Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Pedal Ineptitude

One of the very few useful things politicians do is to inadvertently increase the general level of merriment among the rest of us. I have mentioned here before the British politician who said of some proposed new coercive measure for making people do what the government wants them to do that it was ‘Less top down stick, more bottom up carrot’. Now, a Russian politician on a visit to a rifle range has managed to, quite literally, shoot himself in the foot.

Actually, the expression ‘To shoot oneself in the foot’ is now mostly used incorrectly, or, since meaning is now it seems determined by majority usage, has changed its meaning: people now say of someone who has done something hilariously inept, and damaging to himself, that he has shot himself in the foot, the suggestion being that it was a clumsy accident. But the original saying, dating I think from the First World War, referred to a careful deliberate action which, though it damaged its perpetrator, could also save his life. If you shot yourself in the foot, it would certainly hurt, and you would be in trouble if there was a suspicion you had done it on purpose. But you would have rendered yourself useless as a soldier, and so would be taken away from the terror and misery of the front line.

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