(Oxford comma added by Pedantic Ed).
A great movie – and Ms Tamsin Parker thinks so too. She went to see the movie at the British Film Institute on Sunday (for the eighth time!), with her sister Sabrina, as a 25th birthday treat, and laughed loudly (she has Asperger’s Syndrome) – but only at scenes which are supposed to be funny. Nevertheless she was removed from the cinema (accompanied by abusive shouts and cheers from oiks in the audience). The BFI has since apologised (quite right too – Ed – though it’s a shame the ill-mannered audience members haven’t also apologised).
The title is also fitting for the main Business Bit this week (as the titles always are — Ed) – which, as promised last week, is George Orwell’s six rules for writing.
Mr O was not only a severe critic of totalitarianism, but also (by some) regarded as a pedant – which really means that he cared greatly for the beauty and clarity of English used correctly (non-Pedantic Ed).
We can do no better than to quote the great man verbatim —
“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
1. What am I trying to say?
2. What words will express it?
3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
“And he will probably ask himself two more:
1. Could I put it more shortly?
2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
“One can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous”
This was written over 70 years ago – but is just as relevant today.
What’s the relevance for your business? Well – if Mr O were to read your sales proposals/website/promotional material ect ect, would he give you a clean bill of health? Or a metaphorical clip round the ear?
And if you want to try them out on a critical (though friendly) audience, you could always run them past your TAB Board!
Enough business already – time to move on to the oddities section –
And we start with an update on two of last week’s stories:
• …. the bad news is that the Adventure, the three foot long toy ship (owned by Ollie and Harry Ferguson) which had sailed most of the way across the Atlantic, has finally suffered battery failure and contact has been lost (though the boys’ father still hopes it’ll turn up on a beach somewhere) ….
• …. but the good news is that Richard III’s trial (beforeLlady Justice Hallett) ended in an acquittal (hurrah – Ed)
• the appointment of Mr Sajid Javid as Home Secretary caused Mr Sadiq Khan (the Mayor of London) to comment “you wait fifty years for the son of an immigrant Pakistani bus driver to achieve high office, and two turn up at once” (respect!)
• if you’re a member of the People’s Front of Judaea, you will recall that the answer to the question “what have the Romans ever done for us?” includes roads (as well as sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, the fresh-water system, public health, and peace) – and boffins from Copenhagen and Gothenburg have confirmed this by studying satellite photographs which identify continued modern economic development along the route of Roman roads
• if you’ve nurtured a long term ambition to learn a foreign language, you’re probably too late – a study from MIT reveals that it’s almost impossible to achieve mastery of a foreign language unless you start learning it before the age of ten
• two research teams are running neck and neck for this week’s I-Could-Have-Told-You-That Prize – the guys from the Uni of Pittsburgh reckon they’ve proved that beer goggles really do exist (i.e. that we find other people more attractive after we’ve been drinking), while the Office for National Statistics tell us that professionals earning more than £40,000 p.a. are much more likely to drink regularly than those with lower salaries (err…. maybe it’s because they can afford it?)
• exciting stuff from the wonderful world of the techies –
• …. although the traditional (in some quarters) art of throwing a sickie is apparently going into decline, there’s still hope – boffins at Queen’s Uni (in Kingston, Canada) have developed a whizzy system which will enable you to beam a hologram of yourself into the office (the system is called TeleHuman 2 – one dreads to think what happened to TeleHuman 1) ….
• …. Ford has developed a “multimodal transportation apparatus” (1/10 – see me after class – G Orwell) – in other words, a car which includes a motorcycle (rather like the Batmobile, which could deploy the Batpod at a moment’s notice) ….
• …. if you’re too lazy to use Tinder, why not contact the Virtual Dating Assistant service – for a mere £400 to £1,200 a month, their helpful staff will blitz the most attractive dating profiles with one-liners, and secure dates for you (after that you’re on your own) ….
• …. and if you suffer from noisy neighbours, help is at hand – researchers at Nanying Uni (in Singapore) have developed noise-cancelling windows for your house
• Prof Kirk Chang (of Salford Business School) reported to the British Psychological Society that if you (as the boss) engage in a good gossip with your staff it will improve team morale ….
• …. and a team from Nottingham Trent Uni (speaking to the same audience) broke the news that talking to yourself (out loud) might help your decision-making (vindication for Mrs Ed, whose solving of puzzles in the Times is generally accompanied by a running commentary) ….
• …. they wouldn’t go down too well at Amazon – Mr Jeff Bezos has insisted that not only are Powerpoint presentations banned, but that meetings start with all those present reading (in silence) a narratively structured proposal memo (with “real sentences and verbs”), often resulting in the first half hour of the meeting taking place in total silence
• despite last week’s report that new words tend to have a short lifespan, neologisms continue to flourish, not least in the Urban Dictionary, which in the twenty years or so of its life has accumulated 2.7 million entries. These tend to be rather less formal hem hem than those in the OED, and include some real belters, such as “Cricket (noun): a game of skill and gentlemanly conduct, where everyone hates the Australians equally”, “Momarazzi (noun): a gaggle of mothers taking smartphone pictures of their children’s sports team”, and “Glasgow (proper noun): Paris after a nuclear holocaust” (a slur on a fine city – Ed)
• a satisfying diplomatic exchange in Washington – the British Ambassador (Sir Kim Darroch) visited the White House, and subsequently tweeted “from Scottish stonemasons to English archtiects, the UK played an invaluable role in the design of this iconic building and the diplomacy in it” – less than an hour later M Gérard Araud (the French Ambassador) added “… and in the burning of it in 1815”, whereupon Our Man replied “I was wondering who would be the first to say that, but, Gérard, unusually your history is a little inaccurate. It was 1814. Something else happened in 1815….” (France 0, Britain 1)
• the footy season is almost over (hurrah and huzzah – Ed), but if your team hasn’t done particularly well, there’s always others worse off than you – you could be a Brechin City supporter (maybe you are?? ….). The mighty City have made history by being the first team for 126 years to go through the entire season without winning a game (P 36 W 0 D 4 L 32). However, Mr Ken Ferguson (the chairman) said he had no intention of sacking Mr Darren Dods (the manager) (respect – other teams please copy – Ed)
• and finally, you will (we are sure hem hem) have been gripped by election fever this week. It is a commonplace that the average age of members of the Conservative Party is in the high 60’s and rising, but now it seems that it’s even more true for the candidates – Ms Florence Kirkby stood for the Tories in Newcastle upon Tyne, promising to promote elderly issues …. Ms K is 96
On to Columbo Corner, and two unrelated stories this week:
1) if you’re getting bored with NetFlix, you could always try NapFlix (the online video platform with the stated intention of helping you get to sleep). Current programme offerings include the Tour de France 1952, a crossword puzzle tournament, and Matthew McConaughey’s Watching Rain.
2) and last weekend saw Blighty’s first Flat Earth Convention (previous conferences of the Trades Union Congress don’t count – Ed). The 200 delegates debated whether the Earth is a disc or a square (shielded by a dome), but all agreed that it isn’t spherical. Those of us who do believe this were dismissed as “globers” or “ballers”, and there were some splendid theories on display, including that there’s a secret civilization at the North Pole, that the Moon is a projection, and that NASA has hidden land and resources beyond Antarctica (near consensus on this one). Mr Darren Nesbitt (a musician from Manchester) said that he had “mutli-veriifiable evidence” that the world is flat, and that no one could ever fall off a flat Earth because of the Pac-Man effect (when characters exited the game on one side of the screen they reappeared on the other) (how well I remember it – Ed). Mr Dave Marsh based his Moon projection theory on “detailed experiments in his garden”. Mr M is an NHS manager ….
Have a great weekend – and if your Virtual Dating Assistant has got you a date, beware of your beer goggles ….
Cheers for now
I presently run three Boards –
Dark Blue (for people who run large businesses) – one spare seat
Light Blue (for people who run large businesses) — two spare seats
White Board (for people who run fast-growing businesses) — two spare seats
“Talking to yourself is OK – answering back is risky” (Brian Spellman)
“What I like best about cell phones is that I can talk to myself in the car now and nobody thinks it’s weird” (Ron Brackin)
“Unlike the U.S., Iran has no problems with low-voter turnout in elections; the last time, the government got the support of 110 per cent of the population” (Max Jobrani)
By Tom Morton – TAB Harrogate