Today sees the return of our unique advice column, Opposite Options.
Why unique? Well, all other advice columns give one clear solution to your problems, which is absolutely useless if the solution is not the one you want to hear. So in Opposite Options we give two solutions to each problem, one being the diametrical opposite of the other, thus guaranteeing that at least one of them is tailor-made for you.
But I am sure you will get the hang of it as we go along.
Do people really ever take unwelcome advice?
A. No. People do not even hear unwelcome advice. In the same way that politicians often say that you should never ask a question to which you do not know the answer already, people always gravitate to the course of action which they would have taken anyway. That is why, for instance, the wise and statesmanlike recommendations of the United Nations are always ignored by the member countries they are aimed at. It is not what they want to hear.
B. Yes. People are always doing things which are against their inner instincts. Putting on seat belts. Obeying the speed limit. Getting married and having children when they really prefer freedom. Supporting Wolverhampton Wanderers or Wrexham when they know it is bound to lead to misery, etc, etc.
Why do the weather forecasts so often get it wrong?
A. Because it is called "meteorology" and therefore assumed by us to be a science. It is not a science, any more than racehorse tipping or astrology are sciences. If we thought of weather forecasting as the rough and ready craft that it really is, we would be amazed how accurate it often was.
B. Weather forecasts always get it right. They are always right at the time the forecast is made. But sometimes the weather system then slows down, or veers off in an unexpected direction, and lets the weather forecasters down. It is the weather that gets it wrong, not the forecast.
People are saying Helen Mirren should get an Oscar for playing the part of the Queen, in a movie. In that case, what should the Queen get for playing the part of the Queen brilliantly for 80 years in real life, with no second takes?
A. A vast fortune, several palaces, huge estates and priceless paintings. Which she has luckily got already.
B. Pensioned off, and heavily penalised for not retiring at the age at which everyone else has to retire.
Is photography an art-form?
A. No. It is still the poor relation of painting.
B. Yes. Unlike painting, which has now become a branch of interior decor.
Ah, but is interior decor an art-form?
A. Of course, darling! It is the only art-form! It is all the others rolled into one! What a question!
B. No. Interior decor is the process whereby someone who doesn't know what he wants hires someone to make up his mind for him, and gets what he richly deserves.
Which is correct, "None of the missing men were found" or "None of the missing men was found"?
A. Both is correct.
B. Either are right.
No, come on, give us a sensible answer.
A. OK. We are currently in a transitional stage from approval of the pedantically correct but stiff usage ("None was") to acceptance of the incorrect but natural usage ("None were"), so at the moment both seem right.
B. OK. We are currently in a transitional stage from approval of the pedantically correct but stiff usage ("None was") to acceptance of the incorrect but natural usage ("None were"), so at the moment both seem wrong.
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