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It seems like only yesterday that another frustrated teacher uttered those fell words: “Bouquet, your behaviour is a disgrace”, a charge that was almost certainly always true. Fast forward to today and what do we find?
Epidemiologist after epidemiologist warns that we must modify our “behaviours” if we are to counter the pandemic. Quite when it became obligatory for this horde of “experts” to pluralise the word is not known, but I do wish they would desist. And given their track record during coronavirus, with certain honourable exceptions, how many would dare to admit their profession if they were to be asked at a party what they did for a living? They’d be far better off saying they were an actuary.
Talking of Covid-19, I’m pleased to see that Boris Johnson has abandoned his roadmaps and moonshots and gone for a bit of sporting lingo instead. Announcing the potential arrival of a vaccine, he said: “I just don’t want people to run away with the idea that this development is necessarily a home run, a slam dunk, a shot to the back of the net.” Though maybe, given the number of times he’s shot himself in the foot during the crisis, perhaps he should have omitted that last bit.
Not to be outdone, Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, offered this: It’s like “getting to the end of the play-off final, it’s gone to penalties. The first player goes up and scores the goal. You haven’t won the cup yet, but what it does tell you is that the goalkeeper can be beaten.” Rather nifty analogy that, Prof Van-Tam.
And to finish, a curse on the head of the “expert” who said that we shouldn’t treat the vaccine as a “magic silver bullet”.
•Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: May I have a word about… the language of epidemiologists | Coronavirus