“We're in deep trouble”. Really. Especially the English language, which is practically terminal.
Some terrorist expert was on the telly the other day, talking about the two bombs found on cargo planes recently. She said “We're in deep trouble!”
So ... deep trouble. That's the two bombs that didn't go off, isn't it? The two bombs that didn't have bits of cargo plane falling down on our heads? The two bombs that were found before they could do any damage? The two bombs that have occupied 50% of the newspapers and the first fifteen minutes of every TV and radio news bulletin for days? I'll say again, just to be clear ... the two rather small bombs that might have gone off but didn't?
That's deep trouble, is it?
Not in my book, darling.
“Deep trouble” is swarms of German bombers filling the skies over London and dropping 75,000 tons of high explosive and incendiary, that's “deep trouble”. “Deep trouble” is someone dropping a nuclear weapon on my city and totally flattening it, that's “deep trouble”.
“Deep trouble” is being rounded up with all my family and put on a train to Treblinka. “Deep trouble” is a tsunami sweeping through my house and carrying my children away, or an earthquake that flattens my street and most of the people who live there, that's “deep trouble”.
A bunch of ignorant rag-heads who've discovered how to connect up a battery? A couple of bombs that didn't go off? Don't make me laugh. I'm in more danger when I venture out on the M25, and I don't hear that making the headlines on the six o-clock news.
Out of curiosity I just Googled the words “deep trouble”, and got 603,000 hits. The Telegraph is having conniptions because church choirs are in deep trouble with boys' voices breaking earlier and earlier. You have to wonder why all those church choir-masters haven't discovered girls yet (you can bet the choirboys have). Girls' voices don't break, they're generally better looking and they tend not to pick their noses during the sermon.
In August the Essex cricket team were in deep trouble against Warwickshire seam bowlers, while the submarine Astute was in deep trouble because it had to return to port with a broken anchor (of course, its trouble was even deeper than first supposed, because when it got out of harbour it promptly ran aground. Though that's more sort of ... shallow trouble, I suppose). Earlier this month the Dallas Cowboys were in deep trouble after they slipped to 1-4 following a 24-21 defeat in Minnesota – now that's really deep do-dos (erm ... is it? I wouldn't know. Or care).
Back in 2005 oysters were in deep trouble on the West Coast of America, in 2003 the undersea volcanoes under the Atlantic were in deep trouble and in 2004 car makers Fiat were in deep trouble, though I still seem to see quite a few new Fiats on the roads six years later, though I don't think I'd let my wife or servants drive one. Back in 2000 the WorldWatch Institute published a paper called “Deep Trouble”. It was about groundwater pollution in India.
In 2009 the California Public Employees’ Retirement System was in deep trouble, to be joined a year later by the world's sharks, who were in deep trouble because of shark's fin soup. Aah, bless. In February this year the Euro was in deep trouble. Bloody good. I hope it dies.
I suppose what it comes down to is that “deep trouble” is our automatic default descriptor for virtually every problem, major or minor. Whenever the smallest thing goes wrong, someone will tell us we're up to our eyes in ordure and the end of the world is at hand. It's probably yet another symptom of the Stupid Society, with the BBC at its head. Other symptoms include Halloween, Strictly Come Dancing, Elf'n'Safety Risk Assessments as a replacement for actual thought, the X Factor, “train stations” and Patsy Kensit, the world's least attractive woman.
What worries me most is that we've left ourselves no room for manoeuvre. If the worst happens and a huge comet is suddenly spotted hurtling Earth-wards and heralding the end of life as we know it, Jim, we aren't going to have any words left to describe it. On the one hand, choirboys and the Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, the imminent extinction of mankind – see what I mean? How are we going to express it? “Oh gosh, chaps, this is going to be a wee bit inconvenient. Now we'll never know how the oysters got on ...”
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