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The head of our political semiology monitoring unit had a varied and interesting career, including finally a stint in journalism which so depressed him that he sought sanctuary in the quiet corridors of Knocklofty Towers.

Exhausted by the diseased, cliché-clogged maunderings of politicians, spokesthings for sinister think-tanks, greed-crazed merchant princes and the ghastly sprightliness of advertising, he performed obscure and menial tasks for some time in the firm’s punctuation research laboratory before the management noticed his formidable experience and his repressed urge to puncture some of the bladders of foul air infesting parliaments, boardrooms and editors’ offices.

At a Knocklofty picnic he let slip the fact that he once worked in the quality control department of a glue factory. It was rather overstaffed and had more than the normal quota of wags found among technicians, who are as a rule not distinguished for egregious waggishness.

By the time he took up his duties there his colleagues had tired of finding amusing new ways of testing glue by spreading it on chairs, the earpieces of telephones and toilet seats. To pass the time, they turned to more intellectual pursuits such as crosswords and other word games.

He was puzzled by an unfamiliar word much used by his colleagues. It sounded like “blalg”, and was always uttered on its own in a loud, flat, slightly nasal tone; it seemed to have no variants, qualifiers or other linguistic attributes.

“Blalg”, he was told, was a word invented by the staff for the purpose of saying something when one had nothing of any importance to say. Trying to instil meaning into it by inflection, gesture or facial expression was frowned upon: the whole point of the utterance was its absolute lack of meaning.

Remembering this as he toiled away in the peace of his cubicle at Knocklofty on a concordance of semi-colons in Paradise Lost, he passed a few lunchtimes editing the effusions of public figures, substituting “blalg” for clichés, verbal false limbs, circumlocutions and all the other drivel uttered while waiting for a plodding brain to catch up with a racing jaw.

One of these documents was misfiled and worked its way through Knocklofty’s labyrinthine reporting system until it arrived on the desk of a very senior philologist, who as he read it experienced what is known in the thinking racket as a Eureka moment.

The author was instantly promoted by an unprecedented number of pay grades and given control of the political semiology unit. PR flacks and politicians’ speechgrinders (we refuse to dignify them with a word containing ‘writer’) are said to turn a very unhealthy colour when they find out it’s him on the phone.

Why not try this technique yourself? Next time you hear Bush, Blair or Howard, next time a religious dignitary utters an opinion, next time a corporate robber-baron seeks to justify another piece of bastardry, replace the flannel phrases with “blalg” and you will discover, as we did at Knocklofty, that the length of the utterance will be reduced by as much as three quarters without affecting any fragment of meaning that may be lurking within. It will also sound a lot better.