Things that might have been better expressed

A few examples of remarks, written or spoken, about which the author might usefully have had second thoughts, either because they reveal more about the author's attitudes than perhaps he or she intended, or because of the frontal assault on the English language that they inflict:

Reacting to the ruling from a panel of three judges, a "disappointed" Mr Reid said: "I continue to believe that those whose actions have undermined any legitimate claim to asylum should not be granted leave to remain in the UK. I therefore intend to legislate at the earliest opportunity to take new powers to deny people in this position leave to remain."
(After court ruling preventing him from deporting the Afghan hijackers),,1837686,00.html

April 25 (Bloomberg) — U.K. Home Secretary Charles Clarke today defended the government's use of "control orders'' against suspected terrorists, saying they were a key safeguard against people who can't be prosecuted.  "I defend it categorically,'' Clarke told the Eminent Jurists Panel at a hearing in central London. The orders give "some capacity for the state against people we don't feel able to pursue through the courts in a normal prosecution.''
Hat-tip: the Bewilderness blog, 25 April 2006

Libraries are transforming their work with readers and communities to promote reading, learning and to provide information – developing a role that embraces, but goes beyond book lending. 

— Andrew Stevens, Senior policy adviser (Libraries), Museums, Libraries and Archives Council:  Letter in Guardian, 13 Sept 06,,1870889,00.html

The Guardian is guilty of religious intolerance by labelling anyone with a strongly held belief a fundamentalist… Demonic possession, spiritual healing and conservative sexual morality all appear in the Bible and are widely believed in by Christians.
… Rev Ben Phillips, Carlisle, Cumbria; Guardian, September 14, 2006,,1871820,00.html
Demonic possession, spiritual healing and conservative sexual morality?

…in the early years of Revisionism its harshest critics were not gentiles (few of whom knew much about these intestine scissions), but other Zionists.  – Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Guardian, Thursday September 14, 2006,,1871882,00.html
(Perhaps a subeditor is to blame for this one?  Or is it a subliminal reference to cut versus uncut?)
Ms [Hazel] Blears proposed that Labour's parliamentary candidates should be subjected to "community hustings" in front of the public…  Constituency party members would be allowed to retain the right to vote for the Labour candidate, she stressed. — Guardian, Thursday September 14, 2006,,1871870,00.html
(No-one can say that the party "Chair" is illiberal:  Labour party members will be allowed to retain the right to vote Labour! just fancy!)

Two seats down, somewhat improbably, sat Cat Deeley, not a client of Zoe's, but with her flowing blonde hair and tanned limbs, looking like she could be.  A true reflection of the fact that the "Rachel Zoe" look has travelled all the way from Hollywood to ITV.
— Imogen Fox, Guardian, 15 Sept 06,,1873124,00.html
(Um…  say again?)

Yet for all its grotesque hyperbole, Wizard of the Crow struck me as truthful in its dissection of power, and remarkably free of bitterness.  At more than 700 pages, its flaws, of obsessive reiteration and prolixity, arise partly from its bold experimentation with oral forms, and from giving rein to the pathologies of the corrupt at the expense of the more intimate dilemmas of those who challenge them. But the poisonousness of its targets never infects the author's vision, nor his faith in people's power to resist.  Perhaps that in itself is a triumph.
— Maya Jaggi, reviewing Wizard of the Crow, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Guardian Review, 9 Sept 06,,1867695,00.html
(…or perhaps it isn't.  First prize for the Admiring Review Most Likely to Ensure That No-one Will Buy the Book;  nominated for Pseud's Corner entry of the Year) 

I admire Clare Short`s refusal to cow tail and she speaks clearly,honestly and is in favour of more democracy in the UK and not less, as we still have a Govt elected with a mire 22.6% of the population,under `First Past the Post'! … She should campaign for a wide debate on the key parts of the Power Report and PR and if it leads to a `Hung Parliamnt'-that is what the People of the UK will decree!  PR is more likely to lead to a greater degree of democractic fairness and less `bully-boy' politics! 
— Councillor Patrick Smith, comment on Newsnight's blog post about Clare Short's call for a hung parliament and 'electoral reform'.  (Fortunately, perhaps, for the author of this, there seem to be several Councillors Patrick Smith…)

Emphasis mine, throughout.


3 Responses

  1. Tim Weakley says:

    Could internal schisms be intended instead of intestine scissions, do you suppose?  Cow tail – is that kow-tow or a euphemism for bum-sucking?  Or, perhaps, in refusing to cow tail  Ms. Short  is getting a move on, setting the pace, instead of being all behind like the cow's tail, as my mother used to say?  And do you know, I don't know who either Cat Deeley or Rachel Zoe are, and what is more I am so detached from the modern celebrity world, so out of touch with present-day reality, that – gasp shock horror – I don't care! 

    Brian writes:  I'm sure you're right that cow tail is a mistake for kowtow, although such passing fancies as 'high-tail it' did cross the fevered mind momentarily.  Internal schisms is an inspired reading, although I'm quite attracted by intestine scissions. I'm no wiser than you as regards the Mses Deeley and Zoe and am not even sufficiently interested to Google them. 

  2. Peter Harvey says:

    Intestine is correct meaning internal according to the OED, though it seems affected. The adjective for intestines as bowels is intestinal.

    Scission does seem to be a mistake for schism.

  3. Brian,

    I'm no wiser than you as regards the Mses Deeley and Zoe and am not even sufficiently interested to Google them.

    That surely takes the bronze medal  for old-fartery

    Brian sadly responds:  Well, if the cap fits…

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