Going to Hell in a Handcart: Series 3. The Daily Telegraph

One of the worst pains any of us might suffer is to watch an old and beloved friend in a terminal decline which we can only look upon, unable to do a thing to help. The friend gets more feeble by the day as his energy fails and he finally loses his wits. We remember when he was vital and interesting, but those qualities have evaporated. He was particularly admired for his ability to speak and write good English, but now his prose is a shambles and his spelling atrocious. His use of imagery becomes hopelessly confused. At last the dreadful day dawns and he dies.

I don’t know exactly when the Daily Telegraph died, but the posthumous signs are manifest.

A few examples… Yesterday, a cricket correspondent told us that Jonny Bairstow “was sat.” Today, another spells “Nietzsche” as “Nietzche.” We don’t expect to find such infelicities and desecrations in a quality broadsheet.
Mixed metaphors and category mistakes abound. For instance, just how can a headline-writer construe such a phrase as “The slump bites”? Might as well report that someone drowned in a fire or another swallowed by a daffodil.

The section after the leader page has degenerated into embarrassing farce as the trash culture dominates what used to be an educated arts and books section. All is fashion and hideous pop:. “How I finally learnt to love hip hop.” Who cares? All is touchy-feely: “Is Jordan Peterson really a self-help guru for young men?” Perhaps, or perhaps not. Vacuity follows on vacuity. Then there’s “Modern Life” and “Why the fear of not making the most of the extra day makes you fret.” Gerraway! This part of the paper should be renamed the Imbecile Supplement.  “Could your smart phone be a passion-killer?” I don’t know, but language like that made me lose all my old passion for the paper.

I think the death throes began when the new royal baby arrived and the editor gave the whole of the front page to Bryony Gordon who – whatever subject she’s given to write about – only writes about Bryony Gordon

Dear old Telegraph: Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine et lux perpetua luceat eis… . Subscribe

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4 Comments on Going to Hell in a Handcart: Series 3. The Daily Telegraph

  1. Unfortunately the Telegraph is suffering from the same self-destructive and self-imposed affliction common to all formerly conservative groups and institutions – namely an intense desire to appear “modern”, “right-on” and “relevant” to all those (usually hopeless lefties) who hate them and will never like them anyway, no matter how much of their language and ideas they clothe themselves with. Rather they end up looking ridiculous, like a sad Widow Twankey, painting their faces with ridiculous make-up and wearing absurd wigs in order to please an audience that lives on a heavy diet of grievances, doesn’t like jokes, and only enjoys throwing tomatoes and rotten vegetables.

    Look at the Church, the police, and the Conservative party for the most egregious examples.

    The left has captured the culture and the language, so it makes no sense for conservatives to attempt to ingratiate themselves on the left’s terms.

    • Apologies, on re-reading my comment above I realise I have made a mistake…those like the Telegraph would never dress up as Widow Twankey for fear of perpetuating “harmful” stereotypes and reinforcing “transphobia”.

      After all, what is funny about a man with a 5 o’clock shadow, awful make-up and horrendous fake boobs claiming he is a woman? Is it not merely a case of her being “who ze really is”?

    • Good observation. The same thing has happened with corporate board rooms – e.g. British law firms joining the 30% Club and holding seminars on (compulsory) diversity and inclusion – it is buttock-clenchingly embarrassing to have to watch monoglot, monocultural, wealthy but liberal-leaning white partners flying out in business class from London to gush about these latest totalitarian policies to a roomful of multi-lingual mixed race staff here in Asia – not far off the mea culpa show trials under the Soviets.

  2. It died when the generations that have grown up after grammar, spelling, diction and clear expression of thought were thrown out of the classroom, being condemned as old-fashioned, outmoded and Victorian values, moved into senior posts in journalism, law, politics and, errr, education. Having declared (with some justification) that prescriptivists are ignorant dinosaurs and hyper-correctors, the descriptivists led by Crystal and Kamm have been taken too literally, and so everyone now thinks that whatever garbage they write is just fine and dandy because “usus, quem penes est et ius et norma loquendi”.
    I wouldn’t grieve too much, though, as most of us now get our news and comments from non-mainstream sources that put more stress on objective reporting, truth-telling and genuine, civilized debate.