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As I reflected on my posting yesterday in which I referred to glittering generality, I heard the word ‘stakeholders’ used twice on the radio an an interview.

In my view the only correct use of ‘stakeholders’ is the description of an angry mob descending upon a castle in Transylvania.


And another thing!

With reference to the posting below.

Another thing that is guaranteed to drive me nuts is an interviewee starting every answer with ‘So’!

So there!

Questioning Intonation

Oh I know there are much more important things to be concerned about,  but it is one of these things that is pervading the broadcast media. I suppose it started about 20 years ago and I believe it began in Australia.

It consists of someone answering a question but raising the pitch of their voice at the end of a sentence, thus making it sound like another question rather than an answer. It irritates the Hell out of me, to the extent that I have begun shouting at the radio when someone does it.

Being a regular listener to speech and news radio, my anger seems to increase on a daily basis.  Another thing that is becoming evident is the increased use of buzzwords in news interviews. Next time you hear an expert or media type being interviewed, just count the number of times they drop in the following words:

Partnership, robust, engage, stakeholders, consultation process, customers, excellence, best practice and the like.

We are drowning in a sea of glittering generality.



Love and Hate

A re-post from December 2011 inspired by the film about Liberace. The re-post includes an Eric Bogle song suggested by Toronto Tam following the first publication.

It’s quite amazing how words objects and products attain a status quite different from their original meaning or purpose.

I remember a few years ago an older relative saying to someone that it was a nice anorak they were wearing. “It’s not an anorak it’s a jacket” came the answer.


How did it progress from being an outer garment of warm rainwear to being an insult?

How does a waterproof jacket with a quilted lining become a byword for an expert in a given subject who has specialised in information to a such a degree to render it boring?

Maybe it originated with trainspotters wearing anoraks? And hasn’t that term become an insult in itself? “Aye he’s a bit of a trainspotter eh?”

When did something which was rather twee or prosaic become ‘cheesey’?

And when did ‘gay’ attain its modern connotation?

Liberace – subject of scurrilous allegations

Actually the answer to that is from fairly obscure origins in the early 20th century. However it came into its own when Liberace (successfully) sued newspapers in the 1950s for daring to suggest that he was homosexual. The media then, in reference to one of Liberace’s songs “I’ll be seeing you” referred to him as “light and gay”

Maybe you think that’s pants? Hey! there’s another one!

Then there’s trade names. Hoover became a byword for a vacuum cleaner before becoming a verb “I’m just hoovering the living room”.

A Jeep describes a 4wd utility vehicle – even if its a Landrover.

You’d think that manufacturers would be pleased that their name becomes a generic description of a product.However, Portakabin’s protection of their name is legendary in the media. Unless the building being described IS in fact a Portakabin then it should be described as a “portable modular building” or similar according to their solicitors Messrs Sue, Grabitt and Runne.

There’s quite an amusing account of how Private Eye dealt with a letter from them here.

Some changes in language and connotation have been quite deliberate on the part of manufacturers and service providers. I’m not sure if it was ever humorous to ask an ATM “Is the manager in?” in the style of the old Bank of Scotland ad. People still refer to their ‘flexible friend’ when talking about their credit card due to an ad for Access from thirty years ago. Who’d have thought the word ‘compare’ would ever have people immediately think of an irritating song or a meerkat?

Who would ever have imagined that a yeast extract spread could define love and hate? or describe polarised opinion on everything from literature, music, arts and politics?

or Christmas?


This is a re-post from January 2008, inspired by reading this article from the Guardian.


It’s a wonderful word isn’t it? Readers may remember a previous post  where I quoted a delegate at a seminar I was attending that day “There needs to be a process where we engage agencies and stakeholders in a holistic approach requiring a place-shaping delivery agenda which aspires towards the most mutually acceptable local outcome”. Well folks I have made an amazing discovery. All this jargon it would seem emanates from a website called bullshit generator – what fun can be had there. Simply click a button and hey presto! some meaningless modern phrase appears before your very eyes!

I had a few clicks and came up with:

“expedite one-to-one solution delivery monetize cross-platform infrastructures evolve holistic partnerships”

It really is quite scary but I have a feeling that each report and document produced by every public body from the local council to the EU has been put together by reference to this site

or should I say……

Could it be that by a mission critical interactive process, agencies and facilitators are availing themselves of the evident cross-media delivery, seamlessly strategised in a robust proactive manner by this intuitive provider ?

Current Affairs. Affairs of Currency.

pistoleThis is a Pistole bearing the head of William III of England or William II (and other things) as he was known in Scotland. The Pistole was one of the last coins struck in Scotland. It was a gold coin worth twelve Pounds (Scots) or One Pound Sterling. It was minted for the purposes of the disastrous Darien Scheme.

King William III/II was the guy directly responsible for the Massacre of Glencoe. He may be familiar to Scottish football fans and those who witness Orange walks as depicted on his white steed.

King Billy indeed.

Despite the massacre and its circumstances William is still regarded in high praise, indeed eulogised by sections of society here.

Scotland can be like that.

Anyway, I digress.

This is a bawbee: from the reign of Charles II at a time when Scotland shared a monarchy but not a parliament with England.COPPER-BAWBEE-CHARLES-II
This is a groat from the time of David II of Scotland (1329-1371)


The pound Scots (Scots: Pund Scots) was the unit of currency in the Kingdom of Scotland before the kingdom unified with the Kingdom of England in 1707. It was introduced by David I, in the 12th century, on the model of English and French money, divided into 20 shillings each of 12 pence. The Scottish currency was later debased relative to sterling and, by the time of James III, the pound sterling was valued at four pounds Scots.

In addition to the pound Scots, silver coins were issued denominated in merk, worth 13 shillings 4 pence (two thirds of a pound Scots). When James VI became King James I of England in 1603, the coinage was reformed to closely match that of England, with 12 pounds Scots equal to the pound sterling. In 1707, the pound Scots was replaced by the pound sterling at a rate of 12 to 1, although the pound Scots continued to be used in Scotland as a unit of account for most of the 18th century.

I’m a wee bit concerned that the pound Scots lost eleven twelfths of its value over time.

All this is just a look at history, but there is now a serious body of opinion recommending that Scotland have its own currency in the event of a yes vote in next year’s referendum. Whilst the return of bawbees, groats and pistoles seems rather unlikely, I’m reminded of a former Scottish Parliament initiative which offered translation into some quaint ersatz language, which I doubt anyone ever spoke. Certainly in my more than 50 years in the country I never witnessed anything like this outwith the pages of the Sunday Post cartoon section:

Gib-1-Scottish parliament Gaelic.tif

Scottish Parliament literature on how it can help the Scots Simon Walters copy

The ‘Pairlament’ seems to have quietly dropped the Scots translations presumably because no one used them and they held the whole country up to ridicule they were so popular there were frequent server errors.

Anyhoo I digress again. People have pointed to Iceland where their own small circulation currency has been cited as the reason that their economy has been able to recover so quickly from the catastrophe of a few years ago. Whist this is true it is worth pointing out that it was also a large part of the reason they got into trouble in the first place.
The risk of a repeat of there woes is so great there that they want to join the Euro……

A few weeks ago I made the point that I didn’t know how I would vote in the referendum because I wasn’t clear on what I was being asked to decide upon on many issues. It’s good that the debate has developed but there hasn’t been any increase in clarity on those issues. Indeed the waters have been muddied.

The SNP want to remain in Sterling and the EU post independence. Neither the EU nor the remaining UK it would appear want Scottish independence. The EU have made clear that Scotland would have to apply for membership and new applicants must commit to the Euro.

The SNP want independence. But do they? They want the monarch of the UK to remain as head of state, they want the Bank of England to remain the central bank with all its power over money supply, interest rates and the like. And by default on that they want to keep Sterling. I heard John Swinney yesterday say that the UK would not want to lose an independent Scotland from the ‘Sterling zone’ because it would affect the remaining UK’s balance of payments!

Clearly the SNP envisage continuing monetary union but with the freedom to decide on fiscal policy unilaterally.

That’s not independence.

That’s picking and choosing.

Michty Me!