There are chosen people among us that God has bestowed with infinite knowledge. Loathe as I am to take issue with the carpenterman’s handiwork, I cannot abide know-alls.
They are in offices, building sites, pubs, barber shops, at football matches and hanging about street corners throughout Tyrone. There is nothing they do not know. They have more knowledge on forensics than a series of CSI and give better directions to every destination in Ireland than a sat nav. Their knowledge has no boundaries; politics, law, history, cars, the intricacies of every sport from boxing to road bowls, Al Qaeda, life among the Amish community, the first moon landing, the truth about the assassination of John F Kennedy… They even know how to do your job better than you do and won’t hesitate to tell you.
My good friend Martin J, a scholar with a doctorate in English language was once asked to write a short piece for the community festival by its main organiser Mr Know All, the local butcher. However after being presented with the finished article, the man who knew everything, except how to write it in the first place, put a pen through various sentences and suggested a number of changes were necessary. My friend wryly responded, “I’ll tell you what, you don’t presume to tell me how to write and I won’t tell you how to sell sausages.”
Last week the know-alls were experts on addiction as the late Amy Winehouse was being mourned. It is not just that they have an opinion on everything, they actually KNOW everything! They even know everything about things they know nothing about.
Three words that are not in their vocabulary are ‘I’ ‘don’t’ and ‘know,’ – well, not in that order anyway. They never admit they were wrong.
Remember The Fonz? Arthur Fonzarelli, affectionately known as The Fonz on the 70s TV show ‘Happy Days,’ would never admit that he was wrong because he believed he was never wrong. In one episode the king of cool practised in front of a mirror trying to say the word ‘wrong’ but was unable to get it out. “I was wruzzz, I was wroooo…” he struggled. At least he tried; at least he did that much. Know-alls would not even contemplate they could be wrong let alone try to admit it.
I met one of them the morning after the drawn Ulster final in 2003. It had been an enthralling game packed with thrills, spills, mistakes and a heroic comeback by Tyrone. These were amateurs, our neighbours giving their all for their county and community. “What a game,” I said to Brendan the know-all and A N Other, for that was their names. “They were a disgrace!” he snarled. “That team is going nowhere, nowhere! I tell you.”
The other lad nodded in agreement. Two months later the team went somewhere. They went up the steps of the Hogan Stand for the Sam Maguire Cup. That week as we all basked in our first All Ireland glory, the more humble of the two approached me on Main Street and said, “I was wrong.”
“Wrong about what?” I replied, wanting to hear the full admission. “I was wrong about Tyrone. Aye, they done it.”
Fair play to him. It’s okay to be wrong. As for Brendy-know-all, he will never ever admit it he got it wrong and is still imparting his infallible GAA knowledge. Sure last week he told us the draw was fixed and he knew Tyrone would meet Armagh.
Another know-all told the lads in the tea hut in Omagh the day after he sat his driving test, “I passed it but the frigger failed me.”
If you are due in court don’t go to a solicitor as the local know-all will tell you how to beat the system. When he falls to the law however, he blames his solicitor for getting it wrong.
WHAT THE KNOW-ALL DOESN’T KNOW
He would have told you the winner of the horse race at the weekend if you had asked him, he is adamant that he knew the latest town scandal before you and ‘ye eejit ye!,’ he could have got you a cheaper cooker/sofa/car/TV than the one you just purchased. You see, he knows everything!
One of the know-alls, of three score years and ten plus, knew all about Hitler’s characteristics.
The old-timer told me, “He was a funny boy Hitler. Lak if you said, ‘go by Dungannon,’ he’d say, ‘go by Stewartstown.’”
Pops never attended a history lesson in his life and claimed to have read a book about the Fuhrer, which knowing the same gentleman is highly unlikely.
“You don’t want to do that!” he shrieked but when his interfering went wrong he blamed everyone but himself.
Perhaps a childhood trauma has caused this condition and they need treatment. Sadly for us however, that is the only thing they do not know.
As author Leo Buscaglia aka Dr Love explained, “Those who think they know it all have no way of finding out they don’t.”