Driving on our way to a retail park the other day we found ourselves sitting in a traffic jam for the best part of ten minutes on a city road being dug up for the fourth time in recent months. Nobody seemed to be working on site though but there was, as usual, some bloke in a yellow jacket and white helmet clutching a phone to his ear while staring down a hole.  

Sorry about using the word  ‘sitting’! I forgot that in new age and newspeak Britain, where, it is reported, that many G.C.S.E  students can’t reach a decent standard in either English or Maths, I should, of course be using ‘sat in a traffic jam’ presumably also sat in a chair in the car, which seems odd, I know, as cars always had seats until recently, along with buses and trains and, until a few years back, or ‘back in the day’  as I’ve been instructed to say, chairs were reserved for sitting rooms and kitchens. Both concepts along with many others seem to have been dumped by modern Britons as apparently most prefer now to graze and eat on trays in front of a 50 inch T.V.  

Trying to keep up with the flow I did try to book a cinema ‘chair‘ the other day but to my utter astonishment the young lady behind the counter seemed not to understand what I meant. So presumably the usage is not universal, rather like those presenters on T.V. who, to demonstrate their ability to ‘get down with the kids’, add a ‘huh’ sound when pronouncing a word that starts with an aitch or haitch as they would say.

How about this confusing poster sign in a clothing retail outlet (note: ‘shop’ is very old fashioned now) advertising ‘The Seasonal Edit’. May your god know what that means as this consumer has not got a clue, but then as I have commented before, if you don’t understand the message it’s not aimed at you, which is probably why our MPs are not carrying out the instructions given to them in 2016. They obviously think the message was aimed at some other entity and not them. 

Something I find very irritating are those who insert an inflection at the end of any sentence so that a statement sounds like a question, and why do so many young women now speak with the sort of voice that it’s easy to assume they have or have had a throat infection: an affectation presumably copied from some celebrity. 

As for this ’sat‘ business: I’m only too  aware that I can remember the sayings of the late actress (it’s alright to use ‘actress’ as Vanessa Redgrave describes herself as one and insists she is not an actor) and comedian Hilda Baker, who, when not at the ‘foot of our stairs’ was ‘stood standing here’:  everything comes around again it seems.  

At least what Hilda said was audible unlike modern actors on T.V. I’m beginning to think that I’m either deaf or just not attuned to the physical channel that actors use these days to communicate with the audience, either that or the sound technicians have only been trained to NVQ 2. Which wouldn’t surprise me. Only last week a senior technician was telling me how difficult it was to get good interested young staff, something I’ve heard before in other fields.  

Odd though, that watching a recording made in the early sixties of a production of a classical play on T.V last week I could clearly hear every word spoken by cast members. What then has changed, I ask myself, perhaps it’s the new mumble speak fashion or perhaps they have just not been taught how to project their voices. 

At the other end of the communication scale we have the new ‘lords of knowledge’ in the HoC who have invented an entire new language where words can be given any meaning they wish, which is an unusual concept to say the least. Apparently this is because so many of them have been  supposedly over-educated at one of our many world beating universities.

Many of them have some sort of legal background and, given their ages now, are most probably part of the intake of trainee lawyers in the noughties whose command of English and English grammar was so poor that the Senior Training Partner of one of the top ten law firms in the U.K told me that their standard of comprehension and grammar was so bad that nearly all had to be sent on GCSE courses to bring their usage to anywhere near a satisfactory level. We are wordsmiths he said, if not how can we function?  

Now this was over twenty years ago, years before self-correcting spelling and grammar programs and text speak were available. Many of these people will now be in senior management jobs or, as seems likely, representing us in the HoC, which explains a lot. It also explains why I regularly receive letters from professionals that seem to have been written by twelve-year olds who have English as a second language. 

It seems to me that we have not seen anything yet, as in those now far off days at least universities demanded a reasonable set of A level results to gain entry to any course of study. Now it seems the ability to write and spell correctly your family name is all that is required. I’ve just heard of an 18-year-old being admitted to a B.A course at a so-called university having obtained three ‘C’s and a ‘D’. If that is representative of standards required these days the only purpose must be to keep youth unemployment numbers down. 

I often work with graduates from other countries who are not only eager to learn but provide work that is accurate and on time, in fact if corrections are needed these are usually done by return. I’m sorry to say that this is not always the case with home-grown students, many of whom have a laissez-faire attitude to spelling, grammar and accuracy, presumably having been schooled by the ‘grammar and spelling has little importance it’s the ideas that count’ attitude of many educationalists.

Have I got news for you guys. Out in the real competitive world, away from the public services and state funded sectors, nothing is farther from the truth, a shock awaits those who think otherwise. Maybe that’s why so many wish to stay in the failing economy comfort zone of the EU. 

 

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