Yesterday I mentioned Donald Tuskâ€™s Civic Platform, and I am reminded that for a long time now there has been talk of creating a Hooting Yard Civic Platform. Unfortunately, the discussions have been mired in disagreement, unintelligibility, hysteria and pomposity, but perhaps it is time to let bygones be bygones and crack on with the job. Any future Hooting Yard Civic Platform will be robust rather than weedy, and it will be fit for purpose. Those are really the only two things we need to bear in mind, for all else is “as a vapour of haze in a mist of unknowing”, as Mrs Gubbins put it the other day, while talking in her sleep. It is difficult to overstate the importance of Mrs Gubbinsâ€™ contribution to this project. The crone is nearly ninety now, and has very few teeth in her head, but she has been around long enough to see an impressive number of Platforms, both Civic and otherwise, come and go. Our Platform, when it is built, will rest on solid foundations, and we must thank her for that, even if she is likely to be taking an afternoon nap when we do so.
I had hoped to bring on board a squad of zonk-eyed Milibands to kick-start this new, energetic phase of Civic Platform development, but Mrs Gubbinsâ€™ head turned green and septic when this idea was mooted, so I abandoned it. Instead, I got a pot of paint and daubed NOT WEEDY, ROBUST on a makeshift proto-Platform donated by Old Farmer Frack. Apparently it is made out of bits of a cow byre that he smashed up one night, but it serves its purpose admirably and looks very civic, plopped in the middle of a field rife with bracken. Mrs Gubbins, whose head is thankfully back to normal, has planted some nettles thereabouts, to add what she calls â€œa dash of Spartan rigourâ€ to the scene. Whether the Spartans made use of nettles in such a way is not something I know about, and nor I suspect does La Gubbins, but it is always best to humour her fancies.
Attractive as the proto-Platform is, it lacks a certain coherence, for it remains unclear what kind of initiatives and policies will be launched from it. And believe you me, I intend the Hooting Yard Civic Platform to be a launch pad for a bewildering number of initiatives and policies. That is why a particularly damp and gloomy cellar in Pang Hill Orphanage will be the headquarters, soon I hope, of the Pang Hill Orphanage Think Tank, from which ideas will fizz. It would already have been set up had I been able to bash into Old Farmer Frackâ€™s head the notion that, as a mad bellowing rustic, he is not a suitable candidate to be the Think Tankâ€™s Director. He has his heart set on the position, bless him, even though it does not involve cows, but I am hoping to fob him off by making him an Honorary Patron.
Which brings me neatly to the main point of this otherwise witless bibblydib, which is that you too can apply to sit alongside Old Farmer Frack at the snackbar counter reserved for Honorary Patrons of the Hooting Yard Civic Platform. To be considered for this unbearably thrilling way of spending your twilight years, all you need to do is to complete the following sentence in no more than ten thousand words: â€œI will prove to be a robust rather than weedy patron of the Hooting Yard Civic Platform, because my first priority will beâ€¦â€
Mrs Gubbins will sort through all the entries posted in Comments over the next couple of weeks, in between naps and nettle husbandry.
I will prove to be a robust rather than weedy patron of the Hooting Yard Civic Platform, because my first priority will be to bring in a raft of measures… or perhaps a tranche… I haven’t decided. It will certainly be a collective noun, of that you can be sure; I will certainly have more than one measure. Come to think of it, I will probably have more than two. I can’t just say “I will bring in a couple of measures” It sounds weedy. A few measures, at least. Probably not several.
I think definitely a tranche, because being a French word meaning slice, it reminds me of holidays spent in my grandfather’s pigeon tower or “pigeonnier” in Breton, gazing out through the bars at the rest of the family enjoying slices of cake in the rock garden. Besides, if I were to say my first priority would be to introduce a slice of measures, people would laugh, and snort, and scoff, and deride, and back-bite, and heckle, and sneer, and taunt, and mock.
Raft, moreover, is a collective noun I have never understood. The phrase “a raft of measures” puts me in mind of a watercraft made entirely of hastily lashed together spirit levels, which because of a. their structural fragility and b. their intended purpose of precisely measuring cant or gradient, would be doubly useless on the high seas.