As we all know, there are numerous phrases, idioms and clichés which litter our conversations, but which usually slip by without a second thought. In fact, there were two just there. But are we right to take these things for granted? This is the question which is currently occupying a special cross-party panel set up by the Government. Chairman Sir John Gravytrain outlined the main concerns.
"Take the expression 'dangerous lengths' for example," he told us. "As in 'so-and-so went to dangerous lengths in order to do this or that'. Well, exactly what lengths are we talking about? The inexactitude of such an expression could lead to confusion, injury and possibly even loss of life. So one of the first things we did was to define a dangerous length as being three foot six."
Flushed with this success, the panel has gone on to set the value of 'an arm and a leg' as being two hundred and sixty pounds, found out that actions which 'speak louder than words' usually do so by a margin of around forty decibels and when it comes to 'barking up the wrong tree' the tree in question is an elm in a small field near Stevenage.
"Currently we are giving careful consideration to the phrase 'a bird in the hand is worth two in bush'," Sir John informed us. "We're trying to work out exactly what exchange rate mechanism is at play here."
We suggested that it might have something to do with the price of fish, but Sir John dismissed this suggestion as being the height of stupidity - which apparently is seven foot and three quarters.