Senryū Three. Motto

Speaking of slogans…

“Don’t tread on me”

Is so much better than

“Do not sit on a thistle.”

Nor did it help when The Times of London cynically sponsored a British motto-writing contest for its readers.

The readers’ suggestions included “Dipso, Fatso, Bingo, Asbo, Tesco” (Asbo stands for “anti-social behavior order,” a law-enforcement tool, while Tesco is a ubiquitous supermarket chain); “Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used”; “At Least We’re Not French”; and “We Apologize for the Inconvenience.” The winner, favored by 20.9 percent of the readers, was “No Motto Please, We’re British.”

In the House of Lords, there was a surreal debate on the nonmotto, even after Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, an official in the Ministry of Justice, said flatly that there were no plans to have one.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie then suggested that the British could use the Scottish motto “Nemo me impune lacessit,” which he translated from the Latin as “Do not sit on a thistle.” (Actually, it means “no one attacks me with impunity.”)