Posted by: travelrat | March 7, 2008

Closely guarded secrets …


Classic view … or clichéd view??

When I’m doing chores around the house, I like to have the radio on, and my station of choice is a light classical one. And, I’ve noticed, of late, that almost every programme I listen to, they play Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, especially ‘Spring’. I like Vivaldi, but I do feel the ‘Four Seasons’ has become rather overworked, especially when many call centres play it at you whenever they put you on hold. But, is there any other music they could use to convey the feeling of Spring? Or, has Vivaldi’s work joined the ranks of the cliché?

Back in the days of moveable type, printers noted that journalists frequently used words or phrases of which they were particularly fond. To save time, the printers kept these phrases ready made up in a holder called a cliché …and, if that phrase was used too often, it became a ‘well-worn cliché )

Most writers know to avoid them like the plague! But, although I congratulate myself on writing about Shire horses without using the phrase ‘gentle giants’, and about Petra without calling it a ‘ … rose-red city half as old as time’ it doesn’t do to be too complacent. A ‘closely guarded secret’ or a ‘step back in time’ can get by the best of us … in fact, I wondered if the lines from ‘Kubla Khan’, with which I introduced my ‘Jenolan Caves’ entry might be thought a bit hackeyed?

Clichés aren’t always written or spoken, though. There are pictorial ones, too. Take a trip to the English Lake District, and everywhere, you’ll be offered stuff like souvenir plates and tea-towels bearing pictures of ‘classic’ views such as Tarn Hows or Ashness Bridge. Classic? Clichéd, more like.

Or musical, like the example I’ve already given. Although they have, thank goodness, taken on board that they don’t have to play the ‘William Tell Overture’ every time horses are involved.

The answer, of course, is to take the advice of Sam Goldwyn:

‘I’m not interested in old cliches; go and think of some new cliches!’

If you want to see my article about blogging, go to see


  1. I know what you mean about ‘The Four Seasons.’ If I hear it one more time I’m put on hold….or ‘The Entertainer.’ Spare me.

    A very interesting post about cliche. It slips into our vernacular when we’re not looking, as bold as brass, faster than the speed of light. Hahaha.

  2. Agree. More of us ought to take notice of the cliches in our midst. It wouldn’t hurt to cut back a bit. Is hard to find writing without a few peppered throughout.

  3. If that’s who I think it is, welcome aboard! Hope you’ll visit often!

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