I heard this snippet as I passed an old couple out for a walk this evening. Gordon Brown is rather devious the man said. I have no idea what the context was – perhaps there wasn’t one, maybe she had just said “a penny for your thoughts” and he said the most obvious thing which came into his head.
It is a nice piece of English understatement though, more subtle than the hackneyed ones about the Pope being a Catholic or as to what bears do in the woods. Gordon Brown is rather devious. A host of other examples come to mind.
- Tony Blair is less than honest
- Jade Goody is a little uncultivated
- The Health & Safety officer was fairly cautious
- Caroline Flint is not uninterested in influencing your lifestyle
- The traffic warden was less than understanding
- The Equalities and Diversity officer did not really focus on the opposite viewpoint
- The highways officer was a little slow to grasp the point
- that is not very clever, John Prescott
- Patricia Hewitt did not find it easy to face the challenges of her responsibilities
- Hazel Blears can be a little annoying
And so on. It begins to sound like those tactful obituaries where a wealth of criticism is lightly buried behind a muted phrase, so that “He did not suffer fools gladly” means he was a domineering bully.
Gordon Brown is rather devious. Someone ought to offer a prize for understatement of the year.