Gasps of surprise

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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

Craiglea Drive