Journalistic musings......


'Sick to Death of Political Metaphors'


Metaphors, similes, analogies and idioms are all valuable parts of expression and the more observant of you will have noticed that I am not actually dying from it, as is suggested by the title, however I am utterly fed-up of being spoken to like a child. 


Recently Boris Johnson quoted a nation of grandmothers: “A stitch in time saves nine” and although I knew vaguely what he meant by this, apparently many listeners did not - as online searches for that very phrase spiked shortly after. This illustrates my point, it’s simply not clear what he meant so why didn’t Boris just clearly state what he did mean? Why is this anachronistic phrase preferred to simply saying “if you sort out a problem now it will save work later”?


Perhaps our PM is so concerned about the economy that he has taken to manual textiles to supplement his pitiful £150,402 per annum? This wouldn’t be surprising at all considering his recent plea for sympathy in the press -  ‘sources close to the PM’ say he is always “worried about money”. Encouraged by our extreme sympathy for such a plight, the British population dug deep into its’ pockets (quite literally you see, lest they’d been sewn up at Borstal) and offered to contribute some of our universal credit to his weekly budgie and brandy budget.


Sadly, we couldn’t help him as we’ve found out in recent years there’s no such thing as a ‘magic money tree’. This phrase, sound-bited (or is sound-bitten?), tirelessly recapitulated by our silver-bobbed headmistress and part-time combine-harvester, May, implied that Jeremy Corbyn had been desperately trying to grow an actual money tree in his Islington allotment. Money doesn’t grow on trees as we’re often told but I’ve never met anyone who actually thought that it does. So why couldn’t May say what she means instead of infantilising the audience with her magic metaphor. The real magic here is that after the hellish year we’ve all faced, this Conservative government appears to have broken into Jeremy’s allotment and found a fully functioning cash-conifer, bearing just enough fruit to support the economy for 6 months. Jeremy’s put bouncers outside his greenhouse.


Let’s not forget the looming spectre of Bruxellian spies, who’ve surely spotted this celestial sapling as a ‘bargaining chip’ in the incessant card game of Brexit-bridge. I’ve lost count of the number of times that cards have been ‘laid/thrown on the table’ or deals ‘taken off the table’, I’m surprised that there’s any varnish left on the damn thing. If it’s in Parliament it’s probably a priceless antique so I wonder who gets to keep it, post-brexit. Is that table on or off the table? Is it on the same table as a hard border with Northern Ireland because that’s a rather sizable piece of furniture and I like giving large dinner parties.  They surely must have bought that with a ‘blank cheque’. But I wonder, in the history of politics has anyone genuinely been given an actual blank cheque? Prove me wrong. 


In August the WHO warned they wouldn’t be able to find a ‘silver bullet’ for the fight against Covid-19. Googling spike? Did I miss the news about epidemiologists shooting guns at Covid-19 cells? This phrase is defined as a “simple and seemingly magical solution” to the complex problem. Incredibly helpful for the WHO to establish  there isn’t a magical solution to one of the worst global health crises in living memory. Let’s just be glad that Rishi Sunak has given the unemployed yet another ‘safety net’. I’m not clear if this extends beyond high-wire performers but I’m hopeful.


This latest offer has been described by Northern MP’s as a ‘kick in the teeth’, I've actually seen someone’s teeth being kicked in. I don’t know how they’d feel about the immeasurable pain and torment, casually compared to a not-quite-generous-enough employment scheme, that’s been calligraphised onto the back of a used doily. I’ve also read other party members have been “left in the cold” by these measures. Surely MP’s heating is still expensable?


The Guardian today reported that a “hyperbolic and confused message has eroded trust amongst the public” and I am not surprised by this. If you’d seen Boris declaring war on the virus the other day, you’d think we were actually calling in Dad’s Army. His sick posturing and Churchillian tropes are so ludicrously unsuited to the insidious foe Covid-19, it seems that we are all beginning to get ‘sick to our eye teeth’ with him. It’s a small encouragement that we’re still ‘world-beating’, but i’m not sure even Boris has got the right arm muscle for spanking 7.5 billion people.


Across the pond they’ve been dredging and re-irrigating as in 2016 Trump was so keen to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington that I’m rather disappointed there wasn’t a snack-hangry Crocodile waiting in the depths. And then there’s Hillary’s weaving issues; she’d committed to making a hamper so big it was going to carry half of the republican voters. I do hope that somewhere in the mid-west, that ‘basket of deplorables’ is being used to collect giant chicken eggs.


However, we have heard one unforgettable piece of political metaphor this year that I shouldn’t dare complain about. The indomitable Arlene Foster declaring “This is a battle of who blinks first, and we’ve cut off our eyelids”. 


Yikes, that one really works.