Them’s The Breaks

The act of resignation is not as simple as the word itself may sound. The word resign denotes a despairing state of affairs. In so far as it imputes voluntariness, in some instances, it imputes a lack of choice. I mean ever heard of the cliché ‘you have no choice but to resign.’

For most people resigning can be an emotional rollercoaster, be it Theresa May snapping into tears at the end of her resignation speech or David Cameron humming nonchalantly after resigning. But for a man whose trademark was encapsulated in his messy crop of manna-white blond hair, his reign would end as messy as it began. His hair, perhaps seemingly metaphorical of his reign as prime minister. And so as he emerged from room number 10, downing street Boris Johnson had rehearsed his orchestra for the final show. He had seemingly dusted his university literary courses and reached for the clichés.

For an accomplished writer, the final show would not go down without somewhat melodrama. His Shakespearean rendition featured phrases like … ‘when the herd moves it moves..’ and climaxed with the phrase ‘…but them’s the breaks.’ For an Oxford-educated and accomplished writer, a phrase that breaks basic English grammatical rules could not be expected to be anywhere near his vocabulary.  However for a man whose delusion was crumbling so fast he needed a phrase much stronger than the French ‘c’est la vie’ the English equivalent of ‘that’s life.’ 

Let’s get the basics first lest I confuse you, my earnest readers. The phrase ‘them’s the breaks’ is used in pool or billiards and refers to balls being broken on the table by a player after being racked up in formation. Given that the results of this break cannot be changed or amended, players must play on despite the outcome. It refers to the opening shot in billiards or pool, known as the break, which shapes the rest of the game for the players, whether advantageous or otherwise.  

‘..Them’s the breaks’ a historic resignation phrase that is going to echo through British conscience for eternity. The postmortems on Boris Johnson’s short stint as prime minister are rather rough, (with columnists not sparing to unleash their harshest criticisms of Boris) a crystal clear indication of a bitter fallout between him and an infuriated British people. Come to think of it, the British are a people who pride themselves on their decency, or so my stereotyped myopic view opines. I mean who gets their head of government chucked out of office over a few cheese parties and a sexual assault incident that didn’t even involve them personally. For Boris Johnson, a man who didn’t mind being referred to as the British Trump, his greatest undoing was his failure to realize the disenchantment of the British public. When asked why he hosted a party in his official residence in clear violation of lockdown rules he himself imposed, he gave the ludicrously most plausible of explanations even stating that he ‘…was ambushed by cake,’ that he didn’t intend to cut the cake but he was ambushed by cake. His whining even included stating that he didn’t know he was at a party.

And so as his orchestra played in the public court, detached Boris Johnson was oblivious of his chicken coming home to roost. Opting to be deluded in his fantasy, that the rules did not apply to him. His orchestra ends in a fiasco with the line ‘…And I want you to know how sad I am for giving up the best job in the world. But them’s the breaks.’A typical Boris Johnson breaking one final rule, basic English grammatical rules. It’s akin to Julius Caesar’s ‘et tu brute’, the dying words of Julius Caesar registering in one final moment the betrayal of his closest confidant, Brutus. ‘Them’s the breaks’ is Boris Johnson’s ‘It is what it is’, a despondent realization that the rules of gravity applied to him after all. In Kenya, we say ‘Si ni life’.

Paul Omenge


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