Clichés! Blimey, avoiding these things isn’t rocket science. I mean, we didn’t ought to go down that road. I had a go at them, anyway, in the little moan I usually insert into Bill Everatt’s Underground Edition, while he’s not looking. What brought on this particular rant was all this talk of a ‘Brown bounce’ yet another political cliché. Here’s what I said.
Oh, dear, here we go again. If its not Blairs babes or the Third Way or a double whammy or a stakeholder or whatever other nauseating clichés politicians like to come out with to make us think theyre doing their jobs, now we get the Brown Bounce. Throughout the last two weeks or so, every newspaper has had it: there are Brown bounces all over the place.
It makes you wonder whether, each time it bounces, it leaves a little stain on the floor. Brown bounce, indeed! You cant help but get a picture of clingfilm stretched tightly over the lavvy pan. But lets not go down that road.
Now theres another cliché: lets not go down that road. You cant do without them, really. Well, you can, but theyre hard to avoid. Theyre all around us.
But it does come up a lot in politics not just among the politicos themselves, but among the journos who report on the politicos. And theres another form of cliché: the clichéd single-word bit of shorthand: politico, journo.
But have you noticed how the politicos like to be singing from the same hymn sheet? Theyre all on message, see, but theres that bit of religious nonsense thrown in, too. Makes us feel good about them. Unless, like me, youre not exactly sympathetic towards religion. Or politicians.
Then theres the road map. You cant just do something these days: there has to be a road map.
However, sources close to the said politicos say all their clichés are in a safe pair of hands and have been ring-fenced to avoid mission creep. We wouldnt want a Ministry of Defence cliché finding its way into the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, now would we?
That would be a recipe for disaster, after all and we all know there are no easy answers to that nightmare scenario. So we must be absolutely clear about this, no knee-jerk reactions because lessons must be learned. Provided we stay on message theres no need to have to think the unthinkable.
OK, thats enough of those. The sorts of cliché that really get up my nose, though, are those that are plain illogical. One comes to mind, and Ill bet youll never use this one again without thinking about this: and its back to back.
How many times have you heard a DJ say hes going to play three Kaiser Chiefs singles back to back, or the BBC is running three episodes of a drama series back to back? Think about it for a moment. It is possible to have two things back to back (provided one of them is playing backwards, of course), but not three, unless the one in the middle has two backs.
Go on: think about it. Its impossible. So why do idiots say it?
It comes from the description of back-to-back houses, of course, when the back of one was facing the back of another. That meant the front of one was facing the front of another, too.
Now if you want a DJ to play the latest from the Klaxons or the Spice Boys back to back, youll have to listen to one of them going schlurrp-durrp and sounding like a Klingon speaking Swedish in Russian. Because that one will be playing backwards.
So stop it, do you hear? Its a silly cliché and Ill hear no more of it.
In fact is another one. In fact, I hate it. But why do I need to say in fact if what Im stating is being stated as a fact? And if it aint a fact we usually say so, with phrases such as, Well I think . . . or In my opinion . . .
In fact is used as a bit of reinforcement for something youve already made plain. As you can see, he is in fact sitting here with me now. Er, yes, I can see that that is, indeed, a fact. You are in fact drinking tea. I was rather hoping it was that, and not sulphuric acid. This word is often combined with actual, to make in actual fact. If youre not sure of your facts, it seems, you might be better making them actual facts.
Then theres of course, of course. This is often used by news presenters on radio and TV. Cornelius Pingblatt, who of course used to play left-handed croquet as a boy . . . Silly me! I should have known. And if you need to say of course you obviously think its well known, so why say it in the first place? You often hear it said by sports broadcasters: Beckham, whose father Ted was of course a kitchen fitter and Manchester United fan . . ., for example, or Beckham, whose other given names are Robert Joseph . . . Now these happen to be true, but did you know that unless youre an extraordinarily devoted fan and sad enough to cram your mind with all the minutiae?
Of course you didnt. In fact, neither did I of course.
Bloody clichés. Avoid em like the plague, I say.