How to Épater les bourgeois, of course
In a column in today’s Guardian, Jemima Lewis, consultant editor (what’s a ‘consultant editor’?) of The Week, rightly bemoans the awfulness of the lyrics of a song which is apparently top of the charts at the moment, ‘You’re Beautiful’, by one James Blunt, former public schoolboy and Guards officer. Meditating on the theme of ghastly pop lyrics and the offence they give to sensitive ears, Ms Lewis writes:
[A] friend – a stickler for grammar – cannot listen to the Madonna song Music because of the line: "Music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel". It should, of course, be bourgeois in the singular.
It’s bad enough that Ms Lewis evidently imagines that ‘bourgeoisie’ is (or are?) a plural noun: the offence is fatally compounded by that knowing ‘of course’. When, decades ago, I worked for the late and much lamented Lord Caradon, formerly Hugh Foot, one of the few acknowledged orators at the UN in his day and a master of faintly biblical English, he used to forbid the use of ‘of course’ in speeches or letters that we drafted for him: if the phrase was meant to imply that the accompanying statement was obvious, the atatement was probably unnecessary; and if it was intended to lend a spurious cogency to a statement of dubious validity, it was better to improve the accuracy and cogency of the statement. Anyway, the score is Madonna 1, Jemima Lewis and her friend 0 – of course.