James Combes - The-Latest comedy writer
The weasel is a long-tailed furry mammal of the genus Mustela, of the Mustiladae family. Weasels occur naturally all over the world, but are most commonly found in Priory Avenue, Bedford Park, Chiswick, UK.
The common or garden Fund Manager is a large, tubby, rosy-cheeked mammal of the genus criminalis fundus exploitatus. Up until recently, they were commonly found in particularly affluent areas of London, areas such as Bedford Park, Hampstead, Kensington and Islington. Since their fall from grace in the credit crunch of last year, many are now outcasts, living on the streets and clogging up council tips country-wide (a full report on this story will follow later in the week).
The Oxtail English Dictionary is a large book full of words. This is nothing new for a book: after all, most books consist of words, with the exception of those written by government officials, J.K. Rowling and Katie Price.
But the Oxtail English Dictionary (OED) at least has the decency to explain the words as it goes along. In that respect, it is very much like the better known Oxford English Dictionary, though it is superior in one particular way: it contains a very good soup menu.
To the casual observer – or, to a lesser extent, the observer in formal dress – it may seem that these three concepts are entirely unconnected.
Not any longer.
In the courts of Chancery Lane a battle rages on – a clash that will be finally decided on Monday.
The dispute is a three-way wrangle between representatives of the Oxtail English Dictionary, members of the investment community and the Weasel Rights Authority (WRA).
This dispute centres on an argument over the correct collective pronoun for a group of Fund Managers. According to the OED, the current collective pronoun for the Fund Manager community is “A Weasel of Fund Managers”. This, they claim, has been the term most closely associated with the Fund Manager in recent times and has been accepted in common parlance for at least fifteen years.
George Troddlebottom, editor of the OED for the past twenty years, sees nothing wrong with the term. And he vigorously defends the term’s canonisation within the English language via the new edition of the OED (£17.99 from all good bookstores and soup kitchens):
“It is the OED’s duty to reflect and keep an up-to-date track of language used by the English speaking public. The term in question seems a fair and apt description of Fund Managers and their activities, and so I stand by it. The term has been in circulation – and in some cases, triangulation and rectangulation – for over fifteen years by Joe Public.”
Surprisingly enough, it is not the Fund Manager community that are complaining about the usage of the term. They are far too busy drinking red wine and being decadent to worry about such things.
It is the Weasel Rights Authority that have lodged the complaint. The WRA, perhaps more commonly known in the days before privatisation, as Off-Weasel, are seeking an injunction against the usage of the phrase “A Weasel of Fund Managers” on the basis that the term is offensive to the weasel population, who are nice, law-abiding, well-respected, members of the West London community, except on the odd occasion that they get carried away doing one of their elaborate war dances on Turnham Green.
Roger Farquahar, chief weasel and representative of the WRA, is appalled by the callousness of the OED in employing this term: “It is derogatory to the weasel community, and until an injunction is put in place, we will continue to fight the OED in the courts. We will declare weasel war upon them!”
It remains to be seen what the Lord Chief Weasel’s ruling will be on Monday, but it is fair to say that, currently, the weasel population of London, are not happy bunnies – or happy Mustiladae, as the case may be.
Current collective pronouns for weasels include the terms boogle, gang, pack and confusion. The latter of which would also fit the mammal criminalis fundus exploitatus perfectly well.