I have been reading a fascinating new book, Hitler’s British Traitors, by Tim Tate. It takes a look at the British Nazi sympathisers from the aristocracy downwards, or indeed upwards.
One such was a self-described author called James Lonsdale-Bryans, who on two occasions tried to meet Hitler directly. MI5 considered him to be guilty of a serious offence, yet one Foreign Office mandarin saw it otherwise. “I should very much like to see Mr Lonsdale-Bryans detained, but the position is very delicate and it is I think certain that were he detained he would peach on the Foreign Office and his story would be all over the country.”
I don’t think I’ve heard peach – to inform on an accomplice – for many a year, yet it is such a good word that I would be glad if it were to re-enter the language. After all, we lose so many good words: “scurryfunge” (“a hasty tidying of the house between the time you see a neighbour coming and the time she knocks on the door”); “shivviness” (“the slightly odd feeling of wearing new underwear”); “jingle-boy” (a rich man or someone who has enough coins in their pocket to jingle as they walk). And all they are replaced by are awful weasel words – issues, endgames, journeys, behaviours, heads up, reach out – you know the sort of thing.