Filed under: Arts, bbc, creativity, music | Tags: David Bowie, Life on Mars, Mick Rock, Mick Rock and David Bowie
This video, shot in 1973 by Mick Rock, is as good as anything you’ll see today. I hadn’t seen it myself until I watched the superb David Bowie documentary of Bowie on the BBC last week.
The song’s even better. Immense.
Filed under: bbc, creativity, humour, life | Tags: americanisms, BBC News Magazine, britishisms, etymology, language
I found this amusing piece on Britishisms that have been adopted in North America in the BBC News Magazine website and it got me thinking what Americanisms we have adopted in return. Any suggestions?
I don’t see “sidewalk” coming along anytime soon (although “Anytime soon” has crept in) in place of pavement. But “cab” sits comfortably alongside “taxi”in our daily vernacular.
We’ll always “queue” rather “stand in a line”.
I just can’t see” pants” replacing “trousers”. (“Strides” even.)
But “have a nice day” is increasingly common; “hell yeah” (see what I did there?)
“Bullshit” is now commonplace as is “MF” over here. But from what I can see our love of the C word has not crossed the Atlantic particularly readily.
“Wassup” remains resolutely American despite Budweiser’s best attempts to globalise it.
And if “later” or “laters” does take root in the UK I will have to kill myself.
Anyway. Let’s share our thoughts on this one so that I can create an article as good as the one below…
Autumn, n. The season between summer and winter. “‘Autumn’ is being used a lot more now instead of ‘fall’.” Alan, New York, US
Bloody, adj. and adv. An intensifier: absolute, downright, utter. Sometimes in a negative sense. “There have been several instances where I’ve heard the term ‘bloody’ in regular conversation. I understand the urge to say it in certain situations, but I react with a jolt when I hear it. It just seems so… indecent. The use of ‘bloody’, in my view, is iconically British. When Americans try to use it, I think they’re trying to sound like Michael Caine. I feel it’s a deliberate contrivance to associate themselves with some perceived prestige in sounding British. Some Americans think that by saying ‘bloody’ everybody will assume that they have four more IQ points than everyone else. It’s understandable. And completely true.” Marshall McCorcle, Dallas, Texas, US
Bum, n. The buttocks or posteriors (slang). “I have seen an increasing use of ‘bum’ for a person’s backside here, both from local friends and from Americans on the web. While I am still perfectly fine with sitting on my butt, everyone else is getting all fancy talking about their bums.” Jim Boyd, Des Moines, Iowa, US
Chav, n. Pejorative term to express young person who displays loutish behaviour, sometimes with connotations of low social status. “The word ‘chav’ is starting to catch on in the US, thanks to YouTube videos. I overheard someone say, ‘Nah I’m not buying those sneakers man, they are so chavvy’ at a sports retailer.” Jeff Bagshaw, US
“Chav is becoming rather noticeable as a few Americans understand that not ‘all British people are posh’. Boston/Cambridge is rife with international college students, so it may just be a blip, but I’ve heard it in a suburban grocery store in reference to some hooligans outside the store.” Elaine Ashton, Lexington, Massachusetts, US
Cheeky, adj. Insolent or audacious in address; coolly impudent or presuming. “I have loved using the word cheeky for about 10 years now.” Daniel Greene, Phoenix, Arizona, US
“Sometimes the British expression just says it better. I particularly like ‘cheeky monkey’.” G Griffin, Wethersfield, Connecticut, US
Cheers, sentence substitute. A drinking toast, goodbye, or thanks. “I am hearing people say goodbye to each other with the British ‘cheers’. Since I have always had a fondness for the Brits and things British, I enjoy hearing it instead of the worn out ‘later’ or ‘see ya later’. Like it or not, the Yanks and the Brits are cousins, and that’s that. Cheers!” Paul Phillips, Marblehead, US
“Use of the word ‘cheers’ in place of ‘thank you’ is on the rise, perhaps among young people who have spent time with British people.” Roddy McCalley, Joshua Tree, California, US
Fancy, v. With reference to fondness or liking. “Our US friends really enjoyed fancied, as in ‘she fancied him’, and an item, as in ‘are you two an item?’.” David Fryer, Muscat, Oman
“Fancy, as in I really fancy a pint.” Paul W, New York City, US
Flat, n. An apartment on one floor of a building. “Just as British people are increasingly calling (particularly posh) flats ‘apartments’, my American friends report that property developers are now selling ‘flats’ in order to make them sound grander than they are.” Beth, London
Frock, n. A girl’s or woman’s dress. “Until very recently, ‘frock’ only appeared in North America in British books. I first read it in the Narnia series. No-one ever said it, and no-one ever used it in print. No-one outside of readers of British literature would even have known what it meant. Now I see it in print media about fashion all the time. This just started happening in perhaps the past five years, certainly no more than 10 years.” Lee Boal, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Gap year, n. A year’s break taken by a student between leaving school and starting further education. “We didn’t do gap years much until recently, so we didn’t have our own term for it other than ‘year off’. The point of language is to communicate. If a new word or term fills a – sorry – gap, then it doesn’t matter where it’s from.” Alden O’Brien, Washington DC, US
Gobsmacked, adj. flabbergasted: struck dumb with awe or amazement. “I left the UK for the US more than 40 years ago. I first heard the word ‘gobsmacked’ about 10 years ago while visiting the UK. Perhaps because of the popularity of the programme Top Gear in the US, I now hear this used in the US.” Duncan Connall, Rhode Island, US
“I heard President Obama use the word ‘gobsmacked’. How’s that for a Britishism?” Stuart Hamilton, North Vancouver, Canada
Holiday, n. A period in which a break is taken from work or studies for rest, travel, or recreation. “As a child I read Enid Blyton, and as an adult I was pleased to notice, at least in advertising, the use of the word ‘holiday’ to replace the less preferable, in my opinion, ‘vacation’.” Vicki Siska, Fort Collins, Colorado, US
Innit, adv. A contraction of isn’t it? Used to invite agreement with a statement. “I can’t stop saying ‘innit’ – it’s the perfect sort of (‘sort of’ in this usage is also a popular Britishism) ending to an informal declarative statement.” Carolyn, Las Vegas, US
Kit, n. A collection of personal effects or necessities. “I’ve noticed the adoption of the British term ‘kit’ for what athletes wear, in the place of what we Americans would generally call a ‘uniform’ or ‘gear’. I notice it among those who follow tennis closely. People will refer to a player’s ‘kit’, which often changes several times a year depending on the surface.” Ana Mitric, Richmond, Virginia, US
Knickers, n. An undergarment for women covering the lower trunk and sometimes the thighs and having separate legs or leg-holes. “My American friend just recently said ‘I got my knickers in quite a twist’. I was amazed she didn’t say ‘panties’.” Nadine, Seattle, Washington, US
Loo, n. An informal word for lavatory. “Many of my friends now call the restroom ‘the loo’, although they haven’t converted to saying ‘loo-roll’ – it’s still toilet paper. Funny, since most of us won’t say ‘toilet’ for the American ‘bathroom’.” Heather Revanna, Colorado, US
Mate, n. A friend, usually of the same sex: often used between males in direct address. “It seems that Yanks enjoy English swear words but I don’t believe British people are using typical Americanisms. I’ve never heard a Englishman say ‘dude’ but I am hearing Americans say ‘mate’. I also don’t believe British people are so overtly conscious of foreign influence as much as Americans care to be, especially in the Midwest.” Paul Knight-Kirby, Rockford, Illinois, US
Mobile, n. Short for mobile phone; a portable telephone that works by means of a cellular radio system (‘cellphone’ or ‘cell’ in standard American English). “I think the use of ‘mobile’ is a consequence of more international travel and wanting to be understood. I use mobile while elsewhere and it is creeping into my US-based language as well.” Stuart Friedman, Middlesex, Vermont, US
Muppet, n. A stupid person; from the name for the puppets used in the TV programme The Muppet Show. “I am a Brit living in Idaho. One of the biggest Britishisms I see, and have helped perpetuate, is the term ‘muppets’ to refer to brainless individuals. I love this term as it conjures images of the loveable Muppets but in reference to a person it definitely conveys a lack of intelligence or substandard education. In this state there are plenty of ‘muppets’.” George Hemmings, Idaho, US
Numpty, n. A stupid person. “I have heard ‘numpty’ many times in the last few years. I get the impression that our American interpretation is more good-natured than it might be in the UK. It’s used when calling a friend a numpty when he does or says something silly. Perhaps this is because there is a ‘cuteness’ to the pronunciation of the word.” Jeffrey Timmons, Mayville, Wisconsin, US
Pop over, v. Come by for a visit. “Recently, I’ve heard the phrase ‘pop over’ used by several different people. (‘Why don’t I just pop over and pick them up?’).” Susan Moore, Indio, California, US
Proper, adj. Appropriate or suited for some purpose. “I picked up the British use of ‘proper’ (as in ‘a proper breakfast’) while completing graduate work at Oxford in the mid-2000s. I hadn’t realised just how prevalent it was in my own speech until a coworker asked me this year if it was a North Dakota thing, as that is the state where I grew up. It’s definitely not a North Dakota thing.” Jacquelyn Bengfort, Washington, DC, US
Queue, n. and v. A line of people, vehicles, etc, waiting for something. “In the ‘queue’. More online forms and automated voice responses to banking transactions say ‘queue’ instead of ‘line’. I’m guessing that it makes more sense to use it because people aren’t actually standing in a line if they’re on the phone.” Guy Hait, Chesterfield, Michigan, US
“When I was in New York and waiting with an American friend to get into a bar, I called it a queue. She told me that in the US it was called a line. However, she commented that ‘queue’ was becoming more common because of the use of the term ‘printer queue’ in computing.” David, Worcester
Roundabout, n. A road junction in which traffic streams circulate around a central island. “‘Roundabout’ is the official word used to describe the traffic circle that was recently completed in our rather small city. Many feel that this sounds pretentious. I am originally from California where we used the term ‘traffic circle’.” Beth, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, US
Row, n. and v. A noisy or violent argument, a quarrel with someone. “My husband and I often use the word ‘row’, most likely because we’ve heard it so often on public television. We think of it as a very common word among the Brits (like ‘bloody’) and we both assumed that most other people would recognise both the word and its meaning. Recently, my husband (who is very Southern and not bookish at all) used ‘row’ in a conversation with a buddy, only to learn that the friend had never even heard the word. We were astonished.” Catherine Graves, Georgia, US
Shag, v. To copulate with. “You guys missed the best one. ‘Shag’ is such a brilliant word and Brits cringe because of the vulgarity of it, while Americans don’t realise exactly how rude it is and run around saying it like a toddler repeating Daddy’s accidental swear word slip. I love it when you guys cringe over us picking up your words.” Leona, Oxford
“Thanks to Austin Powers, many Americans are familiar with the word ‘shag’, but don’t seem to realise how truly coarse it is. It’s used in polite society, and used to shock me, but now I accept the fact that usage differs in UK/US.” Linda Michelini, Port Orange, Florida, US
Skint, adj. Penniless, broke. “To hear terms like ‘skint’ for being broke, ‘agony aunt’ for opinion columnists, or ‘yobbo’ for upstart children has surprised me. Such words would never have been heard in this part of the world until only two or three years ago. There are only minor UK and Irish ex-pat communities over here, so to have this sudden and growing use of Britishisms is a linguist’s delight.” Anthony Hughes, Omaha, US
Sussed, v. To work or figure out; to investigate, to discover the truth about (a person or thing). “My favourite Britishism has to be ‘sussed’ – ‘I finally sussed out what he was talking about’, ‘leave them alone, they’ll suss it out on their own’. I use it a lot and I always seem to have to explain it to people, then a few days on, I’ll hear them using it and explaining it. It’s a word/phrase that gets used often in my close circle of friends now.” Bonnie Lee, Portland, Oregon, US
Twit, n. A fool; a stupid or ineffectual person. “It seems to me the word ‘twit’ – a Britishism heard on Monty Python – is being used more frequently here in the US.” Rachel Newstead, Appleton, Wisconsin, US
Wonky, adj. Shaky or unsteady. “Some Britishisms that I have used include ‘wonky’, ‘bung’, and ‘snarky’. They’re fun, innit? It’s hard for me to notice hearing these words in the US, because I talk to so many Brits online, so they sound normal now.” Anne E, Pittsburgh, US
Filed under: bbc, olympics, Rants | Tags: bbc 5 live, bbc radio 5 live, commentary, locog, london olympics, olympic commentary, olympic events, olympic family, radio, radio 5, vacation
We listened to 5 Live all day yesterday as their presenters time and time and time again vented their spleen at the LOCOG for the empty seats that were evident at a number of Olympic events. Five Live has been on amission for months to undermine the event and despite an explanation, a very clear one, that the empty seats were those of the “Olympic Family” ie athletes and officials who are mostly in training at this early stage of the event and therefore unable to attend events. Despite this they attempted to whip their listeners up into a frenzy of dissent.
This typifies the bad side of Britishness, amidst everything that is wonderful about these games we have an innate need to find fault. I’m sick of it. Aren’t you?
Later in the day it appeared the tide had turned against them and they turned 180 degrees into arse licking support. Presumably the tweets and emails of listeners like me eventually wore them down.
Filed under: advertising, bbc, business, creativity, Scotland | Tags: BBC radio Scotland, David Ogilvy, Graeme atha, mark gorman, The original mad man, victor Brierley
Next Monday myself and Graeme Atha will be in conversation with Victor Brierley in a special one off documentary investigating the legend that was David Ogilvy.
Here’s a link to the 30 minute programme that goes out on Monday afternoon at 2.05.
Filed under: Arts, bbc, books, creativity, photography, tv | Tags: BBC, bbc costume drama, BBC Drama, Chris O'Dowd, michel faber, romola garai, the crimson petal and the white
I love Michel Faber’s writing and it’s a toss up between this and Under The Skin for his greatest work. The two could be no more different; Under the Skin is a taught contemporary sci fi horror set in Scotland and this; an 800 page monstrous take on Dickensian Victorian London.
Both are really great books and consequently both run the risk of taking a good pasting when put on screen.
There has been many year’s of talk that TCPATW would be Hollywood-made and for a while rumour had it that Kirsten Dunst was to be the heroine, Sugar. However it fell eventually to the BBC to make this near epic adaptation. I say near epic because big and bold as it was I think it had even greater potential.
The previews did not make great reading; the panel on Newsnight Review, with the honourable exception of Maureen Lipman, annihilated it, so I approached fearing the worst.
I needn’t have worried.
The, at times, over tricksy focus pulling in the camera work was a bit heavy handed but this was overcome on balance because otherwise it was excellent (moody, creepy, almost surreal in places and beautifully emphasised by a particularly odd (in a good way) score written by newcomer Cristobal Tapai de Veer).
The set and costumes are astounding and the acting of the entire cast, but Particularly Chris O’Dowd (the IT team) and Romola Garai were of BAFTA winning standards, and had to be to pull it off.
In particular O’Dowd’s tortured portrayal of sappy rich boy William Rackham is magnificent. It’s as if he can’t decide how to play the role, but that’s just how Faber wrote it. In the end he comes across as merely a weak sap who is only in it for himself. Perhaps he cannot help it as we frequently see when he is led astray by his particularly vulgar “friends”.
Romola Garai, by contrast, is nailed to the tracks in the conviction of her character, as the upwardly mobile Sugar; pulling herself out of the stench thanks to the interest of Rackham who gradually exalts her social profile in a London where status was everything (and boy did she have status in the underworld, starting off as the top prostitute in London). Her gritty but sometimes tender performance is the beating heart of the book and this ultimately excellent adaptation.
It’s still on iplayer but I’d wait for the DVD and splash out.
For me it would play out better as an epic four hour movie rather than a four part TV series.
Wonderful. Bring on the BAFTAs. (And the Emmys).
Filed under: bbc, football, humour | Tags: fighting, fisticuffs, football fighting, francis lee, lee v hunter, leeds utd, man city, Motty, norman hunter
Absolute quality fisticuffs.
Norman Hunter (bights yer legs) v Francis Lee (one pen).
The Rumble in the Jungle.
Filed under: Arts, bbc, movies | Tags: Colin Firth, geoffery rush, helena Bonhamcarter, King George VI, royalty, speech impediments, stammering, stuttering, The kings speech, The queen mother, WW2
Stammering, and other speech impediments are terrible afflictions that rarely elicit sympathy. When can you last recall a movie or TV programme with a sympathetic stammerer or lisp? Bet you can recall the opposite! How about Life of Brian? ”Wewease the cwiminals”
And yet our world is full of stutterers, stammerers and lispers; some of whom have overcome their problems like Bruce Willis, Tiger Woods, Julia Roberts, James Stewart; the list is endless.
Nevertheless the subject has never made it to the big screen in a serious and sympathetic form, until now.
The King’s Speech is fundamentally a British feelgood movie about stammering. It uses King George the 6th (Actually named Albert and Father of Queen Elizabeth) as the subject and sets the story against the background of a brewing and erupting Second World War.
Great Britain is facing dark days (reflected perhaps in the cinematography which is most certainly dark), King George the Fifth is on the throne but is falling into senility and his eldest son David (soon to briefly reign as King Edward the 8th) is in the midst of a scandalous affair with, gosh, An American, in the form of double divorcee Wallace Simpson. The Head of the Church of England is a role of the British monarch and that role does not allow the incumbent to marry a divorcee. But David (Edward) wants to marry Wallace more than he wants to rule Brittania. And so he abdicates leaving poor old stammering Prince Albert next in line.
Albert (played to Oscar contending levels of sustained excellence by Colin Firth) has been tackling his demons for years but has had absolutely no success and is fast becoming a recluse, albeit married to our dearly beloved Queen Mother (played with a twinkle by the ever dependable Helena Bonham Carter – surely a national treasure in the mould of Dame Judie Dench in the making). He’s pretty much given up hope , but Queen Mum hasn’t and she finds and engages the services of a Harley St quack played to perfection by Geoffery Rush.
What follows is a story about the development of a relationship and the triumph of wills married to unorthodox practices. It opens the doors to humour, pathos and a degree of tension. How could our stammering Prince become a king fit enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with Churchill as Britain takes on the Gerries?
On some levels the film woks. It feels nicely in period. The acting is universally excellent (Derek Jacobi has a nice cameo as the Archbishop of Westminster) and the story is engaging enough. The ending, which I shall not spoil for you here, although it is fairly obvious is by far the highlight of the movie and very moving indeed.
And yet…and yet. It drags. It feels slight. It has no real message other than, perhaps, the Royalty are humans too. My feeling is that this movie is a bit of a “the British are coming” industry love in. It’s actually not that great. A good (BBC) TV drama sure, but for all the hype it falls short.
Good but missable.
Filed under: bbc, conservative, creativity | Tags: Gillian mackeith, I'm a celebrity, Simon Cowell, Strictly come dancing, x factor
Three rival reality tv programmes have a cuckoo in their respective nests right now. Ann Widdicombe in Strictly; Wagner in XFactor; and Gillian MacKeith in IACGMOOH.
Each is a total loser in their own distinctive way but none more odious than MacKeith. But the point is, if you put power in the public’s hands enough of them will vote contrarily enough to piss off the establishment, whether that be Simon Cowell, Bruce Forsyth or the would be queen of poo herself.
I love this anti voting culture that was started on Facebook last Christmas when Rage Against The Machine undid Simon.
This year anything could happen. Maybe it all started in May when we, as a nation, voted in the worst double act since Jedward.
Whatever the outcome in these hilarious anti-establishment phenomena; the journey is worth it.
Filed under: bbc, creativity, humour, jokes, life, tv, Youtube | Tags: asterchef the professionals, chefs, cookery, cuisine, greg wallace, m, masterchef, masterchef final
Anyone who revels in the absurd pompousness of Masterchef will adore this spoof. Really hilarious.
Filed under: Arts, bbc, creativity, movies, tv | Tags: bbc 4, history of horror, horror, horror movies, mark Gattis, slasher films
The older I get the more I savour quality horror, and I delight in my kids discovering the genre. (Oh, and they do, bit by bit.)
It takes bravery to endure good horror; and as Rudyard Kipling said;
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”
Had he have been commentating on early 21st century life he’d perhaps have been saying;
“If you can stomach 90 minutes of gutwrenching horror, you’ll be a man my son.”
The fact is that recent horror franchises, I’m thinking specifically of The Saw and Hostel, are what’s increasingly called Horror Porn and those labellers are right. These films are gross, crass, lacking ideas…just plain sick.
What Mark Gattiss eloquently did in his series (available for now onBBC iPlayer I’m sure) was to identify the genre creators and talk to them and gain fabulous insights.
Latterly Romero loomed large and rightly so.
My favourite moment in the entire series was when John Carpenter was unapologetic about the fact that Halloween had spawned a generation of shite slasher movies.
“Why should I apologise for opening the door to the genre. All these people realised was that you could scare people cheap.”
Carpenter did it with utter class.