Great news everybody - problems don't exist any more. Well, ok, technically they do but you might be forgiven for thinking they don't because you never hear the word itself these days. The reason for this is that problems are now called “challenges” which, let's face it, is simply smoke and mirrors by semantics. I can't be sure but I think this sleight of tongue was first introduced by Tony Blair and his masters of spin.
They were also guilty of using the word “Look” at the beginning of every assertion in the hope of giving the forthcoming old tosh a certain gravitas. It didn't.
Then there was the “Let me be clear about this” phrase inserted at random intervals during any given interview in order to provide an impression of honesty and transparency. The fact that it was simply a tired adornment amid a tirade of confusion and obfuscation was neither here nor there.
The same fashion continues to run amok today - the term “Let me be clear about this...” is ubiquitous in current politics.
Another favourite of those in office over the last few years has been the word “robust” as in “robust discussions” or “robust campaign”. I suppose it's a word which is supposed to evoke an image of strength and determination but it just makes you think that the person using it lacks the wit or imagination to come up with some original vocabulary of their own.
Mind you, it's not just politicians who are prone to this linguistic laziness. The current fad of beginning any explanation, no matter how facile, with the word “So...” is wholly infuriating. I suppose if you were asking a surgeon how triple heart bypass surgery is performed you would forgive him a slow intake of breath and a long “Sooo...” as he considered how he might make his explanation simple enough for an idiot such as you or me to understand.
However when it's just some bloke telling you how he decided which hedge trimmer to buy, the introductory “So...” becomes - I do hope you'll agree - a valid motive for using said trimmer to lop his head off in one easy movement. Using “So...” at the beginning of any answer to a question should be punishable with an on-the-spot fine like the ones used for things like littering the pavement. The police officer should also be obliged, by law, to state the following just to rub it in:
“Sooo.. that'll be ninety pounds, please.”
That's what some might call a robust solution to a growing problem and I'd like to be very clear about that.