22 JUNE 2002, Page 17

Mind your language

`LOOKING for a job?' asked my husband when he found me putting rings round items in the Guardian 'Society' job vacancies. There were 134 pages of them last week, from local authorities and charitable bodies mostly, often for monitoring, developing and otherwise indirectly meddling in other people's misfortunes.

I had been directed to these advertisements by Mr Tom Utley of the Daii)., Telegraph, who thought it would be a good place to find those slogan gerunds (`Running water for London' and so on) that so proliferate these days. How right he was. It is a happy hunting ground for this useless but far from endangered species.

'Managing progress, driving change,' declares Essex County Council proudly, as if it wouldn't do just as well the other way round. The same applies to Stockport, which boasts of 'The talent to innovate, the confidence to deliver'. Something called Sense, whatever that is, tells us it is 'Touching people's lives'. Leonard Cheshire is 'Creating opportunities with disabled people'.

And is London Underground moving people? No, it is 'Working towards equality'. Even more modestly Wakefield is 'Working towards equal opportunities'. There is a great deal of this. The Learning and Skills Council is 'Working to become an equal opportunities employer'. If! applied for a job with these bodies and told them I was working towards discontinuing embezzlement or working towards refraining from breaking windows, would they sign me up?

But where does equality matter? Why, Luton, of course: 'Luton, where equality matters'. Which is 'The brighter borough'? Wandsworth. More modestly, Bromley opts for 'The London borough'. But where is it happening? 'It's happening in Havering', which, by its own claim is 'The London borough of ambition'. Hammer-smith and Fulham is `Servitig our community'. Not to be outdone in autochthonous virtue, Heart of England Community Foundation is 'A charity for Coventry and Warwickshire'. This is the attitude of Stockton-on-Tees, with 'Local services for local people'. No sign of equality for the stranger and orphan there.

But Brook is 'Putting young people first', and old people last, for all I know. NCH is 'Helping the children who need it the most', so there. For the NATLL, 'Play matters', though nowhere does it tell us what NATLL stands for.

Outside the Guardian, I did see a jolly gerund, on a van belonging to a company called Orwah, which provides balers and compacters: 'Making sense out of rubbish,' it said. Just what Guardian readers need.

Dot Wordsworth