Daily Frolic 13: Expiry and taxes

“I knew it, I just knew it!”


“That you have it in for the sadly departed.”

“I have?”

“No, no, I mean British authorities; that settles it!”

“That settles what?”

“Confirming this vile persecutory attitude. After all, it’s not just The Independent – it’s also The Sunday Times!”

“What have you found now?”


 “There is nothing to stop homeowners who have been basic-rate taxpayers all their lives generating higher-rate liabilities when they die.”

 “But I promise you they didn’t mean it like this.”

“So you keep saying; do these newspapers mean anything they say?”

“Naturally, but …”

 “I wouldn’t be so sure.”

“Trust me. And I’d prefer the distributive singular here.”

“Sure: if you have to have such a distributive law, don’t introduce any more.”

“No, no, I’d prefer the singular ‘life’.”

“But they were talking about more than one life.”

“Yes, but I would still use a singular noun. It’s called ‘the distributive singular’ because we interpret it in a plural sense.

“We do?”

“Yep; listen, what I would have written is this.”

“There is nothing to stop the estates of homeowners who have been basic-rate taxpayers all their life incurring higher-rate death liabilities.”

“If you are absolutely sure …”

“Cross my heart and hope to die.”

“Don’t: you might incur higher-rate liabilities!”

“No, no, it’s just a saying. But our esteemed Sunday Times does seem to get a bit muddled over matters pertaining to expiry.”

“I’m not surprised it’s about to expire: writing such tosh.”

“No – not its expiry.”

“How do you mean?”

“Listen to this.”

“We found that provided we could get them started six weeks before death they could recover.”

 “Started on what?”

“Anti-retroviral drugs – for Aids.”

“But … it’s … how… how did they know it would be exactly six weeks? That’s … that’s impossible. Plus, they didn’t die!”

“You don’t say.”

“I do!”

“No, no, it’s another saying. I think that what they were attempting to communicate was this.”

 We found that, provided we could get them started sufficiently early, they could recover.

“A-a-a-a, that’s more like it.”


This post alludes to the quote given in Daily Frolic 12, How Researchers Earn a Living, and published on 12th November 2014.

Daily Frolic 12: How researchers earn a living

“But you said British authorities didn’t pursue people beyond the grave?”

“Of course they don’t, don’t be silly.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be so sure.”

“Why not?”

“Because this Independent – it seems quite insistent. You remember when they wrote about Britain attempting to prosecute its citizens who’d been helped to die in Swiss clinics?”

“How could I forget? But we established that it wasn’t the sadly departed they actually meant, didn’t we?”

“Well, I thought we had, but they’ve gone and done it again.”

“Done what again?”

“They quoted this important research.”

“Up to 3.6million people will be liable to pay inheritance tax on their estate when they die, a report by Grant Thornton and Lombard Street Research said.”

 “I mean, it’s not just anybody, right? It’s Grant Thornton and Lombard Street Research!”

“Look, for all I care it may be Humpty Dumpty Incontinental Researchthey didn’t mean it!”

“But it’s Grant …”

“Ye, ye, ye; what they were trying to say is this.”

The estates of up to 3.6million people will incur inheritance tax.

 “Mmmm, but …”

“No buts!!!”



This post mentions the quote given in Daily Frolic 7, The Discombobulating Pronoun, and published on 7th November 2014.

Daily Frolic 11: Discontinuity

“This standard-of-living crisis that people keep on about.”


“Is it really that bad?”

“So they say.”

“It’s scary: I didn’t think that even professionals would suffer.”

“Actually, professionals are not doing too badly, all things considered.”

“But that’s not what they are implying.”


“The Times Educational Supplement.”

“Why? What have they written?”


“First, we could ensure that all schools employ more teachers, especially those in challenging circumstances.”

 “No, no, it’s discontinuity.”

“What are they going to discontinue?”

“Nothing, nothing: discontinuity is short for discontinuous modification.”

“What’s that when it’s at home?”

“When the phrase being modified is separated from the phrase, or clause, modifying it.”

“A-a-a-a, you mean like … when you have … when it’s … what do you mean exactly?”

“Just look at your sentence; what they should have written is this.”

First, we could ensure that all schools, especially those in challenging circumstances, employ more teachers.


“Discontinuity is actually very common, and some of it can be quite funny. It’s just that the authors don’t seem to notice; I mean when they don’t mean it to be funny.”

“They don’t notice?”

“Nope. Listen to this – from The Independent.”

“I had a water leak into the kitchen from the flat above, which required redecoration.”

 “The flat above?”

“Exactly! What you’d want to write is this.”

 I had a water leak from the flat above into the kitchen, which required redecoration.

 “This is also from The Independent; listen.”

 “Deformed foetuses have died in the womb with oversized organs.”

 “What a funny womb.”

“Isn’t it just?”

“Hmm, it should be something like this, shouldn’t it?”

Deformed foetuses with oversized organs have died in the womb.

 “Absolutely! And what do you reckon about this one – from The Sunday Times?”

 “City bonuses dodge taxman in Turkish lira.”


 City bonuses in Turkish lira dodge taxman.

 “By Jove, you got it! Wish those hacks would.”

Daily Frolic 10: A cautionary tail

“What does ‘permeate’ mean, exactly?

“‘Permeate’? Pervade, penetrate, flow through, spread through – something along those lines.”

“What a tail!”

“A tale? But it’s not a tale: that’s what ‘permeate’ means.”

“No, no, not a tale – a tail; like in an animal.”

“A tail?”

“Yep – weird.”

“Look, you are not making any sense.”

“It’s not me – it’s your Guardian: they wrote about this bizarre tail, you see.”

“Where, where?”

“In The Guardian!”

“No, no, I mean show me the piece.”

“Here; look.”

“Mrs Hodge said she was going to ‘set a target’ to reduce the 30-point gulf between the percentage of students from upper-middle class families and those from working class families going on to higher education by 2010, as part of the government’s efforts to tackle ‘the long tail of underachievement’ permeating the system.”

 “Oh yes, yes, this infamous ‘long tail of underachievement’ rears its ugly head with great regularity – if you will excuse the mixed metaphor.”

“Mixed metaphor?”

“Aha. You know what a metaphor is, don’t you?”

“It’s like … like representing one thing through another?”

“More or less; we could use the image of dawn to refer to youth, for example. But people often mix their metaphors and come up with most peculiar concoctions.”

“Such as?”

“‘I can smell the rat, but I’ll nip him in the bud’, ‘She finally came out of her shell, spread her wings and blossomed’, ‘He is burning the midnight oil from both ends’, ‘We need to kick-start a sea-change in executive salaries’, ‘This haemorrhoid business is a millstone that can be a real pain in the neck’ – things like that. That’s exactly what they did in this sentence.”

“I s-e-e-e.”

“But this tail has other amazing properties. At least according to this professor of education; they quoted him in The Times Educational Supplement.”

 “Adopting the strategy could be the key to solving the problem of the long-tail of under-achievement that afflicts this country.”

 “Quite an affliction!”

“A-a-a-a, but there is a solution.”

“You mean they will stop mixing their metaphors?”

“No, no, no chance of that, I’m afraid. But listen to this – also from The Times Educational Supplement.”

“A number of measures have been put in place to try to overturn the log tail of boys’ underachievement.”

“Ha, ha, ha!”

Daily Frolic 9: Strange but true

“They say reading broadens the mind, don’t they?”

“I thought it was travel.”

“Oh yes, yes, but reading is also awfully good for one, isn’t it?”

“Obviously: without reading, there wouldn’t … you couldn’t … it would be … I mean you would be completely stuffed.”

“Agreed. I have been reading the stuff in your archives – it’s mind-blowing: all the newspaper cuttings you have collected.”

“Oh yes, yes, I’m addicted to British newspapers: you always find something interesting there.”

“They say the British press is a cut above the rest, don’t they?”

“Undoubtedly. So how did you get on with your reading?”

“Very educational; it’s just that I’m not entirely sure about their grasp of geography …”


“Well, take this Sunday Times.”

“What about it?”

“That’s what they wrote.”

“A recent poll of Bloomberg subscribers found Britain has dropped behind Singapore into third place as the city most likely to be the best financial hub two years from now.”

 “Oh dear! It must have been a one-off, though.”

“That’s just it – it wasn’t.”

“It wasn’t?”

“Nope. Look what they wrote.”


“This Sunday Times.”

 “Every country has risks of inter-ethnic violence – from Syria to Stockholm.”

 “OK, OK, geography may not be their strongest point, but on the whole …”

“A-a-a-a, but it’s not just geography.”

“It’s not just geography?”

“Nope. Their maths – it’ also quite, quite … funny.”

“Funny? How do you mean?”

“Well, take this, for example – also from The Sunday Times.”


“The survey reveals that two-thirds of British children have televisions in their bedrooms, double the proportion for most of Europe. By contrast, only three-quarters of British children have a shelf of books in their bedrooms.”

“Just a sec, just a sec: two-thirds is … is …”


“And three-quarters is …”


“Oh dear! But, on the whole, British journalists are quite good with fractions and percentages.”

“Well, not those on The Rambler.”


“Nope. Listen to this.”

 “But at this point a mere three percent of routes had been reopened, leaving four out of five paths still shut.”

 “Just a sec, just a sec: four out of five is … is …”


“Oh dear, so what happened to the remaining 17%?”


“Dear oh dear …”

Daily Frolic 8: Owls and politicians

“Goodness me!”

“What’s the matter?”

“Your education.”

“My education?” There is nothing wrong with my education, thank you very much. In fact, it’s very …”

“No, no, I mean British education.”

“British education? British education is OK, actually. Granted, even 11 years’ compulsory schooling leaves some unfortunates with the communicative arsenal largely comprising stuff such as: ‘Them should of done it’, ‘If you hadn’t have seen’, ‘She has wrote to them guys’, but, on the whole, it’s not too bad.”

“God help the students!”

“No, no, it’s only some folk; most are fine.”

“But how can they be fine if they are being failed by schools you call excellent?”

“Excellent? Look, you are not making any sense.”

“It’s not me – look what they wrote in The Financial Times; I’ve found this in your collection.”

“There are amazing secondary schools in my constituency … but one of them was consistently failing its pupils.”

“Oh, that was Ed Milliband.”

“Who is he?”

“The leader of the Labour Party. But he didn’t mean it like this.”

“I thought politicians always said what they meant.”

“Hmmm, don’t know about that. But, anyway, what he was trying to say was this.”

There are many amazing secondary schools in my constituency … but a few are not, and one of them was consistently failing its pupils.

 “A-a-a-a; that’s better. But how could he possibly …”

“Look, he’s not the only one.”

“He is not?”

“Nope. Some people just forget to put their brain into gear. But at least speakers have an excuse – you can’t rewind and edit; writers don’t. Look what they wrote in The Sunday Times.

“Boy babies are more likely to die in their first year, and later on they’re more likely to perish in dangerous sports.”

“What dangerous sports? When you are a baby, it can’t go far beyond a raspberry-blowing contest, surely. Or a dummy-spitting competition.”

“Quite. And this one was in The Daily Telegraph.

“As the journalists approached the door, a Tupac Amaru rebel on the inside shouted a largely inaudible message, denying that they were terrorists and repeating rebel demands that their jailed comrades be freed.”

 “Blimey, those journalists – better than owls.”


“Their incredible hearing, I mean.”

“You’re not kidding – grasping all those details without being able to hear anything! Or maybe it was just journalistic licence – you never know with these guys. Anyway, I have another one from The Sunday Times.

“The pressures of the media made it impossible for me to stay at home where I was inundated with letters of support.”

 “An out-of-body experience, ha, ha, ha!”

“And this was …”

“Just a sec, just a sec, what’s that smell?”

“Oh my God, I forgot the oven: it’s our roast beef – quick, quick!”

Daily Frolic 7: The discombobulating pronoun

“This British law – I can’t work it out.”

“Why? I think Britain has quite good laws, actually.”

“But isn’t it a bit harsh?”


“I mean, capital punishment is bad enough, but …”

“But we don’t have capital punishment!”

“Sure, but that’s even worse.”


“I think so, trying to pursue people beyond the grave like that.”

“Beyond the grave? What are you on about?”

“This – in The Independent; look what they wrote.”

“More than 100 Britons have been assisted in their suicide in Swiss clinics. Not one has been successfully prosecuted.”

 “Oh dear!”

“Exactly! I mean, even if they don’t succeed, it’s still …”

“No, no, this ‘one’ is …”

“Very lucky, if you ask me.”

“No, no, they are notorious.”

“Your authorities – they must be.”

“No, no, pronouns!”

“Pronouns? What have pronouns got to do with anything?”

“Everything: in this sentence, ‘one’ is a pronoun.”

“Of course it is.”

“But a pronoun makes no sense without a noun.”


“But ‘Britons’ is the wrong noun!”

“Are you saying they meant a different nationality?”

“NO!!! Look, what they were trying to say is this.”

Not one of the helpers has been successfully prosecuted.

“You reckon?”


“This British law – it’s not too bad, after all.”

Daily Frolic 6: Contradictions

“What do you think we should do?”

“About what?”

“Our climb.”


“Not sure whether we should attempt it.”

“Why not?”

“Well, the summit is above 3,000 feet, isn’t it?”

“So? I’ve climbed Skiddaw many times: it’s quite easy.”

“No, no, it’s not that.”

“So what is it?”

“The weather.”

“What about it?”

“I’m not sure about the weather.”

“Then go on line and check the forecast.”

“But I have done.”


“I’m not sure…”

“What do you mean you are not sure? Have you checked the forecast or not?”

“I have, I have, but I’m confused.”

“For goodness’ sake, how can you be confused if you’ve checked the forecast – what did it say exactly?””


“Cloud may well rarely cover the summits from mid to late morning.”

“Well …”

“That’s it, that’s it, that’s what they said – well.”

“No, no, I mean …it’s not … they’ve surely … it must be … I think they mean … actually, I don’t know what they mean …”

“You see? Do you think they meant ‘may well cover’?”

“Perhaps. But then, this would contradict ‘rarely’ – I really don’t know.”

“How can they confuse people like this?”

“I’m sure they didn’t mean to; it just came out like this. But they are in good company.”

“They are?”

“Yep, all sorts of people come up with stuff like this. Do you know what a former chairman of the Tory Party once said?”


“Having committed political suicide, the Conservative Party is now living to regret it.”

 “Ha, ha, ha, did he really?”

“Yep. They published it in The Independent. Or take this Oxford professor – quoted in the same newspaper.”

“Turkish universities had suffered from the same problems, only worse.”

“A professor?”

“Yep – of Modern History. I remember another quote from The Independent.”

“The [housing] market has been underpinned by a combination of strong demand, full employment, falling unemployment and interest rates remaining low.”

 “Wow: unemployment and full employment at the same time!”

“‘Yep. And this was from The Time Educational Supplement.”

“Performance-related pay will only drive down the morale of lecturers – already at rock bottom.”

 “Oh dear; I wonder how the pay will manage to do this!”

“Yep, this was by the general secretary of a lecturers’ union. Similar contradictions are actually more common than people think.”

“This may well be so, but what are we going to do about our climb?”

“Might as well go round the lake instead – just to be on the safe side.”

Daily Frolic 3: A little light relief

NOTE: I’m posting daily ONLY in November.


“I wish they had told me this when I was young.”


“You know, about losing one’s virtue.”

“Virtue? I didn’t know you had any.”

“Of course I did – everybody does.”

“W-e-e-e-ll, I know some folk who seem utterly devoid of any.”

“No, no, I didn’t mean it like this.”

“So how did you mean it?”

“Well, you know: when you do it for the first time.”

“You mean help an old lady across the road?”

“No, no, no – I mean IT!”

“What are you on about?”

“This: look at what they wrote – in The Sunday Times.” 

“Everyone knows that losing your virginity is the hard part, but when you’ve done it once it’s much easier.”

“Ha, ha, ha! I wonder how many times they reckon you can lose your virginity.”

“That’s it, that’s it! What do you think they meant?”

“What do you mean what they meant? This, of course!”

Everyone knows that losing your virginity is the hard part, but, once you’ve done it, congress gets easier.


“Look, call it what you will: intercourse, coitus, nooky, rumpy pumpy …”

“But I never call it ‘rumpy pumpy’ …”

“Oh for goodness’ sake – call it sex then!”

Daily Frolic 2: Unendurable duration

NOTE: I have accepted the challenge of posting daily blog entries throughout November. Not wanting to test your patience, I have decided to make my posts, which I’m calling Daily Frolics, as brief as the subject allows. Here is the second.


On a murky November Sunday, nothing beats spending a few leisurely hours perusing quality British newspapers, of which The Sunday Telegraph is supposed to be one. Priding itself on the calibre of its offering, it does nevertheless catch its unsuspecting readers unawares on occasion. Under the headline Banker held over two sex murders, today’s edition reports on the alleged murder of two women by a British banker in Hong Kong, the article containing this sentence.

“This body belonged to a person who has passed away for quite some time,” he said.

Whatever the spokesman of the Hong Kong police really said, the copy-editor should have realised that the actual act of passing away has no duration (at least not in the conventional sense) and leapt into action; his – or her – intervention might have resulted in something like this.

 It’s a body of a person who has been deceased for quite some time …

 Mistakes such as this, while common among non-native speakers of English, are relatively rare among the natives, yet they do have unlikely perpetrators on these shores. The Sunday Times thus described what a person might do to qualify for the label of a bad house guest.

“Cook a full English [breakfast] at 11.45am, using every pan, then fall asleep all afternoon.”

Whereas one might indeed sleep all afternoon, one would have to be severely afflicted by insomnia to take a whole afternoon to actually fall asleep. The Independent is in the same league with its article criticising security at the House of Commons during the visit there of some IRA (Irish Republican Army) members.

“One of the ‘IRA men’ had been observed leaving to go to the lavatory, unaccompanied, for 20 minutes.”

While he might indeed have been observed leaving for the lavatory, the very act of leaving did not take 20 minutes – not even if he was crawling.  Thus:

One of the ‘IRA men’ had been observed going to the lavatory, unaccompanied, where he spent 20 minutes.

In light of the above, we might forgive the manufacturers of a stainless steel vacuum carafe, who supplied those instructions with their product.

Hot liquids: Fill it with hot water for 3 minutes

What they meant was, of course, this.

Fill it with hot water and leave for 3 minutes

But at least they were manufacturers – not journalists.