Monday, February 20, 2006

My Diction Is Impeccable; It’s my Brain That’s a Mess.

Listening to - I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One by Yo La Tengo

Reading – The Ghost Road by Pat Barker.

My wife was most disgusted at BBC4 showing one episode of Rik Mayall’s reading of George’s Marvellous medicine as part of Jackanory Night yesterday. She insists it would encourage bad behaviour. She wasn’t taken by Alan Bennett’s reading of Winnie-the-Pooh for the final episode either; she thinks Pooh should be read in RP. Tell it to the Americans who seem to have turned the Bear of Little Brain into some sort of backwoods’ hick rather than the gentle English Teddy he really is. I wonder what AA Milne would have thought. Could he be aa milne, a sort of kids’ ee cummings? My wife only ever saw one episode of Jackanory and despite being under whelmed with last night’s offerings, was upset that she had missed the rest. I fail to understand how she could have missed it, it being on every school day. I still watched it when I was at college and only failed to keep up with it to the end due to the demands of work days ending after it had been on. What with all the extra space on digital, should they not think about re-showing some of the classic ones? Or is that against the policy of trying to fill every possible moment of broadcast time with interactive and primary coloured dross?

It has come as a shock to me that I do not speak RP. I talk in a shallow version of ‘Eschuary’ English. In fact trying to pronounce ‘Estuary’ with the proper ‘t’ rather than the sloppy and easy ‘ch’ shows me up for the slacker I really am. Practise is required. I am not expecting any calls to come and read Winnie-the-Pooh for a triumphant return of Jackanory. Oh No! Maybe I have always had a lisp. All that trouble at school. It’s all so clear now. There is also some Scouse in there, if not in accent, in the use of some dialect. I’m not made-up about that.

I checked whether the car needed the windows de-icing this morning by running a finger across the glass of the quarter-lights at the back. It was just condensation so I got in and sat down, but flicking on the wipers revealed that the windscreen was solid and indeed in the dark the whole car was encased, leaving the interior shaded in some evil luminescence that gave me a sense of being detached from the real world. Actually it was not unpleasant and I could see the attraction of simply staying there, turning the radio on and just chilling (in more than one sense). Gary Numan knew what he was talking about. An old memory was sparked, though nothing entirely concrete, just a strange recurring thought about tea in the café at Bristol Zoo which always comes to me with a weird afternoon thunderstorm feel. I was probably under five years old when that happened but it comes back as a sort of ambivalent sort of feeling regarding the outside world being quite threatening but being with mum and dad was able to shut it all out. My dad is still around, fitter than I am but my mother died over 30 years ago, which I suppose is one reason for the mixed feelings over this. I am not making this at all clear am I? I know the feelings but not being a proper story-teller, I cannot express it in any way that is likely to convey the full depth of experience. I like afternoon thunderstorm feeling, possibly because I like the clean air after the positive Ions have been zapped. I like the light, which gels with my liking the dark better than the light.

I am not sure why I have decided to put myself though The Ghost Road. To Serve Them All My Days had the decency to not describe the horrors of the trench war in any detail, because the author respected the fact that he could never describe something so horrible that he had not been through. That was the beauty of it; you got a window onto the world then, enough detail to explain the actions of the hero. It seems that people are more and more prepared to detail the most horrific things, things which they cannot possibly experience. We cannot say whether those experiences are right or wrong. I have been moved by many of these stories and films but am I right to think that maybe I am being manipulated into thinking a particular way?

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