Saturday, July 27, 2019

Style Over Substance

The election of Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore as Prime Minister (pro tem) has produced some disquieting changes in its wake. Johnson, beholden to the strange people who believe that the British Empire is not dead but just resting, has appointed Jacob Rees-Mogg as Leader of the Commons. And Mogg, reverting to type, has made his first instruction to his staff a set of rules about grammar and English usage in written communications.

 One might think that there were more pressing matters than insisting that all non-titled men should have Esq. affixed to their names and banning words like "unacceptable","very"," disappointment", "equal", "lot" and "ongoing" (though I'm with him on that last one). But Mogg has more serious issues with which to grapple. He has also insisted on the use of Imperial measurements. It is not clear which Empire he has in mind - possibly the one so brilliantly led by President G. Khan whose inspiring use of impalement as a way of settling political disputes has clarified many a knotty debate during the long hot summers in Karakorum.

But be that as it may, let us eavesdrop on a meeting with one of his senior advisors.

"Sir, great news, Adam Peaty has won a gold medal in the fifty metre breaststroke at the World championships"
"We'll have that again correctly, shall we, Rutherford?"
 "Sorry sir. Adam Peaty Esq, a non-titled gentleman and citizen of the Empire has achieved meritorious success at the fifty-four point six eight yard breaststroke"
"How much is that in rods and perches?"
 "I make it about nine point nine four rods, sir"
 "That seems highly creditable."
 "And we've researched the auction you were interested in, sir. There's a very nice snuff box in lot 38"
 "No, Rutherford"
 "I mean in, er, in that segment of the auction that is identified as, er ...."
 "Your conduct is unacceptable, Rutherford. I'm disappointed in you. Very disappointed."
 There is a long uncomfortable silence.
"Perhaps I'm not equal to this line of work after all, Rutherford. Carry on, would you. I think I left my old service revolver with my second footman ...."

[All Imperial measurements have been checked with those helpful folk at Google. Er, Google Esq. No, dammit, those helpful folk, Esq at Messrs. Google. Damn, that's French, Moggy won't like that. Look, just forget the whole thing, would you. Ed]

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