Posted by Tania Kindersley.
It seems there is a moment when the News Mammoth is rampaging so madly that it switches my brain into miniaturist mode. I can no longer ponder the big, important, moral and ethical arguments. I find myself concentrating on the very, very small.
Yvette Cooper, for instance, has just said ‘issues around’ three times on The World At One. As in: there are issues around medical records, there are issues around privacy.
It is rather unfair to pick on her. Issues around is included in the beginners’ pack of boilerplate handed out to all members of parliament, senior police officers, local councillors, and almost anyone who appears on Question Time. Except Hugh Grant, who must have pleased Her Majesty by speaking her English beautifully when he was on the panel last week.
Here is my objection. Surely it is issues about? I can’t work out if ‘around’ is actually incorrect, or just ugly. It manages to sound like a weasel word, even though it is not really an obfuscation. I cannot work out why. It is horrid, anyway, and it must be stopped.
Also, now I am deep in the weeds, I start to think that issues itself is stupid. When someone comes on the wireless and starts talking about issues, what they usually mean is: a problem, a horror, an outrage, a doing of egregious wrong.
Here is what I do not understand. Everyone loves plain speaking. I am trying to train myself out of the Generalised We. I am starting to get cross with writers who say: we all love this, or we all think that. It’s lazy and wrong. But I think that I can be quite confident about this Everyone. Did you ever hear a single person in your whole wide life say: oh, but what I want more of is evasive, vague, knotty, jargon-littered language? Of course you did not. And yet people in positions of power go on speaking it, day after day. They are not stupid. Some of them are very nice. Many of them are kind to children and animals. Why can they not call a spade a spade?
Some pretty pictures, to take your mind off it:
The Pigeon had great excitement today: she put up a rabbit. This is her post-chase, on watch face:
And her no little critter shall eat your violas and get away with it face:
The return of the hill:
PS. Small howl for help:
My landlord’s dog is staying. The poor little thing is obviously missing his humans, and is whining and pacing, which means I find it hard to get any work done. I have never had a whining dog, and do not know what to do. Do any of you dog behaviourists out there have any idea? I’ve tried comforting strokes and treats to cheer him up, but the minute I turn back to the computer the plaintive noise starts again. I know I should not really use this blog as a dog agony column, but I am slightly at a loss.