When I was ruminating the other day about the meaning of the term 'Family Butcher' you may have thought I was being silly. I myself wondered if I was being silly but dismissed the possibility on the grounds of my frequently acknowledged high intellect.
A couple of days later, Laurie Taylor on his Radio 4 programme 'Thinking Allowed' was musing on the meaning of 'Family Hotel'. Was it an hotel run by a family or an hotel that welcomed families?
The ensuing interview with a fellow sociologist who had made an academic study of Family Hotels (yes, really) did not really provide a definitive answer although it seemed to be a combination of both meanings.
Of course, trying to get a definitive answer from a sociologist is like trying to get an unambiguous opinion from Rowan Williams.
On the 'Moral Maze' on Radio 4 last night a Muslim spokesman was saying there was a case for polygamy being allowed in English law. But do we need to legislate for every single preference and lifestyle?
There's nothing illegal in having multiple wives so long as you haven't married them in a legal ceremony. Take Lord Bath, for whom I have always had a soft spot, not least because he once wrote me a charming letter about an article I had written. Lord Bath has a large number of 'wifelets', as he calls them. Some estimates put the number of wifelets as high as 73. He's probably not sure of the exact number himself and probably needs a prompt card on the bedhead to say the correct name during love-making. (There's also a joke there about having 73 mothers-in-law but I'll let that pass). It's an arrangement that seems to work well enough for all concerned. Why would he need the cost and inconvenience of 73 marriage ceremonies? Of course, there is no religious dimension to Lord Bath's lifestyle.
The minority of Muslims who believe in polygamy can surely go through their own religious ceremonies and settle any financial disputes according to their own rules. Providing legal polygamy to everyone would surely destroy the frisson of the traditional 'bit on the side'. Next thing you know there'd be designated dogging areas and municipal cruising sites, complete with an all-night Starbucks and MacDonalds.
The Guardian Diary used to refer to Melanie Phillips as "the clinically sane Melanie Phillips." However, losing all touch with reality is a symptom of insanity. I had the misfortune to catch Ms Phillips on Question Time this week. In a rant about young people she said "we can't hit them......we can't lock them up."
FACT (as the tabloids say): it is still legal to hit children in Britain, so long as you don't cause visible bruising - or nobody discovers such visible bruising.
FACT: Britain locks up more young people than any other country in Europe.
She was, of course, in favour of 'the mosquito', the high pitched signal being used to disperse gatherings of teenagers. So was the equally deranged Minister Caroline Flint.
Never mind that it breaches every principle of justice, being directed indiscriminately at everyone under 20, including babies, and at those who have committed no offence and have no intent to commit any offence.
At least Melanie Phillips is mostly confined to the pages of the Daily Mail. But whenever I see Caroline Flint I wonder if I could ever vote for a Government of which she is a member. She makes Hazel Blears seem almost endearing.
Jane Fonda has said 'cunt' on live television in America. In Britain, many people said 'cunt' when watching Jane Fonda fronting those L'Oreal commercials. The ones where she said "I'm 68, you know!", like some mad old woman at a bus stop who mistakenly thinks you give a fuck what age she is.
Still, poor soul. She must be losing her marbles if she thinks you can say 'cunt' on American television. Apparently, it only went out live and uncensored on the East Coast, thus sparing the Bible Belt from thousands of cardiac arrests.
On the last occasion that I used the illustration above, I was inundated with a request to publish a picture of myself wearing those shorts.
To forestall a repetition I must make clear that they are not my shorts. (I've washed enough of my dirty linen on this blog already). They appear only for the purpose of a pun on the word 'shorts'.
Anyone desperately disappointed by this should visit: