The secret of comedy is timing, they say. Within 60 seconds of each other, I received two emails that seemed to be trying to prove the point:

  • An email from a colleague about a Roffley Institute report showing that board level managers think they are rather more respected that those below them would confirm
  • A email from dictionary.com, giving the definition of the word ‘mammonism’ (full definition online here).

Among the citations and references for the latter, I spotted an academic study of Dickens. Poking verbal sticks into ‘fat cats’ has a long and venerable history, of course, but it’s subject like so many things to the vagaries of fashion. Dickens’ bicentenary this year will no doubt bring a fresh tidal wave of retrospection to cultural shores already awash with Upstairs Downstairs, Downton Abbey and the like. (Fitfully switching between viewing and dozing in an armchair on Christmas Day last year, the only thing that didn’t feature Regency bonnets a-go-go seemed to be the evening news.) The list of associated words in the definition almost set my pun-loving mind into action (“I thought mammonite was a kind of fossil until I discovered …”) before the thought that nostalgic wallowing can be damaging as well as amusing. The past is another country, but tourism is a better option than emigration.

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