Last week’s flurry of smirking delight over Rex Tillerson’s refusal to disown ‘fucking moron’ set me musing once again on the alchemy of the soundbite.
Those two words will hang around Trump’s neck for the remainder of his presidency. Supporters, detractors, players and commentators, no-one will ever forget them, or see the President without them muttering in the background. It reminded me of the dawn of the Trump candidacy. At first, in those long ago halcyon days, the whole idea was an absurdity. Trump was blowing off wind, as was his wont, but as to his becoming President – what, The President? Of America? Seriously?
And then I heard the words ‘Make America Great Again’, and I thought ‘uh oh’.
So, four words made him Mr President; now two hobble him forever as President dumbo.
Never underestimate the power of words.
Government communications have improved immeasurably in my lifetime.
When I was young, pretty much everything originating from an official body had to be translated from a near-impenetrable Pathé News polysyllabic porridge. Somewhere along the line, someone grasped the novel notion that communications should actually, well, communicate, and with the help of the likes of the Plain English campaign, great progress has been made in making things accessible to people who don’t read a great deal. Which, let’s face it, is a lot of people.
So I was a bit surprised recently to come across (http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1126.aspx?categoryid=51):
Two paras down you come to an explanation of Kcals and KJs which, with a bit of unpicking, lets you cross-refer back to the opening para and get to the answer you actually wanted when you arrived. In common parlance:
- For a man – 2,500 a day
- For a woman – 2,000 a day
Why couldn’t they simply state that at the top, then move on to the caveats?