Draw a line in the sand over the ceiling

John Rentoul

line 300x202 Draw a line in the sand over the ceilingAn American called Laura writes to say nice things about my Banned List book, and encloses a cutting from The Wall Street Journal: “Boehner drew a line in the sand over the debt ceiling.”


Meanwhile, there are more things that I have to ban.

  1. “No sex, please, we’re British”. Or variations thereon. Mark Wallace.
  2. Ignore at our peril.
  3. Rebalance the economy. Simon Wilder.
  4. Grexit. (For “Greek exit” from the euro.) This may be a temporary ban. On the other hand it may last some time.
  5. Shovel-ready. Used by Ed Balls in the House of Commons the other day.
  6. Chillax. I would have banned this long ago, but I assumed that it had died out. Unfortunately, thanks to my colleague James Hanning and my former colleague Francis Elliott, the corpse has sat up in the bath.
  7. Winning or losing battles with cancer. James Ball. Jenni Murray has a good article about this in The Independent today.
  8. Bombshell. Andrew Denny. Odd one this. It is used to mean bomb, or explosion, possibly onomatopoeically, whereas it actually means the casing in which the explosive material is kept. So people could say bombshell when they do say time bomb, or ticking time bomb, which is also on the List.
  9. Staycation. It was on the Banned List blog but I edited it out of the book, presumably because I thought no one would use it. I quake at my doofusness. It was used 15 times in UK national newspapers in the past month, according to our database.

And finally, for this batch, “very”.

“Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” A saying often attributed to Mark Twain, but it wasn’t him. I can’t find out who it was, though.

Anyway, whoever it was, I was reminded of it recently by Lloyd Bracey, Commissar emeritus of the visually-inspired cliché. Not that I am going to ban the use of “very”, you understand. But just so that you know.

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  • 1maia

    When i was growing up, a bombshell was a bird who had a particular effect upon the viewer, thinking back the term was pretty clever haha.

  • Charles Norrie

    It is a nice mixed metaphor to draw a line in the sand on a debt ceiling.

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