Imagine if you had switched on the wireless on 16 June, 1940, in time to hear Winston Churchill declare: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ End of quote. Repeat the line.”
Would your morale have soared? Would your sinews have hardened in preparation for the struggle? Or would you have thought: “Gawd, we’re at war with Germany and the Prime Minister is several suspension lines short of a parachute”?
Spare some compassion, then, for our transatlantic friends who find themselves under the executive power of Joe Biden, whose relationship with the English language is akin to alphabet soup and whose incontinent orations are increasingly striking a chilling chord with the American people, already marginally involved in the Ukraine war. Biden’s latest gaffe suggested the problem was worsening.