Peter Rhodes on offensive words, jobs for the ladies and the siege you've probably never heard of
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
Pedant corner. My recent reference to prisoners-of-war as PoWs should, of course, read PsoW. It's grammatically correct but looks stupid.
The re-education of Britain proceeds apace with the Royal College of Nursing telling nurses to avoid certain words and to use others. Thus “lady” is a no-no but “woman” is fine. Until you encounter that curious thing called real life. A nurse wants to address all the female patients in her ward. What could be more natural, inclusive and polite than “Good morning, ladies” and what sort of politically-correct clot would substitute: “Good morning, women”?
Another branch of the equality and diversity brigade is up in arms at the news that only two women applied to be the next governor of the Bank of England. Twenty-one of the 23 applicants were male. Well, so what? Maybe women couldn't abide sitting in a bank counting money and worrying about interest rates all day. Maybe they didn't want to be called Governor but have no desire to be called Governess, either. Meanwhile, as I have mentioned before, of the 43,168 midwives in Britain only 188 are men and I can't recall anyone raising a peep of protest. Equality and diversity are noble ambitions but certain people will always prefer certain professions.
It is strange, too, how some people find employment that echoes their surname. I am due at an NHS clinic next week for a procedure which I am assured is quite painless. It will be carried out by a Miss Hurt.
“Britain’s hedgehogs could be at greater risk after Brexit because hedges may no longer be protected by agriculture regulations, a report says.” This odd example of anti-Brexitism came from the Guardian. Similar items welcomed.
After my recent item on Rome being sacked by the barbarians (this column is not always bang up-to-date with the news), a reader writes: “Just how do you sack a city?” He suggests the Romans should have employed solicitors specialising in unfair dismissal. Good point. And while we're on it, how do cities get razed to the ground? It's a puzzle, innit?
Incidentally, there's loads of sack and pillage in the excellent new Netflix series, Ottoman, which describes the epic siege of Constantinople in 1453. Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror destroyed the last outpost of the Roman Empire at the age of just 21. It is a revelation. In the West we don't learn much about Muslim history, probably because our education system has its roots in Christianity, and the fall of Constantinople was, to put it mildly, a bad day for the Church.
The spokesman for the Dunn family, whose son Harry was killed in a road accident with a US driver in Northamptonshire, has denounced the US State Department as cowards. Mistake. If we have learned anything from 100 years of American popular culture, it is that if you really want to make a Yank dig his heels in, call him yeller.