Perhaps You Should Re-phrase That

14 November 2008

I’ve been taking particular interest in the Sydney Morning Herald this week as I had a letter published in their Column 8 section.  Last Tuesday, 11th November, we commemorated the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War.  I wondered why on so many Cenotaphs in Australia it’s written “Great War  1914-1919”.  I haven’t got a definitive answer yet for the difference in dates but it looks as though it may have something to do with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919.

A letter in the paper took my fancy today and sent me to the website of the American Civil Liberties Union.  There the Executive Director is calling for the closure of Guantanamo Bay and the end of torture.  All well and good, you may say, but his choice of words was a little inappropriate.

“There is no room for patience or delay in these areas.  We have to hold President-elect Obama’s feet to the fire if we’re going to turn hope into reality” said Anthony D Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU.

This reminded me of a newspaper interview I once read with a woman who headed a charity campaigning against cruelty to animals.  She explained that she’d started the charity from home but was forced to move it to bigger premises as “there wasn’t room in my kitchen to swing a cat“.




  1. I’m not even sure what to say, but I’m sure he’s kicking himself now for saying such a ridiculous thing. It’s not even a common phrase. Sorry, not much help on the history. I think the dates generally go with the signing of the treatise, however.

  2. In the London Sunday Times last month I saw a recruitment ad which could have been profitably re-phrased. It was for an administrator to work at the Royal College of Surgeons and specified that the appointee must be “capable of operating at board level”. 1. I’d rather a surgeon operated on me than an administrator. 2. Why a board? Can’t they afford a proper operating table?

  3. You were in Column 8 and I missed it!? I’ll have to refine my newspaper skimming technique.

  4. I once read an ad for a ‘Holy Spirit Imager’!! (presumably a radiographer at the Holy Spirit Hospital in Brisbane I think) – I cut it out and kept it for years – until we moved, in fact. It really ticked my fancy.

  5. Meg debates whether or not to share the naval origins of the phrase “enough room to swing a cat*” – after all, the charity was against cruelty to animals so perhaps she was a fan of public floggings and corporal punishment where humans were concerned 😉

    (*-of-nine-tails – it’s the same cat you let out of the bag.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: