Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How Do You Do, Dear?

I have never felt a particular need to hide my enthusiasm over Britain. I mean of course they have their own complexes (and lack of cuisine of their own) but at the same time it is the home of the English language, one of the political systems most strongly founded on the power of verbal argumentation and it still runs some of the best publications in the world. At a recent event on European culture I remember an Italian curator confessing that he actually thinks today's best literature comes from the US and Britain.

There are very few newspapers that would compete in quality with The Observer, the Guardian's weekend edition. I have made it into a habit to buy it on Sundays (even if they really rip you off by charging over four euros for it) and spending around 2 hours going it through. Such a delight especially on a sunny cafe terrace.

Yesterday I also discovered the Guardian's podcasts. They remind me how poor my English still is. I am a novice compared to the journalists now doing their word acrobatics also on my iPod. The podcasts also remind you how our Euro-English is mostly just English for Dummies. Or to be more on the mark, I think English for Robots Understanding Clear and Simple Sentences.

My favourites by now are Jason Solomon's film podcast and the Book Review podcast. Youngish Solomon has this amusingly posh English accent with an ADHD-ish enthusiasm competing with CNN's Richard Quest. In the latest episode his wordplay showed the true Clash of Civilisations of today when he interviewed the Michael Moore v. 2.0, Morgan "Supersize Me" Spurlock. Oxford met Wal-Mart. I do however hope that Solomon would at times give room to his colleague, one of best film critics alive, Mr Philip French. I want to hear his voice.

Regarding voice, some people surprise you. The book podcas's interview with novelist Hanif Kureishi surprised me. I did not expect him to sound so much like Jeremy Irons. Very compelling indeed.

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