2 June 2009
'Pre-delicate hitches' from Brown as he avoids answering a question about the Queen
The general point is that such ‘hitches’ (e.g. ums, ers, pauses, restarted words, etc.) tend to happen when a speaker is about to say something that he or she knows is likely to come across as ‘delicate’ to their listeners.
And they came thick and fast on Sunday morning as Mr Brown tried to deal with Andrew Marr’s challenging question about why the Queen hadn’t been invited to attend the D-Day commemorations in Normandy.
Needless to say, he didn’t make any attempt to answer the question, but the number and frequency of 'hitches' suggest that he might actually have been finding his own evasiveness more uncomfortable than he usually does.
MARR: It’s a disgrace, is it not, that the Queen is not going to be representing us at D-Day at those commemoration services in France. How did that come about?
BROWN: I-I think-uh-eh you have to uh-ask-uh th-the palace to get their statements uh-u- on this.
Uh I have simply done what is my duty as a – as a Prime Minister – I’ve-uh accepted the u-personal invitation of Mr- Mr Sarkozy.
I think you know that Mr Harper, the Canadian prime minister, i- is going, and I think in these circumstances, this particular event uh-was-uh this one of the events was –was –was one that the president wanted to be for prime ministers and presidents, but if the Queen wanted to attend these- these- these events, or if any member of the Royal family wanted to attend these events, I would make that possible."