It’s not about a mangled metaphor. It’s about mangled thinking.


The problem is that children from deprived areas are entering school able to muster only “one word sentences.”

One of the schools where she works has shown greater improvement across a number of categories than any other school in the country. When she teaches children to construct their language she is teaching them to construct their thoughts.

On the journey back home this evening, I listened to Radio4 and heard a report from Afghanistan on the troubles with insurgents infiltrating the Afghan police. One of the jobs of the police is to help safeguard the British army and a soldier said, “You have to sleep with one eye open, to watch your back.”

The soldier’s not paid to speak, so his mangling of metaphors doesn’t bother me. It’s better for everyone that he’s putting his life on the line to defend democracy, leaving me to sit at my desk and defend grammar.

What made me turn the radio off was the Radio4 interviewer’s reply: “William Hague has said these incidents are one-offs. Do you agree?”

We construct our thoughts from our language and we construct our language from our thoughts. Inattention to language reveals inattention to thought. I can forgive the school children. I find it hard to forgive a Radio 4 presenter – unless the Home Secretary’s language revealed more about the truth than he’d intended.

Chris