I’ve already had cause to deplore the more purple-inked brethren of my trade for their hyperbolic use of the word carnage (which sadly shows no signs of abating - witness the following recent examples: “Carnage as cuts begin at HSBC in Paris”; “Leicester residents defy lockdown to cause ‘carnage’ in nearby town”), but now they have reloaded their pens and are coming at us with another sanguinary broadside – “Boots to axe 4,000 jobs as high street bloodbath continues”; “Mike Skinner: Lockdown is an ‘absolute bloodbath’ for live music”; “UK facing job cuts bloodbath as BA, Topshop, John Lewis and more axe thousands of staff”; “A bloodbath awaits commercial property investors”.
I suppose it all stems from the early days of the pandemic, with NHS staff often being described as being on the frontline, which, in the circumstances, seemed a fair enough appropriation, but the continued abuse of martial terms really is beginning to pall, so I think it’s time to sheathe those bayonets.
Mind you, it’s not just Fleet Street. A TV news report, discussing the reopening of pubs and possible rowdy behaviour, featured a councillor who said that, if matters were to get out of hand, it would be the job of a “resilience forum” to sort things out. This body was a new one on me but my local forum is defined as follows: “The Local Resilience Forum is a partnership which works together to help people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight stay safe. We aim to reduce risk in the community and help people be prepared for emergencies.”
I hardly think a couple of uppity drinkers constitutes an emergency. I would suggest sending in a pair of plods and a couple of gentle taps with a truncheon should make the topers see sense.
•Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist