Letter: Full marks to Potter

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The Independent Online
Sir: Dennis Potter, in heroically confronting his fatal disease on television, has left us with an epic gesture of invective, in referring to his cancer as Rupert (Murdoch) ('Dennis Potter: The last word', 6 April).

I propose that in his honour we should establish an Invective Scale, like the Richter for assessing earthquakes. The scale would have to be 'calibrated', which would be done by opinion poll. This would tell respondents that a scale would be set up, from 0 to 10, on which the score of 10 is given by the invective strength of calling one's cancer by the name of one's ultimate adversary. The public would say what marks they would allot to an example of invective such as in Barnet Churnin's letter today, 'looking like a Burton's dummy', (which I would score as 1 Potter) and to a dozen other examples.

These examples should be culled from items nominated by readers, and the operation carried out by a reputable polling organisation. Then, when a memorable new piece of invective came up, it could readily be given a Potter score.

Yours sincerely,


Department of Media Production

Bournemouth University

Poole, Dorset

11 April