Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Applying common sense

According to the ‘clarification’ which the PM has given of his changes to the lockdown rules, a great deal seems to depend on the application of good old-fashioned British common sense. Leaving aside the question of how people in a country where sense is so common respond to a pandemic by bulk-buying packets of toilet roll or dial 999 because KFC have run out of chicken, let alone end up with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, what is uniquely British about common sense? For an Anglo-British nationalist like Johnson, it is a question which doesn’t even need to be asked because the answer is obvious, but, to the extent that sense is indeed common, there’s no empirical evidence of which I’m aware which suggests it is the property of any particular people or state – nor that it’s actually as common as we might hope.
I understand that the PM speaks French, which means that he should be aware that the French refer to it as ‘la sagesse normande’ (the wisdom of Normandy). The sentence ‘nous avons besoin de la sagesse normande’ (what we need is common sense) was once rendered into English in the European Parliament as ‘what we need is Norman Wisdom’. I’d always seen that as an understandable translation error, but it seems that the PM regards it as sound advice, or even an instruction. Mind you, if Norman was still with us, he might do a better job - he could hardly do a worse one.

1 comment:

dafis said...

Norman Wisdom - the template for modern British P.M 's, although recent efforts have fallen way off N.W's standards.

Common sense seems to be a very rare attribute among politicians and among the herd that seeks to break ranks at the earliest opportunity and go charging off to some faraway place with little or no regard for the consequences. Highly disciplined people those Brits, I think not.