Society bible ‘Tatler’ is wrong to take issue with the word “ghastly”
Joanna Lumley once described the phrase “quality time” as “ghastly” and she was right. Mary Berry used the same word to describe reality programmes and Rupert Everett considers marriage to be exactly that too. “Ghastly” is a word that has many uses and it was thus surprising that Tatler decided to condemn those that use it.
When Prince Charles declared royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell an “awful” man in 2005, the BBC reacted with shock. His father would have gone further and has used the word “ghastly” on many occasions. Beijing, according to the senior royal, is “ghastly”, as is Stoke-on-Trent and Sir Elton John’s Watford FC-themed Aston Martin.
Tatler’s Annabel Rivkin remarked:
“Ghastly was the social word of the decade. We devoured it. We dropped it like a little bomb whenever we felt the need to pass judgement”.
“But guess what? That ghastly ship has sailed. The ghastly horse has bolted. The ghastly milk is spilt. It is most definitely time for a ghastly moratorium”.
“Ghastly is a kind of external manifestation of an internal mean-spiritedness. Unfashionable. Unattractive. Rather gauche in the end. Don’t do it”.
“Be assured that, should this word pass your lips, it will say so much more about you than about the party or person to whom you refer”.
Ms Rivkin – whose preference instead is “synthetic”, “annoying”, “awful” and “rotten” – is wrong. If something is “ghastly”, it’s exactly that.