Sunday 29 March 1998
You can never be sure with the Times, but crafted is not the sort of word one expects to see in a serious newspaper. It's more likely to be found in advertisements for limited-edition commemorative porcelain, which is always lovingly crafted by dedicated artists to capture its beauty, as the jargon has it. I first came across the word in the 1970s, when it was fashionable for reviewers to say that such-and-such a novel was "well crafted". One sympathised with their difficulties - novel-reviewing can be a thankless trade - but the word made one squirm. It was so desperately twee.
And now here it was again in the leader-columns of the Times. To be fair, you can guess what the paper was after. No doubt it was trying to hint that there was something calculated, if not ever so slightly devious, about Mr Blair's speech - something crafty, in short.
That could have been the only excuse for using crafted. For craft has been an ambiguous word since the end of the Middle Ages (its etymological origins are lost in a Teutonic mist). At first it meant power, but its English version meant specifically brainpower, an admirable thing, except for our national tendency to distrust intellectuals, to say it's all right to be clever so long as you're not too clever by half. So it was fine if you applied your cleverness to a particular trade or calling, as honest craftsmen do, but not if you misused it, hence witchcraft and priestcraft, a dirty word. Cunning has a similar history; its opposite, naturally is artless.
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Life & Style blogs
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Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
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Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
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Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
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