Some words are better left unsaid. Words such as Arwen, Barra, Malik or Corrie, for example.
It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good and that’s true of the consecutive storms that have horribly battered and bruised the area, doing no one any good, except perhaps tree surgeons and chainsaw dealers.
But leaving one word unsaid can have significant consequences. Take the word “inadvertent”. I inadvertently saw dancer turned magician’s assistant turned actress, Debbie McGee, doing the splits live on TV this week.
Normally that’d put me off my porridge, especially as if I’d tried that it would have painfully stretched much more than my credibility. Good for her, though.
I considered asking Mrs F that if Debbie, 63, could manage that in front of watching millions, it’d be magic to see if she could do it, too. Wisely, I resisted the temptation.
It wasn’t the week’s only eye-watering moment on TV. Poor-old Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP, Ian Blackford, the tetchy SNP leader at Westminster, purple-faced with frustration, was summarily removed by Mr Speaker from the House of Commons for failing to insert the word “inadvertently” between “prime minister” and “misled the House” when accusing the PM of what Winston Churchill once called “terminological inexactitude”.
To those who didn’t read classics at Oxbridge or weren’t brought up in households who called dinnertime luncheon, called the bog the lavatory, called deep-fried scampi langoustines in tempura or who still called their parents mummy and daddy even when they were OAPs, such linguistic lambadas seem like just another gulf between ordinary folk and those in political power who love lording it up over the rest of us.
Apologies if I have inadvertently tarred every elected member with the same brush but I was raised to tell the truth in all circumstances.
That seems to have inadvertently escaped senior ministers, on all sides, since the mid-19th Century when Erskine May’s guide to parliamentary practice, called “A treatise on the law, privileges, proceedings and usage of Parliament,” was published.
It states that “good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language”. That’s why even when parliamentarians are obviously lying through their teeth, you can’t accuse them of doing so.
Inadvertently economical with the truth, perhaps, but deliberate liars, no.
Trying to snare the PM, as Mr Blackford discovered, is akin to tying one’s shoelaces wearing mittens, grabbing a bar of soap from under the bathwater or cutting one’s own hair while looking in a mirror. The outcome is rarely successful.
It was fun, though, as tempers frayed, to hear Mr Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, testily tell an excitable member, in his best Lancashire brogue, to “shoot oop”.
If Erskine May was alive today, he’d be turning in his grave.
There’s been plenty of other inadvertent goings-on this week, including card companies taking £99 from accounts of those using Pay at Pump facilities at fuel stations then failing to give back the outstanding balance immediately as promised. Inadvertent theft, I call it.
Then there’s Aberdeen Airport now charging an outrageous £4 for a 10-minute drop-off at the site. It’s profiteering and inadvertent greenwashing.
Like Debbie McGee’s side-splitting suppleness, it’s almost beyond belief.
Ryanair used to charge less to fly to Spain, although 10 minutes in one of their planes might be enough for me.
I recently had to spend 30 minutes in an MRI scanner in hospital and swear I’d more room there than on a charter flight.
It’s good to have a reassuring voice in the Doric language now available to guide those in the MRI scanner at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, putting a welcome smile on Doric-speaking patients’ faces.
When I was there, having a smile on my face was the least of my worries, especially in my loosely-tied surgical gown, but I’d rather hear the dulcet tones of my couthie columnist colleague, Robbie Shepherd, than some disembodied electronic voice.
I wish our rich Scots languages and dialects could be used at Westminster. Frustrated MPs could then openly call the PM a bletherin’ skite and rather than seeking genuine contrition, tell him succinctly to awa and bile his heid.
Or just “shoot oop,” as Mr Speaker might want to opine. Inadvertently, of course.