27 March 2017

Don’t you get fed up with the over-use of certain words and phrases? As ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘up to speed’ have mercifully faded, top spot in this category at the moment must go to the noun ‘resilience’ (less frequently ‘resiliency’; adjective ‘resilient’). From politicians confronting low poll ratings and premier league managers after being hammered by Chelsea to those representing farmers’ organizations in the aftermath of heavy rain during harvest, just about everybody with a microphone pushed at them by a journalist goes on about how much they admire the ‘resilience’ in the face of adversity of their supporters, lads, or members – by which they mean their refusal to give up or concede defeat and their ability to bounce back. What they describe is indeed admirable, and harried people put on the spot are entitled to clutch at a short, fashionable word that most will understand. There is, however, no excuse for the rest of us, because English is a rich language and the Internet has easily-reached dictionaries of synonyms. On it can also be found at a click the text of the stirring Victorian poem ‘Invictus’, with its famous words ‘bloody, but unbowed’. Now there’s the kind of language I wouldn’t mind seeing being repeated … well, for a while. Thanks to its suicide-disposed government (it’s leaving a note at the side of the BREXIT slip road of the A50 on Wednesday 29 March), the British people will soon need to seek comfort from the spirit it invokes.\

PS, 16 November 2020: Space X’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, just successfully launched, is named … you guessed it … ‘Resilience’.