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  • How’s this for a weird subcultural term, this time from journalism. In yesterday’s ‘Guardian’, Alan Rusbridger wrote – a propos the change of tactic towards anti-capitalist campers at St Paul’s Cathedral – that the Bishop of London had “performed the most dramatic reverse ferret in modern church history”. He later explains: “Reverse ferret is, technically speaking, a term used in Fleet Street …to describe the moment when an editor executes a startling editorial U-turn”.

  • That made me smile too. I wondered if the origin was something to do with the practice of putting ferrets down trousers; or perhaps just a reference to the speediness of those particular mustelids…Love the use of ‘technically speaking’ too.

  • I drew a blank before when trying to think of a weird subcultural word, but here’s one that might qualify: helmer, meaning film/TV director. I come across it every so often, always in the same context (a film review or filmmaking report), and it always strikes me as strange. I expect it comes from helm as a fanciful synonym for direct in this specialised sense. I don’t think I’ll ever use it, and secretly I hope it doesn’t spread more than it already has. It makes me think of Elmer Fudd.