Overwhelmed by the sheer volume

Right, folks:

It has a smack of the true Banned List @JohnRentoul, which is turning into a style-guide for the ever-changing Zeitgeist (and there’s probably three examples in this sentence already).

I have already whinged over this one. Here it comes again:

Southern Water said “torrential rain fell across Sussex” leading to some sewers becoming “overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water”.

Like The L&N, the buck Don’t Stop Here Anymore

As, c’mon! You knew I couldn’t miss that Malcolmian aside.

Admit it:this one is better than the usual — 

Back in Sussex…

… the drains flooded.
As they do.
More often than not, excessive rainfall is involved.

The water companies can achieve the same result, failing to maintain their infrastructure (i.e. pipes and sewers), because shareholder dividends and managerial bonuses are a higher priority:

Southern Water has seen its operating profit increase 21.9 per cent on turnover of £778.7 million as it reports its financial results for the year ended 31 March 2013…

Profit after taxation for the company nearly doubled, up to £156.9 million from £79.9 million a year before.

While we find something else in the Portsmouth Evening News (9th October 2012):

According to the paper, Southern Water had been taken to court and prosecuted 40 times in the past nine years for pollution offences. Last year it was fined a total of £150,000 for sewage leaks and is one of the biggest polluters of rivers and beaches in the country.

Last year there were 47 leaks into Langstone harbour, an area which is a site of scientific interest and attracts many different species of migrating birds every year. Seals have also been known to use the harbour.

Southern Water made £79.9m profit after tax in the last financial year – more than double the profits the year before.

Sheer hypocrisy?

Another general benefit of privatisation is that, in any case, ministers are off-the-hook, for, like the Albertophage Wallace:

The Magistrate gave his o-pinion
That no-one was really to blame 
He said that he hoped the water-cump-nies
Would add further sums to their name.

Let us recall how, last winter, with the Somerset Levels drowned,  Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and his understrappers sloughed responsibility onto the Environment Agency.

When Chris Smith remarked that the government had cut £100 million for the budget, and ensured the sacking of a quarter of the workforce, and this might, just possibly, be a factor, he was instantly the embattled boss of the Environment Agency.


This is another of those over-worked words. The OED has it as two different nouns, an adverb, an adjective, and four verbs. That’s before we go into derivatives and compounds, the choicest of which (for me) is:

Sheer Thursday: the Thursday in Holy Week, Maundy Thursday.

with allusion to the purification of the soul by confession (compare Shrove Thursday, French jeudi absolu), and perhaps also to the practice of washing the altars on that day.

Even then, I have to scroll down tho usage 8 of the adjective to find this one:

Neither more nor less than (what is expressed by the noun); that and nothing else; unmitigated, unqualified; downright, absolute, pure.

“Pure” is not what I’d be looking for, in the matter of flooded sewers or the Euston Road at rush-hour.

Despite the nine citations the OED finds (dated from 1583 to 1885), I’m unconvinced that the word adds anything— not even a useful reinforcement — in expressions like the sheer volume of water/traffic.



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Filed under BBC, Conservative Party policy., folk music, Music, Oxford English Dictionary, politics, Tories.

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