A writer’s life continues much as always under lockdown. But with the added benefit of staying at home and never being seen … you can dress up how you damn well want. Today I’m channelling Miss Haversham.
Today I had a ringside seat for Tony Hall’s address about the future of the BBC.
It was the usual mix of celebratory fluff “hey guys, we’re creatively on fire” and ambitious call to action “lets reach a billion a week” but for me the standout line was given by David Attenborough in a pre-recorded segment. Looking right into the lens he said the BBC is there to tell your stories “so … what do you want to say?”
It was a simple but powerful challenge: if you have something to say then the BBC is there to help you tell it, no matter who you are and what your background.
An uplifting moment and a reminder to keep a clarity of vision at the heart of what we do.
And the biggest surprise? Baron Hall of Birkenhead sports bright stripy socks. You heard it here first.
I read with dismay that a new version of the film Cats has been sent out to cinemas after it started its run. And digging deeper I read that the film was only completed five days before its theatrical release.
Because the world is now digital, tight deadlines are technically possible but aren’t they very, very irresponsible? Imagine the pressure on the post-production teams, the distributors, the Director. If only a picture can be given the space and time it needs – within reason – to come together isn’t that better for everyone, not least its audience?
Stress and creativity aren’t good bedfellows … fingers crossed for creatives everywhere that this is a one-off and not the shape of things to come.
My gym has an enormous super-steamy steam room. You can never see the edges and you can never truly tell if you’re in it alone or there are twenty others in there with you. And it’s the best place to listen to a wide cross-section of people’s conversations. Which – if you’re holed up in your local coffee shop – you probably aren’t.
Super-steamy steam rooms are great because the people in them totally forget – or simply don’t know – someone else is right in there with them. So they’re more natural.
So I get to hear a group of 20-something lads who work in a local hotel talking about how to “ask out the girl in laundry”. Or the late-thirties post-stag weekenders who are ready to “drop all that going-on-a-bender shit” but don’t know how to tell their mates. Or the women talking about “those scary Brexit signs on the M4 and the ads on the radio”. It’s a chance to dip into so many people’s lives and listen to how they talk, what they talk about … and I suppose it’s a bit creepy too.
Super entertaining news this week that Jacob Rees-Mogg (esquire) has written a memo to the cabinet informing his colleagues that they should NOT use the words very, ongoing, yourself, speculate, ascertain, disappoint … amongst others. And he also went on to make it very (sic) clear that all non-titled males should have “esq” after their name, there are double spaces after full stops and there’s never a comma after “and”.
How ridiculous. How can the man possibly think he can control the language, that he even thinks he has the right to control the language, and what sort of message is he sending out in trying to do such a thing?
Very aptly, given that JRM (esq) is jokingly referred to as the right Honourable Member for the eighteenth century, in that very period Boswell, Swift, Johnson and others wanted to ‘fix’ the language. By bringing out his dictionary, Johnson wanted to ensure the language didn’t change or degenerate over time. And his colleagues decided that English needed to look more Latin because Latin = classy. So they “Latinised” Germanic words, for example by shoving the letter “s” into the world “island” …
… and they also shoved a “c” into “scissors”. Thanks guys, English wasn’t nearly difficult enough to spell.
But what they failed to grasp, and what JRM (esq) doesn’t get, is that language is a liquid, not a solid, and it morphs and changes over time and bends to its user. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s a common to us all but the way we use it is personal and distinct. We demand the right to use ascertain.
Having said all that, those people who litter their prose with “some” do actually need taking out and shooting…
Writing for fun when I'm not getting paid, look out for posts on sport & history, probably with a Welsh & medieval twist. Travel writing, reviews of books, movies, food & drink, plus random scribblings all likely to feature