Anyone who knows me will give a glowing reference about what a splendid chap I am; tolerant of everything and everyone, never complaining, praising people 365/24/7, never bearing grudges – you get the picture. But there are two things in the UK that can turn me from Father Teresa into Most Wanted at the dropping of a full stop.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – because this blog is not about food, I will leave that as a given. But however important breakfast may be, it is becoming increasingly difficult to swallow my Stoke Newington important-meal-of-the-day organic oats drizzled with grated Nicaraguan cashew nuts when the tiresome Sarah Montague moves her lips towards the microphone in the BBC Radio 4 Today studio.
Montague has a distinguished academic, business and journalism record so it comes as a surprise that she would metaphorically snug up on the bench to football luminaries Steve Bruce, Big Sam Allardyce and Alan Shearer with her incessant usage of the odious phrase ‘in terms of’. I’ve heard Bruce say ‘he’s gone and went down the wing’; I’ve heard Big Sam say ‘today was about our lack of ability to not produce the ability we have got’; and I’ve heard Shearer say, ‘in terms of Wayne Rooney’. So for a person of her alleged expertise as a broadcaster it is indeed a great shame that she reverts to ‘ITO’ when she needs to buy a few seconds to gather her train of thought.
To Ms Montague and everyone who makes a living from kicking a football to those teaching them how to I say this: stop using ‘in terms of’. It is a lazy and sloppy way of wasting words. If you mean ‘relating to’, how about saying that instead? Or try saying nothing and just ask the damn question without it.
Now I’ve got that off my chest, allow me to indulge myself in a facet of UK life that also makes me reach for the keyboard rifle. When I was a lad up to when I was well on the way to being a responsible adult with wife and two kids, removals companies, lorries and vans had logos and straplines that described what they did, which was handy, in case you might want to purchase their services. There was Knights of the Road, Pickfords Removals, Salford Van Hire. You knew what they were doing.
But in an era where the 2012 Olympic Games logo devised by brand agency Wolf Ollins cost UK taxpayers a reported £400,000 (I might add that had either of my lads brought that design home from a school art lesson, I would have sued the local education authority) then perhaps I should not be surprised that removals companies, lorries and vans are now not being driven by a man (or woman) with a rolled-up copy of the Sun on the dashboard and delivering stuff. Nope, they are now ‘redfining logistics’. So that’s what they are doing is it? It may come as an absolute surprise that if the traffic on the M1 is flowing, he (or she) will deliver on time. If there are lots of cones outside Watford Gap Services he (or she) will not deliver on time and he (or she) may stop for a fry-up at Leicester Forest East. But one thing is for certain, the stout person behind the wheel is not ‘redefining logisitcs’ and nor is the company that has hired his (or her) services.
The copywriting dipsticks who come up with ‘travel yourself interesting’ (Expedia) ‘#fooddancing is living well’ (Sainsbury’s) and ‘he feels epic’ (moneysupermarket.com) think they are ‘edgy’. They are not – feeding the monster that is slowly throttling to a slow death the once great English language is nothing to be proud of.