Donald MacInnes: The Bank is like a bad boyfriend? What sort of description is that?


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The Independent Online

This week's public address concerns "describing words". These are supposed to illuminate the inner workings of people or things, or, in the case of the Labour MP Pat McFadden, the Bank of England, which he "described" in particularly pejorative terms.

"We've had a lot of different signals," he said. "I mean, it strikes me that the Bank's behaving a bit like a sort of unreliable boyfriend. One day hot, one day cold, and the people on the other side of the message are left not really knowing where they stand."

I would "describe" this statement as a little harsh. The most unreliable boyfriend I ever had was actually a woman, in that she was what you might call "my girlfriend". Her principal glitch as regards her reliability was timeliness – as in, she had none. I spent roughly 42 per cent of our year together waiting for her outside this pub, that pub, this café, that library (only kidding, it was a chip shop). Even though we broke up more than 20 years ago, I suspect that, even now, she is probably just arriving for a date with me outside the Granary bar in Glasgow. I hope she's not too disappointed when I don't show – although, it being the Granary, I expect she'll pull.

Still with descriptions, the English football squad arrived home this week from Brazil, where they had gone to rest and recuperate after a hard Premier League season. If only someone had "described" the value of scoring a goal to them in a bit more detail. As a result of their near-Scottish ineptitude, I expected Roy Hodgson and his cast of capitulating millionaires to be "described" by the rougher neighbourhoods of the English media as turnips or Brazil nuts or something equally punny. But due to the lack of expectation among Fleet Street's legions – and, it has to be said, the English public – there seems to be an unprecedented amount of pulled punches among the Filth Estate. Maybe they realise that to get angry and abusive with their players is self-defeating. Or maybe they just ran out of food-based humour.

More bogus describing words were used this week in Germany at Tübingen University, when an American exchange student managed to get himself trapped inside a stone sculpture. Nothing wrong with that, of course; students have been misbehaving with statues since the beginning of time. No, what concerns me is that the authorities compounded the student's embarrassment by "describing" the stone statue as a representation of the female private area. The sculpture is called Pi-Chacan, which, in the language of the Peruvian Indians, means "make love".

Having had to be freed by sniggering firefighters, the hapless prisoner of love has surely suffered enough. Let's, from now on, describe the statue as a scale model of the Grand Canyon, mmm? It's less embarrassing all round.

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