The market, Salonica

The market, Salonica
The market, Salonica

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Do you find the innocent guilty or accused?

It should surprise no one if police have sought information to incriminate the law-abiding family of a murdered boy.
  
In a criminal investigation, when evidence of wrong-doing is found, we congratulate our constabulary on a job well done. A crime has been committed.  The gathering of evidence is designed to enhance public safety.  The criminals deserve it.  When a conviction is achieved in court, a few careers in policing are enhanced as well.  However, when the same careers are threatened by bad publicity, it is human nature – and a logical further step – for police to investigate those responsible for this publicity in order to discredit them.  We need to watch our own backs.  All that training and manpower, and all those resources, are meant to be used, aren’t they?
   
The Lawrence family and their supporters embarrassed police with their criticism.  Although they had not committed an offence, or been accused of any crime at all, an undercover agent now says that he was assigned to spy on them.  So, police resources, which are often portrayed as scarce, were allegedly diverted away from the investigation of real crime – the murder of boys, for example – and marshalled against the private lives of an innocent, grieving family.  When real criminals walk free, this same scarcity of resources is one of the excuses that are given.

In 1993, the reflex action to bungle by an institutionally-racist police force made the guilty look innocent, while the reflex urge to sniff and spy, in this case, we are told, to make the innocent look guilty, has remained a secret until now.  None of this should surprise anyone.  Considering what happens to whistle-blowers, it is a wonder such allegations are made at all.  What will they be saying in 2033?  Very little.  The police are so much better at it now. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The I-sign

The sight of the newly-elected Iranian president making a V-sign with the fingers of his right hand shows how easily symbols can be detached from their original cultural context. Luckily, our word for winning at the polling station or on the battlefield does not begin with S or B.  Consult your Persian-English dictionary to see why they don't use their own word for it.  No point in crippling yourself right after victory.  The letter V lends itself to the middle and index fingers, the letter I to either, but I prefer the middle.  

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Canny linguist

Someone’s tongue has been wagging again.  When Michael Douglas informed us that his throat cancer was caused by a bug that is passed on during oral sex, we logically assumed he’d been having oral sex.  Who shouts about an ice cream which they haven’t tasted?  Then we wondered what he had been licking, and we assumed it was his wife.  Again, quite logically.

All this can’t have gone down very well with his wife.  The thought that he might be dipping into someone else’s cone would not go down any better.  But however much we all regret it now, the image of a certain head buried between a certain pair of thighs has buried itself in our consciousness.  It has implications – for nurses involved in patient hygiene: “You’d rather do your Jones by yourself, would you?”  And for cricket commentary: “The last ball appears to have struck the batsman squarely in the Jones.”  And so on.

It’s not just Jones, is it?  I mean the name.  It’s Zeta-Jones.  The lure of exotic forms.  Delta-Douglas fancies cunnilingus, a term which he enunciated like an expert in his interview.  There’s something about those syllables when they’re curled around the tongue of a knowledgeable man.  But we still wish that some things had never escaped his lips.  And we wish that some things had.