What is Faff?

We have all heard of faff but what really is it?

OED : (v.intr.) Fuss, Dither: (n) a fuss (A British colloquialism)

(OED is Oxford English dictionary for those unfamiliar with this poor quality but easy get out for starting an essay, speach, or just about anything you are asked to write...)

The first of these definitions of course treats the word when in use as an intransitive verb; ie it is a verb which does take a direct object, so in it can be used thus;

I can't believe you are faffing so much...

The second being obvious, such as in;

Oh my god, what a faff.

Well, that is faff sorted out. Just to check though;

OED : Lots of obvious stuff about concern with matters trivial (transitive and intransitive verb, and also noun)

OED : Lots of other stuff about agitation (intransitive verb and colloquial noun)

So it is pretty clear then, that is faff.

Or is it?

The real meaning of faff

We a paddlers, we understand faff. Firstly we have found that faff can be a transitive verb, used thus;

John, don't faff the people any more, we want to leave.

So OED is wrong, cos wes all aficionados of der lingo n we knows!

Some people may disagree, that is of course their prerogative, but I suggest the above makes sense. But then language is only what you understand it to mean...

Anyway, fuss and dither are, frankly, poor definitions. Note 1 .

Faff is a term much in use in most outdoor activities. It generally relates to anything that delays the actual activity taking place. Obvious examples are things like;

Some people have gone even further in the definition; they define faff as being everything which is not doing the activity in question. This may be appeal to those who are keen to get on with what they want to do. However, I assure you, this definition begins to grate as you are accused of faffing when actually so exhausted you physically cannot move and are in need of medical attention. Yet that is as nothing the screaming abhorrence to this definition you will experience when you are woken up, with a thumping hangover, only to be told to, 'get up and stop this sleeping faff'.

Still however loose your definition, there is always faff around.

There are two universal laws which govern faff that basically state; the more people and the longer the trip, the more the faff. Some people still believe in the outdated model that the amount of faff is proportional to the number of women in the group. It should be pointed out that this is not true. An all male group is quite capable of excessive faff, it's just different faff, just as much time is spent doing the hair and admiring it in the minibus window as is spent talking about it (so which is the woman, which the man? Comments on this and other sex discrimination issues here please... ).

The true case is as presented here.

Firstly we identify the dependencies, these are;

It is easily seen that these are not all independent. Obviously the number of males and females is dependent. Fortunately the number of males bitching about females faffing and number of females engaged in similar activity is also dependent on the male / female split. Through exstensive investigation it has been shown that an all male group faffs to exactly the same extent as an all female group. It was also seen that the maximum faff occurs which exactly equal numbers of males and females (this is the heterosexual case, if otherwise see note 2 ). This leads to a relationship of the following form;

faff graph

Where the relationship is described by,
with the constants to be found.

Further we also have that the relationship between faff and the number of people relates thus;

second faff graph

Where the actual value lies between the two extremes (red and green curves). It can be shown that the actual value is the value of the male / female relationship modified by the middle result (blue value in figure two). This middle result is a relationship of the form,
equation2 .

When putting these results together, denoting by m the percentage of males in the group and n the total number of people and measuring the other constants by experiment we achieve the equation
equation3 .

If we also take account of trip length then we find that this does not alter the inherent faff but does alter the faff factor so the equation becomes, where l is trip length (in days),
thus it is possible to determine the actual faff of any trip. Obviously the higher the faff factor the more faff will go on.

Note that this is only a guide to the amount of faff, it is not a precise measure. It is intended to give trip organisers an idea of how much faff to expect and thus allowing them to budget for it. It also allows the organisers to mentally prepare them selves to the amount of faff. This is particularly important as stress caused by faff, so called streff, is becoming more and more common and some outdoor clubs are having to close after being sued in personal damages claims. These calculations can also be used here, they will give an idea of whether the amount of faff experienced is normal or truely excessive. Thus it can be determined whether the trip organiser is really suffering or just intolerant.

It is not nesaccarily the case that a lower level of faff than that indicated is a good thing. This indicates that you are taking things too seriously, don't know how to relax, and aare generally likely to annoy everyone around you untill such time as you dissapear up your own backside. The ultimate fate for the serious anti-faffer. This is not to say that it is wrong to moan about excessive faff, it is positively a good thing. Just that a certain background level of faff is required to maintain everyones sanity.

Continue to the; Gallery of Faffs and Faffers