Force of will

These are, without doubt, extraordinary times and there is perhaps no greater illustration of this than that strange, nagging discomfort anybody with any vestige of empathy is currently feeling, albeit in spite of themselves. It's because we sort of feel a bit sorry for politicians.

Alright, it's true, they're still behaving like a gang of spoilt children, but the fact is they find themselves in an impossible position.

Nobody knows what on earth's going on during this crisis, least of all the self-appointed scientific experts who pop up constantly in the media to contradict each other in a battle of egos worthy of Ronaldo and Mourinho in their pomp.

Meanwhile, ministers and leaders are left to try to explain the inexplicable, leaving themselves wide open to attacks from all corners. They're damned if they do and damned if they don't. So, like I say, we start to feel a bit of sympathy for them. And then, to quote Frank Sinatra, they go and spoil it all by saying somethin' stupid.

That somethin' stupid, in this case, is their new de rigueur, and extremely annoying, phrase "What I will say is...".

This is a mightily disingenuous piece of work even in the context of the chicanery so prevalent in politics. It goes like this: an interviewer asks a direct question.

"So, you've made a complete pig's ear of everything you've ever done, haven't you?"

The politician scratches his/her bonce, looks down his/her nose in that supercilious manner they're so fond of and deigns to reply: "Look, (that's another trick - 'look' gives the illusion of being in control), this really isn't the time to be talking about pigs' ears. There'll be a full inquiry into those when it's right and proper. What I will say is this - I'm absolutely brilliant because my mother says so."

This is genius. The phrase "What I will say" simultaneously feigns to be letting us in on some sensitive, important information while at the same time opening up the floodgates to enable the sneaky person in question to say whatever the hell they want.

Errant husbands should try this when cornered.

"Is that lipstick I can see on your collar, you meathead?"

"Look, this isn't the time to be considering women's face painty stuff, there'll be a full a proper inquiry into that when it's right and proper. What I will say is this: I bought you these lovely chrysanthemums from the petrol station on the way home, oh, and can you pass me the remote? The football's on in a minute."

Thank you for reading; what I will say is this - stay well.