Archer gives cliché a new lease of life
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!