Would the 17.4 million please stand up

Johnson, Gove et al appear to be engaged in some political limbo challenge. How low can you go? Hey I can go lower than that. So we are being shamed almost hourly by the ridiculous sabre rattling, the aggressive speeches, the threats against those who oppose them and their dangerous alt-right fuelled dreams.

I say shamed, but terrified would be more accurate. How many of you saw the Leave poster yesterday? It’s been taken down now but I may be able to find it on the web to show you. Well that didn’t take long, you can see it here.

One of the backers of this campaign is Arron Banks. Not the man you’d like find moving in next door. All the hallmarks of fascism are stamped over both Leave and Johnson’s government. The playbook is lifted from the rise of the Nazis. We are constantly told leaving the EU is the will of the British people; that to ignore the result of the 2016 referendum would be undemocratic, would let down the 17.4 million who voted in favour of ‘going it alone’. Never mind that the population is more than four times that number, that quite a few of the people who voted are now dead, and every poll shows most people want to stay in the EU, that large numbers of those who voted Leave are horrified at what is being done in their name. No, the tail must wag the dog and pull us all down. It would be nice if the 17.4 million stood up now and told the government to stop. It may only be if they do that the madness will end. Continue reading

Mind Our Language

They say if you learn one thing from a talk, or a visit to a museum or gallery, it is time, sometimes money, well spent. On those grounds the lectures and seminars on sociolinguistics I attended as part of my first degree represent a good investment.

I recall studying newspaper articles, noting how descriptors were used to steer the reader to  particular view, to mould our responses. It was quite shocking, and has made me a more critical reader, more of a fact checker. When I started flat hunting in the days before the internet I would collect details of properties for sale from estate agents. Apart from those being sold by Roy Brooks who believed in calling a spade a spade – “in frankly appalling condition throughout” is one phrase I remember – these invariably one bedroomed properties were described as spacious. Spacious for whom, I’d wonder. Lilliputians perhaps. I fast came to the conclusion that the best way to read these bits of puff was to block out the adjectives, erase the ‘spacious’s, the ‘stunning’s, the ‘desirable’s and the ‘sought after location’s.

Once, listening to the news on the BBC in the 80s, my antennae twitched when I heard a dictator, renowned for disregarding human rights and with a pronounced penchant for imprisoning opponents without trial and then torturing them, had been ‘forced’ to execute some ‘rebels’. Sure enough, a short time later our government quietly softened its stance towards this man, his barbarities would be ignored in the name of trade. Continue reading

D’You Get Me?

I’m a fan of public transport, and I use London’s buses on an almost daily basis, but sometimes I could happily swap my seat on the upper deck for the inside of a limo with darkened windows.

It’s not my own privacy that I’d be protecting, but being the unwilling audience of other people’s conversations is something I find trying at times. It’s not even what they are talking about that disrupts my thoughts, it’s the verbal tics.

This morning, travelling to work on the 148, I was reading my book. Suddenly I lost concentration, and didn’t know why. Then the penny dropped; I had registered that a woman several seats behind me was using the phrase Do you know what I mean? as a form of punctuation. For the rest of the journey, and I got off before she did, and she was still carrying on her ‘phone call, I noted with increasing discomfort her repetition of these words. I couldn’t tell you what the conversation was about.

At lunchtime, I shared a table with three strangers, twenty somethings, obviously well-educated and articulate, yet they punctuated every statement with like. Continue reading