Sunday, May 25, 2008

'Normal' Jobs

This story is a few weeks old, but its hilarity hasn't been diminished over time. Hazel Blears suggested that Cabinet members should try doing 'normal' jobs for a few days every year to ensure they don't lose touch with 'normal' folk. First of all, Hazel herself worked in Tesco for three days last year, and she still seems to be the same ginger ball of crazy she has always been. So fat lot of good that did her.

But something else bothers me about this story, and that is the continuing use of the word 'normal'. It's a word that doesn't just appear in relation to this topic, but in a lot of the language that comes from the government. In usual circumstances, the word normal means standard, usual or as expected. I would imagine most people consider themselves to be normal in most respects. But somehow, when the word is used by the government it seems patronising; in the sense that the opposite to this particular form of 'normal' isn't 'abnormal', but 'special'. It gives the impression that Blears and her ilk consider themselves to be operating at a higher intellectual level than the rest of us simpletons, and that all our worries will go away if we see politicians stacking a few shelves.

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