My pedantic friend Richard has pointed out that the learned Fellows of the Royal Society would be unlikely to use the word 'chuffed' except in its literal meaning (see 'Christmas came early', Aug. 18th.), and he has kindly given me an example of the correct use of the word. It seems that many years ago, he had a friend who was suicidally depressed, but was uncertain how to go about it, so Richard pushed him in front of an old-fashioned steam train and he was chuffed to bits.
On a more serious note, I thought I should give the Government some advice on how to, as Nick Clegg put it yesterday, 'reduce the gap between the rich and the poor', which is of course politician-speak for 'make the rich poorer'.
They simply need to follow the example of Ryanair and other cheap airlines who charge extra for the provision of basic services such as air-traffic controllers, food, water, baggage, seats, seat-belts, and use of the toilet.
The Government have a golden opportunity here, because we all know that Google Earth is already invading our privacy by photographing our homes and gardens from outer space and the police have a great deal of experience in the strategic placing of CCTV cameras.
By combining the skills of the Ryanair marketing team, Google Earth and the CCTV controllers they could repay the National Debt by simply giving us all the option of paying extra for a bit of privacy. They could have a sliding scale - say £100 pa. not to be photographed in your own garden, £500 not to be continually photographed in your kitchen, £1000 not to be filmed in your own bedroom or toilet, and so on.
Those exhibitionists who normally appear on Big Brother and similar reality T.V. shows would of course be willing to pay to have the cameras fitted everywhere in their homes and the rest of us would gladly pay in order not to have to watch the ensuing footage.