Friday, 25 July 2008

Im Anfang war die Tat

There's a surprisingly lucid discussion in Gadjo Dilo's Transylvanian keep about tautology.

The issue seems to be whether such verbal redundancy is a sign of ignorance or the sort of speech defect that my father used to cure with a Lada battery and a gasmask.

No Good Boyo and his compatriot Sioba Siencyn - a professional moss-gatherer, I believe - have claimed a particular school of tautology for their pixie patrimony.

These "Welshisms", as they call them during mercifully infrequent forays into English, are marked by a florid declamatory style, often involving auxesis.

Examples they have shared with me include:

a police officer on the Radio 4 "Today" programme saying that the then-flooded village of Crickhowell was "an island, an island surrounded by water";

Mervyn Johns in the film Dead of Night referring to "a nightmare of horror";

another Welsh film character at some point bewailing a "hollow mockery"; and

a Cambrian colleague of Boyo's once causing a mass choking fit in London curryhouse by mentioning a "diametrically opposed opposite".

Anyone who has found themselves suddenly overwhelmed by a Welsh social gathering will notice that repetition is a national identifier both in speech and clothing - belts worn with braces (meaning "suspenders" for my American readers - Welsh denistry is a stranger to tools other than the pick and shovel) , cardigans with jackets and, among the ladies, wigs with hats.

The question to my mind is this: are these true tautological statements, or simply the cotton-gin mechanisms of the Welsh language as applied to the sleek machinery of modern English?

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Ход коня

I am a grown woman. I do not make my own clothes, I buy them. I have a haidresser, not a piece of netting. I believe all religion is pernicious, not only Christianity. In short, I do not read The Guardian newspaper. I do, however, have colleagues with an interest in shamanism who examine its entrails.

They recently extracted a review of apocalytic film scenarios and the realistic expectation of surviving them from the ironically entitled Guide section. In part, it treated the modalities of coping with an invasion by aliens, concluding that they were negligible. I appreciated the endearing tautology, and brought the findings to the attention of No Good Boyo.

Boyo is an afficionado of science fiction, as veteran readers will know only too well. Last night, in his interregnum of relative lucidity between monkey-juice refill No.3 and sleep, I summarised the findings of the Guardian article.

My hope was that he would abandon his fascination with fantasy and apply his pulpy mind to philosophy, child-husbandry and the 'cello.

Boyo scanned the article from his perch on the space hopper, and delivered the following response. (I have it verbatim as I record all our conversations at the urging of my lawyers).

"Fair enough, if they was insects or them lizards. But what if they was all like Valerie Leon out of 'Blood From the Mummy's Tomb', 'Revenge of the Pink Panther' and the 'Carry Ons'? Millions of them, eh? So they enslaves us like this English says, but what if what they wants is to feed on our seed, orally? Don't worry, I'd cope love. Ffyc knows what you birds would do though but. Ha ha Polly Toynbee funnel [remainder indistinct]."

Boyo's operatic ability to see light at the end of the existential tunnel almost warms my heart, and reminds me that the mind of the male is best not understood but simply observed for its curio value.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Courte haleine

Boyo's joy at having 14 Welsh readers with fingers narrow enough to hit a computer key at a time has set me to thinking about other indices of male inadequacy.

Music is a good measure of whether your companion for the evening stands much chance of remaining at liberty by breakfast.

Adepts of heavy metal are hopeless. The lyrics rush to rhyme before the end of the first line - "Take your daughters to the slaughter", "Thunder across the tundra" - and are invariably faibles.

Jazz is always promising. Shklovsky noted that there are few plot devices, and the same applies to melodies. The ability of beboppers to riff off the most basic standards bodes well for their imagination in other departments.

What music does No Good Boyo like? I hear you ask.

He likes brass bands.