and other artists who you haven't got a clue what the f**k they're singing about

THEIR music may be great, but thanks to strangulated singing and incomprehensible lyrics, f**k knows what these hugely successful artists are banging on about.

Kevin Rowland

Everyone’s heard the classic Dexy’s hits Come On Eileen and Geno, but Kevin’s rapid, high-pitched lyrics are not so easily recognisable. Luckily people stomping away at wedding receptions make up their own lyrics anyway. Wolverhampton’s finest frontman has a fantastic back catalogue of soulful tunes, but sadly only Kevin himself knows what any of them are about.


It might seem unfair to single out someone who records in a second language, but it’s clear from interviews Björk has a good command of English, even developing a cockney accent at one point. This is forgotten when she’s singing and on Big Time Sensuality and Venus As A Boy she may as be listing Icelandic volcanoes. 


Back in the mists of time (1993) Canadian rapper Darrin O’Brien, aka Snow, had a worldwide hit with Informer, which seems to fuse Inuit words with Jamaican patois, resulting in gibberish. Sadly, 30 years after its release cryptologists the world over are still no closer to working out what ‘a licky boom boom down’ is.

Shane MacGowan

The lead singer of The Pogues was renowned for burning the candle at both ends, and the middle. His lyrics might be stunning works of poetry, but it’s hard to tell when drunkenly snarled into a microphone. The exception is Fairytale Of New York, where Shane and Kirsty MacColl hurl abuse at each other, striking a chord with every couple who’ve had enough of Christmas and your f**king parents aren’t even here yet.

Brian Johnson

Human car alarm and lead singer of rock behemoths AC/DC, is known for having tiny vocal cords made of sandpaper. Once past the choruses of Back In Black and Highway To Hell you’re in a no-man’s land of high-pitched Geordie storytelling only dogs and bats appreciate. Despite AC/DC’s vast success and obvious talent, the first thing anyone hearing him thinks is: ‘Ooh, that sounds like it hurts.’