It’s not difficult to spot one.
They’ll be the one under the misapprehension that if they stop speaking they’ll die, which must make falling asleep a terrifying experience.
They’ll be the one that follows your comment about elephants with “Speaking of elephants, my neighbour has the fattest dog you’ve ever seen”. No non sequitur is a bridge too far in their quest to shift the focus of attention back to themselves.
They’ll be the one with an inexhaustible fund of anecdotes about how they took someone down a peg or two by being smarter, faster, wittier, more skilled or more prescient. “I said right at the start that it wouldn’t work and sure enough …”, accompanied by a smug shaking of the head.
They’ll be the one that waits until a proposition is about to be put to a vote before making a lengthy point of order that bears not the faintest relationship to the matter in hand.
They’ll be the one, when you’re obviously concentrating on a difficult task, who’ll sidle up to you and say “When you’re finished, remind me to tell you about my visit to the doctor. He says it’s pretty serious. Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt”.
They’ll be the one impervious to even the bluntest of hints that their listening skills are entirely non-existent.
Short of murder, which I understand is illegal and against which the ‘crime of passion’ defence is unlikely to succeed, there are some tactics that have proven useful.
The Audience Reduction Strategy – Try bowling up to them in a crowded local supermarket and loudly greeting them with “George, nice to see you’re out of prison. You know, I never did believe you were an axe murderer. Anyway, must fly.”
The Plague Strategy – “Oh, Mavis, I’d love to stop and chat but I’ve just tested positive and I’m off home to isolate.”
The Distraction Strategy – “Ah, Charlie, just the man I’ve been looking for. Frank (another oxygen thief) is over there and he was just saying he hasn’t seen you for ages and wants to catch up on all your news.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and polish my mirror which, I have to say, I’m very good at, being such a perfectionist. And then I have to nip over to Scott’s to give him the benefit of my experience. Of course I should call him ‘Prime Minister’ but ever since my successful campaign strategy for him, he insists on first names. Did I tell you how that came about? No? Well………….