It’s a rum old thing, and one that confounds linguists, but there’s an inherent paradox in language. When we communicate a message, the logic of the sentence will often have little bearing on how it will be interpreted. Audiences bring their fears, preferences, and very often their psychoses to the table, and then home in on the terms that delight or perturb them the most.
It’s all part and parcel of the human condition, but lamentably one that modern-day politicians don’t seem to have grasped. That’s akin to chefs feeling uncomfortable with handling food.
Accordingly, the statement from Grant Shapps that there was ‘no petrol shortage’ would have been abbreviated to ‘petrol shortage’ in the deepest recesses of our most troubled minds.
Add to this a common tendency to take any given statement and attribute even a directly contrary meaning into it, and any seemingly unequivocal statement can trigger unintended interpretation.
It’s why savvy football club owners rarely confirm their full support for a treacle-wading head coach.
In this vein, expressly stating that Michael Gove were a fine upstanding man and absolutely in no way a charlatan would be read by some to mean precisely the opposite. We are so attuned to doublespeak that what should be an exercise in listening and understanding become one of unending analysis.
And so it came to pass. Drivers descended on garage forecourts and drained the pumps, causing yet more disruption to a nation already on a downward trajectory characterised by chaos. Many of those now replenished motors will now of course sit on drives for the foreseeable future and be used only for obesity-inducing weekly forays to Tesco. Nurses and other key workers will in the meantime have to spin the roulette wheel on whether they can still rock up to work on Monday, but that’s how processes and causation work. If you put absurdity in, you get absurdity out.
The same applies to elections, which should now be patently obvious.
Exemplifying the current state of the nation – and what a state it’s in – was Johnson himself, who stood before the world at the United Nations and directly quoted Kermit the Frog. Well, as a small consolation, we had our biggest-ever muppet delivering the killer line – a line that strangled a few more strands of our dwindling national credibility.
I had to cover my face in abject embarrassment even though I was watching it home alone.
Given their desire for power only and their disdain for the role, these jokers aren’t jobsworths. They’re wordsworths but in no way Wordsworths.
At least there’ll be no national shortage of piss. This Government has taken it all.