I was quite shocked at work today to see my RSS screensaver scroll up a BBC headline Two UK troops die in Afghanistan. Two whole troops? No, apparently they meant two soldiers. A bit of a relief. But the BBC of all organisations should know better than to use the collective to refer to one member. A troop, after all, is a body, unit, band, division of soldiers, the constituent number of which depends on the army corps it’s in. And I don’t believe that any corps goes around in troops of one.
Of course, in the same article, the Defence Secretary goes one better. “It is with great sorrow that I begin this speech by confirming that two of our armed forces have been killed in Afghanistan.” So that’ll be the army and the air force, leaving us with only the navy left?