TAKE down the flags, unfurl the bunting and stash away those clichés about the rain not dampening spirits.
As the Diamond Jubilee jamboree comes to an end the Queen may wish to reflect that, while she has won the support of a majority of her subjects, she has lost her language. With exquisite timing, the Queen’s English Society has announced that it will fold due to lack of interest.
The group’s chairman, Rhea Williams, said the 40-year-old association will cease to exist at the end of this month after just 22 people turned up at its AGM and none of them volunteered to fill any of the committee positions.
As the kind of pedant who insists on saying “compared with” rather than “compared to”, I’m sad to see the end of the QES. It was good to know there was a group raging against the misuse of the apostrophe and the abuse of the word “less”. But I never understood why the society held up the Queen’s use of the language as the ideal to which we should aspire.
As a well-educated 86-year-old woman it is likely that she speaks better English than most of us. But, as the countless fawning profiles of the Queen pointed out this week, the one thing the monarch never does is give interviews.
She is the only famous person in this country whose every public utterance is scripted. And it’s much easier to make sure your syntax is in order when you don’t have to speak off the cuff or respond to an interviewer’s questions.
So who should we aspire to mimic? The answer lies just down the road in Bradford.
I don’t think much of his politics, or his ego, but you have to admire the way George Galloway uses language. The Respect leader forms perfect sentences, one beautifully-enunciated line flowing after the other, like a volley of shots straight to the heart of his enemy.
If nothing else, he’s a great advert for the Scottish education system. Having said that, I have to admit that “George Galloway’s English Society” is not going to catch on.