Thursday, 28 November 2019

Words. Wordsmiths. Who wrote what? Dangerous weasel words from the past.

Here’s a little something I overheard in a cafe yesterday. A young mother was having coffee and a snack with her grandmother and her small daughter, probably about ten months old. The mother’s grandmother had been at pains to make sure the wriggly child was properly fastened into her high chair. After a while she noticed that the wriggler has extricated herself from the straps and was turning around in her chair to look at everyone else in the cafe. She commented on this to the mother who responded with this: “She’s a proper little ventriloquist!”

Oh dear!

Three deaths were announced yesterday. Clive James. Jonathan Miller. And Gary Rhodes (59!!!). That’s two wordsmiths and a chef.

Here’s Clive James on Jeremy Corbyn:-

 “I admire the way his principles are uninhibited by reason. I also like his beard, which reminds me of one of the beards I grew at various times in my life when I wished to prove I was still a student, even though the years had passed. Corbyn is a student at heart. I was part of the press corps that followed Michael Foot’s kamikaze 1983 general election campaign, and I recognise the look. Foot didn’t have the beard, but he had the same eyes, glittering with goodness.”

You have to like him.

Here’s a question: Molière - did he write his own plays?

“For at least a century, scholars have argued that the supposed lack of education of Molière, the French playwright responsible for seminal masterpieces including Tartuffe and Le Misanthrope, means he could not have written them. Now academics say they have resolved the controversy once and for all, using an algorithm to find that Molière – born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in 1622– was the author of all his plays.”

Just as Shakespeare’s plays were written, some say, by Marlowe, so Molière’s plays, some others say, were written by Corneille. I studied both of them for A-Level and at university. Nobody suggested to us that Corneille might have written everything. Now the experts say this was really not the case. But the researchers say that they “acknowledge that they have not proved that another ghostwriter did not write all of Molière’s plays. But their research, they say, shows the plays are “very likely written by a single individual”.” ‪‬

So it remains a mystery. In the end, however, does it really matter who wrote them? After all, it’s so long ago that they won’t get any royalties.

I was talking to a friend today about Strictly Come Dancing, a programme I have never watched but which several of my friends find quite addictive, in a relaxing kind of way. I don’t watch the Eurovision Song Contest either, although on e again a number of my friends find it riveting. Now I read that Hungary will not participate in next year’s Eurovision song contest, amid speculation the decision was taken because the competition is “too gay” for the taste of the country’s far-right government and public media bosses. I have to admit that the friends who are most fanatical about Eurovision are mostly gay!

Much has been made of Jeremy Corbyn’s interview with Andrew Neil. Here is something from the Labour supporting but independent news website Labourlist:

   Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to get away with his latest ruse - Sienna Rodgers.

 “Labour activists are furious. It was widely assumed that the difficult interview of Jeremy Corbyn by the BBC’s Andrew Neil would be followed up with one featuring Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister could then finally be confronted with robust criticism, as Neil – although a Tory himself – is known to give every politician a tough time. Nicola Sturgeon has already had her turn, and there was no reason to think that the BBC would broadcast two interviews with party leaders before getting all of them signed up. We were wrong to make that reasonable assumption, it turns out. The BBC has said: “For those asking when Boris Johnson’s interview will take place, we’re in ongoing discussions with his team but we haven’t yet been able to fix a date”.
Johnson could well decide that being called a chicken is less damaging to Tory electoral prospects than an interrogation that would surely be seen and shared more widely than the Andrew Neil interview of any other party leader. Johnson has been careful, after all, to take limited questions from journalists throughout this campaign period.
Labour was assured that Johnson’s own interview was going ahead next week, a party source has told LBC’s Theo Usherwood. LabourList has been told the same. This saga raises serious questions about the BBC’s judgment.
The other interviews should not have been broadcast without dates being fixed for every party leader. If Johnson does refuse to go ahead with an interview, a substitute such as Rishi Sunak cannot be accepted. Andrew Neil should empty chair the Prime Minister, and read out a long list of typically cutting questions. Stick a tub of lard in Johnson’s place. Nothing less dramatic would do.”

One rather gets the impression that Mr Johnson is avoiding in-depth interviews.

 Meanwhile, various news media are finding stuff that Mr Johnson has said in the past. Back in 1995 or thereabouts, he described the children of single mothers as "ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate" in a magazine column. In the same column, he argued it was "feeble" for a man to be reluctant or unable to "take control of his woman."
He apparently said it was “outrageous" that married couples should fund "'the single mothers' desire to procreate independently of men.” And he said a way needed to be found to "restore women's desire to be married."
The comments, made in a 1995 issue of the Spectator, were unearthed on the same day the Tory leader will pledge to "support women to reach their full potential."

 Oh dear again!

Earlier this evening I heard the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg advising that anyone who has any political ambitions should keep away from social media ... and supposably from writing columns in newspapers.

Words from your past have a way of coming back to bite you!

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