I have been reading the Spectator this morning, and in their Portrait of the Week found this gem:
Despite a ban on ringing the speaking clock, Ministry of Defence staff spent £18,804 of its money last year dialling 123 to check the time.
I don't know where to begin. Out of respect to my host, I start with the idea of 'its' money. Where do they think this bloody money comes from? It isn't 'its'. I would suggest the correct word to use here would be 'our' money.
Then why is it that our civil servants have a need to call a fee paying service to find out the time? Do the individuals who work there, on now very generous salaries matching their outrageously generous pensions, not have a watch? A phone? The cognisance to read the time in the corner of their computer screen? They are either profligate or stupid, or perhaps both.
The article does not tell us what happened, but one suspects someone used the ultimate English retort of 'writing a letter'; or in other words a memo, which was probably circulated, which will be ignored, much as the orginal rule clearly was. How about we recover the money from these overpaid imbeciles? And give everyone a warning so that if they do so again they are suspended without pay, or better, sacked? I need hardly point out that spending our money in contravention of their rules of employment has a word in the real world, and a penalty. It is called theft, and it is a criminal offence.
This may seem petty, but sloppy language, especially in media, betrays sound thinking. Is it any wonder we are in the state we are in?