Bob Smith’s letter (28 February) refers to the use of the word “flogging” as a “bit of army slang” which has become “perfectly suitable usage in dignified publications” and may now be regarded as mainstream, even if it was once a “piece of indelicate military vulgarity”.
It is such expressions that often puzzle English speakers elsewhere in the world.
I recall reading, some time ago, the recollections of a British cigarette salesman who was on holiday in the United States.
In the usual way of things, at a party, he was asked by an interested American what kind of work he did. He was rather surprised at the stunned silence that greeted his reply: “I flog fags for a living.”
Andrew HN Gray