Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Thanks Will Self, you made my week.

Three things this week have happened to make me grumpy and want to share it.  To start with, I found a brilliant article on the BBC by Will Self: In Defence of Obscure Words.  I was really pleased to read this (not only because it is a beautiful piece of writing) as I derive a secret joy from obscure words.  Sadly, I rarely recall them for use in daily life and in my professional life I’m an avid advocate of Plain English.  The article discusses the loss of eloquent English but makes a better point about modern society and the requirement of media to ‘dumb down’.  

So is it no longer ‘cool’ to be clever?  Clearly there are a lot of clever people out there.  Considering so many more people go to university these days actually, surely there are far more academically-minded souls in the UK than ever?  The coffee shop chains should be positively over-flowing with philosophical debate, non?

Nevertheless, the tabloid press continue to tell us how more important it is to be pretty and underdressed, celebrating those that are scholarly-challenged and labelling our well-educated politicians as ‘posh’ and ‘out of touch’.  I was recently found rolling my eyes as the participants on a panel quiz show recently all denied being able to do a basic sum.  Really?  Well, what are you doing on my TV?  How do you manage to work out your self-assessment tax on your huge salary?  Why are you not embarrassed?  

On the other hand, there are people on TV who are clever.  Very clever.  Talking about space, nature, medicine.  These are ‘experts’ so it is ok for them to be clever and interviewers can ask them to talk about their subject in ‘simple terms’ for those of us at home listening or watching.  I only imagine this is in case we are embarrassed into having to reach for the dictionary to follow what they are on about.

The final trigger this week was the attack on Stephen Hester and his gardens.  I am not a Mail reader but saw the story commented on a TV show.  My first thought was ‘Wow, nice!  What a successful guy.  How do I get me a house like that?’.  Husband and I then debated as to why a ‘newspaper’ with such a broad readership doesn’t ask Mr Hester that.  Wouldn’t we all like to know how to reach such a nice place in life where we can live where we want and how we want?  Mind you, I doubt Mr Hester does either of those things considering the tough job he has.  I admire the man and would happily invite him over for dinner.   Over a bowl of pasta I’d ask him to tell me where to invest my money, what sort of pension I should have and other questions that I expect he’d have the answers to.  After all, he didn’t get to where he is by being a bit dim.  Instead of having a go at the man who is just doing a job, why don’t we use him as a resource?  If we are all so up in arms about paying for his house out of our taxes, could we not all demand that he do a weekly column telling us the secrets of his success, instead of picking him apart in a national paper?  Wouldn’t that be more beneficial to all of us?

Rant over.....for now.....I have to go and re-read my copy of The Superior Person’s Book of Words.  Thanks Will Self, you made my week.

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