Moral compass No one uses compasses any more. Replace with “moral GPS”.
Highway robbery When was the last time some Dick Turpin-type stuck a blunderbuss through the open window of your horse-drawn carriage and demanded “all your jewellery and gold doubloons, sir, if you value your life”? I thought so. We’re in the 21st century now, people. Replace with “internet highway robbery”.
Drop of a hat Is there a direct correlation between the decline of Western civilisation and the decline in hat wearing? I like to think so. Still, no one wears hats any more. Best avoid.
Legend As one wise scribess once commented, “King Arthur was a legend … not some meathead who kicked a field goal in the last five minutes of a game.” Remove “legend” and replace with “top bloke” or female equivalent.
Hero Once upon a time you had to defeat the French at the Battle Of Trafalgar to earn the title “hero”. Now it seems anyone can be a hero (why, maybe even you, dear reader!). Still, I can’t help think that Lord Nelson would be rolling in his grave to be described in the same company as the maker of Sydney’s best cappuccino, for example.
Litmus test As a child I thought the greatest thing in the world was watching magnesium burn in chemistry class … closely matched by the magic of testing for acidity with litmus paper. But we’re not children any more, candy doesn’t taste as good, life has crushed our spirits and the wizardry of chemistry has long been replaced by more adult endeavours.
Enfant terrible A favourite expression employed by arts writers to describe “dramaturges” who “modernise” Shakespeare by casting cross-dressing dwarves who hurl sex toys at audiences. Replace with “DOCS child”.
Dramaturge I’ve never meet anyone in the theatre who has given me a convincing explanation of what a dramaturge is. Maybe Cate Blanchett is one – she virtually IS Sydney’s theatre industry – but who knows? For that reason, I will never call anyone a dramaturge, in print or otherwise, even as a form of insult. Or an “auteur” for that matter (although I have used “auteur” as an insult).
Bellwether Apparently bellwether “refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading his flock of sheep”. References to castrated rams have no place in respected periodicals. Avoid.
Bun fight I’ve never seen anyone fight with buns. Have you? I’ve seen people fight with live crabs, but that’s another story. (Note to self: NEVER tell that story in public.)
My ebook military thriller The Spartan is out now on Amazon.