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Lost the plot?

[ 2009-03-31 15:20]     字号 [] [] []  
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Lost the plot?Reader question: What does this headline – Rafa Benitez (the Liverpool football club manager) has lost the plot – mean? What plot? Football strategies?

My comments: Football strategies, yes, and perhaps more, such as rotations (who plays when and for how long), and people management (keeping players happy and motivated), and perhaps even suggesting that Benitez is mad (metaphorically speaking) – because not very long ago, the Liverpool manager launched an unprovoked attack on Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United helmsman, accusing the latter of influencing referees by talking to them during halftime breaks.

Lost the plot?

I believe that headline was getting at this. Anyways, accusations such as these are deemed wild and off the mark, far-fetched and unfounded, and they appeared to suggest that the Liverpool head coach has lost his cool (composure). Perhaps the pressure of winning (or not winning to be exact - Liverpool has not won a league title in two decades or close to it) has got into his head and he does not always make sense when it comes to talking about matches and titles.

Ah well, “lost the plot” is the idiom in question here, lest we forget. “Plot” refers to connections between events in a story, play or movie. If the novelist loses the plot in the middle of writing a novel, you can imagine what will happen – the story will cease to hold water. It is the same as saying someone has “lost his script”. Now imagine some actor losing the script on stage in the middle of a play. Not that they would lose the paper sheets themselves (though some might do even that), but that they’ve forgotten their lines – they won’t know when to say what. Disaster to be sure.

In short, people who are described as losing their plot or their script are people who sound irrational and illogical. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They don’t know what they’re doing. Or still in other words, they appear mad, crazy, berserkers and bananas – often figuratively speaking of course.

Here are media examples: 1. Just when you think it cannot get any worse, it does. So many MPs on both sides of the House seem to have lost the plot completely and to be oblivious to what the rest of us think about them. They represent us but are not representative of us. - Public trust in politicians now lower than during days of Tory sleaze, Telegraph.co.uk, March 29, 2009.

2. It wasn’t that long ago when the banks worked for the benefit of its customers. Telstra offered one of the best services in the world. Australia Post guaranteed daily delivery of our mail. Western Power provided a reliable electricity supply and the governments made promises to look after everyone. Today, the banks, Telstra and Western Power all ‘work over’ the customers for the benefit of the bigger profits and their shareholders. Australia Post has lost the plot and provides a second rate service, while various levels of government are just plain useless. - Have we lost the plot? Sun CityNews.co.au, March 11, 2009.

3. The Hold Steady’s guitarist Tad Kubler has slammed Radiohead’s revolutionary pay what you want plan for their last album ‘In Rainbows’. The guitarist also criticized the band’s experimental musical approach. “I think they’ve lost the plot,” he said. “What are they doing? Where are they going? What’s happening? I don’t get it any more. They lost me. “I still appreciate what they’re doing, or what they’re trying to do. But I think they’re trying too hard not to be Radiohead. That seems a little ridiculous to me.” - The Hold Steady: ‘Radiohead have lost the plot, August 17, 2008, NME.com.



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.


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