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Pick up the pieces 整理残局

中国日报网 2024-03-29 13:07


Reader question:

Please explain this lyric, particularly “pick up the pieces”: I want to be around to pick up the pieces when somebody breaks your heart.

My comments:

I want to be around to console you, in other words.

This lyric is part of an old American song titled I Want To Be Around, which tells the story of love and heartbreak.

In it, a woman tells a man that she still loves him even though he has broken her heart by jilting her for another woman. She says he’ll know how she feels when that other woman breaks his heart and, when that happens, she’ll still be around to pick up the pieces, i.e. to console him and cheer him up.

Lucky dude, right?

Anyways, she wants to be around to pick up the pieces and hopefully the two former lovers can start all over again.

To pick up the pieces means to, literally, clean things up. When we accidentally drop a wine glass, for example, we immediately scoop down to pick up all the pieces of glass on the floor lest someone should step on them accidentally and get hurt.

Figuratively speaking, when something very bad happens, we try our best to pick up the pieces, i.e., to recover from it and to restore our life.

In our lyric example, all the shock and hurt feelings after a breakup are the emotional pieces to pick up or to recover from. The former lovers need to pick up all the pieces and, hopefully, move on.

All right, here are media examples of people trying to pick up the pieces following a disaster or something really bad:

1. BLUNDERING Home Secretary Alan Johnson was under fire yesterday for claiming a stab victim’s survival was down to the speed of treatment and “nothing to do with the perpetrator”.

The Government was also criticised by the father of a murdered teenager who likened its knife crime policies to “using TCP on a large open wound”.

Knife-related violence against under-20s has gone down under the Tackling Knives Action Programme, launched in 10 police areas a year ago.

But deaths in that age group were unchanged from the previous year while more people aged 20 or over had died.

Mr Johnson said he was “very worried” about increased deaths but there were “encouraging signs overall” including reduced knife-related violence and hospital admissions.

He added: “The number of stabbings are down and the fact that a stabbing leads to death, the tragedy of the death is nothing to do with the perpetrator of the stabbing, it’s to do with how quickly the health service got to them.”

A spokesman for health union Unison said: “It’s everything to do with the perpetrator. You could have someone standing feet away with excellent medical equipment and they might not be able to save a person if they are stabbed.

It is often the emergency services that are out there picking up the pieces. Alan Johnson gives a completely wrong impression.”

- Johnson drops a new clanger over knifings, Express.co.uk, July 23, 2009.

2. For almost 50 years, Sir Paul McCartney has shouldered the blame for breaking up the Beatles.

The supposed evidence was a press release for his 1970 solo album, McCartney, where he revealed he was on a “break” from rock’s biggest band.

Interviewing himself, Sir Paul said he could not “foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again”.

But in a new BBC interview, he has said the split was prompted by John Lennon.

“I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny,” he told interviewer John Wilson. “I am not the person who instigated the split.

“Oh no, no, no. John walked into a room one day and said I am leaving the Beatles. And he said, ‘It’s quite thrilling, it’s rather like a divorce.’ And then we were left to pick up the pieces.

Wilson asked whether the band would have continued if Lennon hadn’t walked away.

“It could have,” Sir Paul replied.

- Paul McCartney says John Lennon ‘instigated’ the Beatles’ break-up, BBC.com, October 11, 2021.

3. Just before Donald Trump stepped into a New York courtroom Thursday, he stopped and spoke with reporters. He ranted. He raved. He didn’t make much sense. He called all the court actions taken against him “election interference run by Joe Biden.” He then said it is a terrible time for our country, “a real dark period,” to which a reporter remarked on a live-mic “Jesus Christ.”

Jesus has nothing to do with Donald Trump, still, Trump thinks he is being crucified. Meanwhile, Manhattan came to a standstill as Trump’s motorcade brought him to court. Dean Obeidallah, a SiriusXM host noted, “The NYPD is closing roads by me in NYC during rush hour to allow Trump to get to the courthouse in lower Manhattan.” The networks covered it as if it were a coronation, and Trump soaked up the attention.

At about the same time, Tucker Carlson, still on the Putin bandwagon, told us Russians have it much better than Americans (after shopping in a Moscow grocery store). And if that wasn’t circus enough for you, Fulton County District Attorney Fanni Willis jumped into the Trump-related drama by running into court and defending herself against charges that she abused her power and shouldn’t be allowed to prosecute Trump on some very serious state criminal charges in Georgia. She was seen on Thursday talking about cruises, trips to Aruba and who paid for what dinner while she dodged haters, moved out of her house, took care of her father, used private security and dated lead prosecutor Nathan Wade who is overseeing the Donald Trump case in Fulton County, Georgia.

What does all of this testimony have to do with Donald Trump? Absolutely nothing. But Trump and a co-defendant in Georgia want to delay the start of the only trial Trump can’t control should he be re-elected. Or, he wants to try and kill the charges outright because of the alleged inappropriate use of public funds. The allegation is Wade used money he got paid as a prosecutor to go on a cruise and some road trips with Willis. Even a few members of the Trump team that still talk with me have said, “who gives a shit?” Though they also like that it muddies the water “for the boss.” And they cackled with glee watching the drama in Georgia.

“Don’t get cute with me,” Willis said at one point under direction questioning. My grandfather and uncle, who were both circuit court judges often said, “Lawyers make the worst witnesses. They don’t know when to shut up.” Willis tried to guess what the line of questioning was about, cut it off, and spit it back at her accusers while the judge sat by trying to guide her into calmer waters.

“I’m not on trial no matter how much want to put me on trial,” Willis stated defiantly.

And, if that’s not drama enough for the day, in speaking with several members of the Republican Party, many of them said they are embarrassed by Donald Trump, “though most (of the GOP) are loyal to him,” but some are seeing Trump’s drama coming to an end in court soon and want to find a seat before the music stops. It is worth saying that the number of people doing this is very low.

Yes, we’ve all heard this before. Donald Trump is trouble. Donald Trump is going down and who will be left to pick up the pieces?

- Trump trials give MAGA a false sense of confidence, Salon.com, February 16, 2024.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


Shot across the bow? 警告性的一击


Won’t stand for it? 不能容忍


From here on out? 从此以后


Road rage? 路怒症


Hasn’t looked back? 一发而不可收

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