Stray Thoughts Number 24


Numbers 1-21 of Stray Thoughts were featured in Cambrensis, edited for 67 issues by the late Arthur Smith. It has now been replaced by Stray Blogs. The Stray Archive is still available on the site.


* 'The best thing since sliced bread' is an odd expression. Sliced bread is surely fit for nothing except toast and feeding the ducks.

* Robert Nisbet asks if the word "issue" has now replaced "situation" as the standard sentence-filler? He'd just heard a journalist on breakfast TV referring to someone using a lot of petrol and saying "There is a carbon footprint issue here". He thinks that ten years ago she might surely have said that we're "into a carbon footprint situation".

* The three most ill-matched people for jobs? Jeffrey Archer as a 'TV jurist'; Carol Vorderman pretending that the figures in loan advertisements add up; and Tony Blair as a peace ambassador in the Middle East;

* One of the best things about the English Language is that it's a living, developing thing, unlike, say, Classical Greek or Sanskrit. But I think the American that Jim Bartlett told me about was going a bit far when he said '...that's not ungrammatical. You can verb any noun.'

* The other day I heard a Radio 2 disc-jockey (an interesting sub-species for study, but don't get too close) referring to 'the new placement of Alan Titchmarsh as an all-round cultural figure'. Oh dear.

* An Iranian woman has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. Apparently, the crucial evidence was given on an in flagrante video. A rather horrible mix of the medieval and modern, don't you think?

* On the radio the other day, a psychologist was getting her size eight knickers in a twist about the word obese. She was frustrated because people equated the word with 'grossly fat' and shied away from its use. 'We've done a lot of work on this,' she said. Well, it does mean 'very fat' according to my dictionary, but don't they realise that words mean just what people think they mean, whatever some clinical interpretation says?

* Unattributed quotation in Private Eye: 'All political careers end in failure, but a lot of them these days also end in diaries.'

* I'd thought for a long time that American directors had forgotten how to end films. Now I'm sure of it. The other day, myself and my wife caught the end of a children's cartoon through late running of the programme caused by a fire alarm. So long and drawn out was the combined ending and credit sequence that the audience had all got fed up and left well before the end. We were the only watchers for the last ten minutes.

* I haven't used Windows Vista yet, but when I do I hope it doesn't try to nanny me as much as XP. The worst feature has to be the so-called 'wizard' that pops up to say, 'You have unused icons on your desktop. Click this...'. What really galls me is that after I've clicked the little 'x' to say 'go away', it pops up AGAIN as if I'd made a mistake.

* Apparently, the BBC is still thinking of abandoning one of its digital channels for budgetary reasons. What's the betting that BBC4 is ditched, rather than the worthless BBC3, or the ego-trip for politicians given by BBC Parliament?

* And while we're at it, how can the BBC get things so wrong? The other evening there were endless repeats of the McClaren trivia (and it was trivia, despite the 100m fine) on News 24, while all the real news was over on World News on BBC4.

Raymond Humphreys.

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