The top ten: Mixed metaphors
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at King's College, London, and at Queen Mary University of London. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 16 March 2014
'Mixed metaphors have been neglected in recent metaphor research,' according to an academic paper on artificial intelligence by the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. So I am grateful to Anthony Polson for suggesting this collection.
1. 'Ahmadinejad wields axe to cement his position' Independent headline, 14 December 2010.
2. 'It would open up a can of worms and a legal minefield about freedom, religion and equalities legislation… It may open up old wounds and put people into the trenches; no one wants that' David Burrowes, Conservative MP, on gay marriage, 17 January 2012.
3. 'Labour are fighting like rats in a barrel' Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP, 16 February 2014. Suggested by Steve Van Riel.
4. 'I don't like it. When you open that Pandora's box, you will find it full of Trojan horses' Ernest Bevin, Labour Foreign Secretary, on the idea of a Council of Europe, 1948. Nominated by Francis Wheen.
5. 'I'm kickstarting a drive to get employee ownership into the bloodstream' Nick Clegg, 17 January 2012. Thanks to James Chapman.
6. 'Far-right vacuum could trigger "lone-wolf" attacks' Independent headline, 29 December 2012. Errors & Omissions editor Guy Keleny had some fun trying to imagine the precise mechanism involved.
7. 'They've put all their eggs in one basket and it's misfired' Paul Merson, Sky football pundit, of West Ham's purchase of Andy Carroll. From Vincent Clark.
8. 'Out of the hat on Monday night the Home Secretary produced the rabbit, the temporary provisions Bill, as her fig leaf to cover her major U-turn' Simon Hughes, Lib Dem MP, 2008. Nominated by Saul Minaee.
9. 'To take arms against a sea of troubles,/And by opposing end them' Just to show that they are not always bad.
10. 'We're like the canary down the mine. We're the first people who pick up what's going on out there and what we're seeing at the moment is a boiling pot whose lid is coming off' Markos Chrysostomou, Haringey Citizens Advice Bureau, on the effects of cuts, 19 November 2012.
Next week: Genuine shop names (such as Sellfridges).
Coming soon: Fictional villains. Send your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to email@example.com
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