• neil

Day 73 (29 May): Mr. Grumpy

This morning, on glancing at the BBC news on my phone, my eyes were assaulted by the words. ‘Virus Not Gone Away Despite Lockdowns Easing

The sirens went off, the Grumpy Neurons fired up and, for want of anywhere better to froth from, I began frothing at the mouth. I had to sit down, mop my fevered brow and practice circular breathing.

What is the BBC coming to? We didn’t fight two world wars for this! Which, of course, is perfectly true.

But there are limits sir! The heading is grammatically correct but, and it is an Everest sized but, it is surely not what the writer meant. Writing what you mean, as opposed to its complete opposite is surely the ABC of journalism. Dock ten house-points for the journalist and relocate the editor to Manchester.

In case the title does not assault your tender sensibilities as grievously as it does mine here is my explanation:

  1. Lockdown decreases virus risk as it decreases the opportunities for contagion.

  2. Easing lockdowns increases the risk of viral transmission but is undertaken for economic and social reasons.

  3. The message our poor journalist meant to convey is ‘Lockdown to be eased despite virus not having gone away.

All that emotion before getting on the outside of the morning porridge.

To calm down I had to take a stroll round the garden where I noted without unbridled joy that Alfie has crushed a dozen of my new plants. There was no point in getting cross with her as there is no way to explain the concept of plant distancing to a dog.

Result: Dog still living despite having destroyed plants.

Or in BBC English: Plants destroyed despite dog still living.

She thinks she is being punished but that is only because I have put us both on a diet. Or each of us on our own diet to be more precise in my use of language. I should be careful myself now because those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Which is fine as far as it goes - but unfortunately it does seem to give carte blanche to brick house dwellers, wood house dwellers and stick house dwellers to indulge in bouts of lapidation.

Are the Three Little Pigs entitled to start lobbing rocks at other fairy tale creatures on the grounds that they are not covered by the above-mentioned restrictive clause? Am I the only one concerned by this?

Because, while we are on the subject of fairy stories, I would like to mention that their moral framework is frequently suspect. Take those pigs.The wolf falls down the chimney. Do they restrain him using the minimum amount of force appropriate to the circumstances? They do not.

They arrange for him to fall into a pot of boiling water. Which apart from being somewhat disproportionate is something I have always found particularly unbelievable - because who has a pot big enough to hold a wolf? Go and check beneath the sink now and get back to me.

And while we are on a rant (I do hope you have joined me) I would like to gather in a few threads from earlier posts about dating. The fairy tale luuurve model is beyond bizarre. Take Cinderella (and put her in the same place you just put those pigs); she is identified on the basis of being the only person in the realm of a particular shoe size. The prince was presumably incapable of providing a coherent description of his beloved.

Take Sleeping Beauty. The prince, one presumes a different prince, having hacked his way through dense undergrowth, sees a body and thinks ‘Oh that been there for a hundred years. I’ll just go over and kiss it.'

Take Rapunzel. Another prince - don't go looking for socially inclusive in fairy tales. This one is, of course, climbing up his girlfriend's hair. How did she brace herself? Did she nail her feet to the floor first? In real life you would be halfway up the tower and she would come whistling past you on her way down. I don’t mean she would be whistling a tune. But who knows? 'Hi Ho! Hi Ho! A bad idea I know!'

On the whole if you want to bring your kids up with a bit of harmless fantasy you would be better off reading them political manifestos.

Have a very nice Friday my little chickadees!



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