Language

I’m Sorry I haven’t a C***

I was delighted to hear that the long-running BBC radio comedy panel game I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue , the staple of Saturday lunchtime listening is to return in the near future. The show’s future was hanging in the balance after the death last year of its octogenarian host, ex-jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttleton. The show is now to be hosted on a rotational basis by comedians Stephen Fry, Jack Dee and Rob Brydon.  Chairman Humph will be a hard act to follow, but it’s very much in the show’s interests to go on.   For over 30 years veteran comics like Barry Cryer, former “Goodies” Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie, Jeremy Hardy, Paul Merton and the late Willie Rushton have sung the words of songs to the wrong tune, played “Mornington Crescent” and indulged in general silliness over the airwaves, all in the (alleged) presence of omnipresent scorekeeper, often mentioned, but never heard, “the lovely Samantha”

One of Clue’s notable segments was where the contestants had to invent new definitions of existing words – for example:

Binge – what Sean Connery puts his rubbish in

Twinge – Sean Connery’s identical brother

Miniscule – a nursery for young scousers;

and Rob Brydon’s classic contribution “control” (placing an emphasis on the second syllable) – Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan , AA Gill, Jonathan Ross, etc – you get the picture…

Similarly, Stephen Fry redefined “Countryside” as the killing of Piers Morgan.

Subtle but deadly. The F-word, for so long an unmentionable taboo has now almost become an aceptable part of everyday use. Now that other 4-letter Anglo-Saxon word which refers to the female genitalia, but is widely used a nasty term of abuse directed at unpleasant people has become the ultimate taboo. And as demonstrated above the taboo nature of the word can be subtly manipilated for biting comic effect.

So in the true spirit of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, here’s my own contribution – based on the muesli-based breakfast cereal Country Store. If Piers Morgan was suffering from a serious illness, then gradually began to recover, his process of recovery would be known as “Country Store”.

And as a not very funny comedian from Cookstown would say – and there’s more:

Contagious – the process of Simon Cowell getting older.

May the players of Morning Crescent et al remain clueless for many years to come.

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The Keltic Kup and local variations

The Keltic Kup?
It was announced today that the football associations of Scotland, Wales and both parts of Ireland have agreed on a new annual tournament between their teams due to kick off in 2011. As the four teams involved rarely qualify for any major tournaments such an event can only be welcome and is long overdue. Like England, these four teams have all suffered from the foreign invasion of the Premier League as a result of which the opportunities to play at the top level are much more limited now than they were 20 years ago.

However, one bone of contention will be what to call this new tournament. They could take a leaf out of rugby’s book and call it the Four Nations. Another possibility would be the Celtic (as in “Keltic” not “Seltic”) Cup, but Rangers supporters would take exception to this. Whatever it’s called, it could be a massive money spinner for the broadcaster Setanta who never seem to miss an opportunity like this.

Local Variations
I notice the BBC website has a section devoted to the four regions, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England is simply listed as “England”, but Scotland and Wales are listed bilingually as “Scotland/Alba” and “Wales/Cymru”. Interestingly enough, Northern Ireland is just listed in English. I’m surprised the Irish and Ulster Scots lobbies haven’t been on the BBC’s case about this. But let’s face it – there just wouldn’t be enough room for “Northern Ireland/Tuaisceart na hÉireann/Norlin Airlann”.

Update:

* As a footnote to the first item above, I was baffled for years as to why the name of a certain Glasgow soccer club was pronounced as “Seltic” rather than the standard pronounciation “Keltic”.  I eventually found out that this was because the soft C pronounciation was in vogue in the 19th century when the club was formed, but the hard C took over as the accepted prounounciation in the 20th century.  This brings me on to a classic anecdote involving the Welsh actor Richard Burton.  Burton was allegedly asked in an interview with an irritating Hollywood hack “I suppose you would describe yourself as a selt?”

Quick as a flash Burton replied “Yes, and I suppose you would describe yourself as a sunt.”