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Sunday, 15 September 2013

Inside an epidemic

Now that the epidemic is safely behind us, I can reveal my role in curtailing the deplorable outbreak of genteel verbosity that spread so rapidly among BBC radio presenters during the last few weeks. Readers will remember, with shudders of distaste,  how the horrendous term 'male counterparts' infested the airwaves, displacing simpler and more-pleasing words such as 'men'.

I and a handful of other experts were asked to form a committee to investigate the epidemic, working with a secretariat provided by the USCDC. As you would imagine, my first priority was to reverse-engineer the transmission vectors to pinpoint the source of the outbreak. That proved to be an article on the 'Today' radio programme explaining that women did not deserve as much pay as men. Archive recordings reveal that at precisely 08:24:13:53 on 15th of August the BBC presenter Helen McAuthur began to say:

'A survey has shown that in 2012 female executives earned 25% less than their male counterparts.'

Within a day the deadly urge had spread to another announcer on the evening news. Commenting on the use of prisoners to work in call centres, news anchor-man John Naughty was heard to say:

'Female prisoners at Slade Prison were engaged in calls about insurance products, while their male counterparts [or 'men', as an uninfected person might have said] at Holdness Prison made calls about car warranties'.

Two days later a compound case was heard, in which the malignant verbosity had combined with a touch of tautology, when a third announcer was heard to say:

'Her Majesty the Queen attended a service at Sandringham today, while her male counterpart Prince Phillip was attended by royal doctors.'

Thereafter cases were being reported by the minute, until we heard the news we were dreading- the urge had crossed a homophonic barrier. In a programme about warfare over the ages, Dick Snow, summarising advances in personal armour, was heard to make the following comparison between plate armour and chain mail:

'The gussets of plate armour were far less forgiving than their mail counterparts.'

It was to be the turning point, however; for the BBC board were shocked into action, and gave me free rein to implement whatever measures I considered necessary to prevent a pandemic. In fact the cure was straightforward. I had all the BBC announcers assembled at two sites, whether infected or not, and gave each 1200grams of  corium calceamenti per anum with stern words. No cases have been heard since.

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