Sunday, February 26, 2023

About facts

I vaguely remember a sachet of this stuff coming through the door but not this promotion. Gazing with wonder at a time (early 70s) when facts were collectable assets, the NFTs of the moment, Panini football stickers for the nerd community.

Friday, February 24, 2023

About Ingres

I’ve been yelling at Radio 4 more than ever in recent days. First, because the tautology “[N]-year anniversary” seems to have been deemed acceptable by continuity announcers; and this week, when the presenter of the network’s flagship arts show pronounced the name of the painter Ingres... well, you listen (around 32.30). There are two levels to this, I guess. First, should the presenter of such a prestigious show be expected to know how to pronounce the name of a fairly important 19th-century artist? And then, if he does drop the ball (and even the best of us makes the occasional fumble), should there not be people around who know how to catch it?

Or does it not really matter any more?

PS: Previous musings on what Front Row presenters should or shouldn’t be expected to know.

PPS: (June 28) And today the same presenter (Nick Ahad) repeatedly said “asterix” when he meant “asterisk”. And that was only because he didn’t want to say “fuck”.

Friday, February 17, 2023

About American English

Even as the American Empire follows its British equivalent towards irrelevance, it refuses to go down without a fight, on the linguistic front. I’ve noticed an increasing tendency on London menus to describe a key component of eggs Benedict as an English muffin; of course, a generation ago we would have called it a muffin.

And this, found in a recent crime novel. It reads at first like a bold assertion of cultural independence but really it’s just a desperate plea to have one’s strange Limey peccadillos indulged, and not to get punched in the process.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

About Delilah

Nick Cave on the condemnation being visited on a 50-plus-year-old song, ‘Delilah’: 
I understand there is a principle here, but on some level I like the fact that some songs are controversial enough to be outlawed. It fills me with a kind of professional pride to be a part of the sometimes contentious business of songwriting. It’s cool. I like it. I just wish it was a more worthy song to be awarded that greatest of honours, indeed that supreme privilege, of being banned.

A reminder that “cancel culture” is nothing new, that it was visited on ‘Je T’Aime’ and ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘Relax’ and merely added to the outlaw cachet of those songs and their writers and performers. Ultimately the Welsh Rugby Union won’t kill Delilah, it will make her stronger. 

Thursday, February 09, 2023

About Burt Bacharach (RIP)

I refuse to choose. But if I do have to pick one, it’s this, and it’s because of the lyrics and yes, I know Burt didn’t write the lyrics, don’t @ me (is “don’t @ me” still a thing?) but even the lyrics, just a sliver of them:

...and all the stars that never were/Are parking cars and pumping gas...

Which, had it arisen in The Last Tycoon or All About Eve or Sunset Boulevard or Barton Fink would still say everything that ever needed to be said about the vagaries of fame and showbiz and all that cal.


PS: And in other news, I learned that Burt’s dad was called Bert Bacharach, and I’m convinced that if Junior had copied that spelling, the history of postwar American music might have been ever so slightly different...