Wednesday 17 February 2010

Moment of Madness

Yesterday, I was chatting to some people about a colleague who appeared to have lost his temper. We all agreed the chap had had a "moment of madness" and I suddenly realised how much our very vocabulary had been affected by Ron Davies.

For those of you who don't remember or never knew, Ron Davies was Secretary of State for Wales. Then one day in 1998 he lost his car keys at midnight on Clapham Common and, perfectly innocently, tried to find them behind some bushes in a gay chap's bottom. In the ensuing media hurricane he first insisted that that was a reasonable place to look for car keys and then that he had had "A moment of madness".

The papers loved it, of course. The Conservative Party loved it because every time they did something embarrassing they could now refer to it as a "moment of madness" and deflect everybody's attention back to poor Mr Davies' elusive car keys. Everybody loved it, because referring to anything as a "moment of madness" guaranteed a snigger.

Now of course the phrase had been around before. Who can forget The Flower Pot Men's 1969 single? You? Damn you to Hell, you unmusical swine.

However, a quick check tells me that there has been one "moment of madness" in American newspapers in the last month as compared to 119 in Britain. I attribute that discrepancy to Ron Davies. Apparently a "moment of madness" is how we won the rugby last weekend: which fits.

When Ron Davies resigned many thought it the sad popping of career-balloon that was still only half-inflated: I take the contrary view. Any old politician can set up a regional assembly, only the few can change the language.

Lest we forget

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