May I have a word about… why Roman numerals are as elegantly easy as I, II, III

Funny lot, the French. Even as Emmanuel Macron and his European colleagues perform ever more absurd contortions over the AstraZeneca vaccination – it doesn’t work… just look at all the blood clots across the continent… but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to commandeer millions of shots – trouble of an equally knicker-twisting variety is brewing far closer to home, on his doorstep, De hecho.

The Carnavalet Museum of Parisian History has decreed that, for the sake of “universal accessibility”, the use of Roman numerals is to be severely restricted, so that from now on Louis XIV will be known as Louis 14. The head of visitor services says: “We have nothing against Roman numerals, but they can be an obstacle to understanding.”

Absolute tosh. They are elegant on the page and have served us well for centuries. Luis 14 sounds like a footballer or a sports car. At least Jacques Gaillard, the writer and Latinist, is fighting back. “For 20 years we have been under the American influence and the Americans don’t know how to read Roman numerals. Knowledge is being wiped out.” Well said, comrade Gaillard. To the barricades and take that slacker Macron with you.

Actually, things aren’t much better here. I noticed on an advert for Barclays bank that you can now consult a “money mentor”. Is this what used to be known as a bank manager? Captain Mainwaring would roll his eyes, and rightly so.

And this week’s prize for plain speaking goes to Jeremy Paxman, not for the first time. "Mirar, I’m not going to get into the business of shitbagging my former colleagues if that’s what you want,” he harrumphed in an entrevista. Not quite as elegant as a Roman numeral, but equally explicable.




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