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Ten out of ten is not enough…

… because now there’s eleven. As we approach 2011, I’ve been thinking about this number and its rise in fortunes since the 1984 rockumentary This is Spinal Tap. The character Nigel Tufnell described how his amp was better than the rest because it didn’t just go up to ten on the dial, it went up to eleven, ‘one louder’. This joke has since been used as a metaphor for outdoing yourself, or going one better. It’s always been used in musical forums and the BBC earns brownie points for also having the volume control on its digital iPlayer go up to eleven. But I’ve also seen this used recently in other contexts, when discussing President Obama for example (and dog nutrition, of all things!). This metaphor evidently has staying power, so look out for pun-heavy articles in the new year along the lines of ‘Turn it up to eleven in 2011!’. I’m also going to stick my neck out and predict that eleven will start to be used as an adjective in 2011, such as: ‘He’s soooo eleven!’ or ‘My new bike is totally eleven!’

Hmm, well, you never know!

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Beth Penfold


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