SEEN ON GRAUNIAD UNLITIMED:
Derren Brown: The Heist The illusionist returns to undertake his most ambitious challenge to date. Under the guise of a motivational seminar and a follow-up documentary, he tries to persuade his group of responsible, middle-management businessmen and women to steal £100,000 in an armed robbery. Derren aims to illustrate how little it takes to cross into deviant behaviour and presents a masterclass in mind control
No-one - repeat, no-one - who works in middle-management needs a lesson in deviant behaviour.
FROM MICHAEL ASHER'S THESIGER:
'...Thesiger told him [Gavin Maxwell] in a rather intimidating tone that they would have to shoot their own dinner. "And God help you if you miss," Thesiger said. "It's food we're after; we can't carry enough cartridges for sport. Your reputation among these people [the marsh Arabs of Iraq] will stand or fall absolutely by what you kill or don't kill and they're all watching you." "As an encouraging introduction to shooting while sitting cross-legged in the bottom of a perilously wobbling canoe," Maxwell commented, "I felt this could hardly be improved upon." When Thesiger handed him two cartridges and said that was all he would get, though, Maxwell realised that he had been wrong - it could. He was informed that Thesiger expected "200 per cent success" from these two measly rounds, but when Maxwell proceeded to bring down three coots with his first shot, the canoe-boys spoilt the whole bluff by erupting in excitement. Somewhat chagrined, Thesiger said, "Pity you aren't leaving us now; trouble about reputations won on flukes is that they're so short-lived." He looked, Maxwell said, "like a scoutmaster whose oldest and most oafish pupil has tied an accomplished and esoteric knot by accident."'
I posted on John Buchan's Prester John a while back. It turns out that Thesiger read it while at St Aubyn's prep school and it made a tremendous impact on him. Asher notes that while most of his contemporaries would have described the young Scot David Crawfurd as the hero of the book, Thesiger identified with Laputa, the leader of the black rebellion. Thesiger's attitude towards the Bedu in later life can be fairly compared with Buchan's towards Laputa - he admires them as "noble", but it's still pretty patronising: he wants them to remain in their place, uncorrupted perhaps, but also powerless outside their immediate environment. In some ways it's not such a distant reaction. Which of us doesn't feel at least a quiver of fear at the prospect of a highly industrialised, competitive
I was talking about regional Scots accents with my parents a while back - specifically I was trying to find out if the use of 'ane' instead of 'yin' for 'one' could be identified with any particular part of Scotland, as it comes up in the Edinburgh writer J.K. Annand's Bairn Rhymes, and I'd never come across it - and they mentioned that in the Borders one can still hear the use of 'oos' for 'we'. As in 'oos ga'n' for 'we are going'. Not long after, I read in Anthony Burgess's autobiography Little Wilson and Big God:
'My grandfather would say, if Mary Ann had a headache, "Oo's getten 'eed-warch". The "oo" is Anglo-Saxon heo and the "warch" is from weorc. He would translate this for foreigners as "She's got a headache", but the
Probably a lot later than that if Burgess had found some other elderly or less urbanised relatives - Alan Garner read aloud sections of Sir Gawain to his father, drawing this response: "Yon's a grand bit of stuff. I recollect as Ossie Leah were just the same. Is there any more?"
Ignorance of cultural variety and the prejudice of 'civilised' RP is still around:
'A part of the meaning of this [an extract from Sir Gawain] could be guessed. But who, without specialist help, could arrive at the conclusion that someone is here putting on his armour, and who could guess the meaning of "queme quyssewes" (pleasing thigh pieces) or "wlonk" (noble, glorious, fine)? Who could guess their pronunciation?'
[from An Introduction to English Poetry, by James Fenton]
What are we to take from this? That the purpose of English is to level, to make smooth and even and absolute? Oos ga'n.