May I have a word about… a pen for mayor Patrick the pony

What’s not to like about this story from last week? A Devonian mayor has been banned from his local, all because he’s a Shetland pony. When the unofficial mayor of Cockington died, there was a campaign to elevate Patrick, a four-year-old pony, to replace him. Patrick, a therapy pony, is a regular visitor to the Drum Inn, where he grazes in an “interaction pen” in the pub’s garden. Such is his popularity that he became mayor in July.

But not so fast. The pub has been told by council environment officers that it would need planning permission for his pen. And stand by for a barrow-load of officialese from Torbay council: “This is a designated conservation area and is next to a listed building and we need to ensure historic areas like this are protected from unauthorised development.”

“Unauthorised development”? What, such as shedding a load of droppings in the garden. Please save me from council panjandrums devoid entirely of common sense or humour.

What a pleasure to move on to the following from David Linton: “My wife received an email from the DHL delivery firm that her package was now at the ‘sortation facility’. Parcelforce has a ‘hub’ and Royal Mail has a ‘sorting office’. Why invent a nonsensical word?” Quite so.

And this from Glena Chadwick: “What is annoying me a great deal is the use of sat or stood when it should be sitting or standing. ‘He was sat on the grass’ – as if someone was a toddler plonked down in the park – ‘he was stood on the edge’ – as if he were Gloucester in King Lear standing (or rather thinking he was standing on the edge of the cliff).

“Why use the passive instead of the active?” I’m afraid I can’t help, but I bet there’s a bloke at Torbay council who could if he had any horse sense.

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