May I have a word about… rummaging around on the Antiques Roadshow

<span>Photograph: Hugh Hastings/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Hugh Hastings/Getty Images

If there is a television equivalent of comfort food, then surely it has to be the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. Presenter Fiona Bruce is a perpetual ray of sunshine, the experts are to a man and woman warm hearted and the people clutching their possessions always radiate hope that they are offering up a potential treasure for evaluation.

But last Sunday’s edition offered up a gem of an altogether different kind when a woman appeared with some porcelain that she said she had discovered when she had been having a furtle in her attic. Even though I had never heard it before, it was such an evocative word that I knew exactly what she meant – she’d been having a good old rummage in the hope of turning up an overlooked masterpiece. A quick online search for furtle’s meaning proved that my surmise was correct.

Correspondent Norman MacLeod has a keen ear for ghastly euphemisms: “In the 1980s, while serving in the RAF, I was told that our colleagues in the USAF had been instructed to refer to an aircraft crash as an ‘unscheduled terrain interface’.” No comment.

Talking of euphemisms, Ian Blois got in touch recently with the following: “A spokesman for Swanage Coastguard said: ‘On arrival the owner reported the dog had fallen from the right side of Old Harry but swam round to the left side where she was sat at the base of the cliff. With the tide out the coastguard team requested the launch of the Swanage inshore lifeboat as it would be safer than deploying a rope technician to the base of the cliff.’”

As he says: “I guess the ‘rope technician’ was someone with abseiling skills rather than a cowboy with a lasso.” I had cause to draw attention to a similar term – rope access specialist – some time ago and hoped then that it had been a one-off. Alas, Mr Blois has dashed my hopes. Never mind, I mustn’t be downhearted.

• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist