Archer gives cliché a new lease of life

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

IF YOU take to heart the laments of gram­mar­i­ans and any­one else with a pedan­tic ob­ses­sion for word us­age, you will have gath­ered what a much-ma­ligned word “cliché” is.

We’re urged to avoid the cliché like the plague, but af­ter read­ing no less an author­ity on English prose than Jef­frey Archer in Cometh the Hour, I am of the view that the cliche can be given a new lease of life. He gar­nishes his hack­neyed phrases to bring them back to life.

He writes: “What John Buchan once de­scribed as be­ing be­tween a rock and a hard place…”

An­other Archer gem: “Ap­par­ently obliv­i­ous to what was go­ing on around him, Ted Heath, like Nero, went on play­ing his fid­dle.”

Nero is said to have played his mu­sic while fire de­stroyed 70 per­cent of Rome.

Archer scat­ters his clichés ac­cord­ing to his want through­out his book.

In vogue ap­pears to be “drain­ing the swamp” and new words such as blesser, sleep­ist, twar, etc.

Some­where in the book you will come across this line: “As Stalin mem­o­rably said, com­rade, tell a lie of­ten enough and it be­comes the truth.” Beau­ti­ful! On page 374 he says: “Harry was made aware for the first time what ‘off the hook’ re­ally meant.”

Of course, this is in ref­er­ence to the ring­ing of the tele­phone.

Long live the cliché in all its beauty!

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