Thursday, 22 October 2009

Miscellany: Frostrup, Griffin, Bankers

Before I buzz off to Nottingham in a couple of hours.

1. The lovely Mariella Frostrup on the radio this morning trails her programme saying 'This begs the question that...', meaning that some issue demands that the question be asked. But the phrase actually means the opposite, meaning 'it avoids the question'. This inversion still rubs me up the wrong way in much the same way as the misappropriation of King Canute and his non-problematic relationship to waves does, though Frostrup's use is now pretty general. Which then raises the question of usage and the miraculous, and sometimes cheering, English habit of accepting any usage providing a lot of people employ it for long enough. Which then raises the further question of which latest misuse is likely to stick and which to swirl away down the sewers of history. Canute is a lost cause. Begging questions is a lost cause, I suspect. There they sit in the pockets of language like the strange coinage they are, perfectly legal currency. Small change. Pedant and poet wipe away a passing tear, a tear that, like all tears, runs away down the sewers of history.

2. Griffin on Question Time. Fine, let him be on Question Time but let there be a loud picket and as many tomatoes as are deemed appropriate to the occasion. Let verbal and conceptual tomatoes fly in the hall. His attack on the war crimes of the military should be put in a large locket the weight of several bricks and hung around his neck. May it be the perfect complement to that hideous greasy face. There is surely, is there not, a faint resemblance to David Irving? I wonder if the two are related? Those of a nervous disposition look away now.

Go, Bonnie Greer! It's your stage.

3. Bankers: Without our vast bonuses you will die. Old news, I know, and not unexpected. They warn us that they will scurry abroad where the world is waiting to receive them with the grateful deference that is their due: bigger bonuses, more millions. That's the way it has to be. They will save us, they always save us. They save our jobs, our pensions, our mortgages, our savings. Without them the financial system would collapse.

I say for every £100k of bonus the public should be entitled to one kick up the arse each time they pass. That could be our bonus.

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