Saturday, July 26, 2008
Stick this in your window (in seventy words)
What can I say when this speaks so eloquently for itself? Please, take the time to savour the carefully crafted prose. Appreciate the attention to detail that the Environment Agency lavish on such an apparently small and insignificant detail - if they care this much about a three inch square of paper, what safe hands our rivers, lock cottages &c. must be in. Indeed, we can all sleep more peacefully in our beds knowing that up and down the waterways of this great nation, while clumsily deployed British Waterways licences may be displayed with no thought to whether the obverse or the reverse should be facing the user for transom affixment, EA certificates will be lined up smartly like soldiers awaiting a royal inspection.
Alternatively, they could have said, 'stick this in your window'.
But where's the magic in that? Where is the expansion of our vocabulary? Yes, I mock, but really I secretly love this arcane language. I'm glad they do it. It's easy to poke fun at it, and that's part of the reason, but it does represent something wonderfully old fashioned; one of the good things about the past, when people used the English language in all its variety and complexity, without shame or fear of elitism, to communicate rather than obfuscate. It's not the meaningless jargon of modern companies' 'mission statements', or the weasel waffle of politicians with their feel-good buzz words. It may be excessive, but it's good English; all the words mean something, and once you get over its redundancy, it does make sense.
So as a gesture of my admiration, I shall, forthwith, deploy my square of sticky plastic as advised, and I shall mock no more. Also, I have decided that henceforth I shall write 'etc' in Victorian fashion as above; it looks so much more elegant. Kindly pass me my quill...