The quality of insults tends to get better with age. Playground taunts for seven-year-olds, if I remember correctly, were all to do with girls having fleas. Which is, in all honesty, a step up from poo and litter.
But it’s not all one-way though, this journey towards patenting the perfect insult. Quality, I admit, does take a step or two backwards during the teenage years when one is wont to pick a swear word and repeat it manifold.
Once you’re an adult and more intelligent, however, you should have outgrown your teenage silliness. You'll hopefully become aware that the possibilities for a really great put-down are almost limitless. You'll realise that you have a wealth of life-experience and name-calling to draw upon.
And with so many options to choose from, it can become quite difficult to pick out a favourite.
So if you find yourself looking for that one term of offence that is a cut above the rest, perhaps I can be of service. The subject is one that I have spent some time thinking about.
Now it seems logical to me that, if quality of insult is directly correlated with age and intelligence, then the masters of the put-down would be our politicians. They are obviously old enough, they are intelligent, sensible and thought-through.
Moreover, as role models for the nation and our elected representatives, it would only seem fit to pay close attention to the type of insult they favour.
And the worst insult in the armoury of the MP is the accusation that the opposition is ‘out of touch’. Look at the way Ed Miliband branded Cameron ‘out-of-touch’ over the NHS reforms. Look at the relish with which he said it.
‘Out of touch’ means you’re behind the times, you’re past-it, you’re yesterday’s news. More than that, 'out of touch' means you’ve lost your grip on reality, on what’s really going on. It means that you're not fit for your job.
It’s a terrible thing to say to someone, and that’s why the politicians love to use it.
Bearing all that in mind, it becomes really difficult to understand why the very same politicians are pushing for teachers’ retirement age to be extended eight years to 68. Teachers need to be very much ‘in-touch’ if they are to succeed in their jobs. How is forcing them to stay teaching till they’re almost 70 going to help?
You’re out of touch if you can’t figure out predictive text on your phone. You’re out of touch if you think ‘bare munch’ has anything to do with hairy animals or eating in the nude. It’s hard enough for anyone born on the wrong side of 1980 to stay ‘in touch’. It’s even harder for the average 68-year-old to manage it. Surely the politicians must know that an ‘out-of-touch’ teacher is a recipe for disaster.
Where has all their intelligence and experience gone? Why don’t our MPs practise what they preach? Surely they, of all people, should be sensitive to the blight of out-of-touchness. Surely they should be concerned that our poor hard-working teachers will, at the age of 68, be unable to evade being branded with that most shameful of insults – the ignominy of being ‘out-of-touch’.
If you really think about it, there’s only one place this proposed legislation deserves to be.
In the bin.9 March 2012 firstname.lastname@example.org