3 December 2014

Open Letter to the Plain English Campaign

An Open Letter from Sir Norman Wrassle, 
chairman of the Tripe Marketing Board 
to Mrs Christine Maher, OBE
founder-director of the Plain English Campaign

Dear Mrs Maher

My attention has been drawn to media reports of your annual awards for plain English 2014 - in particular, your award of the Golden Bull prize for 'the worst examples of written tripe'.

You may not be aware of the fact, but here at the Tripe Marketing Board we are fighting a rearguard action against the use of the word tripe to signify something of inferior quality.  Every time the word is used in such a negative context, it makes our task of promoting what is a cheap and nutricious product all the more difficult.

You may very well think that tripe is an 'easy target', that perhaps we can be dismissed as 'yesterday's food', but I can tell you that it is making a comeback.  The decline in sales that has bedeviled us since the 1950s may not yet have been arrested, but it has certainly slowed spectacularly as a result of our efforts. Our cause is not helped one iota by such a lazy comparison.

I am not here to defend the baffling prose of Edinburgh Council's 'Programme Momentum Progress Report'.  They no doubt have teams of PR executives who are paid handsomely to fight their corner.  Yet, I cannot sit idly by and watch you sully our fine product by comparing it to such rubbish.

May I suggest that, instead of focusing on the negative, you cast your eyes over a selection of books that celebrate all that is good about tripe - published, as they are, by the Tripe Marketing Board's own imprint, TMB Books?

I hope, after you have done so, that you will look differently at tripe, and that you will find our product distinctly to your taste.  Perhaps you could then ask your officers to come up with a description of the Golden Bull award that is less disparaging to our foodstuff?

Yours sincerely

Sir Norman Wrassle


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