If you thought I was missing in action lately, you were partly right. It is nearly 18 months since I last posted here. Indeed, it is nearly 2 years since I was last in the UK. Duty calls, you understand, and sometimes overseas. But I am back now, you’ll be relieved to know.
And I can see that things have been going rapidly downhill while I’ve been trapped in southern climes. Britain is much in need of strong and clear leadership and communication.
I am raring to go.
It is right up my proverbial street, after all.
And now that I am back, I intend to See That Things Improve.
So what will change now I’m back?
First of all, we need compulsory waffle meters when it comes to this pandemic.
Not edible waffles, sadly. I mean the pandemic-related waffle that assails our poor ears from radio and TV, and on social media, day in, day out.
Do you know what the waffle means? Do you even listen? Or is it just white noise? Like Stay Alert (a slogan which is not much mourned, or even remembered, I fancy).
So, under the new Pedantique-Ryter regime, there will be a waffle-meter in the corner of every screen of every news broadcast, on TV or radio. There will also be a waffle-reading on every social media post about the pandemic.
I would go so far as to suggest that if any so-called communicator gets three consecutive high waffle ratings, he—and it usually is a he, isn’t it?—should be banned from attempting any kind of further communication until he has been on one of my communications courses. [Prices on request.]
Since the UK’s position is so dire, I will even offer a small discount for these failed communicators. Someone has to save them, after all, and it looks as if the cavalry galloping over the hill is a one-woman regiment.
In passing, an “awfy warning”, Scottish-style
BTW, anyone making comments about the “monstrous regimen[t] of women” risks being taken out and shot.
And not only because “regimen[t]”, back in John Knox’s time, meant “rule” rather than military regiment. It would also be an insult to me, demonstrating a lack of regard for my august, damely status. However, I am a merciful dame, so offenders might not be shot for a first offence.
On the other hand, if there is sufficient public pressure for serial wafflers to be taken out and shot, it may be necessary to make an example of a few.
I believe the appropriate expression is “pour encourager les autres”.
Voltaire wrote (in Candide):
Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres
[In this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, to encourage the others]
What do you think? Do you have a class of persons to substitute for Voltaire’s admirals?
Or should we go back to the days of the stocks and pelt them with sloppy waffles? I quite like that approach though it could be a waste of waffles. Rotting veg might be preferable.
However, since my return, I’ve been told that quite a lot of veg is left rotting in the fields nowadays, so you might have to go and pick your own to throw. Worth it, perhaps?
And that would at least turn the rather smug and unconcerned individual (shown right) into a more worried waffler.
As wafflers deserve to be.
After waffle and wafflers, what about “Lies, Damned Lies and…”?
…statistics? Those are seared into our souls. Remember when we were horrified by the early Covid deaths, in ones and twos, then in tens, then in hundreds? How we felt for the relatives and friends of those who were lost? And then the numbers began to rocket, with deaths increasing by thousands and tens of thousands. Numbers too big for us to imagine. That dulled the senses and lost much of the connection and sympathy for individual bereaved families.
Some understanding remained, I’m glad to say. We see it in the National Covid Memorial Wall, for example. Its empathy shines out over the unconvincing recitals of official sympathy for the thousands who “sadly died”.
I was much struck by a recent opinion piece, by Rachel Clarke, a palliative care doctor. You can read it here. In one harrowing paragraph, she included a terrible, terrible statistic of last year which should make us all shudder:
On 18 December, the Covid death toll stood at 68,442. By 19 February, it had reached 121,867. More than 50,000 deaths from Covid in two months alone…
Some figures, some statistics, are neither lies, nor damned lies, but shocking truth.
Yet the Lies remain…
Lies? Yes, I picked up on some of those, even while I was marooned thousands of miles away.
Once I got back, I discovered how many more lies I’d missed. And just how little attention was being paid. Lies, it seemed, did not matter.
Until they did.
Until the liars were caught out.
When I teach communication, I make no bones about what to do when you’re caught out:
tell the truth,
the whole truth,
and tell it immediately.
Try to cover up and you’ll fail.
The truth will come out eventually. And you’ll be pilloried. Which—I tell them—would be exactly what they’d deserve for failing to follow my damely advice.
Getting the truth out instantly hurts, and the confessing liar will be pilloried, but not for long. Public attention will move on to something else.
But compound the lies…? Try a cover-up…?
That way lies the pillory, the rotten veg and much, much worse.
The chap in the engraving above actually died in the pillory, I believe.
A Damely charger
So I’m leading the charge, on my charger, for the end of waffle and lies, and for suitable public punishment for the offenders.
I have two kinds of chargers, one equine (left), one antique silver (right).
My silver charger could do with the odd head on it. I leave it to you to put names to the guilty party or parties.
I’ll stop my rant there. It’s gone on long enough. It’s taught me a lesson though. If I leave the UK for too many months at a stretch, the place goes to the dogs with no damely hand on the tiller.
Huzzah! English is only my third language (after Gibberish and Nonsense), but first into my pillory would be those—usually business pundits on the BBC— who say “two times less bad”. I’m not even sure what that means. Twice as good? Half as dismal? Second on my list for the Decoration of the Mouldy Tomato are those in public life who use “less than” instead of “fewer” (we amateurs are allowed the occasional slip-up!).
I agree with you on the business pundits’ gibberish, dear gel. And of course I did write instructions about less than and fewer in an earlier piece here It sounds as if said pundits are not reading my damely wisdom. Sad for them.
Waffle abounds on these shores, dear dame. Thank goodness for the one woman regimen! You have been sorely missed.
Thank you for the kind thoughts, my dear Elizabeth. I have missed all of you, too.
Delighted to read of your return with my early morning tea, Dame Isadora. Your hand at the helm has been missed.
Dearest Lesley, how kind of you to say so. Best wishes to you.
The list of those requiring a dose of rotten veg has become unmanageable during your absence, ma’am. You have been much missed.
I fear you may be right, Liz dear. Let us gird our loins for the throwing thereof.