Brian Barder is a nice guy

Political blogging is not generally regarded as an activity that brings courtesy to the fore, but retired UK diplomat Brian Barder never fails to show good manners.  Though most of the topics he discusses are outside my usual circle of interests, I read him regularly, since it is such a pleasure to see politeness at work.

For example, the other day Brian Barder* posted a proposal about reforming the UK constitution. Brian Barder has considerable expertise on this subject, and his proposal is sufficiently close to his heart that he has been working to promote it for some years.  My knowledge of the UK constitution is limited to what I picked up during the years I took The Economist, and as someone who does not live in the UK my stake in its reform is close to nil.  Yet I took the liberty of posting comments (here and here) in which I expressed skepticism about the practical aspects of his plan.  Brian Barder would have been perfectly within his rights to ignore my uninformed remarks, or even to dismiss them icily, yet in fact he took the time to provide detailed responses to each of them.  In fact, he even emailed me to make sure that I knew he had done so.  Such generosity is not to be forgotten.

*I’d call him “Mr Barder,” but that isn’t actually his name.  He holds a knighthood, and so the proper courtesy title for him is “Sir Brian.”  I cannot bring myself to refer to any living person in that fashion; to me, it suggests only Monty Python.   So the only respectful way I can name him is as “Brian Barder.”  This is a shame, since Brian Barder is himself so scrupulous a user of courtesy titles that he titled his condemnation of the Oslo massacre “There are no lessons to learn from Mr Breivik.”  If Brian Barder can bring himself to give the correct title even to the murderer of dozens of helpless innocents, it seems churlish of me to withhold his title from him, yet I must, I must.


  1. Your rich English is a pleasure to read! There is a lesson to learn from it.

  2. acilius

     /  September 23, 2011

    Why thank you Herman!

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