A butterscotch-scented beige vapour…

Word count: 325 words

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. Today’s comes from British actor and comedian Russell Brand.

When Margaret Thatcher died on April 8, I felt nothing. I hadn’t liked her politics but, then, she wasn’t my Prime Minister. Safely stored across the Atlantic Ocean, she was far enough away to be a non-entity to me. I saw the Meryl Streep movie, The Iron Lady, and marvelled at Meryl’s acting ability, not the idea of the former leader’s decline.

My son tells me that, following Thatcher’s death, the song “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” again became a chart-topper. I found that sad because it’s way too easy to buy a song and a lot harder to articulate what bothered you about a politician’s behaviour.

Thatcher became leader of her party in 1975, the year comedian Russell Brand, star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, was born. He was four when she became Prime Minister. For a comedian, he is awfully insightful. If you have the time, I suggest you read all 1,941 words of his piece in the Guardian.

If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, then savour his figurative language here. Let me give you my favourite bit:

“The News” was the pompous conduit through which we suckled at the barren baroness through newscaster wet-nurses, naturally; not direct from the steel teat. Jan Leeming, Sue Lawley, Moira Stuart [all British broadcasters]– delivering doctrine with sterile sexiness, like a butterscotch-scented beige vapour.

The syntax of these sentences appears to lack at least one necessary verb, and the use of a semi-colon is incorrect, but, wow!, the phrase “butterscotch-scented beige vapour” really delivers. I like the way he piles mild upon mild. I also liked his earlier description of  Thatcher as the “headmistress of our country.” I attended a private school myself in my youth, and I understand the terror AND the scorn that the word “headmistress” reveals. It captures Thatcher perfectly, don’t you think?

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