October 25: the whole simplistic ideological mantlepiece

In the park toilets in Kennington Park this morning (they are traditional park toilets; bad-smelling, turd-retaining) I noted some obscene graffiti. It can happen in public toilets. In the Gents anyway. I don’t know whether the Ladies have the same particularity. I shall not trouble you with the complexities of the message but there was one word that caused me to raise an eyebrow. The word hole spelt as whole. I do not think a pun was intended. I think it was the error of someone who thought he was giving the correct spelling. Someone who had recently noticed the word whole and assumed it was the correct, sophisticated spelling of the word.
This tendancy to over-elaborate a word to make it sound more sophisticated and end up getting it wrong is something of a trend. On Radio 5 Live they like to compliment a piece of play in a football match by referring to it as simplistic which to many ex-players seems to mean very simple in a good way rather than overly simple in a bad way. Then there is the word ideological that many people seem to think means to do with ideas rather than ideology, as in it is a very ideological speech meaning full of ideas. The greatest example of this was when a famous ex-footballer thought he’d just amplify a turn of phrase and instead of speaking of a player now taking on the mantle of captaincy said that he has taken on the mantlepiece of captaincy.
The moral is that writers of obscene toilet graffiti and ex-footballers should keep their language simple.


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