DUNCAN BARKES Calm yourself, darling, it is only a word...

We seem to be getting rather worked up about certain words these days.

The most recent word to cause offence is ‘love,’ when used to address a woman.

A judge in Yorkshire has banned it from his court in Barnsley as he feels it is disrespectful. Now, I can think of dozens of words to call a woman that would demonstrate a complete lack of respect, but ‘love’ is not one of them.

Using this term to a woman is surely a sign of friendship, even affection. How on earth can it be disrespectful?

Many people use terms of endearment to address people, with women especially on the receiving end.

Being called something warmly expressive, even by complete by strangers, is par for the course for most ladies. Love, darling, honey – they are all used on a daily basis and, I would wager, that offence is seldom intended or indeed taken.

In other parts of the UK, ‘chuck’ and ‘babe’ are also used in everyday parlance when talking to the fairer sex.

As a bloke I develop a spring in my step if a good-looking female shop assistant calls me ‘darling’ or ‘babe.’ I think most men would admit the same.

Increasingly, or so it seems to me, there is a type of person who is quick to take offence, sometimes not even on their own behalf!

In the case of the judge and his banning of the word ‘love’, the Beak has received criticism from Yorkshire language groups, who rightly say it has nothing to do with being disrespectful, but that the word is simply part of traditional Yorkshire language.

A mate of mine in Merseyside called Gary the Cabbie often calls young ladies ‘girl’. He is not being disrespectful or derogatory; it is simply a scouse colloquialism.

So, my question to female Observer readers is this: Do you feel a man is being disrespectful towards you if he calls you ‘love’?

It is such a beautiful and positive word that I can’t imagine for one moment why anyone would take issue with it. So, my darlings, if you object to being addressed thus, please explain why.

In the meantime I will work on the basis the Yorkshire judge is taking life just a tad too seriously. Calm down, dear. It’s only an expression.

* Songbird duo to sing for us sweetly

Talking of perfect poppets, two gorgeous young songbirds will be heading to Chichester this festive season to delight local audiences with their angelic voices.

Amy Fuller and Fran Gregory are both students at the prestigious Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. With critically-acclaimed performances at The Royal Albert Hall, Chichester Festival Theatre and Birmingham’s Symphony Hall already notched up between them (to name but a few), the girls will be performing two special charity concerts to raise funds for The Joshua Foundation, a charity which supports children with terminal illnesses.

Entitled A Classic Christmas, the concerts take place at Eastergate Church (December 20) and St Paul’s Church, Chichester (December 21). Promising beautiful opera-inspired versions of a wide range of Christmas songs and carols, I urge you to treat your ears and book tickets.

Currently rehearsing with Jane Samuels, who regularly accompanies Katherine Jenkins and Bryn Terfel, for more details about the concerts, or to book this divine duo for your own seasonal entertainment, please email fuller_p1@sky.com or call 07818 423646.

** Do you agree with Duncan? Join the debate and let us know YOUR thoughts.