DAZED AND CONFUSED

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The Independent Culture
Ever since The Independent Magazine moved from City Road, I have harboured a lingering suspicion that the Weasel may not be a Weasel. Having read his fascinating account of the British oven that is, as he puts it, "our sole contribution to international space research at the turn of the millennium" (Up & Down Canary Wharf, 28 January), I now feel sure that a distant, and, I suspect much younger, relative has taken up his pen.

The first inkling comes in the third paragraph, which opens "Not me, pal". What grammatical and stylistic solecisms are there! "Pal" is bad enough, but "not me"? As if that were not sufficient, later on, in the same paragraph, we are treated to "Nope". My dictionary - Oxford, naturally - dismisses it cursorily as colloquial. My computer spellcheck - American, regrettably - desperately offers a string of alternatives, including "nome". Nome?

The weasel, and I am deliberately avoiding the use of a capital, may well be as entertaining as his predecessor, but he lacks the delight- ful sense of stuffiness and pomposity which was the hallmark of a meticulous style which must have come from years of intensive study of Livy and Macaulay.

Perhaps what we now have is a cousin of the weasel, a stoat. And as an old countryman once said, "They are weasily distinguished because they are stoatally different."

alan mcmurray

Loughborough, Leicestershire

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