Fat chance of turning this tide of old cobblers
Could Lord Bragg not use a more sensitive phrase, like `a naturally heavy-boned lot of good'?
Thursday 13 May 1999
From General Sir Nigel
Sir, Am I the only one who thinks that we have already lost the war against Milosevic? The agreed purpose of the Nato offensive was to stop the atrocities against the inhabitants of Kosovo. As far as anyone can make out, the only result of our bombing was to increase the carnage practised by the Serb militia. Nor does Milosevic's grasp on power appear to be loosened by our bombardment. We keep rabbiting on about Milosevic being like Hitler, but it must be remembered that however vile Hitler was, there was never any sign of a popular uprising by the Germans against him. On the contrary.
From Dr Ben Salamander
Sir, As a past President of the British Rabbit Society, I must protest in the strongest possible terms against the previous letter-writer. "Rabbiting on about Milosevic", indeed! Although the rabbit is capable of communication, very few people have ever heard one make a noise. Those who know the rabbit well can testify that this noble creature, which makes a fine friend and companion as well as a tasty supper dish, is taciturn to the point of solemnity, and in these days of sound-bites and media overkill, we could well learn from the refusal of the rabbit to utter unnecessary sounds. To pretend that this reticent creature has anything to do with "rabbiting on" cannot but make my blood boil.
From Lord `Melvyn' Bragg
Sir, At a time when some of us are trying to bring science closer to the public, and make the ordinary man in the street aware of a few basic scientific principles, it makes me despair to hear a casual reference (as in the last letter) to such things as "making my blood boil". Does the writer not know that were his blood to reach anything like boiling point, he would be dead? I know that it is only a figure of speech, but if we only made our figures of speech a little more fact-based, the world would be a better place. A fat lot of good it is for me and my mates to hold little scientific seminars on Radio 4 if nobody is going to take them seriously.
From Mrs Nora Duckett
Sir, It makes me want to scream out loud when I hear otherwise respected people use phrases like "a fat lot of good". Does Lord "Melvyn" Bragg have any idea how hurtful this is to those of us who, through no fault of our own, are grotesquely obese? Could he not use a more sensitive phrase, like "a well-built lot of good" or "a naturally heavy-boned lot of good"? Radio 4 used to be a Mecca for common sense. No longer, I fear.
From Mr Shafeeq Obady
Sir, Here we go again! Do any non-Muslims ever realise how offensive it is to hear the name of the holy city being used lightly? "Mecca for common sense", indeed! Do we go around saying "a Canterbury for common sense"? Or even "a Jerusalem for common sense"? I think not. At least we have got rid of the once-common Mecca Ballroom, but I think that is because ballrooms have gone out of fashion, not because people are more sensitive. Frankly, you can take it from a Muslim that the idea that people are getting any more sensitive is a load of cobblers.
From Mrs Wilma Norrington
Sir, My late husband, who was a master shoe-maker and expert shoe-mender, would have been horrified at the unthinking use by the previous writer of the word "cobblers" to signify "rubbish". Every profession, he used to say, has its own dignity, and for that reason he would never have referred to Milosevic as, for instance, "the butcher of Belgrade". And nor will I.
From Mrs Dora Williams
Sir, Why on earth do people always refer to King Canute's inability to stop the tide coming in as if he had somehow failed? The whole point is that he knew he couldn't stop the tide. I know that none of your correspondents has made this error or even referred to Canute, but I just wanted to get in on things somehow. Thanks!
Thanks for all your letters - I only wish I had space for more.
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Katie Hopkins has just written a piece so hateful that it might give Hitler pause – why was it published?
- 4 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
- 5 Cancel Sky at your peril: man spends 96 minutes in chat but fails to get rid of service
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: George Lucas admits he hasn't seen The Force Awakens trailer
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers: Age of Ultron: 'After credits' scene leaks online
Kevin Spacey's successor at The Old Vic promises a more low-key approach
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate