Collocation, collocation, collocation

Do you think it is likely that Stuart Proffitt, the publishing director of Penguin Press, actually said ‘People in the book business are always saying there’s a crisis and we’re going to hell in a handbasket’? Handbasket? We usually descend to the infernal region in a handcart, which has the advantage of wheels to facilitate the onward motion. A handbasket would require a slippery slope of a considerably steeper angle to initiate the slide towards doom.

Or was Mr Proffitt correctly transcribed by the Guardian? Perhaps a distant memory of Margaret Thatcher’s demonic handbag was in his mind at the time. Perhaps he believes we have a dog-in-hell’s chance, or that hell might melt over?