Big trouble in little China

So, OUP has chosen its word of the year, and it’s “big society.”

That’s the worst choice ever. Apart from the fact that it’s a term so infuriating you could write a kazoo theme tune to a Radio 1 drivetime phone-in for half-wit choirs of whistling nerks, and still find that soothing by comparison, it doesn’t, in even the merest half-hearted underwhelming of ways, represent a phenomenon.

Last year’s word was annoying too: unfriend, but at least it referred to something people actually did. Never shy to repeat one of my own jokes, I illustrated it thus: “After he clubbed my nan with a banjo, I unfriended him on Facebook.” We all get the hang of this even if my nan – clubbable though she certainly was, in the with-a-banjo sense – was long dead by then.

Big Society’s different. Big Society was supposed to represent the idea that, instead of the government going to the trouble of finding out who needs knee arthroscopies, science lessons,  day trips to  Oldham, and so forth, we could all get together and build the hospital, school, or dismally humiliating quasi-monopolised rail service ourselves.

For a moment, I’m going stop being sarcastic. Has anyone actually done it? Can anyone introduce me to anyone who’s done it? Has anyone every heard of anyone who’s even looked into building a hospital to help speed up their wait for a more fearsome erection, or a cleaner brighter wash?

If the answer’s ‘no,’ then how in the paunch of an old-Etonian swine guzzler can ‘Big Society’ be the word of the year?

Unless it’s the word of the year which most closely represents a dream David Cameron once had in which a million oompa loompa scurried around his feet, building a great oompa  loompa hotel complex with him in the penthouse apartment demanding curly fries and pixie dust in a teapot on the hour every hour.

Let’s run a book on what’s going to be the word of next year:

12/1 “Soap-boxing” (referring to the vigour with which the Liberal Democrats’ campaigned in prisons, even though they said they wouldn’t ); 7/1 “Square-pants” (referring to the new trend in Europhobe underwear, worn as a protest against beauro-Brussels’ imperialist insistence on anti-imperial measurements); 5/3 “cub-crawling” (referring to that unspeakable woodland spree that Bill Oddie and Johnny Kingdom went on with a bottle of scotch and a cudgel).

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~ by David Thorley on November 25, 2010.

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