Some eminences gently mix their metaphors when making a speech; others decide to stick them in a blender before pushing them through a meshed sieve, then whisking them till they form stiff peaks.
Step forward Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England. Obiter thinks lawyers who opine that they ‘don’t do numbers’ may be cheered by the news that our most senior banker, on the evidence of a speech delivered in Cardiff this week, doesn’t ‘do’ words – at least not in the way that a speechifying solicitor advocate might.
Perhaps encouraged to raise his game by the Welsh reputation for rhetoric, King rather went to town. Kicking off on an Olympic theme (channeling the ancient Greece vibe?), he recalled the Games’ opening ceremony, where ‘Inside the stadium, we saw not manna descending from heaven,’ (old Testament, anyone?), ‘but thousands of athletes and volunteers rising to their challenge’.
‘Ours may be a sceptred isle,’ he continued, leaving the Bible, and making a bolt for Shakespeare’s Richard II ‘with its own currency and control of monetary policy, but we cannot insulate ourselves from these events. So this precious stone set in the silver sea seems more like a storm-tossed vessel’.
Ranging into sport, King related the Bank had had to show the ‘the same fleetness of foot and ability to feint’ as Welsh rugger legend Gerald Davies. ‘I am not going to pretend that I shall be entertaining,’ he warned darkly, only to suggest ‘abstracting from the colourful metaphor of "helicopter money"’.
There was perhaps a bit more method in the ‘journey’ he took the audience on than the above suggests, as King led them full circle to the contribution of a diminutive Welsh choir to the Olympic opening ceremony. ‘As for the monetary policy committee, you can be sure we shall be looking for as much guidance as we can find, divine or otherwise. What better inspiration than the memory of those children on Rhossili beach singing Cwm Rhondda.’
Obiter asks, could the choppy economic ocean in which the lawyers of England and Wales swim be tightly clasped between a safer pair of hands?