Thursday, 21 November 2013

Bunkum - Felix Walker The Irrelevant Talker

Felix Walker, Bunkum, Buncombe, Irrelevant, Nonsense


Noun. Also buncombe. Mid-19th century.
[from Buncombe County, N. Carolina, USA, whose member made an irrelevant speech in Congress c. 1820 simply to impress his constituents.]

Nonsense; ostentatious talking.

Poor old Felix Walker. Assuming good faith, he no doubt entered American politics as a man that wanted to bring about change for good, to leave the world a slightly better place for his grandchildren, and to pass on from this life knowing that he had made a real difference. And what do we remember him for? For one spectacularly boring, irrelevant and tiresome speech on the subject of slavery in Missouri. And in truth we don't even remember him - we have bunkum from his constituency Buncombe County, and even the OED deems Walker so irrelevant that he is only referred to as its 'member'. No doubt, however, you're thinking "Slavery? But that subject is neither irrelevant nor bunkum!" And you're right, of course, but Walker's contribution to the debate was. The topic had been debated for a whole month before Walker's speech, without him making any contribution to it, and it was only right before the vote was to be called (presumably when everyone had made up their minds and was looking forward to going home for their tea) that he rose to deliver his somnorific masterpiece (and if you're insomniac or just curious as to how dull his speech was, you can read it in full here). He persisted despite the exasperated groans and jeers of his fellow politicians, and when asked the following day why he persisted so, he replied "O! I am speaking to Buncombe." And for that, good sir, Buncombe thanks you.

Had you ever heard of Felix Walker?

No, be serious - had you really ever heard of Felix Walker?

Do you speak, write or think a load of old bunkum?

Do please leave your most ostentatious, nonsensical comments below.


  1. I would actually like to stand up for Felix Waters and other such purveyors of bunkum.

    Sometimes, you find yourself in a position where everyone expects you to say or do something, and you have absolutely no idea what is actually going on. I find myself in this situation fairly frequently in an average day.

    Reason has already been flung wantonly to the wind, you can't work out what everyone can possibly be thinking, cannot fathom what dismal motives might be at play, and so the only defense you have is to spout wordy rubbish for a while.

    This might surprise you, but I make sure that my arsenal of wordy rubbish is kept stocked up in constant readiness.

    For example, may I take this opportunity to voice my concerns about the worryingly sparse noodle harvest this year.......


    1. Bunkum is all I have Ed. Uri Geller bent spoons, Gandhi made people slightly less angry, I disseminate vast, prolific, pulsating tentacles of inane rubbish in the hope that the immediate situation will just quietly slink away, like Felix Wilkes.

  2. The poor man - despite having been told his name JUST now, I still get it wrong. Which reminds me of another use for Bunkum - distracting people from focusing on your name when arrested, or discovered scrumping in the noodle orchard.


    1. Poor old Felix Watson indeed ... a man with a talent for irrelevance ...

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