Dear Friends,

The announcement on Monday that lifting the final lockdown restrictions was to be delayed for a further four weeks until July 19th, while not wholly surprising, was a real disappointment to many people. All of us had circled June 21st in our diaries as the day when we would finally be ‘free’. Now we have to wait just that little bit longer. What had been hitherto described as ‘irreversible’ had been put into ‘reverse’. And that is the problem with language. Rhetoric riddled with hyperbole gets us carried away with ourselves and before we know it, we find ourselves talking nonsense – illiterate, illogical, ill-timed – all of which conspires to disappoint, frustrate and anger one’s readers and hearers in equal measure. The truth is, nothing is ‘irreversible’, except for the passing of time. Whenever we find ourselves wishing we ‘could have our time over again’ we are given a rude reminder that whatever else we might wish for, that is one wish that can never come true. And so, we look forward to July 19th, but without holding our breath because who knows what will happen during these next few weeks. If there is any consolation, there has not been any tightening of the restrictions. The relative freedom we presently enjoy we will continue to enjoy…And of course we cannot ignore the painful reality which is that already hard-hit sectors of the economy will continue to suffer. Jobs will continue to be lost as a result, livelihoods threatened, household budgets stretched. Many of us enjoy the luxury of a fixed and secure income and as such have been shielded from the worst effects, economically, of the pandemic. For many others this has not been so…But back to our use of language. A useful guide might be, ‘mean what you say, and say what you mean’. So obvious perhaps, that it can be too obvious. And of course, people like myself who have no choice but to ‘have a lot to say’ have to be especially careful. I, and others like me, find ourselves having to weigh every word – that’s why writing this letter is taking an age (it’s not actually) – to make sure that what is said is entirely consistent with what was meant. Although, given that no one yet has perfected the technique of mind reading, who would know. Well, I would…That means we need an external reference point by which to ‘judge’ the truthfulness of what is said, and the honesty with which it is said. And so, we often remind those who would tell what to do, how to live, and so on, to ‘practice what they preach.’ It is in the doing that what is said is held to account. [G.K. Chesterton is said to have retorted to such an ‘insult’ by remarking that ‘at least we don’t preach what we practice.’] …’Meaning’, ‘saying’, ‘doing’ – each bound into the other in such a way as to demand that every thought, word and deed are entirely consistent with each other. A blueprint for every conversation, discussion and debate; for every lecture, speech and sermon. If we are to counteract the rising tide of cynicism presently infecting the body politic, somehow or another we have to do all we can to ensure that we remain true to ourselves in thought word & deed. Nothing is ‘irreversible’ whatever anyone says, whoever they might be. In spite of which. roll on July 19th

’Meaning’, ‘saying’, ‘doing’