Archive for December 11th, 2006

The Plain English Awards

The Plain English Campaign’s Plain English Awards for 2006 have been announced.

The “Foot In Mouth” award for a baffling quote by a public figure has been awarded to British supermodel Naomi Campbell for a comment she reportedly made in June.

“I love England, especially the food. There’s nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta.”

Past winners of the award include Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Gere, Alicia Silverstone and Tracey Emin.

Seven “Golden Bulls” have been awarded for gobledegook

Crafts Council of Ireland (CCOI) for a circular letter

The re-writing of the vocabulary of intemporal Irish heritage is a possible vector for submissions on the condition that this transposition is resolutely anchored in the 21st century through a contemporary lens that absolutely avoids drifting into the vernacular.

Germaine Greer for a column in the Guardian

The first attribute of the art object is that it creates a discontinuity between itself and the unsynthesised manifold.

Bury County Court – for a ‘General Form of Judgment or Order’


Eastleigh Borough Council for a Notice given under the Building Act 1984

Hereby in accordance with the provision of the Building Act 1984, Section 32 declares that the said plans shall be of no effect and accordingly the said Act and the said Building Regulations shall as respects the proposed work have effect as if no plan had been deposited.

Wheale, Thomas, Hodgins plc for a job advertisement

Our client is a pan-European start-up leveraging current cutting edge I.P. (already specified) with an outstanding product/value solutions set. It is literally the right product, in the right place at the right time. by linking high-value disparate legacy systems to achieve connectivity between strategic partners/acquisition targets and/or disparate corporate divisions.
The opportunity exists to be the same (i.e. right person etc. etc) in a growth opportunity funded by private equity capital that hits the ‘sweet-spot’ in major cost driven European markets.

Fife Council for a letter about a change to bin collection dates

It has been brought to our attention that due to changes made to your grey household wastes bin collection dates within your new calendar. Your bin will be emptied week beginning the 20th March 2006, then next collection would not be until the week beginning the 10th April 2006. Thus having to wait 3 weeks for collection.

Therefore we are to provide a normal collection on your normal collection day, week starting the 3rd April and again on your new collection date, week starting the 10th April then there after every 2 weeks.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies for a website document description

While the literature on nonclassical measurement error traditionally relies on the availability of an auxiliary dataset containing correctly measured observations, this paper establishes that the availability of instruments enables the identification of a large class of nonclassical nonlinear errors-in-variables models with continuously distributed variables.

The “Good” awards saw plenty of winners as well, which is a good thing as the aim of the Campaign is to stamp out gobledegook in favour of plain english.

‘Plain English’ category (for the year’s clearest documents)

  • The Essential Business Guide Ltd for ‘The Essential Business Guide’
  • World Cancer Research Fund for ‘Breast awareness’ card . Helena Housing for ‘Resident’s Handbook’
  • The Department for Social Development for ‘Directory of services for older people’
  • ASDA for a product recall notice
  • National Osteoporosis Society for the ‘Living with osteoporosis’ guide

‘Inside Write’ category (for clear internal government documents – civil servants writing for other civil servants)

  • British Ministry of Defence for ‘Navy News’
  • UK Trade & Investment for ‘Our World’ magazine . Welsh Assembly Government for ‘Rules for Tables’
  • HM Revenue & Customs for ‘Chatterbox’ magazine . UK Visas for ‘Managing e-mail’
  • Department for Work and Pensions for ‘The DWP journey’ leaflet

Media Awards

  • Best National Newspaper: The Guardian
  • Best Regional Newspaper: Newcastle Evening Chronicle
  • Best National Radio Programme: The Jeremy Vine Show (BBC Radio 2)
  • Best Regional Radio Station: Pirate FM (Cornwall)
  • Best National Television Programme: This Week (BBC 1)
  • Best Regional Television Programme: X-Ray (BBC Wales)

Web Award (for the year’s clearest website)

Osborne Award (for services to plain English)

  • Harriet Harman MP

I had a couple entries in the awards, unfortunately they didn’t win, but they were fun to find and I mentioned them earlier in the year, but here they are again for your enjoyment. Firstly the good, in the Plain English Category is a fridge magnet from Actew Corporation and the ACT Government, explaining clearly and concisely the basics of the permanent water restrictions.
Water Restrictions Fridge Magnet

Secondly the bad, in the Foot In Mouth category, ACT Chief Turnip Jon Stanhope for this comment:

We cannot continue to sustain a government school system where there are, in the context of the level of expenditure, which we make or investment in education and maintain a school system at that level of under use.

Naturally there were plenty of other entries, Dave Smith shared some with us in July, and the Gobbledygook Of The Week page on the Plain English Campaign website has some more..

For more information about the Plain English Campaign, visit their website, or take a listen to the discussion I had with Dave on the first episode of Samuel’s Persiflage.


3 comments December 11th, 2006 at 11:24pm

Persiflage Curse?

It just occurred to me…Samuel’s Persiflage has a strange track record when it comes to people and the jobs they have.

In May (well it was actually April when I recorded the interview) on Samuel’s Persiflage I interviewed the National Library’s Director of Digital Archiving, Margaret Phillips. By the time July rolled around Margaret had retired.

Last month, November, on Samuel’s Persiflage the first guest was Paul Blunt, co-host of 2CA’s breakfast show. As speculated a couple days ago, and now confirmed, Paul will be leaving 2CA on December 22 and will be moving to the Gold Coast.

I do hope this is just a mere coincidence and not a Persiflage Curse…although if it is the latter, I think it can be explained by John Stanley’s curse losing it’s effect…it must be transferring to me.

For those of you who don’t listen to John Stanley on 2UE and 2CC, people interviewed on John’s show, particularly in the entertainment industry, seem to be involved in “flops” shortly after appearing. Television shows have been known to be cancelled shortly after the ratings plummet after being on John’s show. People often get voted off reality television programs after John interviews them. It’s a long-running joke, and recently the “curse” hasn’t been having its usual effect.

Of course, now that John’s away, his curse has struck his fill-in presenter…


2 comments December 11th, 2006 at 11:50am


Just to recap the current weekday 2CC schedule after 2UE lost their marbles

Midnight-6am: New Day with Stuart Bocking
6am-10am: Breakfast with Mike Jeffreys
10am-2pm: Tim Webster filling in for John Laws
2pm-6pm: Drive with Mike Welsh
6pm-8pm: Sports Today
8pm-Midnight: Nights with Stan Zemanek

It will be strange having my lunch break and hearing Mike Welsh on the radio…it was strange enough having John Kerr filling in for Stuart Bocking and going through until 6am on a weekday, I’m glad I’ll be at work when Tim Webster cops all of the confused people at 10am.


December 11th, 2006 at 09:37am

Amusing News

Here are just a few news stories which are just a tad amusing.

New South Wales Opposition Leader Peter Debnam wants to sell New South Wales Lotteries for about $800 million to help fund the $1 billion water strategy (whatever that may be). Sounds reasonable on the surface, but dig a bit deeper:

NSW Lotteries has sold lottery tickets since 1931. Last year it sold tickets worth more than $1.1 billion, and paid out about $662 million in prizes. Its lotteries have helped to pay for the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

That’s a $438 million profit last year, not bad.

Mr Debnam said the privatised company would still be required to pay annual lottery duties of almost $300 million to the Government, and might be required to pay additional taxes to offset the company tax it would begin paying to the Federal Government.

Take out the lottery duties and the profit drops to $138 million per annum, even less once you take out the federal company tax and the state based “additional taxes”.

I’m not a tax expert, so I’m not going to try and calculate what these taxes might cost, but once you take away the operating costs (staff, ticket paper, dedicated communication lines between sales terminals and head office, commissions payable to agents etc etc etc) as well, it’s really not a very profitable company.

Somehow I think Mr. Debnam’s $800 million money grab is either sheer optimism which should never have been mentioned in the company of a journalist, or a blight on Mr. Debnam’s economic credentials.

Based on this multiple, NSW Lotteries, with earnings of $38.6 million this year, could be worth as much as $800 million. But the Opposition expects it to have a much lower value.

Thankfully Mr. Debnam dosn’t think he can get $800 million for the company, but that still leaves the question of why he mentioned the figure in the first place.


The Victorian bushfire crisis has engulfed a mountain by the name of “Mount Terrible”. Not surprisingly, journalists are having fun with it, saying things such as “it’s living up to its name”.

I would like to know why it was named Mount Terrible. Did the person who named it have a bad experience there? Or did they know something we could have used before the bushfire crisis?


From our good friends at the “funny news presented in a serious manner” Ananova News agency comes the news that a job centre in the UK has banned Christmas decorations in case they offend the unemployed.

Job Centre bans Xmas

A Job Centre has banned Christmas decorations – in case it offends the unemployed.

Area manager of South London Chris Nicol says he doesn’t want to upset benefit claimants who can’t afford tinsel.

His staff are not happy about the decision, reports The Sun.

One worker said: “All the shops and offices around us are happily putting up their Christmas decorations but ours are in the cupboard.

“Most people have complained about the lack of decorations. The twinkling lights and tinsel always seemed to lift people’s spirits. Now we are all glumly sitting in the dark in case someone takes offence.”

Mr Nicol refused to back down and added: “It’s about considering the feelings of people who might not to be able to afford Christmas.

“Because of their circumstances they might not have decorations at home. I don’t think they should have their noses rubbed in it by walking into a Job Centre. I haven’t heard that staff are unhappy but it is impossible to please everyone.”

Not surprisingly, the story has been doing the rounds on talkback. Some of the highlights:

Mr. Nicol: “It’s about considering the feelings of people who might not to be able to afford Christmas.”
Stuart Bocking: “Since when has anyone been able to afford Christmas?”

Mr. Nicol: “I haven’t heard that staff are unhappy but it is impossible to please everyone.”
Mike Jeffreys: “Especially if you’re an idiot!”


December 11th, 2006 at 07:29am

What I was going to say…

Morning again John,

The one thing I didn’t get to say on the phone was that I would like to wish Stuart and all of his guests a wonderful day at their Christmas Lunch later today. I was going to call Stuart during his afternoon shift, but silly me went and had a nap and Mike Williams was on when I woke up!

Have a great week John, and have a nice sleep when you get home this morning.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart

December 11th, 2006 at 02:00am


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