A gentleman is someone who knows how to play the accordion but doesn’t. Gentlemanly English is when you can read Martin Amis without resorting to a dictionary, but people are unaware of this fact when they read your own writing. Gentlemanly English is when you have a knighthood and a seat in the Lords, but you sign your correspondence “Bob”.

Recently Pash has been collecting grammatical hates. I’m a pedant too, but I don’t mind slip-ups much when the slipper-up is not a native speaker or was crippled in childhood by being forced to attend a school where shuffling tabloid clichés creative writing was prized over correct writing. It’s when people make mistakes because they are showing off that I lose my temper.

Right now, the mistake that has me kicking my splashproof radio out of the bathroom is freakin’ reflexive pronoun abuse. It embodies its own awfulness. The reflexive takes a short word that refers to you personally—“I” or “me”—and turns it into a long word. It’s bigging yourself up with letters. It’s like adding “MA (Oxon)” to your name. It says something about you, but probably not what you hoped.

Check out this random collection of perpetrators [please take the sics as read]:

Clare Short:

Neither myself nor the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State attended the Brit awards.

Ken Livingstone:

Myself, the Cuban Ambassador and Pedro Ross met briefly a few moments ago…

Charles Clarke:

People behaved, including myself, in ways that were probably not in the best and most advised ways.

George Galloway:

It is to the credit of Labour that it took nearly a hundred years for its body and soul to be captured so that it could start to expel radicals such as myself…

[If you think there’s any chance I’m going to link to Galloway’s Website and the page this comes from then you’ve really not being paying attention.]