“Canoe man” John Darwin seems to have set a precedent for naming people. At first it seemed as if the new media naming convention involved identifying people by their last known mode of transport. (As in “canoe man”.)
But that principle must have fallen by the wayside when some canny sub-editor realised that “car man” or “train woman” would be used too often to have much explanatory value. So, other objects have had to be mentioned.
In today’s BBC, there are stories headed:
- Walking stick death pair jailed
(This was a couple who murdered someone by forcing his walking stick down his throat.)
- GCSE girl dies in lorry collision
(A girl is defined by the last set of public exams she sat.)
- Sand tunnel teenager’s 10 GCSEs (A lad identified by the collapsing sand tunnel that killed him.)
- ‘Stupid’ Vegas plan thief jailed (Man identified by his last failed get-rich-quick idea.)
- Drink-drive mother sent to jail (A woman was so insensibly drunk that her 5-year-old had to beg people to stop her driving.)
(Some of these designations seem insensitive, to put it mildly.)
Plus the traditional “mother”, “father”, “husband” and so on. These designations are so ubiquitous in the headlines, that I can’t link to them, lest this blog lose any residual authority, on the grounds of spam-linking.
There’s something even more pathetic about the relationship identifiers. At least the “canoe man” isn’t just a “son”, which would make him basically indistinguishable from every other male on the planet. (Although, I suspect eh has been “canoe husband” and “canoe dad” a few times. His wife is definitely “canoe wife”.)
However, my all-time favourite is “resident.”
This means more or less anyone. It’s inevitably used gets used in any mention of neighbourhood crime or flooding. It carries a whiff of the twat-o-tron in most cases, with the scent of the “Residents Association” the suggestion of constantly-outraged decency and the subtle implication that inhabiting a property gives you an automatic Lawful Good alignment.