Monday smiles – Straight answers, via Yes, Minister

Houses_of_Parliament_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1260013I hope some readers will have seen (in the dim and distant past) a great television series about the British civil service called Yes, Minister.

In this excerpt, the Minister, Jim Hacker, is talking to his Permanent Under Secretary of State, Sir Humphrey Appleby, about reforms to the civil service. Sir Humphrey was not what one might call a member of the plain language movement.

* * *

Jim Hacker: “When you give your evidence to the Think Tank, are you going to support my view that the Civil Service is over-manned and feather-bedded, or not? Yes or no? Straight answer.”


Sir Humphrey: “Well Minister, if you ask me for a straight answer, then I shall say that, as far as we can see, looking at it by and large, taking one thing with another in terms of the average of departments, then in the final analysis it is probably true to say, that at the end of the day, in general terms, you would probably find that, not to put too fine a point on it, there probably wasn’t very much in it one way or the other. As far as one can see, at this stage.”

One thought on “Monday smiles – Straight answers, via Yes, Minister

  1. Pingback: Monday smile – Organizational structure, Humphrey-style | From Words to Deeds: translation & the law

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