Friday, 12 November 2010

Le bon Dieu est dans le détail

An explanation: I've spent the last few months helping the new Yanukovych Administration ruin Ukraine as a special advisor working on the Plekhanovite principle of The Worse, The Better ("чем хуже, тем лучше").

Having reached the "Worse" stage ahead of schedule, I was happy to retire to the other end of Europe and confidently let the Dialectic lead the happy Cossack collective onwards towards the "Better".

My return was not unclouded, as any wife can imagine. Boyo told me that he had taken up the ways of Gandhi in my absence, and I was naturally disappointed to discover he meant Mahatma not Indira.

Still, I reasoned, he would be saving me a fortune on vodka and laundry bills, and might even have managed to spin a half-decent pashmina for my collection.

Instead, I found Boyo doubled up in a corner of the kitchen, his jowls green and his palms furred. By his side lay a crumpled and curiously-modified photograph of Bundeskanzlerin Merkel.

I picked up a chipped piece of china, and quickly tried to drop it again.

"Oh Boyo," I sighed, "It was a cup of his own water that Gandhi drank every day!"

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Green et idéal

Boyo is a lurching emporium of Welsh culture in all its gassy degeneracy. His conversation is a stream of Welshisms - the turgid verbal redundancy, pli selon pli, that I summarised earlier as "clanging tautology".

Boyo is also a delightful source of Mondegreen, such as his subconscious upgrading of the loathsome "Mull of Kintyre" into "Bollocking Time".

A recent conversation of his with another Welsh-speaker yielded a serendipitous conjunction of the two phenomena. They were discussing the lyrics of Welsh Wales's sole contribution to the punk genre, namely "Rhedeg i Paris" ("Running to Paris") by the group Anhrefn.

Boyo cited this song as evidence of the sheer literacy of Welsh popular music, in particular the line "wedi achub Boudu o foddi dan dwr" - "having saved Boudu from drowing".

I was impressed. Few punk singers refer to Renoir's "Boudu sauvé des eaux". Until his compatriot, in a treasonable display of accuracy and honesty, pointed out that the line is "cofio am bentrefi wedi boddi dan dwr" - "remembering drowned villages" - a constant lament of Welsh poetry ever since the English discovered that water is useful for washing and turned various Snowdonian valleys into reservoirs in the mid-1960s.

An amusing mishearing, and an apt puncturing of Boyo's bathetic bumptiousness, but there was better to come. I asked why "remembering drowned villages" takes so long to say in Welsh. The literal translation, it emerges, is "remembering villages that have been drowned under water".

Not just drowned, but drowned "under water". I don't like to imagine what else the Welsh are liable to drown in, but suspect that one day I'll find out.

Monday, 19 April 2010

De Bella et Gallo

Boyo has rediscovered his enthusiasm for Dr Who, a curious British televisual confection that seeks to graft 1950s science-fiction plots onto pantomime with the uncertain archness that passes for humour in much of BBC output.

Ever eager to find just causes in law, I watched the last episode to ascertain the source of this uncharacteristic spousal animation.

Was it the latest "companion"? Hardly. Ms Karen Gillan is an improvement on the previous auburn slattern to grace the Doctor's arm, but neither comes close to Boyo's type. Like the gentleman in this poignant documentary film, my partner still keens for Billie Piper with mournful and never-ending remembrance:

Was it the switch in writers from Russell T Davies to Steven Moffat? Boyo admires the latter's masterpiece, Coupling, and its sympathetic portrayal of a priapic Welsh simpleton in particular. He is, however, unlikely to applaud the ouster of compatriot Davies for a Scotch such as Moffat.

Was it the latest actor to play the heroic physician? Matt Smith rates an irritation factor of four, as opposed to the eight scored by his predecessor David Tennant, and dresses much like Boyo himself. But that cannot be enough, otherwise my prime subject would be glued to "Last of the Summer Wine".

Then I heard it. At 27'52" in the iPlayer version of "Victory of the Daleks", came this:

"This is the end for you. The final end."

The declamatory style. The repetition. And, of course, the clanging tautology - all the signs of the Welshism, as discussed earlier on this site.

Spring is in the air, but all I can taste is slate on the breeze.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

From the Sleep of Reason

Boyo works from home on Fridays in an effort to educate our son Bendigeidfran in his preferred version of the Welsh language, one even meaner of vowel than most.

I ensure that the popular application of "working from home" is not available to Boyo by engaging the parental controls on his laptop and hiding the Calpol.

Boyo instead surpasses himself in both irrelevance and depravity by teaching young 'Fran his bolt-on tongue by simultaneously translating Universal horror films. You've not really experienced the full poignancy of Inspector Krogh's childhood encounter with The Monster in "Son of Frankenstein" until you've heard it in Welsh, apparently.

The inadequate English original is here at 07:06, if you care to compare:

Watching these films anew led me to a useful insight. The appeal of the Universal monsters to infants and adult males alike stems from their childishness. For they are babies:

  • Dracula sleeps all day and suckles all night.
  • The Frankenstein Monster raises its arms piteously to the unfamiliar light and stumbles about in ill-fitting clothes. This would in addition explain its appeal to the Welsh.
  • The Wolfman is permanently teething.

We now see in context the popularity among grown men of the Predator film and its successors, as eloquently set out by The Daily Mash here on the basis of my initial thesis.

The Predator is what every young man aspires to be. His life is one long paint-balling weekend, with the added stimuli of invisibility (permitting the observation of female xenomorphs in the shower), rolling in mud with human skulls, and the binding of all loose ends by an atom bomb.

But now we're onto the secondary-school curriculum.